Friday, December 17, 2010


The days of the week don't really have names here, they are more to keep time, which seems very biblical. Thursday is Quinta-Feira or "fifth day." Well, feira means day, holiday, market, all sorts of things--which is very bahiana. Like belleza, which translates into beauty, but people say when they greet you "Ola! Belleza!" 

So on the quinta-feria, the goddess of all things belleza made this:

Frances and I walked from her place in Los Campos/Entrada Fumaça to Campinas (about an hour), an intentional community that has been around for about thirty years. We ran into a few friends of hers who give beijos on the cheeks and on her belly, exclaiming belleza! of course. Arriving at Campinas, we find some very dreadlocked, rasta kids stoking the wood fire preparing a lunch of squash stew, pasta salad, and rice. At this point in time Campinas is a bit smaller than it has been in years past--about thirty families could live on the land, cultivating various projects. Today it is a bit more of a communters commune, with folks coming in and out, but as with any community there is always an ebb and flow.

One of the founders, Nede, had just returned and she was petite, strong and all business. She had taken a sixth month siesta from Campinas to make some money working in her ex-partners pizza shop in town. Downtown Capao is a whole other story. Maybe  a bit like Woodstock, I imagine. A new girl had just arrived the day before from Germany and her one year old, Louie, was crawling around on the floor pretty much just licking the ground and eating dirt. At one point he picks up a lead pencil and Frances says, 
Um is that a pencil in his mouth?
and the girl responds, Oh yes, he eats everything! He eats ze bugs, ze trees, za dirt, it's all sooo natural.
Hmmm, but that's lead, says Frances.
He is so healthy, no problems with ze digestion, notheeeng...

Right. A few minutes later I look over and li'l Louie is splashing in his own pee on the ground. I say to his mama, 
Uh, that, er, water is "new."  
Oh! Is it xi-xi?
Right. She goes over and mops up the floor, but not really, then wipes her baby down with dirty xi-xi rag. This is all sooo natural! We are in nature, right? Pencils for everyone! Mama then goes to climb a tree and Louie crawls outside and starts cramming fist fulls of mud in his mouth. Nede, is tossing over very disapproving looks.  Frances is just pretending like she isn't really seeing any of it. I play a bit with Louie who makes low grunting gutteral noises as he plays.

Frances preparing the alavante, which she will use as
an antiseptic soak after her baby boy is born
We go on a tour of the herbario, one of the few successful projects of Campinas that brings in money for the community. Nede runs it of course. Apparently the other cofounder is returning soon, after an absence of about fifteen years, to open a Waldorf school on the land. It all sounds very mythic--the return of the founders. At the herbario, there are vibrant greens and flowers with every medicinal purpose one can imagine. The Chapada Diamantina, the forested area of Bahia, is semi-arid land. The soil needs to be worked vigorously to grow things beyond various fruit trees and flowers. The land at Campinas is very rich and has been worked very hard by thousands of people over the years. 

A girl blows a conch shell to signal that lunch is ready. Nede has chopped up a beautiful salad of bitter greens and herbs from the garden. And if you have the ovaries, you can sprinkle some of the hot pepper oil on your dish. The peppers are the size of small beetles--you know what they say about small packages...I get up to get Frances some more pasta salad and the german girl says, 
Excuse me, but we try to make sure that everyone gets one serving before going for seconds. 
Of course, but, this is for Frances, ela esta muito gravida.
Yes, well there are many who have not eaten their lunch.
Right. Two men went up just before me and filled their plates. And people have been chatting and eating for about an hour. And lunch is served at pretty much the same time everyday. And three people blew the conch to alert everyone that food was ready. But no matter, I sit back down. I only took a little bit at the beginning to make sure there was enough to go around--I should've realized the loophole when everyone else sat down with heaping, piled-high plates. Frances goes up herself after to get her damn pasta and the girl says nothing. Later, she tells Frances about the same rule (though Frances e Diego lived in Campinas last year) and then asked who her man was. Oy. Nede, sits across from me and says some things in portuguese that I don't understand, but you can tell that she has a bone to pick already. 

I sit outside and let the perfect day rest on my skin. My legs are definitely browner than they were a week ago. As we get ready to leave--Frances with her borrowed birthing pool and alavante bouqet in hand, Kiara with a bundle of fresh herbs for her soups and frittatas, and I with very warm skin--Diego is called back to the kitchen by Nede. Very frantic. Turns out that li'l Louie did the inevitable. He took a big ol' baby poop on the floor and his mama, Madame au naturel, wiped it up with her hands and went to wash it in the food sink. Nede hit the shingled roof and the new girl was done for. Diego translated the scolding into german so there was no mistake. Some lessons are hard won. I couldn't help but smile just a little at the thought of the scolder being the scolded. I think it all really just struck because it was the first time since I've been in Brasil that someone wasn't really all that welcoming. Another gringa in the mix, né?

I just heard that some people consider this area a vortex, which makes total sense. Karma is very instantaneous in these here parts.

No comments:

Post a Comment