cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A bit of Travel Writing

Salty Sunday of Philosophical MusingFriends--I can call you friends, after all you're crazy enough to keep coming back to poke a nosy eye into my life, ergo we're friends. And now it is time for Salty Sunday; a moment of philosophical prose. lucky you. It is time for a house clarification: there are three main components of the Salty Cod: fancy pants baked goods, photography, and travel writing. It says it right there in the header. Often the last is forgotten though. We have never been nor ever will be uniquely a food blog. Sometimes food sometimes travel, and sometimes neither? Perhaps this removes me slightly from the community, but what can i do; i'm a slashy.

About a month ago i wrote this article for a travel writing contest on ah-ha moments. I knew i would not win as i exceeded the 200 word count by nearly double. what can i do, i'm a brat. But perhaps on this Salty Sunday of Philosophical Musing, i should resurrect it for someone other than a rejection inbox to read. I will preface it by letting you into something personal; i miss Brasil and what i left in it so much that it hurts.


Under the Stars in Ouro Preto
What a bloody tourist town. We walked past the main square, Tiradentes, as a group of tourists crowded around a gaggle of street performers syncing a drum beat. Tonight was not my mood for entertainment. In our hands were plastic cup caipirinhas purchased from a sticky floored locals-only bar; half the price but twice the flavor. One block past the square—all was deserted. We climbed the stone wall surrounding the Cathedral, Aleijadinho's masterpiece. Are we allowed to sit here? No one near to stop us. I looked at the sky while swinging my legs against the centuries old brick; “you know,” I began with a slight hiccup, “I see the same moon in Seattle...now lets see...where is the big dipper?” “The big what?” my accomplice replied. I stopped short—ah yeah, southern hemisphere. i had forgotten I was somewhere else. How the hell does an American forget that they are in Brasil. So we have the same moon, but different stars. A connection yet a cut. It looks like the difference is merely in the details; big picture little picture. “I don't know what is a dipper,” he went on, “but there are, others you can see...” he resolved as he pointed ubiquitously “up” toward the constellations whose distances, in reality, dwarf our own perceived continental chasms into minute scales of nothingness. My eyes filled and began to salt my caipirinha. Was a bit too sweet anyway. Why do i feel no pangs of homesickness. I looked again to the moon, the same moon, and I knew I was not so far away; how could one feel homesick whilst in their own backyard.
Revelations: The medical test for the feeling of place is simple: if when stabbed with the realization of being far from home there occurs no pain or remorse at or around the injection site—then the diagnosis is that you are home already. Ah-ha.
I scraped the last crystals of sugar off the bottom of my cup. That was the strongest mojito i've ever had. I slid off the stone wall, I won't feel it on my bare legs until tomorrow. For a tropical country, Brazilian winter nights are pretty damn chilly. But enough with the stars, my lemony lips tell me. In a cobblestone town, you have to watch where you place your feet; eyes to the ground, and give me your hand. It is now time to walk home.

A bientot

13 comments:

Lori said...

So glad you shared the piece. I especially related to it because I had the chance to visit Ouro Preto a couple weeks ago. Amazing! My husband and I have also had those thoughts and discussions about the stars and that same sky. :)

Since I'm not much of a detailed writer with all the history I've been sending my readers over here to read your recent post when you visited for more info.

Mallory Elise said...

Thanks Lori!

Now for anyone who reads this, go visit Lori's post ( http://www.blondieinbrazil.blogspot.com/ ) on her recent trip to Ouro Preto :)

M.Lane said...

Lovely article, thanks for sharing it!

But, where are you now? Back in the Pacific Northwest?

ML

Mallory Elise said...

i am in Seattle----for now.

Christy said...

ahhh...what a dreamy piece...such a beautiful prose you use to describe your 'ah-ha' moment, that the word 'ah-ha' sounds so crass in comparison. You should write more proses like these ones---short in length, but which wonderfully captures the spirit of the moment. Bravo to you!

Yes, you should harass them. Email Lis now because I want to do the next challenge with you ;)

Colloquial Cook said...

I diagnose a serious case of Misplaced Mallory and order a long course of treatment in San Attorium, Brazil.
You shall stargaze every evening at least an hour before bedtime. Doctor's orders. Ach.

Moira said...

Mallory,
In portuguese we call it "Saudades" and there's only one thing I can recomend you go there again and stay as long as you can.
Your text is beautiful :)
Be happy!
Beijos portugueses
Moira

Siri said...

So good.

Mallory Elise said...

Claire--if you get that prescription to me in a doctors note, maybe the insurance can write it off (if i had insurance...

thank you everyone else too, you're very kind :)

Jessica said...

gorgeous, lovely. ouro preto is magical (and cold at night, yes) -- i have great memories of hot wine, lakes of feijão at the student dining hall and laughing breathlessly in the chill air. thanks for this.

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