Tuesday, July 07, 2009

leaving paradise

I have left paradise, and I am sad to leave somewhere so overwhelmingly beautiful, but am excited to be on my own again. The days open up in an entirely different way when you know no one around you and have no one to look out for and there is no one to take care of you. I have only myself to please or not. This type of transient loneliness between places and friends is something I'm becoming accustomed to. It's when I write.

Despite everyday on the farm in Brazil being filled with the poetry of the landscape and words of a budding romance swimming in my ears, I could hardly write. Here, again, in a small border town, a stranger to the people around me, I can put words to the time there. Here, in Corumba, in what a Brazilian woman named Carmen called the hottest town in Brazil (though I don't believe her), guests speaking European languages and splashing in the almost but not quite warm enough pool, it's easier to fold my thoughts and words around the lingering sunsets and the smell of burnt sugar cane on Fazenda Milhã.



Warm winter days, in a way that I can't believe it's not fall or spring or perhaps an early summer day, and rolling red hills with row after row of swaying sugar cane. Jabuticaba trees blooming snowflake flowers , delicate scent calling all the bees so that standing inside one is to hear nothing else than the industry of busy insects.

Papaya trees in troves. Swaying in the wind, some knocked down in the storm that scattered lightening over the hills and between the clouds. Papaya trees standing awkwardly like a woman with too many breasts and no children to chase them. Waiting for the awkward fruits to grow and ripen.

(perhaps, I'm writing like what I've been reading: Tar Baby by Toni Morrison)

Every day we ate papayas and avocados from the farm. Food was plentiful and rich. Simple in a country sort of way, beans, vegetables, a dish of meat, all seasoned with garlic. always plenty of garlic. Everything, butter, mayonnaise, bread, made from scratch, the result of labor being cheap and culturally appropriate. Salads almost every meal, the greens, tomatoes, carrots, beets all straight from the garden. Lovely Brazilian coffee.....

And the sun would set slowly and the air seemed to turn a little red, whether from the red dust or the smoke from the burning cane or an illusion from the warmth of the land... At night we could see the sugar cane burning it the distance and hear the blaze even miles away. The ash would float through the air like snowflakes before landing and sootying up clothes or houses.

And red mud, again and again, covering feet, cars, dogs. The two little dogs (and one old one too) always bouncing around, getting caught up on each other. Stupid but sweet little things that seemed to defy gravity and have endless bladders for pissing on bushes when we went out walking.

Anthony's grandmother, 91, cute as a button, fluttering about and making sure none of us were cold. Speaking me in Portuguese as if I understood as well as anyone else. How I smiled the night she kissed me goodnight and called me "mi amor" like she did her grand kids. Tiny and thin, with Anthony and his family all encouraging her to eat constantly, "First you tell your kids what to do and then at some point they are always telling you what to do," she explains to me.

Anthony's aunt, a woman who I sincerly respect, running the farm and all sorts of sugar cane/alternative energy associations, I will also miss very much. There is a type of strength and social grace that I have always sought to develop in myself and she has it.

And owls on the fence posts, and the Southern Cross bright and clear at night, clean air, good water, fresh cheese from the local dairy, waking up warm and smiling...

Before leaving, I sat out on the grass, looking out over the reservior and hills, dogs playing on me and rolling around on the grass, just listening to how quiet it was and loving the beauty of the place. *this* I'll remember, I thought to myself, when I'm sad and can't find enough beauty around me. This will be one of those touch stone memories I come back to.

But then there were bus rides and border crossings and train rides and so on, and now here I am, now finishing this post in a hostel in Santa Cruz, Bolivia before heading into a jungle filled with mosquitoes and other bugs, a day away from running with pumas or jaguars, fingers crossed.

the adventures most certainly do continue....