By Gringo Blogger
By way of introduction Im a foreigner whos lived in São Paulo city for a few years. I came here for romantic reasons with the hopes of finding a job, like many gringos (only to find out that getting work in Brazil is a near impossible task). So Im not your typical wealthy gringo. Thankfully I am now working part time in a great job, but am still on the Holy Grail-like quest of finding full time work. I married my girlfriend early last year, so have some idea of the highs and lows of a multicultural relationship.
In my blog Im just documenting some of the day-to-day events that happen to me, amusing or not, to give an impression of what its like for a gringo living in the bustling metropolis of São Paulo, and Brazil in general. Its at times also meant as a tongue in cheek look at gringo life, so shouldnt be taken too seriously.
During the recent Tiradentes holiday weekend my wife and her parents decided we were going to Botucatu, where most of my wifes family live. Botucatu is a city about three hours drive from São Paulo city. I have semi-affectionately named Botucatu to Botuchato, "chato" being the Portuguese word for boring. Basically theres not much to do there, and typically we end up spending hours and hours with my wifes family. The city of Botucatu is a relatively large, and ever increasing urban sprawl, which has a relatively busy centre with a few shops. Its a fairly typical Brazilian shopping area though with cheap (both in price and look) clothes, shoe shops, Casas Bahia and Pernambucanas, and little else. I should add that I really like my wifes extended family, they are fun and animated in a way that my extended family certainly arent. They are also very kind to me. But after spending hours and hours talking about Aunt X or Cousin Y the novelty does wear off a little.
After 2 or so years of visiting Botuchato... sorry, Botucatu, my wife had taken the hint and arranged for us to do something other than sitting around her Aunts house, or visiting other numerous extended family members. After a recent trip to the USA I had been bitten by the kite flying bug, a bug that has bitten lots of Brazilians. I had bought a couple of kites in the USA, so was itching to have a chance to fly them again here. A tricky thing to do in São Paulo unless youre willing to risk wrapping them around one of the MANY sets of cables and poles that festoon the city (that arguably dont do much for the citys "beauty"). These kites were made from carbon fibre and ripstop nylon, so I wasnt so happy about losing them as those made from balsa and paper. So we traipsed to a local square in Botucatu, near my wifes Aunts house (where we always stay). Unfortunately there wasnt a breath of wind, so we sat there with two dejected and flaccid kites. By coincidence my wifes cousins family were there, so we sat and talked to them and ate some of the popcorn they had brought with them. After a few minutes my wifes parents and aunt turned up, with my wifes aunts two wacky dachshunds. Then a few minutes later another cousin turned up, with his wife and two kids. We had a veritable family outing, the type of which you could perhaps only have so spontaneously in Brazil!
After some time one cousin asked if we wanted to come back to his house for a beer, so we headed off in his huge truck which thundered through the back streets that most of Botucatu seems to consist of. This cousin owns and runs a small supermarket adjacent to his house, and Id expressed an interest in the bakery, so I popped in there with him while my wife chatted to his wife. He was in the midst of the process of making gorgeous fresh rolls, and had to turn down the temperature on the dough to make sure they didnt rise too much. The oven there is a huge wood fired affair, after he gave up with a gas oven that cost him a fortune to run. We often take home bread from his small bakery, and the quality is always fantastic. We left the bakery and he grabbed a bottle of vodka and mixed up a strong batch of Caipiroska. We downed a couple, and with my head starting to swim we took the remaining batch back to the chatting wives. This same cousin recently traded his boat for a Ford Landau. My historical car knowledge is pretty poor, so Im sure Google will have all the detail on it. Suffice to say its a vast and relatively old car, with seats like benches. He was keen to go for a drive in it, so we took the Landau back to my wifes aunts house. There we had a big pizza dinner, and continued with more Caipiroskas and beer.
The next day I also had something scheduled to keep me busy, namely fishing with my father-in-law. Id been promised a fishing trip continually over the 2 years Ive been in Brazil, but it never transpired. This time though, we were on. One of the difficulties with marrying into a Brazilian family, when you dont speak the language, is bonding with the in-laws. As my mother-in-law had spent a lot of time cooking and caring for me we had bonded quite well, despite her inability to speak English, and my initial fumbling attempts to speak Portuguese. But by the time we moved out of their house and into our own apartment we would often have lengthy conversations about the news, or which local resident had recently been attacked or killed (my mother-in-law seemed to delight in these stories). My father-in-law was the quiet sort though, similar to most fathers of his generation, so we hadnt had much of a chance to bond or talk. So I was looking forward to this fishing trip, thinking it would give us a chance to spend some time together, talk (or not). I was also expecting some trip that would be closeby, and just for a few hours... perhaps the morning, as we were making an early start.
Part 2 next week...
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Previous articles by Gringo Blogger:
Brazil Blog: Feira Frustration