This road is so familiar, the road home as we like to call it. Every time we arrive in Brazil the first couple of days are such a bustle of activity and excitement that when we finally set out for the ten hour drive away from São Paulo, we let out a breath of contentment. This is when our rest truly begins.
As I look out the window my eyes are met with green. So much green. Birch trees, eucalyptus, and lush green grass to both sides of the highway. Small wooden/wire fences border the highway. Red dirt, Brazilian grass maintained low and trimmed by the lazy herds of grazing cattle and horses.
Then there it is. The familiar indicator. A house all alone on a curve on a hill with a gnarled and twisted tree in the front. It indicates we’re almost there. It indicates just a couple more hills and we will see our little town. It indicates we’re that much closer to grandma’s. As we approach “the house with the tree”, a wave of excitement hits our little party of four and we shout, honk, whistle and cheer.
I often wonder about the people who live in that house. I wonder if they’ve gotten to know the weird family that makes such a ruckus every time they visit. Probably not. I wonder if they know we use their home as a landmark and that their house is such a welcome sight. Probably not. Yet that’s the truth of it.
Simple, friendly, hospitable, warm people, a small town with less than 25,000 inhabitants. A quiet resting place. A place with absolutely no traffic lights and with two whole streets of commerce. Yet these two streets provide everything you could possibly need. If for some reason what you need is rare and unheard of in this town, there is a city just fifteen minutes away. A city with an airport , bus terminal, universities and a wider range of commerce.
It’s close to dusk by the time we pull into town. It’s quiet and calm. Here the days begin early but end early as well. Sunset comes and with it the soft breeze is filled with the smell of dinners coming from every which way. The men come home after a day’s work and are greeted with wafts of a well seasoned supper.
As you walk along the sidewalk, the church bells ring; you’ll greet several elderly gentlemen who sit on the porch talking, carving, or simply observing the streets.
Here the beauty salons are the place to go for the local gossip and stories. There’s no hurry and appointments seem to made with time for stories taken into account. The person after you won’t mind waiting, they’re listening to the same story they’ve heard a thousand times, just now with more juicy details and changed sequences. Here, you get your hair done and get up to date on Mrs. Helena. (Oh you know the one.. she was in that horrible accident on the way to Paraguay last week?)
“Did I tell you about her son? Her son is going to confined to a wheel-chair and he’s going to be blind for the rest of his life!” (The whole salon gasps and then a Miss will dare to mix facts with gossip.) “But I thought he was just going to be in a wheel chair for a couple of months and that his eyes would just take a while to adjust!” (Oh the naivety. Doesn’t she know facts make for less interesting gossip? Doesn’t she know that in a couple of months we will all be rejoicing about the miracle it was that Mrs. Helena’s son wasn’t paralyzed for life? Goodness woman!) The annoying interruption is drowned out by all the, “Oh my! Poor Helena!” “Oh no! What about his wife?” “Is he married? That’s right! I did hear something about that! Poor little thing! Whatever will they do?”
“And Helena? How’s she holding up?” “Yes well she is so very hurt! I went to visit her this weekend and oh my my my! She was complaining so much about her legs and so she pulled up her skirt to show me and you just would not believe it!” (And here’s where the so very skilled hairdresser somehow loses her ability to multitask and stops her story. She puts pins and combs in her mouth and it makes for a dramatic pause. Everyone leans in, the faint putting their hands over their poor beating hearts, eyes open wide. The pins are carefully put into place and the silence is deafening.
“She’s purple! Her legs are completely swollen and purple and it’s the most horrible thing! There are these terrific wounds and they’re watering. Oh it’s completely horrible. I told her she has to go to the doctor, but you know Helena! After what happened last year with her mother-in-law she simply refuses to go to that doctor. Oh you don’t know what happened last year? Humph. I’ll tell you what happened… Last year, her mother-in-law Mrs. Theresa, who also happens to be my aunt, she ……”
Just be careful. If you are the one getting a shampoo/hair drying session and you get her going on story close to home and about someone she is mad at… you might be left with very little scalp after all that passionate story telling and scalp rubbing, or a small cardiac arrests when you think she’s forgotten the hairdryer and are pretty sure you smell your hair burning.
In the afternoons, in the street the boys are playing soccer. The goal posts are flip-flops, bricks, or soda cans. The sun warms them up and soon there’s a pile of balled up t-shirts in a corner. Some, out of experience, just leave their shirts at home. Soon their backs and chests are glistening in the hot sun; the game is interrupted occasionally when cars decide to pass by. The game ends only when the hollers come from across the street calling them in for dinner and homework; that’s when they finally look down and notice their scraped knees and broken toenails. With a shrug they scrape the blood off with their hands hoping mom won’t notice. They turn around and shout to each other the time for tomorrow’s game working around dentist appointments, timeouts and chores.
Now the town square is filling up. You see, in the evening everyone goes home and takes a nice big shower, doll themselves up and goes to the town square. What’s in the town square, you ask? Nothing really. Just friends and most of the town’s young people. They eat and just hang out. It’s apparently the place to be! Especially on weekend nights when the square is filled up with swarms of laughing people.
The church bell rings every hour, birds fly overhead; the town is surrounded by ranches and farmland. There are buggy stops on certain corners. You know, like a bus stop but for buggies? I’m pretty sure they’re not in use anymore, but the posts are still there and buggies aren’t uncommon.
Here everyone knows everyone, everyone knows everything about everyone be it good or be it bad. Here the people rejoice with you, here the people mourn with you. Here there’s calm, here there’s rest, here is home.
|Sunset in Pirapózinho, SP (2011)|
Still here? Guess what! I’m back! Well, I’m trying very hard to be back.. but there’s a lot for us to catch up now and to fall back into normal routine. But I’m writing when I can! Hope you enjoy.
P.S. This post but in pictures tomorrow! So do come back! 🙂