22 February 2009

MARKET DAY - Part 3 Morning & Afternoon

This is  Part 3 of a 4-part series describing
a typical Saturday ---Market Day --- in Glória. 

Note: Some of the names in this story have
been changed because I can’t remember the
real names of all of the people in the town.

Morning & Afternoon:

        After shopping at the weekly market, we carried our heavy purchases to our small house. Brunie placed a bit of dried corn and a bowl of water on the floor, then untied the chicken’s legs and let her strut around the kitchen. Neither of us had the heart to kill a chicken, so when we decided to cook chicken for dinner, we would take her to a neighbor to trade for a chicken the neighbor had killed.
        Brunie had opted to purchase a small stove powered by a propane tank, thus we used our built-in wood-burning stove as counter space. We soaked vegetables in iodine water and placed them in our kerosene refrigerator. We cut gristle and fat from the meat, throwing it out the back door where large vultures with blue-black opalescent heads swooped down to gather the scraps. We placed fruit in large gourds that had been cut in half to make bowls. Beans, rice, and other dry goods went in airtight containers, more to protect them from mice than to keep them fresh.
Ceramic drip water filter similar
to one we used in Glória.

        I used a handful of sugar as an abrasive cleaner for the filter in our drinking-water crock and set a huge pot of water to boil for the required twenty minutes before adding it to the terra cotta water filter.
        By eight-thirty or nine, we had completed our chores and were ready to prepare breakfast. Brunie flipped through our James Beard paperback cookbook ---conveniently issued by the Peace Corps ---to find a pancake recipe. She mixed flour, eggs, baking powder, sugar, powdered milk, water, and vanilla. I cut up a banana and sectioned an orange.
        Someone had told Brunie that there was no maple syrup in Brazil, so she had packed two bottles of concentrated maple flavoring in her foot locker. We mixed it with corn syrup to approximate the maple syrup we enjoyed at home.
        After breakfast, I spent the morning working on lessons for my English classes. The ginásio was staffed with some bankers and elementary school teachers who worked during the day, so high school classes were held evenings and on Saturdays as well as weekday afternoons. I, too, was a professora at the ginásio
        Since we had eaten breakfast later than usual, we skipped lunch. While most Glorianos took their after-lunch siestas, I headed to the school's office in the priests' home next to the church. Using Padre Henrique’s typewriter and the school’s hand-cranked mimeograph machine I made copies of a worksheet for my two o’clock class of beginning English students.

Students show off their
new school uniforms.

        Only fifteen of the twenty-one students showed up, not bad for Saturday. Even fewer arrived for my three and four-o’clock classes, but a few students lingered after class, trying out the American slang I had taught them.
        “Do you think I’m cute?” asked Fernando.
        Veralucia laughed and said, “No, Fernando. You are not cute. But you are cool.” The boys snickered because the word ‘cool’ sounded like a naughty Portuguese word. The students laughed and teased each other, butchering English about as much as I normally butchered their language.
        Veralucia asked, “Will you go to the movie tonight, Dona Carolina?”
        “No. I already saw tonight’s film,” I lied.
        “I can never understand the English on American films. Why is that?”
        Of course she couldn’t. The sound system on the projector was so bad that even I couldn’t understand the garbled English. I had attended one film, the first weekend I spent in Glória. I vowed it would be my last. The theater had hard wooden seats with almost no leg room. There was no ventilation in the theater. After twenty minutes it felt and smelled like a steamy locker room.
        To help promote the Brazilian film industry, a law prevented foreign films from being dubbed into Portuguese. Therefore every American film had Portuguese subtitles. The owner paid a few high school students to sit at strategic places so they could be ‘readers’. They read the subtitles out loud so any illiterate citizens could enjoy the movie.
        Brunie had spent the afternoon at the office of an agronomist and home economist commissioned by the state government to impliment agricultural and nutrition improvements in the small town. Many farmers requested hybrid corn or other seeds from Luís Carlos. Brunie and Irene talked to women about boiling and filtering water and adding more vegetables to their diets.
Trucks carried vendors and shoppers to and from the
 weekly market.  Our neighbor Gugú, who carried
water to our house, sits on his donkey to the right.

        Trucks, horses, donkeys, and mules with the last of the market-day vendors and shoppers passed me as I walked home from the school. Many vendors would travel to markets in other towns Monday through Friday the next week and return to Glória on Saturday.
        When I arrived home, I decided to take a shower and wash my hair. First I heated water in a huge cooking pot, then mixed enough cold water with it to make it luke warm. In the kitchen, with a slightly slanted mud-brick floor and no windows, I undressed and scooped water into a smaller pot and poured it over my head, allowing it to run under the door to the outside. 
        The house was equipped with a small shower stall, but one had to carry pails of water and go outside to enter it, so it was more convenient to shower inside the house. Besides, soon after she arrived in Glória, Brunie had found a snake in the shower room, so we used it only for storing brooms and other tools. We brushed our teeth standing just inside the back door, spitting into the yard.
        Since we had been to the market that morning, we had a variety of fresh foods for dinner. We could make beef stew with potatoes, onions and carrots. We could use our hand-cranked meat grinder to make hamburgers or meat sauce for pasta. But, since it was Saturday and Brunie wanted to go to the movie that night, we opted for something less time-consuming. We fried fresh pork and heated leftover beans and rice from our kerosene refrigerator. There was always fruit for dessert. We often ended our meal with maté tea. Brunie didn’t like coffee, and frankly the coffee in Glória wasn’t very good. Someone explained that all the good coffee was exported.
        After cleaning the dishes and storing leftovers, we left for Saturday night on the town. The second town square was not used for the market. It had been planted with grass, trees, and other tropical plants. And there were benches scattered around the perimeter. That is were everyone gathered to watch the movemento.

The praça where everyone 
strolled on Saturday night, 
to see and be seen.

See other posts in this series:
Market Day - Part 3 Morning and Afternoon (this one)

(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

1 comment:

  1. CJ

    You made a good chicken trade. And Hints by Heloise would've been proud of your sugary abrasive cleaner.

    Your students all looked so cute.

    What a nice way to end the day I just wish you had good coffee.

    Peace out, feeno