Saturday, February 11, 2006

Rainy Days

It’s raining in Manguinhos and I am sitting here procrastinating away my time from writing my prayer letter, working on lesson plans, or catching up on my backlogged inbox. Junior was over last night and we made pizza, washed dishes, watched “The Last of the Mohicans,” played cards. A girlfriend stopped by to pick up her umbrella that I’d borrowed earlier in the day and made a passing comment as she left that I was “wasting my time playing cards” when I could be doing much more interesting things with my boyfriend. Such are the sexual mores even within the church here, it seems. It’s good for us to know how to control ourselves, to enjoy spending time together as friends too and not only as “namorados.” We started playing cards as a way to stay out of trouble since we didn’t have money to go out on dates...and it’s become something that has really helped our relationship grow and mature. (And gotten Junior addicted to Rummy!) This girlfriend doesn’t understand that. For her, men are like clothes, something that changes with the season, with the style, with her mood. She picks them according to specific qualities: big arms, hair and skin color, size. Personality, faithfulness, commitment to God and herself...these hardly figure into her equations. And she wonders why she feels empty in her relationships, why she feels used, why they don’t work out. I’ve stopped trying to counsel her. She doesn’t listen, doesn’t want to. She likes sex and doesn’t want to stop. So she continues to get hurt...

Yesterday I heard clipclopping and looked out the window to see a white horse casually walking down my street...all alone. It made me laugh. On Wednesday, when we went to Timonis to meet with the directors to see about me volunteering there, a full grown pig was trotting down the sidewalk. Sometimes Manguinhos is more hick than anything back home...

On Thursday, Rich and I were walking around Centro with backpacks full of food, me carrying a rose and a shasta daisy I picked up from a street vendor for the cute neighbor lady who lives above me. We were even more absurd looking than usual, these two gringos trekking through sketchier and sketchier areas of the city, passing out sandwiches and giving street kids huffs of roses...Marcelo, a kid we knew from Lapa but haven’t seen in a while, ran up to us on our way. He was with an older friend and introduced us as “boa gente...antigão...” It made me laugh. I’ve been here so long that I’m known...we’re not just gringos, we’re “good people, old-school...ancient...” I wish I could explain to you how good it feels to walk around six or seven different bairros of a city and have almost every street person under thirty that you see know you by face if not by name, come up with a grin, and chat with you...

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