Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Riviera & Alegrete

The week after we hosted brunch happened to be a long weekend. Thursday was a holiday, so most of the university was shut down on Friday, and then Monday was a Brazilian World Cup game. Jake’s new Gaúcho friend, Antonio, and his fiancé, Tchana, invited us to see their hometown, Alegrete.

Of course, at 5:30am, as we piled into the car, the first thing Antonio did was hand Jake chimarrão. After stopping at a farm to feed Antonio’s horses, and being surrounded by cows, we figured out we were on our way to Riviera, Uruguay for a chá de bebe. (It took me awhile to realize they were not talking about tea, it means baby shower.) And, I laughed as Jake and Antonio conversed the entire trip. (Remember that this was about a month after he arrived, and Antonio does not speak that much English.)

“Riviera is so much bigger than Chui,” was the first thought that went through my head when we arrived. I was surprised. It had just started getting winter coat cold in Rio Grande, and Jake had not brought a jacket. So, we spent a large part of the time looking for a coat for him. Of course, it couldn’t be a winter coat, like a North Face or Columbia jacket, it needed to be a Gaúcho jacket. These thermal jackets are wool button-ups look like lumberjack shirts, but are warmer. The biggest problem was Jake was too tall for the jackets. They didn’t have long enough sleeves, were too wide and still didn’t cover his torso, etc. I think we must have looked at 20+ stores. He did happen to find one that fit, and decided not to buy it at that time. Later, while the women went to the baby shower, Jake and the guys went back to buy the jacket and look for other Gaúcho items, specifically a mateira (the thing in which to carry all the chimarrão stuff).
Jake, in his new jacket, and me in Alegrete

I happened to find a 16G memory card for $12 (USD). I might have taken 300+ pictures over the 3 days…Here is the weekend through pictures:
The baby shower was an interesting experience. Let’s just say for the friend hosting the party, cost was not an issue. We walked into a pool house that was completely heated, with food on the table and workers bringing out drinks and more options. The best game that we played was strange, to say the least. Someone came out with a bucket of ice cubes. Within each ice cube was a plastic 1-inch baby and the water had been flavored with strawberries. The first one to suck the ice cube and free the baby won.
Lunch Line at Tchana's House. By the way, her dad is an amazing cook.

Antonio's brother-in-law invited us to see his horses. Although this isn't where is horses are, the landscape and experience was great. They kept saying it was the real gaúcho experience. 

Pecan Tree: I had no idea that pecans are covered by two different shells, the green one you see here, which is soft, and then the hard one below.

We picked up fallen pecans for the apple pie I made later that night. We also found out that you can open pecans by crushing two together. 

This is what a "real" gaúcho looks like. He works on the farm we were at. He is currently heating up water for chimarrão in the little can/pot over the fire.
This statue is in Alegrete. Can you guess who/what that is supposed to be?
We taught them how to play poker. We didn't have money or anything to use to show betting, so we improvised with pinhão, a type of pine nut. I was dealer for 5-card draw.

On the way home, we stopped in Bagé. We were looking for a mateira for Jake, and picked up one of Antonio's friends. On the way back from the 3 store border town next to Bagé, we stopped at this farm. While talking, we were invited to pick a type of orange off of the tree by the house and eat them. It was the first time I have ever done that. 

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