Monday, June 15, 2009

Cidade maravilhosa...

The old song says it all, "Cidade maravilhosa cheia de cantos mil, cidade maravilhosa, coração do meu Brasil."

I'm now in São Paulo at my hotel and will fly out of here to Miami in the morning. This trip went too quickly as I feared by Friday. After Friday's rain, Saturday and Sunday became beautiful and radiant winter days here. Dora and most Brazilians couldn't get over the fact that I was quite comfortable and didn't use a jacket. The weather feels like January in Miami to me.

Saturday we were up and at 'em to go to PUC for LASA. Dora and I attended a lively Scholarly Resources and Research business meeting led by Holly Ackerman. Carolyn Palaima, Kent Norsworthy, and Virginia Hedley of UT-Austin, Tracy North and KD McCain of LC were also in attendance. (I bet I've omitted someone so don't take this as an official report!) Holly had a strong agenda for discussion calling up memories of this section in the 1980s. We want to re-engage the focus between LASA and SALALM through SRR and provide more support to graduate students. We also realized we could play more of a role with the LASA Secretariat. It will be exciting to see what comes of our discussion.

After attending some panels, I headed back to the hotel to change clothes. There was a reception for the Fulbright Commission and to my surprise,Dr. Fausto Sarmiento was their keynote speaker! Fausto is a faculty member at the University of Georgia. We worked together with the UGA Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute (it was called a center back then). He is one of 13 Fulbrighters designated as Fulbright Embassadors who will be promoting the program in a variety of discussions and workshops in the US.

The other big moment of the evening was the appearance at the reception of Pamela Howard-Reguindin with her husband Henry. Many salalmistas have missed Pamela since she departed Rio to head up the Library of Congress office in Nairobi. They arrived in Brazil from Mexico. After the reception, Dora, Pam, Henry, their friend Roseli and I went to a restaurant to catch up on old times. There was a car across the street whose alarm seemed to go off every 5 minutes but despite that annoyance we had a wonderful evening.

Sunday morning Dora and I headed back to PUC for the final panels of the day that ended at 1pm. We finally connected with Carolyn and Virginia for lunch but Kent was under the weather and stayed behind. We left the bus to dine at the Confeitaria Colombo at the Forte do Copacabana. While waiting for our table, we strolled around the fort museum which has tableauxs of Brazilian history as seen through military eyes. You can also go out on the wall to the cannons and get a beautiful view of Copacabana down to Leme.

Once we were seated and waiting for our food, we looked at the buildings on the other side and tried to spot where our respective hotels were. Carolyn and Virginia left to get their bags and head to the airport. Dora and I took more time walking around the fort, and bought souvenirs at the gift shop. We didn't make it to the Ipanema Hippie Fair but we had a nice walk down Copacabana looking at paintings for sale on display. A little boy appealed to Dora and we went into Bob's Big Burger where she bought him a hamburger. They have an interesting poster on the wall of the Redentor holding a Big Burger in his right hand. There was a slogan akin to 'Burgers made the way Brazilians like them.' I doubt that this type of billboard would fly in the US!

Dora headed out this morning for Brasília to pursue government documents. By the way, BRASA will hold their annual meeting there next July. It's close to SALALM's dates or I'd go to see if it's as boring as Dora and others claims. I checked out a short time later and took a cab to pay a visit to Susan Bach Books from Brazil. It's a short distance in Botafogo from Copa and they do business in a beautiful old house filled with books (my idea of heaven). Sandra, Malú, Alexia and I visited awhile, they showed me how the work is organized, and then Vera arrived. She's been under the weather the past few days so I appreciated her effort to see me. We walked down the street for lunch, and then I returned to the hotel to get my bags and was just in time to meet Jaldir, the LC driver who took me to the Galeão airport (but why the acronym GIG on airline websites?).

One observation I made during this trip. I seemed to see almost no one talking on their cellphone while driving. In Miami the opposite is the rule and not the exception. Jaldir confirmed it's prohibited by law and people take it very seriously. If only the US would follow this example!

I didn't get to do nearly enough on this trip but seeing a variety of carioca neighborhoods reimpressed on me just how lovely and special this 'cidade maravilhosa' is. I have to come back here soon to enjoy more caipirinhas (sorry, just not the same to have one in Miami where they are served), more passion fruit desserts (almost impossible to find in Miami), and maybe even get a Big Bob burger!

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