Sunday, November 21, 2010

Começou falando de feijão, acabou falando de razão… We started talking about beef stew, we ended up talking about praying…

feijoada… a staple here in Bahia. My description will not give it justice, so look here for a more official one. but here’s mine anyway: a whole bunch of meat – tons of different parts of the pig and cow, cut up and cooked with a brown bean. Traditional Bahiano seasoning: tomatoes, green pepper, onion, garlic, cilantro, salt ground up in a wooden bowl with a wooden stick thing to pound it all together til it becomes like paste. add that to the olive oil in the pan, then add bay leaves, Knorr (they call it by the name brand) it’s a bullion cube, add tomato paste/sauce, add other spices that are yellow, red, and brown (I think one is curry).

Back to the title, but let me give you a bit

of a backdrop before I even go there. So, it’s resolved that we’ll now wash the clothes at Tia (Aunt) Luisa’s house next door. She tends to play this role in Eder’s life every since he was born, picking up where his mother leaves off. She is the diabolical opposite of my sogra (mother-in-law), she’s open, conversational, expressive, fun, youthful (well, mi sogra is youthful but in an immature sense).

For now, while we wait for this non-existent guy to show up from the washing machine company, we will wash at Luisa’s.

So, I lugged over the wet diapers – had to take 2 trips they were so heavy/so many. As I went to leave, I saw Luisa prepping all that darn meat in the sink, cutting off the fat, the skin, soaking it with lime to remove smells and bacteria. I asked her how long the feijoada she’s going to make will last. Remember, Luisa’s awfully generous so it’s not just her husband and 2 kids who she cooks for, every day, pretty much her daughter’s boyfriend, her niece/goddaughter, and her nephew eder come to her house hungry every day.

So, she says that the feijao will last the whole week! Maybe you’re not startled by this fact, but it’s because you don’t realize that it is going to SIT OUT ON THE STOVE IN

THE POT THE WHOLE WEEK. I’m serious… and I find it terribly ironic, I’ll take this moment to point out, that they all are insisting that it’s a major health risk to feed Zaya food that I’ve frozen after pureeing it. hmmmm).

I was discussing this interesting observation with Luisa. She said she tried to store it in the fridge, but then no one would eat it, they didn’t like the taste. It’s too much work to make every day, since she works all day long, there’s no way for her to get it done. So, instead, she makes enough for the week on Saturdays and it sits out all week long. They bring it to a boil every night and then cover it – that keeps it ok I guess.

Luisa then said, that nonetheless she prays that the feijao doesn’t make anyone too sick. I joked, and said - "so, after a long

week of work, on a Friday evening like yesterday, you drag yourself to the church to pray for the feijao?" She said, "ahhh, minha filha, eu rezo por tudo. tudo. ninguem mais vai na igreja, entao, eu tenho que rezar para tudo mundo" (ahhh, my daughter. I pray for everything, everything. no one else goes to church, so, I have to pray for everyone). She starts rattling off who and what she prays for, mentioning me, eder and zaya a lot. Should I feel indebted to her, not just because of her generosity with her washing machine and meals, but for her prayers too?

Right now, we could use someone praying for us. Zaya came down with a fever and was miserable for a couple days. TGFT! (Tylenol). Then she passed it along to me, so I nursed a fever all day yesterday, and now

just have the headache. Eder came down with it last night, so he’s got a fever now. In the meantime, our emergency room visit with Zaya was in vain, because she didn’t poop that day so they couldn’t do the lab work to test her feces. She pooped the next morning, and we rushed it over there, but they rejected her poop! how dare they! This morning, she woke up with a rash

covering her whole body (had started last night) of tiny red dots that look almost splotchy by today. So, as soon as we can all be awake at the same moment, we’ll head over to the emergency room again. Fun times. Like the U.S., the wait is quite long, so you make a day of it. And that pediatrics section can cause you to have nightmares as you hear kids screaming bloody murder and pleading with their parents not to get whatever the dr./nurse is threatening to do with them.

I think I’ll post this much here and stop now. That last blog was a record! I could complain to you about the latest drama

with the silva/muniz in-laws downstairs, but maybe it’s best I refrain from delving into their brilliant passive aggressive revenge techniques. It just makes me sad more than anything else, here we are, mom crying over skype with longing for zaya, and the other grandma next door giving silent treatment to us all. Drama =family. Family = drama.

Observations/Updates/Photo Journal

- there exists, here in Brazil, some serious prejudice against people from the “northeast” of the country – especially towards Bahianos, the state I live in (much like in the U.S. our attitude towards Mississippi or in Italy the north perception of the south/Sicily). You’ll often here jokes about how lazy and/or stupid Bahianos are… they don’t work, don’t know how to do anything. Well, from my observations, they work a hell of a lot harder than most people I know! The work week is Monday – Saturday. A normal working day is usually 8am-6pm with an hour for lunch. When you think about how most people live in the periphery, and spend at least an hour, sometimes two, on a bus going back and forth each way, then they are gone the majority of the day. Friday and Saturdays people get out around 4pm or 5pm. So, that leaves just Sunday as their day off. So, today is Sunday, when so many of Eder’s family are around, it’s usually a much livelier day here in the neighborhood. As I look out over our balcony to the valley below and all the people, I don’t just see people sitting around. Today, they are doing work on their own houses – building roofs, working on septic systems, painting, doing various projects. My point is, it seems to me that these “lazy” Bahianos work 7-days a week!

Zayathon of Photos.....

(above - she's eating now. adorable little photos in her chair. thanks aunt phyllis for the bib made of post-consumer materials (or however you call that).

lots of photos of eder's latest pieces around the city

2) zaya falling asleep in my arms, a nice photo my mom was able to capture while here

3) below... Z chillin with the neighbors across the street

next below: Zaya with her two Brazilian great grandmothers

next below: Z with her cute halloween costume aunt Angela got her

next below: Z on the beach with sunglasses! can you handle it!?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

in which mother-in-law insists that wife wash her son's laundry but not in her machine if yours is broken - or - a journal entry turned blog


Sunday November 12, 2010
woke up early – to my daughter’s beautiful face…. looking at me. started nursing, groggy. nursing. hear her poop coming out. fully awake. change poopy diaper. play with zaya. change another poopy diaper. get coffee going to get me going. start bath, start cleaning. take out 4 bags of garbage to the hideously disgusting garbage pile 2 blocks away on the main road swarming with flies and people picking through it and who knows what else that I can’t, and don’t want to see. I throw the four bags from as far away as I can onto the pile and quickly cross the street to head back.
get back and of course wash hands. play with zaya. put dark clothes in wash downstairs at eder’s mom’s house (our washer has been broken since august. 2 repairmen, eder’s brother, and two failed appointments with the company later it’s still sitting here broken. I’m writing this sidenote 4 hours and a lot of “drama” after writing the original text. turns out eder’s mom is furious with me for having gone down and helped myself to her washer while she wasn’t home – I usually/always ask her first, but mistakenly assumed that the presence of keys to her house in my apt this morning was her nice gesture to assume that since I haven’t washed clothes in 2 days that I’d have some that need to get done. my bad. can you say family DRAMA!?)
then i make bed. change another poopy diaper. give zaya a bath and get her out right after she poops again (we’ve started her on solids 2 weeks ago and we and her body are still trying to get the hang of it!). comb Zaya’s hair, look pretty, nurse her, and she’s down. quick: take my shower, wash as many of the 4 dirty diapers as i can. now get breakfast made. squeeze water out of all diapers in the dirty bin to get ready to wash in machine. I hate squeezing out that water it’s GROSS!!! leaves the most wretched smell on my hands. boil the coconut soap bar to a liquid to use as detergent.
prepare breakfast – plantains (bananas da terra), coffee, fruit salad (kiwi, apple, tangerine, banana, mango, pineapple + yogurt and granola), one fried egg and a bread made of corn toasted. yum. I felt sorry for zaya - she had bland oatmeal and banana and apple cuisine, which I also prepared, meantime, eder came home, zaya woke, mom and pete want to skype. we eat and skype and zaya tears up the place with her meal, eder gives her a wash down, I clean up her area, mom and pete get cut off while skyping with us at least 10 times, (exercise in patience would you say!??) I go downstairs, get the dark clothes (when I first realized how cold my mother-in-law was being with me), bring the diapers and put them in the wash (holding zaya the whole time, no help from mother-in-law, now i know why), come up and eder finishes his shower and takes a now very annoyed zaya who does not want to be my cleaning frenzy’s side kick (I sort of dangle her off my left hip securing her with my left arm doing all the rest with the right, no wonder my left thumb/wrist is shot to shit). eder relieves her and I get BUSY cleaning breakfast bananza. I’m so inspired by listening to the early ‘90’s-memory filled Dee-Lite soundtrack, especially the lyrics to that incredible song “fuddy-duddy judge”.. that I decide to sweep too, why not? finish making the bed, cleaning up bedroom, bathroom. half way through sweeping, eder comes back from Luisa’s and says she’s hungry.that means zaya
wash hands and nurse/read, put her down, she cries, nurse put down. she cries. walk and sing “I’ll walk in the rain by your side…” she’s out. put her down, she cries but then some butt patting brings the cry to a soft little singing and then she’s out. for real this time. back to finish sweeping, this time unaccompanied by a blasting Dee-lite soundtrack. one last task – hang the dark clothes… one of my favorite activities is hanging the clothes, and today, since I’m doing 2 loads in one day, I have the added mental challenge of hanging things just so I can fit way too many clothes on the's a photo of our clothes hanging...
there’s of course, a lot of strategy in this (there ended up being no strategy today because I can’t retrieve the diaper, since my mother-in-law locked me out of downstairs and went out to play bingo for a church fundraiser in her passive-aggressive tactics of revenge. here's a photo of the face she made at bingo when she's mad at me).
In a bit, we’ll head to luisa’s to have Sunday lunch. Now. let me ask you. when would I possibly have time to iron all these clothes, as almost 99% of brazilian women do (I’m talking about the ones who don’t have maids)? what about washing all these clothes by hand as 79% of brazilian women do (ok, maybe not that many). what about preparing zaya’s baby food fresh for each meal (as opposed to the method I’m proposing to eder we do which is to make sets of food and freeze it, he is not feeling it, wants fresh food for her for each meal so I told him he’ll have to be on that detail if he wants it that way). no one buys baby food in jars. they’d rather feed them rice and beans! they do put tons of salt and sugar in what they feed babies, ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!! no!!!! por o amor de deus! what about all the women who make a major lunch meal every day! or cook their husbands the dinners too? there are those who mop the house every day too. good lord. what about those who have more than 1 zaya!?????????? who the hell has time to do it!?? anyway, I’m already such a bad housewife by their standards, because I’ve protested about cleaning eder’s clothes, and was told promptly that it’s a woman’s job to wash the man’s clothes “that’s our culture. that’s how it’s done here.” imaginate!!!!!????
so, I’m off to eat a delicious Sunday lunch, then will maybe do some research?maybe not. maybe I’ll gosh, who knows what, die of boredom? Last night I was regretting the pretty picture of life I had painted in some of these blogs I have written prior, because life can be pretty damn boring for most of the time and the fact that I get a kick out of hanging two loads of laundry on the line should be an indication of that. but, I take it in stride – we’re broke, so that doesn’t afford us many options, but hell, at least I have time on my hands to think about how broke we are and spend time wishing we had money to do more fun things. also, we live crazy far by bus, or even car (more the inconvenience and gas money) to go to the center to do much. and then there’s zaya, who needs to not go out so much at night, or even every day, limited my time to being spent here. and since I’ve decided to be so rigid about breastfeeding – no bottle, not even pumped, etc… I can’t go without her. So, that leaves me to staying here, and dealing with it cuz it’s only 6 more months and then we leave and I have had my days and years of exciting going out, it’s good to settle, and it could be worse! plus, just wait til my brazil year is over, I’m back in the states, and I’m seeped in nostalgia about this place.
and here’s an example of the kind of things I will miss: last night, it was so fun to venture out down the little walkway that is in front of our house (no cars on this tiny little curvy concrete path). zaya couldn’t sleep, wasn’t hungry to nurse. so I decided to take her for a “walk”. I planned to take her around the block, which would have meant going out to the main strip (i.e., past the garbage pile). but the garbage pile wasn’t the problem. even though it was 8pm, it was a bit risky. why? well, any fri/sat/sun night is a bit risky, even at 8pm, since things like what happened last week on Sunday night (a fight, leading to gunshots, over FUTBOL!!) happened a block away. the cops came. don’t be scared. no one else was scared. they are more scared about a landslide. but, they wouldn’t want me prancing zaya around just in case and yesterday in particular since one of the two local teams was playing some big game and apparently they normally suck but are doing unusually well so the whole city/state is going crazy running around yelling “Bahia!” (name of the team), and getting all hyped and excited about it. ahhh, sports. should I leave that to another commentary? simply put, here, anywhere for that matter it strikes of Bread and Circus. It should be called Bread and Sports for this century, no? So, with all the excitement – fire crackers, filled bars, beer (bem gelada – super cold) flowing, it was a bit nuts to take my little walk around the block but I went anyway. of course. I went one block, to the end of our little walkway (below)
to the bigger street that then takes us out to the main street, and to my delight, along the way, Zaya was able to say good night to her great grandma who lives next door, then say hi to Sueli who was putting her candy cart away in her front porch (she sells on the corner, across from the garbage pile). photo below.
Then we ran into 14-year-old Elaine (pronounced Elaynee), who I’m really starting to like, so we started hanging out with her and there were other kids there, on bikes, playing around, eating chips. we saw Cawan, Stephanie. I met Fabio and Leandro. no, not leandro, some other Italian name for a small dark-skinned brazilian (Elaine’s little brother I learned). there were so many kids (especially when Fabio brought back that bag of chips and was hounded) that Zaya was completely over stimulated and within 10 minutes started fussing and sure enough, 5 minutes after arriving home she was OUT! (here's a photo of the place in our neighborhood where all the kids congregate to play - it's the end of our little walkway street leading to the slightly bigger walkway street that leads us out to the main street). here's some photos of the kids playing to give you an example... the 2nd photo is in front of our house one day when eder painted a canvas there, and it naturally attracted them all to come watch.

what a terrific way to get her to bed and what an abundant neighborhood! Filled with children, they all live in the 1-block radius. they are wild and crazy and sweet and helpful. When we pull the car up to that 2nd street after a trip filled with stuff, or with groceries, we have swarms of kids coming to help us bring it down our walkway to the house. (I’m going to take photos to accompany this so that you get a better visual). I just love the kids.

Well, I will sign off now. I have some comments/questions/outgoing observations:
It’s crazy but most brazilians only watch ONE tv-station – Globo. I have yet to see another station play in someone’s house, unless they pay for Sky (like cable) but there are so few who actually have it (Eder’s parents are the only ones I know).
and, zaya wakes….no more last thoughts for today...
later - here's the photo journal of this entry:
photo below: I know this photo is weird, but it's to show you the way Brazilians keep tab and calculate your check. To keep the beer "bem gelada" (very cold) (see awesome Brazilian beer explanation on my friend "Kiwi's" even awesomer blog)... people go out in groups, and buy one beer and share it by pouring just a little bit in each little plastic cup, that way, it never gets too warm to drink. At the end, either one person pays for the beer or they split it. But how do you keep honest track of all the beers you drank after drinking so many? Afterall, the customer is going to be a bit too dizzy to remember how many they ordered. So, the solution is to keep all the empty beer bottles (or on the beach, cans) under the table, and at the end, the waiter counts the number consumed, and boom, there's your check! I think it's genius.

ok, i think it's best of i send you to my friend's blog so you can get more info about this, but i can't find her blog right now, urgh. basically, the mayor's office spent something like U$2 million to put 300 of these !%@#$ signs up all over Salvador which give you the time and temp, advertise something, and then below, tell you which number sun protector lotion you should wear according to your skin color (they have all the way from black to blond written). this sign is already defective because all it has are zeros. I think of what could be done with that money! for example...
photo above: here's a former "futbol club" space in our neighborhood that I had no idea existed... the site is beautiful, has a breathtaking view of a valley, 3 pools, a number of futbol fields, 8 mango trees, lots of open space, a couple buildings... I was imagining what a perfect community center it would be for the hundreds or probably thousands of kids who live in this concrete jungle and only have the precarious streets to play on.
above: here's a cute little public elementary school in our neighborhood. You can see on the right side the "emblem" of the city government's office, which was put there because the graffiti decoration is part of the Salvador Graffiti Project (what i came to research here), but, as you can see, the art (on this school, and as part of the project) is nothing to write home about, which is why I haven't.

above: i wish i could say that i invested in a series of hamburger joints over here in the neighborhood... if i had, this definitely would have been the name i would have chosen to call them!

check out the little boy in this photo, peeing on the ground in broad daylight in the middle of the party! This is a party in the garage! Eder's father's 50th b-day. photos below - the bbq chef, and the samba band

below: three kids kick off painting the background to the mural eder just did in arembepe with 35 kids