Monday, October 20, 2008

where's Lurch?

Once inside the yard the gate was closed, locked and chained behind us. A warning, or a hint? We entered the house which was also faced in stone tiles drab and grayish. I felt like we had entered the crypt. Things were cast about like a Tennessee Williams set, pure Brazilian Gothic.

We were led through the living and sitting rooms to a cluttered dining room inhabited by a large polished stone table a small wrought iron altar and Jorge’s aunt. I never got her name, though she was quite charming and her first words to us were spoken in English, with perfect diction she said, “Good Afternoon, How do you do?”

She sat stooped with a hump back her head on her chest, gorgeous spit curls in alternating ringlets of gray, white and auburn. She wore a beautiful dress in a gold and royal blue diamond pattern. The design mimicked the Joker's costume on Hoyle playing cards. She was quite articulate and engaging in both English and Portuguese. She said her vision was going, glaucoma and the arthritis had her beat.

They had set mom up in the kitchen away from all of the activity, by herself. Don’t ask. Jorge was still ashamed that we hadn’t had Feijoada, so he openly contemplated cooking for us. At least let me make you some fresh suco and a dessert, he stated in French. Michael clued me into the fact that the minute we crossed the threshold all of the interpersonal dynamics shifted. Instead of a convivial group, suddenly Jorge/ George talked down to Diogo like an old rejected lover or abused spouse. Diogo had to fulfill all of Jorge’s wishes, now.

The bell rang again before I could process this development. A portly woman came in embracing everyone but ending up next to mom in the kitchen. Michael said she reminded him of Divine. When she met Michael she was sure that she had the same eyes of her dead husband. Mom, looked and concurred, motioning for Michael to come closer to validate her assessment. Here we go.

Michael kept checking his watch and got more anxious by the moment. We still had plenty of time to make our connections, but he hadn’t any idea of how to find his way. Jorge and Diogo were still arguing our fate when a woman came in with plates of sliced ripe mango and papaya. Jorge supplemented it with stale Brazil nuts enrobed in chocolate, hot pink shirts for Carnaval 2009 and little boxes of sweets for us to take home. We needed gifts. We also needed to understand that he thought that we should stay over to really feel what life was like living with a Brazilian family. Michael shot me a killing gaze.

Jorge decided that Michael, who was now receiving all of his attentions needed to understand the cultural identity of Salvador and Reconcavo. He looked around the stacks of papers and detritus until he found the disc. He slipped a Beth Caravalho DVD into his player so that we could take a musical tour of Bahia with her. I kept promising him that I would work it out.

In the middle of the tape, Jorge jumped a few inches off the ground and told us that we had to be leaving, we would be late and miss our connections. The mood shifted again. He and Diogo were still at odds as to how we would get to our destination. Ultimately, they decided that we would be escorted out of Brotas by them. The final decisions about Bonfim could be discussed enroute.

The walk was pleasant enough. We ran into a few of their neighbors along the way, one who was on his way to the house for the alleged Feijoada. Of course, now Jorge decided that he would make it after all, “Vous no pouvait rentre a chez moi, Sam-e-di prochene?” I said I would email him before Friday.

We crossed over the highway on the footbridge and left them waving at the bus stop. Michael said he was too full and a little at odds to get to the Lancha to risk a quick trip to Bonfim. We ran through the particulars of the afternoon and he said he would pump Augusto for more backstories.

We arrived at the terminal at 5:10, and hour before his designated out time. I called Davis to arrange a moto-tax pickup at Mar Grande. As I prepared to say good bye and look for my bus, I heard Florian and Gunnar call my name. They were German ethnomusicological students I had spent time with in Cachoeira. I felt that Florian was as culpable as I was in the crash that broke Francisca’s hard drive. They were returning from a hiking & chill-out trip to Morro de São Paulo on the southern coast. I decided to stop in the Pelourinho to see Big before going home. I gave Michael a hug goodbye and tried to negotiate a settlement with the Germans as he boarded the boat.

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