LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||10/FEV/2006 1:03 PM|
I spent the last ten years of my life in the USA living in a small mountain village. "Beautiful Downtown Cedarpines Park", as I used to call it, has a post office, a water company, a bar (an American style bar, not a Brazilian style bar), and a fire station (no firemen, just a fire station). That was it. Well, there were dogs, squirrels, etc. It was rare to see a car on my road that didn't belong to a neighbor. Five minutes away was a larger village where I could buy basic groceries, eat at restaurant, etc. In another five minutes I could be in a small town with two places to buy gasoline, about a dozen restaurants, a bookstore, a supermarket, a hardware store, two video stores, etc.
I'd lived in and around Los Angeles for much of my life. I really felt at home and welcome in the mountains. I loved it there. I'd walk into a restaurant, and people would call me over to their table to join them. At the supermarket people would ask about my dog, my sister in Oregon, how my car was running, if I'd seen any good movies together, did I know that Bill was sick, etc. At home I'd find freshly baked bread on my porch, left there by neighbors. I had the keys to the houses and cars of two neighbors. If I couldn't find my dog, he was probably down at Mary's. If she didn't have him, he was probably eating up at Chuck's. I'd never seen such a well fed dog in my life. He ate a lot better than I did. If I was going to be away, a neighbor took care of my dog. If a neighbor was going to be away, I took care of his dog or cat. One day I got a call from a mechanic about my car. I said I'd come into town and pay him. He replied that he didn't want my money yet. Besides, he added, he knew where I lived and he knew my dog. What he said was funny, but it also illustrated the personality of the area.
I came to the Serra Gaúcha for the first time in 2001. It reminded me a lot of where I was living in California. I returned in 2003, and I fell in love with the area again. The problem is, I was in the Serra Gaúcha as a tourist not as a resident. I can assure you that being here as a tourist is not the same as living here. There were many things I'd overlooked. From Cedarpines I would go into Los Angeles at least once a week. When my work was finished there, I was free to see new movies, buy books from several large bookstores, eat at wonderful ethnic restaurants, etc. During the rest of the week, if I needed a "banho de civilização", in 30 minutes I could be in San Bernardino and in less than an hour in Ontario. In the latter city, can you believe there are 58 movie screens within a kilometer?
Things are quite different here. I'm about 75 km from Caxias and 110 km from Porto Alegre. People here are often a bit "fechado". More than once I've discovered that some people see me as a solution to one of their problems, not as a friend. I never fully understood the expressions "amigo da onça" and "jararaca" until coming here. I have many acquaintances, but my only real friends live in Porto Alegre. Among them, by the way, are André and Maria Valeska of this Forum. I wave hello at my neighbors or offer them a ride into town, and they often look at me as if they think I'm from another planet.
When the motorboy brings the water or the mailman comes, and I give them a can of Coca Cola or guaraná, they think I'm going to charge them for it. Gramado -- home of an annual international film festival -- has one movie screen. If you didn't see the movie this weekend, don't worry about it because it will be shown in Canela (11 km away) next weekend. Want a book? Either go into Porto Alegre or Caxias do Sul, or order off Amazon.com or Ebay.
Andre tried to tell me that I wouldn't be happy here. He was right. But I'd lived in cities for years and I hadn't been happy. I thought I knew what I was doing. I didn't. I thought things would be great here. They weren't. They aren't. In the meantime, the contract on this house expires in June.
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