Friday, May 9, 2008

Clearly, I don't know beans.

Congratulations are in order for Seabiscuit. Amy and Paul have won the roaming box challenge. My old friend Ricardo at Hotel Lar called yesterday morning to announce that the Fernandão and Girassol had arrived. Phone conversations are tricky because I don’t have the benefit of gestures or expressions to aid my understanding. So, in my sleepy haze I rushed to the hotel at 7:45am to learn that the delivery truck had been re-routed to my apartment. Oh, that’s what Ricardo was telling me! D’oh! I rushed back home and found three delivery men trying to telephone the apartment. Next thing I know, I’m excitedly digging into my new wealth of clothes, books, and photos. The juicer! The George Foreman Grill! (Must! Buy! Chicken!) But certainly, it was my comforter, which was packed as an afterthought, merely box stuffing, that I was happiest to receive. I love it. It’s warm, weighty, and delightful. The nights are getting progressively more brisk, and I’ve resorted to wearing a sweatshirt to bed more than once. Gladly I post to you now surrounded by goose feather pleasure.

I visited Al Capone on Wednesday. What a character! Of the evening’s stories, I most enjoyed the show and tell of his silk handkerchief for tears. Someone dear to him gave it to him as a present in 1974 and he’s kept it close ever since. You never know when troubles or joys will present themselves, he says.

Later, my friend and I were trying to name all the Brazilian states but came up one short. Paulo, a sweet old friend of Al’s, disappeared for a short while and returned with an old atlas and a book on the history of the currency--bonus material he correctly assumed I’d find interesting. Tucked within were several crisp banknotes from various periods in Brazil’s somewhat tumultuous monetary history, as well as some random ones from Uruguay, Belgium, and other places he’s seen. I was particularly fond of the back of the cinqüenta cruzados novos note, with an illustration of the famous Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade beside his beautiful piece Canção Amiga. Despite Al’s playful jealousy, Paulo insisted I keep a few of the cruzados as a memento.

Today I visited with aforementioned New Zealander, Victoria. We had a lovely afternoon drinking coffee, talking about boys, books, and life in Brazil. She reluctantly agreed to be photographed so that you all would know for sure she wasn’t one of my imaginary friends.

Afterward I went to a new gym and had a session with a trainer. I liked the place and think I’ll return tomorrow to swim a few laps in their salinated (is it even a word in English?) pool. Sadly, making the switch to swimming means I’ll have to give dear Carlos the axe at the end of my prepaid pilates sessions. I really enjoy them, but I’ll get more frequent workouts at the gym.

En route to the gym I saw this, which prompted laughter.

I just learned that a funilaria is the guy that removes the dents from your car, but at the time I confused the word with funerária, or funeral parlor, making the robot advertisement quite strange indeed.

Speaking of funerárias, there seems to be a disconcerting abundance of them here. Even more alarming, they are frequently situated adjacent to restaurants. I must say I would take issue with eating at an establishment that shares a wall and probably a trash receptacle with a funeral home. Ick.

Moving on to this weeks Aventuras na Cozinha (Kitchen Adventures), this morning I prepared feijão (black beans). Being new to this, I emptied the entire contents of a 1kg (2.2lb) bag into my panela de pressão (pressure cooker), which naturally I have no idea how to use. Beans expand quite a bit. I am now the proud parent of a virtual “hill of beans,” so fortunately Victoria advised I can freeze them. Good black bean soup recipes are encouraged.

I'm not a big fan of touchpad technology, so I keep reaching for my wireless mouse to the right of the keyboard... which is no longer there since I accidentally broke the USB plug. Nuts! That’s irritating. Well, it’s time to wrap this up anyway.

Saúde, LG

P.S. The missing state was Piauí, which according to WikiTravel was also once forgotten by the federal government on a map of the country.