We made our way back to Curitiba and finally settled into the apartment that a friend of Gerson's is allowing us to use. Mauricio or rather "Uga" (a nickname he got from something to do with surfing), has a wonderful two-bedroom apartment over his state-of-the-art commercial photography studio and he welcomed us to move in for the next few months. After one look at his barren refrigerator, I started to suspect why...definitely a typical bachelor with the refrigerator contents being left-over take-out food, three beers and a bottle of hot sauce. Let's just say our first order of business was to fill the refrigerator with some sort of sustenance.
The best thing about staying at Uga's (for me anyway) is my new very best friend. He has gorgeous long blonde hair, warm brown eyes, a huge smile that never disappears and is always happy to see me. "Occy" which is short for Mark Occhilupo, a very famous and extraordinarily talented Australian surfer (I think you can see a theme concerning Uga) is a bouncing two-year old Golden Retriever that is the alleged "guard dog". Of course, I have ruined him as he never had an unkind bark for me.
Gerson wasted no time to introduce me to a restaurant that specializes in foods from the northern State of Minas Gerais. The food is cooked in clay pots over a wood-burning stove and you decorate your plate with an amazing variety of foods. From feijoada (black beans and pork) to ox tail, from rice to various potatoes, from pumpkin to okra, from ribs to lingua (tongue), from pork loin to chicken...all prepared in various sauces and spices. Add to this feast several soups that consist of bone marrow or a relative of split pea as well as a mix of sobremesas (desserts) and no matter how much you restrain yourself to small "just a taste" portions, you need a stretcher to get out of the restaurant. A DEFINITE do-over!
Speaking of food, we visited Aunt Raquel and she put Gerson in touch with her daughter, Ana Lucia, Gerson's cousin. As is the Brazilian way, we were expected for lunch the next day (it is almost impossible to succeed in saying no to Brazilians and food) and Gerson was excited to see these terrific people after a nine-year separation.
Not to bore anyone with the business we also accomplished during the week, I will keep that brief. We met with Gerson's attorney friend, Luis Renato to get an update on Gerson's rental home business and started to set up some minor repairs at the home. Those tasks as well as locating Gerson's belongings that were stored in a few places around Curitiba, kept us busy and traveling across the city a few times. Sometimes, the more you pull at those so-called "loose ends" the more everything unravels, or so it seems. I get to roll my eyes here because there are a few walls around Curitiba wherein my head is imprinted in them...after banging my head against them in frustration at how Brazilians accomplish things. Egad!
Funny thing though, we needed to find a few plastic containers and a few miscellaneous household goodies and we were wracking our brains as to where can we go for everything. Curitiba has many kiosks and small specialty stores, but where to go to find all that junk stuff? Gee, I know, we can go to "Little China" or as it is better known as Wal-Mart. Yes, not only does Curitiba have a Little China (Wal-Mart) they even have the obligatory McDonalds in the parking lot. Ahhhh, feels like home!
We spent some time catching up with one of Gerson's friends, Daniel and his wife, Iara (pronounced similar to Yar-rda). We had a terrific afternoon with them and they entertained us with their wedding pictures from some 15 years past. Lo and behold, there was one picture that encompassed many familiar faces and recognizable (although slimmer) physiques.
Being so close to Gerson's Coritiba Football Club (Coxa), we could not resist the call of the games. Coxa (pronounced Ko-sha) has not been doing well (probably because Gerson has not been around to cheer them on) and they had recently been dropped to a second division; however, at the time of this writing, they are battling for first place in the State Championship.
The game was tense and even though Coxa did not play exceptionally well, they were able to hold their composure until the last minute wherein they scored the winning goal. The crowd was sparse, but you would never know by the level of noise they produce nor by all the new words I learned at the game.
Here is my new vocabulary that I learned at the Coxa game. See how much fun you can have with the many combinations of words. And remember, they are just words until you throw them together...
De (day) - of
After that enlightening experience, we just stayed around town for the majority of the week. We found a new favorite cafe that served a typical Brazilian lunch of a multi-vegetable salad, rice, beans, potatoes, fruit and a meat for about $4. We also enjoyed just walking around the area and taking in the beautiful displays of trees that are in their summer flower. Curitiba is a very nice city.
We finished our week at the beach and dodged tremendous thunderstorms that came in from the Atlantic Ocean. Fortunately, the rain abated long enough to allow a triathlon in the nearby beach town of Caioba to go off without a hitch. A good friend of Marjorie (Gerson's sister) was competing in the triathlon and it was great to see her cross the finish line, tired in body but energized in spirit.
We came back to Curitiba to face a few days of "business" and get ready for our next adventure: our trip to the State of Goias and our jaunts to several cities, including the Capitol of Brasil, Brasilia. Stay tuned...