I didn't realize it, but before Christmas, I had an almost pre-written blog post written in my head about how pure Christmas is outside the US, where the season is often more stressful and expensive than the rest of the year combined. Not about Jesus, or even giving, but rather fulfilling obligations and making the appearance of merry through meaningless traditions. I was sure the traditions in Brazil would be only meaningful and Christ centered.
I wasn't entirely off. I mean, I do think Christmas cheer has gone off the deep end even since my childhood. But that opinion wasn't reinforced in Sobral, so I have to write a different blog post.
We spent Christmas with Porter's best and only mission companion with whom he still keeps in touch. Joao Paulo is pretty great. A big guy with a real smile, who went out of his way the entire 4 days we were there include me in conversations in Portuguese that I would be otherwise left out of because I translate too slow and zone out when my brain gets tired.
We arrived on Christmas Eve afternoon, and I was admittedly out of it, after an early morning flight and bus ride on a highway HALF MADE OF DIRT. Seriously, Brazil. Sobral has a light rail, Expo center, the cleanest downtown of any city we've been to so far and it takes you 10 years to pave a highway? Get a life!
|Paving the highway.|
So by the time we arrived, preparations were already underway. I forget, often, that while I like to eat dinner at 6 or maaaybe 7 pm, Brazilians are on a totally different schedule. It's a zillion degrees during the day, so why cook while the sun is up?! Wait til 8 or 9 or 10. So Christmas Eve dinner was late, but delicious. Friends and family (or strangers, what do I know?) just kept showing up, I finally zonked just after midnight, and excused myself from even the kids who could stay up past my bedtime.
So it was with most things that week, really. Me, thinking we were going to do something (go to the pool, start a movie, sit down at a table at a restaurant) and we would eventually do it, And it would be enjoyable. Just slower-going than I would be expecting.
Christmas Eve is the biggest festivity, with a fancy dinner of roasted chicken and fruit bouquets and a cucumber Christmas tree, all fastened together with toothpicks. I can get behind that!
More on Sobral from Porter-man.