Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Hazards of Semi-Natural Beauty

I spent Saturday at a holiday party -- holiday parties are a big deal in Brazil. In this case it was a pelada (regular pickup soccer game) that threw the party. Everyone who plays every Saturday, or once every two or three months (me), went out of the city to a small farm, or farm-like space, with beautiful natural grass fields and fruit trees all around.

We had a tournament (my team finished second), ate feijoada, galinha à cabidela (chicken cooked in a sauce made from chicken blood -- it's delicious), sururu (something related to the mussel), arrumadinho (black-eyed peas, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and real beef jerky), and other Brazilian delicacies. And we drank beer. We drank a lot of beer. I, not usually one to be surprised by the number of empty beer bottles at the end of a party, stood amazed at the damage we had done to the national beer reserve.

The owner of the place took me on a tour, showing me all of the different kinds of fruits (two or three kinds of cashew, a ridiculous variety of mangoes, star fruit, acerola, something called manguita -- which is delicious, several kinds of bananas, coconuts, and others). He sent me home with a big bag of fruit that we picked while on our tour of the premises.

And now I have the Brazilian equivalent of poison ivy on my right wrist, hand, and forearm. It isn't really that bad -- I had a lot of experience with poison ivy in elementary school -- it's an annoying pint-sized itch, as opposed to a full-on itching-all-the-time kind of itch. But it's still a pretty annoying reminder of what was otherwise a great day.