Thursday, April 24, 2008

Faith renewed

Yesterday was a good day. I slept in. I went grocery shopping, then to pilates, and then I met Adam and Fabricia. Adam is American, from Connecticut, and Fabricia is from the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Ênio told me there was an American in the building, as he told Adam about me. Truth be told, I was hesitant to introduce myself because… well I (erroneously) assumed it was some older businessman that I wouldn’t have much in common with, and besides, I have enjoyed living in my own space until now. But I met them today, coincidentally, because they were in the lobby with Ênio when I left for pilates. We chatted a few minutes and I said I’d knock on their door this evening. They welcomed me in and gave me some excellent advice on getting acclimated and getting things done. Adam also gave me some enhancements for my language-learning library and a local travel guide that will surely be invaluable in the coming months. I was so sorry that I hadn’t met them sooner, because they are leaving tomorrow. I know the three of us would have become great friends. But then, our paths may cross again, eh?

Last night I wanted to watch Internacional play Paraná for advancement to the next round of the Copa do Brasil. Television programming is a funny thing—it is rather unpredictable. When Inter plays away, the game is broadcast on “open” (that is, non-cable) TV. When Inter plays at home, the game is broadcast on cable—or so I thought. I don’t have cable so, after confirming yesterday that the game was scheduled to air on the cable channel SporTV2, I went to the corner bar last night to watch. Confused by the fact that a different game was airing on the channel, the owner informed me that the game was airing on SporTV2, but only to people outside the region. Basically if you live in POA, you have to go to the stadium, listen to the radio, or (I think) subscribe to pay-per-view to follow along with the action of any game on your own turf. But! There was a home game a couple weeks ago that, according to these guidelines should not have been aired, but at the last minute was broadcast on open TV because the opponent was considered to be “easy kill.” In the end, you never know if you'll catch that game on TV or not because programming and rules aside, things are simply more malleable here.

So, back to the scene at the bar, where I met the spirited 67-year-old Geraldo, henceforth to be referred to as “Al”. He didn’t like the full nickname I issued, Al Capone, because... what would the neighbors think? After we discussed the beneficent side to Al Pacino’s The Godfather, he agreed with a twinkle in his eye that just “Al” would suffice, to keep the parallel our little secret. “O Comandante,” as another patron called him, has his own table at the joint. He takes the bets on the games and keeps track of which proceeds go where. He knows everyone that walks in by name, where they live, what they do, and how long they’ve been around. Surely I must have been quite the novelty and distraction in Al’s evening being the sole female, young (by comparison to the regulars), foreign, buying myself cocktails and watching futebol. He made me promise to come back as soon as possible. And being from the old school of manners, Al walked outside the bar, unprompted, when I left at midnight to watch me cross the intersection and see that I made it indoors safely. Even though I didn’t get to watch Inter’s game, I was well entertained by the cackling and bickering of that crowd of men, that club they have, that ritual.

Besides, we had the game on the radio so I got the news when a goal was made and when players were expelled. Plus SporTV2 is allowed to show replays of game highlights. Now as I mentioned, I don’t think this tournament is as important as the others. I did learn that the winner qualifies for the Copa Libertadores next year, but…shrug…still, there are other ways to qualify. Better ways. Of course I hoped Inter would win, but I didn’t expect them to manage the 3-goal margin that they needed to advance. That’s a lot to ask of a healthy team and Inter has some key members on the injured list. Exacerbating my doubt, Paraná opened the scoring with a goal just three minutes into the game. So imagine the scene when Inter scored their 4th goal (to Paraná’s 1). I would liken it to watching Grumpy Old Men doing karaoke to “Eye of the Tiger”! And naturally the Inter-biased half of Al’s kingdom went berserk when Fernandão nailed the penalty kick at 48 minutes in the second half, bringing the final score to an unnecessary 5x1. Sweet.

I joyfully listened to the subsequent hour of honking cars and fireworks in celebration of Inter’s great performance.

I am totally going to rub it in when I see Carlos today.

I have more to say but it has to wait. I have to find a nursery to buy a window box and some dirt for my hortelã (mint) and manjericão (basil) plants I bought yesterday. I also have to find some tijolos (bricks) and rustic looking pranchas de madeira (wooden boards, I hope) with which to fashion some shelves for my tiny kitchen. Oh, I bought a water cooler. It’s more cost effective and convenient than buying 1.5 liter bottles all the time, plus now I have a place to stand around and gossip with myself.