At the end of school today, another teacher asked if I wanted to go to Lake Taquaral to go for a walk. I have been hearing about this lake since I’ve been here, but haven’t seen it. So I agreed, and the three of us (Kendra joined us) drove over.
It’s a small lake surrounded by a nice wide dirt path for people to run, bike, or walk on. There are benches all around the lake and huge, huge palm trees creating a nice cool shade for everyone.
Kendra ran ahead of us while Neicke and I walked and talked. There were dozens of housecats walking around and I didn’t know why. Apparently there’s an old woman who comes every day to feed the cats. And so the cats are healthy and happy and wandering free around this tiny lake. There were cranes flying and eating fish, and then there were these gigantic rodents, or what looked like them. From a distance they looked like hunchbacked dogs, and close-up they looked like beaver-hippo-chipmunks. The size of a chunky mid-sized dog, they look like this:
They are so quiet and slow-moving, which is why they remind me of hippos. But I think they’re vegetarian and they’re part of the beaver family. I wanted to pet them, but their hair looks long and sharp like porcupines. Long story short, I have no idea what they look like, really.
Taquaral is part of a huge, old coffee plantation. Somewhere on the estate is the coffee baron’s old house, which is now a museum. When we were driving home, Neicke pointed out where the house was, but I couldn’t see it through the trees. I’d like to go back there and see it someday soon.
I also had green coconut today. My friend Diego at home in New Haven told me about being able to scoop out fresh coconut from the shell. I didn’t believe him because all of the coconut I’ve ever had has been from the brown coconuts and it’s impossible to “scoop.” But today, after we finished walking, Neicke wanted coco verde and so we stopped. They served coconut water out of a dispenser and chopped off the tops of the huge green coconuts with two or three simple swipes of a gigantic knife. When Neicke had finished drinking the water from it, she gave it back to the guy to chop up into three big pieces. All you do is tear off a little slice of the outside of the green coconut and peel away the thin meat on the inside. It has the consistency of yogurt, actually–maybe a little more solid. But it’s a light, refreshing flavor, nothing like the dense, strong taste of an old coconut.
And finally, my 7th graders rock again. The same student who calls me Queen, told me today, “Be sure to pass on a kiss for your mother.” He doesn’t even know my mother. But he sure wants me to pass on a kiss to her, because he reminded me again at the end of the day, “Queen! Teacher! Don’t forget about that kiss!” I didn’t know what to do but laugh. Laughing at the end of the day–what a lovely thing.