Goodness! I’m sorry to have been away for so long. I know you were on the edge of your seats for the next post, maybe even wringing your hands in fear, thinking maybe something terrible had happened to me down here in Brazil. I thank you for your concern, but you need not worry. It seems Google-analytics, whatever that is, has been making it impossible for me to get onto this blog seeing that every time I try to do so, this Google-analytics thing is “transferring files” and doesn’t let me see my own page. Today’s the first day in three that I’ve been able to access anything. And now, I’m writing this, and this doesn’t seem very excellent, especially after three days of nothing, and I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “This was what I was waiting to read for three days? I could have been watching America’s Next Top Model instead of worrying my head off over the safety of a blogger in South America.” Well, there’s not much I can say to that except to say that you’re right and that I certainly hope you’ve been watching America’s Next Top Model, and I will be doing the same in only six days.
It’s true. Home Sweet Home is only six days away. Can I tell you how excited I am? I am packing my bags full of Brazilian goodies for my family, for my first Christmas home in two years. Last year, as you may remember, I was traipsing around the southern hemisphere, over there in New Zealand, visiting my hiker-trekker-living-in-a-car boyfriend for a month. It was fabulous, definitely. But nothing compares to Christmas at home, not even staying in a hut on Mount Taranaki with a bunch of flatulent older folks. No, I can assure you, I am looking forward to this Christmas like I did when I was six and still believed in Santa.
So quickly, before I go to sleep, let me tell you that today I spent hiking through fields and up and down slick rock to get to a magnificent waterfall. We stayed in the sun all day long, diving in the pool beneath the falls, and it was just us: me, Dennis, and four of our friends. Just imagine: out in the middle of nowhere, an hour driving from Campinas, through abandoned cow pastures, up worn paths, down steep hills, and through a jungle of razor sharp grasses, and we come upon a waterfall easily 80 feet high. Cool, clean water, hot rocks, a tiny pebble beach, and snacks. Could a day be more wonderful? We were, in truth, reluctant to leave the place but when we saw rain clouds overhead we figured we should better hit the high road and book it home, back on those same slick rocks and worn paths. Only this time, when we got to the cow pastures, we realized they they weren’t abandoned. Instead, the fields were filled for as far as the eye could see with moaning, grunting, giant horned white cows with big humps on their backs and did I mention the horns? Huge, pointy, death horns?
Now, I grew up in Vermont. It is full of cows. Lovely girl cows with long eye lashes and gentle mooing. Maybe it’s even called braying. Or baying. Or whatever it is that sounds gentle and comes from friendly cows. Cow poetry. That’s what cows in Vermont do. So I should have known that these cows here in the field would be just as friendly and gentle. But I cannot describe to you the fear that sprang up in my stomach and welled in the back of my throat so thick that I could not speak, when I saw these same five hundred white cows–the ones with the pointy horns–stop everything they were doing and stare at us. All they did was stare. On all the green hills that surrounded us, the cows stopped chewing their cud or gossiping or playing cow poker, and stopped and stared. One cow must have text messaged all the hundreds of others because they all got the message at the exact same moment that someone new was on their turf. And yo. When they looked up from their cell phones, the fear that passed through the six of us was palpable. I mean, you could chew the fear. Like jerky.
It was the ultimate slow-motion gang scene from a movie. You know, where some members of one gang walk past members of another gang and just stare each other down? Only these gang members grunted and mooed–in a very aggressive manner, I might add–and our gang members picked up sticks and cow patties to throw. You know, just in case these five hundred white cows with pointy horns would come charging at us we’d be prepared to protect ourselves. With hardened pieces of cow poop. We’re thinkers, we humans; and this is why we are so far up the food chain.
So there we were. Six of us, five hundred of them. All of them staring, silent (except for the grunting and the occasional foot stomp) and all of us chattering nervously because, whether or not we wanted to admit it, we all had a fear of the cows. Never in my life did I think I’d admit to something like that–for crying out loud, they’re vegetarians— but I did. I was full of fear, right down to my sunburned little toes. And I know for a fact that I was not the only one afraid because I was not the one carrying the stick or throwing the poop. I kept my head down and told myself not to run until I’d seen the whites of their eyes, which then made me think I’d be much too close to them at that point if I didn’t start running until I saw the whites of their eyes, and while I was figuring that out, I planned an escape route, which would have been directly up one of the scraggly little trees that dotted the field. And when I say “scraggly,” I mean they were basically bonsai trees. But it was the best I could do and once I figured that out, I felt much better and waved hello to them and tried to tell them with a couple of friendly “moos” that I came in peace and if they’d just let us pass safely I wouldn’t eat one of them. Today.
In the end, we basically just left it at that: a quiet stare-down in an open field. A couple grunts, a couple moos, and a couple tosses of cow patties in the air for good measure, and we had safe passage back through the field and eventually to our cars. After which, to settle our nerves and quench our thirst, we drove immediately to a mall where I bought a water, a soda, and a beer. When I get really thirsty, I crave all kinds of drinks, all at the same time. I was going to get a suco de milho (corn juice) also, but in the end felt fairly satisfied after the first three beverages. I had milk when I got home, though, and that is saying something since I never drink milk. (Sorry, Mom.)
Well it’s bedtime. I am afraid the cows will show up in my dreams tonight, so perhaps I’ll watch some of the film Dennis is watching right now to mix in some other images. He’s watching “Spartacus.” I’ll let you know tomorrow if I’ve dreamed I was a gladiator who slays another slave in the Coliseum, a slave who is, in fact, a cow. With very pointy horns.