Double Booked

Trip Start Oct 20, 2009
Trip End Jun 23, 2010

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Where I stayed
Palace Hotel

Flag of Brazil  , Rio Grande do Sul,
Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dinner with Fleur's family

For many nights now we have been having a buffet dinner at the Café Sol (10 paces from the Palace Hotel). We have experienced many new foods on our travels, some which have not agreed with us too well, and we’ve had days of not feeling off colour because of unusual foods we’ve eaten. So now we try to choose foods which are in some ways similar to ours. Some of the vegetables here in Brazil are pickled, I have to stay away from those. And off course, if I have too much of the delicious freshly squeezed orange juice, I know there’ll be a price to pay later. We choose to dine at the Café Sol because the food is very simple, so we’re not tempted to try new things. It’s similar to our own 'meat and 2 veg’. We know most of the staff now, it’s an el fresco cafe and the price is reasonable.

Generally we are served by Flor (Fleur) who speaks little or no English, so we have a lot of fun together, as we speak no Portuguese. She knows what drinks we like and holds my plate for me while I select from the buffet. (The plates are too heavy for me to hold yet. All the staff at Café Sol have signed my cast). Flor comes and has a ‘chat’ with us during our meal to make sure we are happy. She questioned what happened to my arm, and where was my motorbike now.

She’s a bit of a girl is Flor, and she wanted to see this bike which broke my arm. Down she came, in her uniform, with us to the garage and promptly sat herself astride my BMW 1200 GS Adventurer. Well, you would have thought it was Christmas for Flor. She sat there with a huge smile on her face, prattling away in Portuguese, got her mobile phone out of her apron, and started taking pictures of herself on the bike. It was a treat for us to see her so animated. I took a couple of photos with my camera and later framed a print for her and gave it to her at dinner. She was really chuffed, showing it off to staff members and favourite customers.

A couple of days later, on a Sunday, we got an invitation from Diego to ask if we would like to join him and his family (his sister Claudia, little brother Gee, mum and dad Claudio & Nilva Martins, and the flamboyant Rosa from Finland and some friends) for an impromptu BBQ. As we didn’t have anything planned for that particular Sunday, we said "We’d love to".

Claudia arrived to pick us up at 12 mid day and who should also arrive but Flor to pick us up for lunch with her family. Oh dear. What to do now.

This is one of the problems when you don’t speak the local language. I had understood that Flor would have us over to dinner the Sunday after we had been to the Iguazu Falls, but in actual fact, it was the Sunday before we go to the Falls.

I felt so embarrassed, I didn’t really know what to do. Claudia and Flor were having a talk about it in the foyer of the Palace Hotel and Claudia suggested it would be better for Des and I to go with Flor.

It turned  out to be a lovely lunch with Flor, her friends Roberto, and Mariano and Flor’s mum Maria. The food was appropriately blessed by a long prayer from Maria (doubtless also welcoming her guests all the way from Australia). The discussion at the table was loud and lively as n each spoke in their own language. Des and I did our best in Portuguese and universal sign language. Words like ‘how, what, where, when, and why’ are difficult to sign so we settled on finding out everybody’s name, age, marital status, and number of children and grand children they had.
Maria, 74, one child, no grand children, had the most fun. She laughed and laughed at the ‘discussion’ particularly as Roberto got stuck into his second large drink of that Vodka concoction (caipirinha) I wrote about earlier, and a few beers under his belt. Mariano did the cooking in the living area of this humble abode. A Barbeque with large chunks of meat on skewers cooked in a chimney, as seems to be the popular style here.

All too soon it was time to kiss Flor and her jolly Mama Maria goodbye and she gave me the biggest bear hug I’ve ever had and cackled something into my ear about “thanks for giving us such a wonderful time.” Well, the feeling was mutual. It was a good experience for us too.

Flor walked us the kilometer or so back to our Hotel, in the rain, waving to all her many friends in the town.

Des and I headed straight down to Claudia’s home to see if we could catch the tail end of the BBQ and try to make amends for double booking our Sunday. We walked in the rain together, it was quite cooling as the day was very humid. The Martins were surprised that we walked all the way to their place in the rain. A distance of about 3km. We were warmly welcomed and met new friends Pero and Rosangela. I felt a bit sorry for Claudia who had her hands full translating both ways.

Everyone signed my cast in bright texta colours. We were lucky, we scored some of Nilva’s delicious lemon cake desert.
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