Bank Blowout

A little escapism in these difficult times isn’t all bad, and so last week I was devouring a copy of  Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Escapism is all well and good, unless you live in a third-world country. And Parable of the Sower is an excellent novel; I recommend it highly—UNLESS, that is, you…

This is What Corruption Looks Like

You really couldn’t imagine anything more dastardly or shameful. This week, in the middle of the night, while all the press was looking towards Colombia, and the nation mourned the loss of a whole team of talented, young men, Brazil’s politicians gutted an anti-corruption bill. The President declared three days of national mourning and the…

12 Things About Brazil the Guidebooks Never Tell You

Waiting in line is over-rated. Brazilians don’t really do lines. Unless otherwise directed, they tend to form a large, organic crowd and all push forward to the front. Why is this important? Banks, grocery stores, bus stations, they’ll probably have lines that people respect. But if you’re trying to get through a market or a concert…

Racial Panels and a Drop of Blood

I have this cringeworthy memory where I’m pretty sure I offended a whole roomful of people of color repeatedly. I mean, it’s one of those really bad memories where it flashes back and I mentally go: “LA-LA-LA-I-CAN’T-HEAR-YOU. LA-LA-LA-I’M-STILL-A-GOOD-PERSON-SO-GO-AWAY-LA-LA-LA-LAAAAA!!”  Sigh. It’s an “oops!” memory of Epic Proportions. All of us probably have them (well… everyone except maybe Donald Trump,…

Daring-Do

“Heard of rainbow hair?” I said, “You wanted me to go more platinum blonde. Ok. Deal. And when I do, I want that.” I showed her a photo. She said, “You’re feeling radical?” I said, “I’ve always been radical, you just never asked.” But clearly this was beyond my hair stylist’s comfort zone so I…

Fotocrônica: Cattle Country

It was a Friday night and we were driving down Main Street. There was a COW ambling down the opposite lane. No one was behind her, no one trying to get her back into a corral, she was just on her way up the block. This gives you an idea of how rurally imbedded we…

The Oxymoron of American Pizza in Brazil

Brazilians have a funny idea of what is American. It’s a cross between what they see on TV and what they think is cool (which may or may not have anything to do with actual American customs. To point, behold the “American Pizza” we enjoyed last night: sausage (check), cheese (check), sauce (check), ham (check),…

Zika Madness

I get a lot of questions from people in the States about how people here in Brazil are dealing with all the Zika craziness. Americans are absolutely freaking out about the problem. And Brazilians? My answer always is: “They shrug.” It’s true. Ask any average Brazilian their opinion about Zika, and they’ll lift their shoulders…

100 Brazilian Dishes: Blender Cake

I had no idea what they were talking about when I first read the list of 100 Brazilian Dishes. Blender cake? I learned later that most homemakers here make cake by throwing all the ingredients in the blender then pouring it into a cake pan. One more use for that trusty kitchen tool–juices, seasonings, and…

Bucket Brigade

We have endless water at the farm. Most of the time. It’s a true luxury. It runs day and night, and we do our best to route it to the most useful places so that its abundance isn’t wasted. It’s easy to be casual about it, because if it isn’t used it just means that…

Tinderbox

It was my first day in Brazil after the long nighttime bus ride back to our interior town. It had been a month since I had stepped on Brazilian soil. I opened the living room door and peer out into the yard. The light burned my eyes. Was the Brazilian sun always this bright? My eyes itched….