Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday, June 20 - Belo Horizonte

This morning Myrthes and Marco (my translator from Rio and friend of Myrthes) picked me up to go the Central Market. Imagine a huge flea market that sells miscellaneous items, all types of foods - cheeses, meats, spices, candies, liquor stores, animals (yes, live animals - chickens, birds, fish, dogs, cats) and has small counter top bars! It opens on the weekend at 4am and many people go here on there way home after a night of partying for another beer or something to eat.

At the market, we bought many things to bring home for my family to try, drank cold coconut milk and fresh pineapple. Today is GAME day...they cit is getting ready for the Brazilian futbol game at 3:30 so the streets are already coming to life with horns, everyone in green and yellow. Soon all the shops (including the mall) will close until after the game or tomorrow .... depending if they win or loose!

While were in the market, they also had a celebration for Festa Junina. Festa Junina (Junine Party), typically termed São João (Saint John's) as it is centered on that saint's day, is the name of annual Brazilian celebrations (historically related to the Midsummer and Saint John festivities in Europe) which take place in the beginning of the Brazilian winter. These festivities, which were introduced in the country by the Portuguese during the colonial period (1500-1822), are celebrated in the whole country, but are particularly associated with Northeastern Brazil. The feast is mainly celebrated on the eves of the Catholic solemnities of Saint Anthony, Saint John the Baptist, and Saint Peter.

As Northeastern Brazil is largely arid or semi-arid these popular festivals not only coincide with the end of the rainy seasons of most states in the northeast but they also provide the people with an opportunity to give thanks to Saint John for the rain. They also celebrate rural life and feature typical clothing, food, dance (particularly quadrilha, which is similar to square dancing). The "quadrilha" features couple formations around a mock wedding whose bride and groom are the central attraction of the dancing.

Men dress up as farm boys with large straw hats and women wear pigtails, freckles, painted gap teeth and red-checkered dresses, all in a loving tribute to the origins of Brazilian country music, and of themselves, some of whom are recent immigrants from the countryside to cities such as Olinda, Recife, Maceió and Salvador, and some of whom return to the rural areas during that season to visit family. However, nowadays, São João festivities are extremely popular in all urban areas and among all social classes.

If you are American, you have flash backs of square dancing in school!

After the market, we took a ride around town to Pope Park (overlooking the city) and through many neighborhoods. Of course, we did stop for cheese bread.
"Pão de queijo” is typical Brazilian (originated in Minas Gerais) and it’s a delicious snack, which can be found at every “lanchonete” in Brazil. They are gluten free and are eaten at EVERY meal and as a snack.

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