One of the most interesting days was spent on our first Preparation Day after reaching Brazil. We arrived in Brazil on Tuesday, being able to rest after a short visit to the mission office. We stayed with the Mission President and his wife until our apartment was available. On Wednesday, we started right in training in the office procedures and we were ready for some rest and relaxation. This is the highlights of that day:
We went to a Rodeo in Jacarei with the Mission President and his wife on 17 July 2004, the first Saturday that we were in Brazil. You need to know that when it is summer here it is winter in Brazil. They don’t have snow or freezing temperatures during their winter, but it can get very cold--I suppose because of the humidity. The day was sunny and temperatures were mild. As we traveled to Jacarei, we passed areas with green rolling hills and fields laid out in rows of growing vegetables—it reminded me of Iowa. I was especially amazed at the huge anthills that dotted the sides of the highway--some must have been nearly as tall as I am. I was curious to see the size of ants they contained, but we didn’t stop to investigate.
We entered the Rodeo grounds and found that they had vendors selling everything you can think of—food, western clothing (lots of leather coats and sweaters, but their sizes are smaller than U.S. sizes), crafts, embroidery work, etc. We had fun looking at the various shops and their goods. They had one vender there who did carving—he had done one of The Last Supper that was just beautiful, about 15” X 40” that would cost about $125 American dollars. He was carving on one that was huge, maybe 7 or 8 feet long and 2 to 3 feet wide. The Mission President had him do a carving for him (about 12” X 4”) with his name. We watched him in fascination to see him do such magnificent work so quickly. It took about 30 minutes plus a little longer to polish it up and put the stain and shellac on it.
Truth be told, I was ready to leave about 5PM, but the Mission President is a rodeo fan and the rodeo wasn’t slated to start until 8PM, so we stayed. As soon as the sun went down it got very cold and it was a very long evening for us as we waited. Because I wasn’t familiar with Brazilian temperatures and I didn’t realize we would be staying all evening, I had worn just a light jacket. It was no match for the very cold wind that was constantly blowing.
We finally discovered an auction of horses going on and went inside that sheltered area. It was much warmer in there and furthermore they served free drinks (hard, soft, and plain water), plus free snacks. I was so comfortable in there and it was fun to listen to the auctioneer as he auctioned off the horses. I suppose we didn’t really belong in there, but it was such a relief to be out of the cold night air. I’m sure they give the free stuff to those who are bidding on the horses as an incentive to stay and buy. I hated to leave there, since I would have to go back to paying 1 real (pronounced hay-all and is like a Brazilian dollar) for bottled water, and I hated to go back out into the cold. But it was getting close to 8PM, so we left the warmth and shelter of the auction tent to find the rodeo arena.
We found the stands and selected our seats; we could have sat anywhere at that time because there were so many empty seats. And then we waited and waited, sitting on those hard, cold seats with the constant wind as our companion. We ended up waiting for more than an hour because the rodeo didn’t start until about 9PM. As we waited more and more people straggled in, finally filling most of the seats.
It was the weirdest rodeo I have ever attended. The cowboys came marching out on foot and the announcer introduced each one. Then he gave a very, very long prayer—in Portuguese, of course. I actually wasn’t positive that it was a prayer for sure until the Mission President (who spoke fluent Portuguese) verified that it was. How nice that Brazilians aren’t afraid to begin a Rodeo with prayer.
Then the announcer worked on the crowds. He had the people sitting on each side competing with one another to see who could shout the loudest—in Portuguese, of course. That went on for a while and then finally they started the actual rodeo. A cowboy would come out of the chute on a bull, and we would watch for 4 to 8 seconds while the bull bucked him around until he was bucked off. Then we would have a very long wait until they finally got the next cowboy out on his bull. We finally left at 10PM. I was like a block of ice and was so glad to leave. I think the Mission President was as disappointed in the rodeo as I was—it was nothing like the Rodeos we have here in the USA. I actually think they only had a few bulls to work with.
Unfortunately, we found out the following Monday that the Mission President's spare tire had been stolen during the time we were at the rodeo, probably by the guys who parked his car. He had left his keys with them and so they had free access to the tool required to take it off. When we came back to get the car the guy maneuvered him so that he did not see the back of the vehicle (the tire mounts underneath). He finally noticed that it was missing when he got home. Unfortunately, there is a lot of theft in Brazil.
It was quite an adventure and I really did enjoy the day with the exception of the cold. I did get a lot smarter about layering clothes so that I could stay warm on outings.