After our week on the beach and another stopover in Recife, we hopped on a bus and headed inland to spend some time with Mary’s grandma Lourdes in the small city of Surubim.
We were greeted with many hugs and a massive spread of home-cooked deliciousness. Eating very well became a trend in Surubim -- Dona Lourdes is an amazing cook who never lets your plate stay empty.
Midwestern grandmas and Brazilian grandmas have one thing in common: they love to feed you!
The table is outdoors in a walled off backyard behind the house called a quintal, which also featured this lovely open air shower. Normally an outdoor cold-water shower in the hot northeast of Brazil would be refreshing, but it was winter and unseasonably cold. It did wake us up in the mornings!
The quintal also had lots of flowers like this one.
Another view of the quintal. Mary is standing next to the clothesline and just in front of the outhouse. Dona Lourdes washes all of the clothes by hand…
...and these towels too!
This is Peru, the turkey. He also hangs out in the quintal. Back in the day he would have been dinner, but Dona Lourdes has gotten a bit soft in her old age. She gets her meat from the butcher shop and keeps this guy as a pet.
At night we got our own room and slept under the mosquito net. Mary rather enjoyed the feeling of sleeping under lace. Nick was less excited but happy that it kept the lizards from falling into the bed.
Luckily for us, our arrival coincided with the arrival of a circus. Circo Balao Magico set up their big top right next door to Dona Lourdes’ house! Here we are at the opening of the show.
And the tight-rope walker
And a guy perched atop a big stack of chairs.
An acrobat who did some cool tricks with a long length of hanging fabric.
And probably the most amazing act of all – a guy on a slack-line who stood on one leg and used his foot to flip dishes up into a stack on his head. He even managed to land a teaspoon in the top bowl!
We spent a good deal of time just walking the streets of the city. Here is a statue of Jesus in the center of Surubim – and a construction worker looking down on us from on top of a building.
We went to the big fruit market in the city center. So many different kinds of fruit. And so many colors! Here is Mary and her aunt Lei picking out some melons.
Fresh tomatoes and onions, by the kilo.
Mary and her third cousin Jackson. He had to show Mary everything in the house and tell her what it was – he was also very concerned that Mary finish her mango juice, either to be sure she got all her vitamin C or to free up her hands for playing. Or both.
One day we went with Mary’s grandma to the main cemetery in Surubim, where Mary’s relatives are buried. The first thing you see upon entering is row upon row of these shelf-like mausoleums. These are where middle class families bury their loved ones. Dona Lourdes isn’t actually in distress in this photo – she is just fixing her hair.
The cemetery also has many of these bigger tombs for wealthier families. Some with crosses on top.
And finally, we saw some simple plots of land with wooden crosses like these, for those whose families can’t afford the other burial options.
This statue in the center of the cemetery is Padre Cicero, a famous priest from the area who was known for helping the poor. He is covered with candle wax because many people light prayer candles around him.
Surubim is in the semi-arid sertao region of Brazil, which is not quite a desert but still features lots of cactuses. This guy is leading a donkey cart full of dried cactus, which are used to feed animals like horses - and donkeys.
Just like in Olinda, we saw some really cool murals on walls in Surubim. This one was outside a school, and we thought John Lennon would approve.
And just in case you didn’t see the paintings, they also had vans like this one cruising the streets. Those are speakers lining the top, and you couldn’t go much longer than 5 minutes without hearing at least one political jingle (often set to Brazilian pop music). The circus also had a few of these sound-blaster trucks on the streets.
Our favorite candidate. Although in the jingle, his name was decidedly closer to “Hoo-Key” than “Hulk”. Whatever the pronunciation or platform, he still has our votes.
We took a jeep taxi outside of town to visit the Museo de Cachaca, a museum that has thousands of different bottles of the sugar-cane based Brazilian liquor from different areas of the country. Each bottle has a unique label, and comes from a different place and time – some dating back over 50 years. This is the part of the map that shows Pernambuco, with its local cachaca of Pitu.
And here’s Mary in the main display room of the museum. We were amazed by how many different brands and varieties of cachaca had existed over the years. Of course, they also had a wide variety of current cachaca for sample and sale. We picked up some little bottles, which we are still saving for an anniversary toast.