Tuesday, January 20, 2009

For Kris

I just had a deliciously long phone chat with my (wicked, in a good way) stepmother, Kris. It has been a long time since we shared. She is my travel mentor and inspiration. She’s just fecking cool. I remember when my Dad first started dating her (after she turned him down a few times, of course), and he told me about a picture she had shown him. She was working on the roof. (He was in love, instantly.) She’s tough as nails, that one. Once, she launched a loaded baked potato across a long table at a company Christmas party. Once, she got stuck on a runaway horse in rural France. Once, she… well, it’s not my story to tell… but, trust me, she has many great stories.

Kris is the reason I started traveling.

Thank you, Kris. For that, and for all the stuff you’ve helped me work through—even when I’ve been a brat.

I vented to Kris tonight about the fruitless search for a kindred spirit...that awesome guy that wants to co-create a dream while hopping around the planet. Guy, if you’re reading this, I’ll meet you at the airport.

On to the recent happenings… I realize that this first item of business probably isn’t very exciting to the masses, but because I was so tickled, I’ll share. This...

…is breakfast. One hundred grams of mirtilos and a couple succulent red plums. While I have no right to complain (being in a tropical fruit wonderland), blueberries are my favorite fruit and there seemed none to be found in my first 9 months. The day I discovered them, an otherwise annoying morning, I felt awash with happiness. I didn’t care that the 100g package cost R$9 ($5). So imagine my delight when I found them this week for under R$2. Believe me, I am totally going to OD on the things before they go out of local fashion again.

Another fruity delight this week, personal-size watermelon and pineapple. The former is (courteously) seedless, and the latter—well, who knew there were 18 kinds of pineapple?—is the Torres species. Single-serving and sweet as can be.

You know what else make me disproportionately happy? My bus map.

Obviously there’s a story behind it. You see, I used to stop into the tourist office once every few weeks, upon my arrival, asking about a bus map. No dice. “There is no such thing,” they said. Discouraged but not defeated, I checked again one day in October, more or less. As I was forming the question, I spotted it on the wall. “That! I want that!”, I said, pointing. They informed me that the new map had been coordinated by the City and only 5,000 had been produced—as a popularity contest I suppose. Then I learned that the Tourist Information office was fresh out, but there was this place down the street that… Now, as I’m getting instructions, I detect another woman in the office eavesdropping. She bolts out before me, and I know she’s trying to beat me to the punch. Ohhhh No You Didn’t!!! In the comical race to Destination B, I lost. No matter though, they were fresh out of maps too. Me being me, I had a plan. I know all the remote Tourist Offices around town that tourists would never find, and locals never notice. I systematically hit three different stations and cajoled my way into possession of a dozen maps for myself and friends. I have one in each day-bag and one my wall. Ha! Take that, Eavesdropper. But really, the city should just print more maps.

On Friday night, needing a break from all the, ahem, consumption of late, I stayed home for Friday Night Kindergarten (the first in a series). I bought some paints, put on some Bossa Nova, poured a glass of red, and made a mess.

That’s my Brazilian flag. I ran out of green half way through the outer part (I only bought the primary colors, black, white, and silver). My attempt to recreate the same mix was, clearly, futile. But who cares? Good times.

On Saturday I headed to Santíssimo...

...which is decorated with Saints, like us, everywhere...

...to meet Shelley, Ivan (the aforementioned Spanish electrical engineer/software programmer), Fifi, and Lisa. Shelley is a Porto Alegre newbie (more or less). She just moved here from Florida to be with her fiancé, Rafael.

Rafael e Shelley

Two goofs: Me and Ivan

caipirinhas with a nice sugar rim. All class.

We closed the night at a cool pub we found in Cidade Baixa called Mercatto d’Arte. It was a great night spot so we'll be back.

I managed to wake before noon on Sunday. It was sunny and very hot, but I went for a long walk. It’s about five miles to Praça Shiga, a Japanese garden that was designed and installed courtesy of the “sister-state” Shiga Province in Japan.

I bought some sushi just before I arrived at the park—it seemed appropriate.

Fifi and Lisa left today for Rio. Victoria is whooping it up in New Zealand for the next 4 weeks. Clair and Carlos are back in Europe for a month-long visit. That leaves me to…write. I have an idea for a book, and there’s a contest I’d like to enter. Don’t ask me—I don’t want to jinx it! But, suffice it to say, I have much work to do.

Oh, today was windy. Another one bit the dust…

Kris, I'm going to keep being me. What else is there? And, thank you.

Have a good week, peeps.