"Brazil 2001" story # 6

Sao Laurenco, Pernambuco           April 1, 2001

One of the most enjoyable things I´ve done in Brazil was to see a concert in downtown Recife. The main band was Exaltasamba, and thousands of people packed in on a wide lawn. We watched three samba bands perform, and the music was awesome. Each band had a guy with a drumset, two others banging on a handheld drum, two acoustic guitarists, and possibly a flutist or pianist. They threw six or seven simultaneous, sweet-sounding beats at you to accompany a deep-voiced, humming vocalist.
     When a fast song played, it was almost impossible for people to keep from shaking their butts spastically in all angles as they tried to decide which beat to follow. Their feet, meanwhile, kicked out to the sides and turned in circles, causing the crowd to look as if everyone was trying to keep ants from crawling on him.
     When the music slowed down, guys and girls came together. Their feet continued to rotate, and their bodies bounced together from side-to-side.
     I also witnessed the Brazilian phenomenon known as a "ficar" (literally, "to stay"), which happens when young people go out and find members of the opposite sex to kiss. My friend, Rebecca, spent the last four hours of the show making out with a guy, and another Brazilian guy I came with kept plucking cute girls out of nowhere to kiss.
     Samba and a "ficar" - can´t ask for a better night in my book.

Apart from the concert, the neighboring cities of Recife and Olinda were wearing on me. The urban societies were made up tightly of dirty gray houses and shops, litter-filled sidewalks, and exhaust-smelling, honk-sounding roads. Hardly a grass lawn, hardly a tree. I´m not a city man; I had to get out.
     Luckily, Súla shares a house with her brother in peaceful Sao Laurenco. The fifteen-minute bus ride from Recife to Sao Laurenco is along a tranquil country road through forest and fresh air. She invited me to stay with her there, and I accepted, for a week in the mato (country).
     The house was simple. I slept in a small upstairs room, on the floor alongside Súla, her younger brother, and her cunhada (sister-in-law). From the window here, we could see the houses of the small town resting on green hills overrun with tall coconut palms and fat banana plants.
     The kitchen lacked a refrigerator and the dining room a table, so we gathered in a circle in our chairs to eat noodles, eggs, beans, or fried bananas. Súla considered my and American tastes for ice cream and pizza to be bobágem (nonsense) and unneccessary.
     When we wanted something sweet, we scaled the backyard brick wall and climbed about the neighbors´ trees to find fruit. Green, baseball-sized goiabas had pink insides and tasted like dried sponges with very hard seeds you´re meant to eat. The light red maracujá was made up of slimy seeds that resembled small, flattened eyeballs; with milk and sugar, it tasted like the slime which accumulates on popsicles that have been in your freezer for months (very good!). We also found coconuts; the milk tasted like sap from a maple tree, and the hard, white fruit tasted like a hardened potato.
     I also spent time listening to Súla sing and her brother play guitar, playing games of dominoes, telling stories, complaining whenever anyone mentioned cuzcuz, and conversing.
     The main subject of talk was what I call "the plague of the Brazilian women." What this is, as any Brazilian woman of the northeast will tell you, is the tendency of Brazilian men to be very "in-fial" (unfaithful). The terms girlfriend and wife mean nothing to these men, who, almost without exception, sneak around with other women. I´ve encountered few happy couples or longlasting marriages here. Súla, for example, has learned the names of TEN girls her ex-boyfriend was with while they were together.
     Originally, I came up with a solution to save the Brazilian women from their plague. It´s simple. Being a "fial" guy myself, I would just marry ALL of the nice, pretty women.
     However, it occurred to me that having 70 million wives, as logical as that sounds, would make remaining "fial" - to even one of them - very difficult. I can save no more than one.
     Is Súla the one!? For her 21st birthday this Tuesday, did I give her the present of a wedding ring!?
     No, don´t be silly. I didn´t get her anything. But, her mother, sister, brother, cunhada, and friends all want us to get married. Thankfully, Súla and I have the final say in the matter, and we both say "no."
     It was a nice week in the mato, but, after all, how could I marry a girl who thinks ice cream is bobábem?
     One option eliminated, 69,999,999 girls to go.

- Modern Oddyseus

P.S. - Happy birthday, Súla!!!

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