Archive for May, 2010

05.27.10

The Christening

Posted in Excerpts at 08:46 am by admin

            Gracie's ChristeningOn April 20th I flew to Jackson Mississippi.  As the airplane was descending and preparing to land I looked out of the window at the vibrant green colors, blue waters of the many small lakes below, and I started to cry.  I do not cry easily and wondered why this was happening to me.  What was happening within me, at this moment to cause me to cry?  Then it came to me like a bolt of lightening!  I was going to the Catholic Christening of my granddaughter Gracie.  What would my father and mother think?  Especially my mother, who believed that it was very rare that a Catholic would make it to heaven, and in my book, Divine Betrayal, (Chapter Thirteen, p.137) I write: “I joked with Mother about how shocked she would someday be to get to heaven and see all those Catholics milling about.  She threw me a stiff glance that said she knew better.”  And here I was on my way to the Christening of her great-granddaughter in the Roman Catholic Church.  But I soon discovered that these tears turned from sadness to tears of joy.  A flood of emotion filled me and I sobbed and cried even harder.

            Saturday was the ceremony.  When we got to the church the first person I met was the priest.  Before going on, I want to explain that my youngest daughter Martha married Todd, a young man from Jackson Mississippi.  His family has a long tradition in the Catholic Church.  Todd’s grandparents came from Italy and this Church has played a major role in his upbringing.   Gracie’s baptismal gown was made from handkerchiefs her great-grandmother brought from Italy.  The hem of the gown had embroidered names and dates of other family members who had used this gown.  The priest, Father Curley, came from another town to perform this ceremony, for he had christened Gracie’s Dad and all of Gracie’s aunts, uncles and cousins.   Sadly, Father Curley had buried Gracie’s  grandmother only two year before.  Father Curley was one of the family.  The ceremony was beautiful, Martha and Todd beamed the whole time, and I cried tears of joy.   (more…)

05.23.10

The Friendly Brazilians

Posted in Excerpts at 08:35 pm by admin

          Anyone who has ever been to Brazil is very much aware of how friendly the people are.  Besides the beauty of this country, the most outstanding thing that visitors mention is how much they enjoyed the way they were treated by the Brazilian people.

          As I have mentioned in other blog entries and in my book, Divine Betrayal, Brazil has a very diverse population. Most of the settlers originally came from Portugal, Italy, Africa (as slaves), and Germany.  Brazil also has a large population of Asians, mostly from Japan, but lately from China.

          The language is Portuguese.  Portuguese is a Latin language and it is very similar to Italian.  It is not surprising that I find Brazilians also very similar to Italians.  The Brazilians are very demonstrative, and it is absolutely impossible to speak Brazilian Portuguese without using your hands. At a dinner table it seems like everyone is talking with loud voices, interrupting one another and speaking at the same time.  There is no such thing as a quiet, relaxing dinner with a group of friends or family.

            It is not unusual to meet someone for the first times, and to have him invite you to his home.  He really means it!  If you accept the invitation, you can be sure you will be very welcome. 

            On one of my trips to Florianopolis, I tried to get in touch by phone with an old family friend, who lived in a near by city, Blumenau.  I called information and reached a person with the same last name.  After a few minutes of conversation it was clear to me that he was not the person I was looking for.  After polite conversation, and establishing that it was the wrong number, the person said:  “I would love to meet you and your family. I would be honored to have you come and have dinner with my family.”  You may think this was strange.  I did not.  He really meant it, and I’m sure if I had the time to visit him, we would have had a great experience, and could have made a new friend.  Similar things have happened to me several times in Brazil.  It does not take long to make friends in Brazil, and I must declare that I have never met a Brazilian I did not like. 

            There is always hugging and kissing when you see someone, even if only a casual friend.  The greeting for women is kissing both cheeks, and for men it’s an “abraco” …a warm hug. It is very impolite to meet someone, even for the first time and not shake hands.  Just saying “pleased to meet you” is not enough.

             All our Brazilian friends love music and dance.  It seems like everyone in Brazil can sing, and sing well, and many can play the guitar.  Brazilian music if full of rhythm.  Everyone, even little children, love to keep time to the beat, with a coke bottle filled with stones, a matchbox, or just sticks hitting an empty can.  (more…)

05.12.10

Florianopolis

Posted in Excerpts at 09:48 am by admin

            I hesitate writing about my hometown, because there is a selfish part of me that doesn’t want everyone to know about this place.  Every time I visit, it is obvious that it is growing way too fast: the highways can not contain the traffic, and the beaches are  overcrowded, especially in January and February, the summer vacations months in Brazil.

Praia de Armacao

 Florianopolis, also nicknamed Floripa, is the capital city of the state of Santa Catarina, in the South of Brazil.   I write about the history of this area in chapter nine of Divine Betrayal.  The city is located on an island also called Santa Catarina.  When I lived there the population was near 30,000.  Today the city has a population of  407,000 and with the surrounding areas the total population is 821,000.  

Newsweek has named Florianopolis “one of the ten most dynamic cities of the world.”  It is also known to many Americans as the “Hawaii of the South.”  Besides being the State’s Capital and therefore housing the Governor and Legislature, it also has several well respected Universities.  However, with 42 beaches surrounding the island, it is a tourist center, and also becoming a second home destination for Americans, Europeans, Argentines, and tourists from other nearby South American countries, as well as Brazilians wanting to escape the larger cities.  It is 711 miles south of Rio de Janeiro and 430 miles south of Sao Paulo.

In the north central part of the island is a beautiful lake called Lagoa da Conceicao..  It is 19.17 square kilometers in size, and near two ocean Beaches, Praia Mole and  Joaquim which are noted for hosting major international surfing competitions. In this same area there a large sand dunes and sand surfing has also grown as a sport. 

The northern half of the island has the most population, with modern homes, condominiums, hotels, and restaurants.  The southern part is still relatively pristine.  The beaches have restaurants, some vacation homes, but no hotels.  When we visit Florianopolis we are fortunate to stay at the Armacao beach.  The photo shows as it is today, still a fishermen’s village, with a picturesque church, restaurants, a primary school, a police station, and just recently a library.

When we visit Armacao we stay with the family of my dear friend Luiz Sabino, who we visited in 2006 shortly before his passing.  On that visit, the beaches were crowded with people bused in or who came by car from Florianopolis.  It takes about 40 minutes to get from the center of Florianopolis to the beaches at the south end of the island. (more…)

05.03.10

CAFEZINHO (Demitasse coffee)

Posted in Excerpts at 08:26 am by admin

              Coffee is not just grown in Brazil, but it is a very important part of the Brazilian culture.  Most Brazilians drink several cups of coffee per day and it is served in demitasse cups.  It is a very strong, almost a syrup, and they usually fill the demitasse cup half full with sugar and then add the coffee.  Of course there is a jolt and I’ve often wondered if it comes from the caffeine or sugar.  It probably comes from both.  In Portuguese the name for coffee is “Café” and “Cafezinho” literally means little coffee.

            Cafezinho is served at tall bars, with standing room only, no stools.  The customer comes to the bar, orders his cafezinho, adds the sugar, stirs and with one or two gulps it is swallowed.  He goes on to his business. He may do this several times during the day. For this reason American coffee companies, such as Starbucks, have not been successful in Brazil.  The Brazilian does not sit, relax, visit with friends, or even use the internet while he is drinking his coffee.  This is a cultural phenomena and it is not going to change. (more…)


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