Moqueca com Peixes!

Got two poetry rejections within twelve hours so I’m a little subdued today but that didn’t stop me from getting errands done. I dropped off my laundry at the lavedeira in the apartment building where I’m renting. I am being spoiled paying someone to wash my clothes for me but I’m on vacation. Unfortunately, it did highlight how far I have to go with my Portuguese. When I dropped the clothes off, the lady asked “Today?” in Portuguese which is hoje but I heard “Where?” which is onde. It wasn’t until well after a lot of hand waving that I finally figured out what she asked and then, in the elevator ride back up to the apartment, a lady asked if I lived here and, even though I know all those words, I could not figure it out. My verbal comprehension is pathetic but at least I can read reasonably well.

Moqueca com PeixesAfter errands, it was lunch time and match time and I had noticed a restaurant advertising moqueca which was one of the traditional Bahian dishes that I had yet to try. While I was waiting for my lunch the restaurant filled up with French fans. I felt a little bad eating when all they were doing was drinking but c’est la vie, n’est-ce pas?

It turns out that I had had moqueca before, for lunch during my first week here but this time I had moqueca with fish and they mean that literally! There was the vast majority of a fish bubbling away under the yellow saffron sauce with green and red peppers. I was pulling little bones out of my mouth and sections of spine from the flesh but it was a wonderful meal. No need for dinner tonight.

As I write this I am watching the crescent moon set in the west. I’m hoping for another clear night. Last night, in addition to seeing the planets Mars and Saturn, which my northern hemisphere readers can see too, I was able to see all four stars of the southern cross where usually I can only see three. I also had a good look at the constellation Centaurus, where Alpha Centauri appears. I don’t quite see the centaur but it’s the first time I’ve been able to really see the night sky south of the equator. It’s very odd to see Scorpius right over head. It looks so small there compared to my usual view of it on the southern horizon. That’s the Moon illusion for you. If I had a good northern horizon I would just be able to see the big dipper. I’m glad a building is blocking that view since it might freak me out.

Tomorrow, my penultimate match: Belgium-U.S.A.!

About Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker is one of the organizers of Living Poetry, a collection of poets and poetry lovers in the Triangle region of North Carolina. Born and raised in Ohio, studied in Chicago, he worked in Connecticut for nearly twenty years before moving to Hillsborough where he makes money as a computer programmer to fund his poetry habit.
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3 Responses to Moqueca com Peixes!

  1. Mary says:

    Work on accent.
    When I was in high school I suffered through 3 years of very academic French, concurrently with Latin.. learned enough to kill SATs in terms of word meanings, but no functional language ability. And I went to college and a foreign language was required and they gave me French and I dreaded it. Our instructor was unusual. He was not an academic, he was a former army intelligence officer whose job it was to train US paratroopers to blend into the population in rural France during the cold war era. After explaining to us that if retarded children in France could learn to speak perfect French, any American college student who couldn’t figure it out was a total looser, he allowed no more English in his classroom for any reason. The only book we had was LaRousse de poche – in French only.. not English/French. And you got the accent right. Eventually he explained to me that if you are behind enemy lines and enemy encounters you, you don’t have to say a lot of words. But any imperfection in the accent will be detected and you WILL learn it or you will fail the class. A lot of that was learning what muscles to use and practicing sounds a hundred times. And I learned to say “comment dit… . And I don’t remember what grade I got.. I didn’t fail. Fast forward like 20 years when I went to visit Paris. With no hotel reservations and no French money. And I got off the airplane and.. what was I going to do? No one spoke English. And very amazing to me.. I needed to speak to a grouch porter, and French came out of my mouth. Enough to get everything I wanted. Enough to get Parisians to smile at me and knock themselves out helping me. Even though they did chuckle when I pulled out old LaRousse de Poche. I had very few nouns, fewer verbs and present tense only. And I ended up translating for the new guy at the hotel with the new master’s degree in French who staff couldn’t understand. And if you wonder what I sound like, think of a bad Maurice Chevalier imitation. But it worked. Hide in a closet and practice all those sounds we don’t normally make until your muscles get tired.


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