Saturday, March 28, 2009

Estou loco, sim? Sim.

We are back in Arcoverde this weekend; arrived to a full house. Two sisters and a niece are staying here before moving to Garanhuns. It's becoming a popular city in this family, for good reason.

My Portuguese is improving. Or, I should say, my willingness to speak. My shyness is receding. I realized that no matter what I will go through a period of sounding like the village idiot, and so I must accept this as the worm stage presaging diaphanous wings of fluency. Or some flowery shit like that.

Speaking of higher diction, I finally read Anthony Hecht in Conversation with Philip Hoy. Previously, I had only read snippets here and there. It is inspiring me to revisit his poems, which thankfully I brought back with me. In some ways I think it would serve as an apt introduction to anyone not already familiar with his work, if only to dispel the notion that it is entirely, or even mostly, autobiographical. I wonder just how many readers automatically assume that all poetry is about the poet. I try never to make that assumption. There is always "the speaker."

Well, enough of that. A fellow English teacher invited us over for lunch today before we left for Arcoverde. Cous-cous, rice, vinagrette, and rack of lamb in a fine gravy. Followed by the best chocolate mousse I have ever had (considering I only recall trying this once or twice before, that's not saying much--but it would be obscene to describe exactly how orgasmic this dessert was). We are scheming to get invited to more such dinners. We are thinking of an exchange of English lessons for delicious meals every Saturday.

On the ride to Arcoverde today, a man overheard us speaking English, turned around and said, "Beautiful, yes?" Meaning the hills through which we were winding. "Sim, Beautiful," I said. "Students?" he asked. "Professores," we answered.

He spoke mostly with my girl, in Portuguese, asking her how to phrase certain questions, then had a simple conversation with me in English, and I was all too happy to oblige. Students of English here are not at all shy. Most of them, that is. I have encountered some actual English teachers who will not say a word of English to me, so frightened are they of embarrassing themselves. Life is an embarrassment. So, get over it.

The highway landscape ... it floors me with its majesty. "Majestic" -- sounds so hackneyed, but at the moment a better adjective or description is impossible. I'm travel weary and about to get bleary eyed (God willing!) ... will hopefully finally sample some Pitu, a local brand of some distilled spirit which is supposed to put more hair on my chest. I'll report my findings at the next available opportunity.

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