Monday, August 22, 2011


Hanging out with Brazilian friends drinking chimarrão and eating snacks while watching the passersby.  This is the Brazilian gaucho-style pastime in the evenings, and people start breaking out lawn chairs on the streets and parks all over town around 5pm, especially on weekends.  A great excuse to hang out with friends and do nothing, I love it.  Definitely need to get a lawn chair!

We started out sitting by the monument at the park.  This caused some confusion amongst the group, as some friends were looking for us at another monument at another park!  While waiting for them, our Brazilian host showed us the proper way to make chimarrão, which is a very strong herbal tea.

One should not use just any old mug, it should be a cuia, which is made from a gourd.  These range from dime-store cheap to so expensive they are sold in jewelry stores alongside fancy watches.  A generous amount of the erva mate or tea mixture, crushed to somewhere between leaf and powder state, is poured into the bottom of the mug.  Then hot water is added from a thermos bottle, and still more tea is poured carefully on top of that until the water can't be seen under the pile of dry herbs.
One person acts as the host and pours the hot water and tastes the chimarrão to make sure it tastes right.  It's drunk through a special straw with a strainer on the end of it; these usually look quite ornate around here.
The host then refulls the cuia and passes it to the next person, who drinks it all and then passes it back to the host to be refilled and passed on.  This continues until the thermos is empty, at which point there is an expedition to refill the thermos.

Four wanna-be Brazilian gauchos and one real one.  Can you tell which is which?
The park surrounds the city hall, a lovely old building that I've yet to go inside and which probably will have an entry of its own one of these days.
Not a very good photo, but spring is coming gradually here and the air-plants clinging to the trees are blooming.  The pink and purple blossoms are about the size of the end of my thumb.
After our wayward friends finally found the right monument (and us), we went for a drive, stopping to pick up an astonishing quantity of sugary cakes on the way.  Our destination was the tiny municipal airport, which is a popular place to drink chimarrão and watch the beautiful sunset.
We got there a bit late after the crowds had mostly dispersed, but we enjoyed ourselves anyway.
Next stop was a visit to the town "mascots", Fritz and Frida.  This town has a LOT of German immigrants; in fact, a good half of my students are of German descent and many of them speak German as well as Portuguese.

Our final stop for the evening was the shopping mall (Brazilians call it "the Shopping"), where the shops were closed but the food court stays open late into the night and is packed with people chatting with friends, much like a bar or pub would be.  Our Brazilian friends were constantly greeting people they knew, and a couple more joined our little group.

This photo of a shop mannequin has not been touched up in any way, she really looked like this.  Talk about exaggerated features - yikes!
In the center of the food court was a cute triangular standing mural made of recycled bottles and cans.

We made a somewhat early night of it because we needed to work on our lessons for the following day.

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