Saturday night, we went out to an open-air restaurant called Varandao, where we spent a few hours and saw two guys with guitars playing Brasilian music (sorry, no Pink Floyd here). We had a great time. My cell phone has a pretty good camera.
Yesterday, Cinesio and Monica’s sister Rita stopped by in the morning and invited us to go with them to see his sister and their family. They often go there on Sundays. We quickly packed up the Tipo and brought swimming stuff, as Cinesio said that they have a cachoeira (waterfall) there.
We took RJ-153 from Volta Redonda to Santa Isabel, where their farm is. This is a winding two-lane road that follows the curves of the mountains and requires one to pay attention to keeping the car on the road. The journey took about 40 minutes. These people are SO nice! They have recently moved there from Minas Gerais – among Brasilians, people from Minas have a reputation for being even nicer than regular Brasilians. Gente boa, indeed.
We made introductions, and Cinesio’s brother-in-law, Antonio, immediately asked the gringo if he liked cachaça. (I think he called it pinga, another name for the same thing) Cachaça is a distilled spirit made from sugar cane – it’s nothing like rum (from molasses). It’s very popular here and the main ingredient in the caipirinha, the Brasilian national drink. Perhaps it could be described as the Brasilian equivalent of our whiskey. Of course, I tried a bit of it. Awesome stuff, although I think it’s a bit stronger than the stuff that you buy in stores. Antonio makes it himself and is justifiably proud of the results. Cinesio started a fire in the grill, meaning that we’d probably have some barbecued meat for lunch.
We’re offered some cheese (homemade minas-type cheese – Antonio has cows) and milk as fresh as it could possible be. We changed and walked down to a little creek where we cooled off for a bit. Rita’s teacup Yorkie surprised everyone by jumping into the water with us. We had no sunscreen for the gringo (had to forget SOMETHING) and didn’t stay long.
When we get back to the house, Antonio’s wife is busy preparing lunch. Note that I could not sit down all day without a plate of something really tasty showing up. Lunch was awesome. After, we headed out for a hike to a waterfall to play in the water some more. The farm is very hilly, and covered with small trails made by the cows. We followed one of them a kilometer or so to a spot where the water rushed quickly past some rocks.
While we were in the water, the sun vanished, leaving us with some nasty gray clouds and rain. Leaving the water, we started hiking back to the house. The rain got harder, the clay on the little cow trails was slippery, and we were all thououghly soaked, including Rita’s yorkie. We took a wrong fork and ended up in a very bad place, way up on the side of a hill where the cattle trail just disappeared, leaving us stuck on a slippery hill (in flip-flops). We decided to turn back – continuing was impossible, and we were obviously in the wrong place – we could see the house WAY below us. Monica slipped in the mud, catching some thorns as she tried to get her footing back in the driving rain. It took a few minutes, but we eventually were back on our feet and proceeding back to the proper trail, the rain rinsing the mud off us as we walked. Just before we got back to the house, we passed through a cow pen. Until now, we had been able to miss most of the cow poop by stepping around or over it. No more – in order to go through one gate, we had to walk barefoot through rain-sodden muck that sucked our feet down past our ankles. There was much hosing off when we got back to the house before we went back inside. Antonio’s wife, Celia, gratiously provided me with a dry shirt, as we sat down in the kitchen and laughed about our experience on the side of the hill.
As we watched the rain continue to fall, Antonio was concerned that we might not be able to get to the top of the hill of their unpaved driveway. Cinesio offered to move the Tipo up there, but he only moved it a little before getting it stuck in two muddy ruts, still in front of the house. We left the car there, deciding to free it from the mud after the rain stopped. Antonio got out a battered guitar and announced that we could sing the rain away. He played Brasilian folk songs there in the kitchen while everyone but the gringo sang. It was a really cool way to spend an afternoon. Thinking of the stuck car and the twisting road ahead, I declined many offers of more cashasa and beer. A plate of fried cheese appeared in front of us. MMmmmmmm.
After perhaps 90 minutes, the sun came out and everyone cheered. Antonio, Cinesio and I freed the Tipo from the muddy ruts and I drove it to the top of the hill on the muddy driveway, sliding a bit through the mud. We went back inside for more singing and fun. Celia has a pet tree monkey – perhaps as large as my hand with a tail as long as his body. He was out while we were singing, sitting in people’s laps. At one point, Celia gave him to me. Someone asked me to put him on my shoulder, and he ran up my arm and stopped at the back of my neck, making obvious amorous advances to the back of my head and chattering noisily at any attempts to move him away (does the back of my head look like a female monkey?) Celia picked him off after a minute and put him away – it was pretty funny. The rain started back up, so we spent the afternoon in the kitchen.
Although it was getting dark and I was thinking about leaving, we couldn’t leave before dinner, another awesome meal.
The trip home was uneventful, and we arrived home just a bit tired. What a cool day!