sábado, abril 14

Vicios. I've got 'em, and so does Brazil.

Vicio. Addiction. It's such an ugly word. It means we have an uncontrollable desire for something. That something is a necessity in our lives. I have various additions, some of which are positive, some of which are negative. Among my positive additions, I am addicted to being physically active--walking, running, hiking, working out, etc. This addiction in the states led me to parking far far away from the door of Wal-Mart, constantly irritating my shopping companions, but think of all the BENEFITS of parking far away! Less chance your car will get hit, it's easier to find, and you get to WALK! I'm also addicted to being optimistic in about 99% of life's situations which doesn't always turn out good for me, but helps me get through all of the typical ups and downs of life. Finally, I'm addicted to music and books and shoes and purses and youtube makeup video tutorials (which I don't use, but I love to watch) and facebook.

Well, those are not all GOOD addictions, but they are at least not HARMFUL addictions.

Anyhow, I do have one seriously detrimental addiction. Coffee. This addiction is confounded by the fact that I live in one of the largest coffee exporting countries, Brazil, and I also live in a coffee producing region. AND EVEN MORE SO because I live one block from a coffee processing plant that roasts beans two times a day, morning and evening.

See See! That's Ji-Paraná! (and surrounding cities) all by itself!
 This map is from the Coffee Museum in Santos, São Paulo.
So, as you can assume, life for this coffee fanatic has not been easy. My intake has only skyrocketed since I have moved here. Fresh, locally grown and roasted coffee available on a daily basis? It's like heaven. The fact I don't even have a coffee maker hasn't been a problem at all, either. I've simply bought a plastic support for the coffee filters (that look just like the spot where you put them in a coffee pot) and strain boiling water right through it, just like the coffee pot does.) I simply haven't decided it was important enough to invest in (they run around 30-50 USD depending on the model) nor do I actually have the counter space to put one, so logically it would be more of a pain in the butt to have one.

The coffee filter fits right in and it drips perfectly into my 0.5L Thermos.

I drank coffee when I was stateside, but nothing like this. I started reflecting on how in all stores, banks, offices, schools, churches, basically any place that gathers people has a community coffee thermos for free (this is NOT the case in São Paulo, but is 100% the case in Ji-Paraná). If you are stopping by the bank to make a deposit, you can grab a small coffee, if you are going to your accountant's office, have a cup of coffee, if you are going to church, sure! Have a cup of coffee! If you are going to the doctor, there is always coffee available for clients. It's part of the culture! When I go to my sogros there is always a thermos ready with some cookies or biscuits in a jar on the table to welcome guests and this is pretty much the case in anyone's house that I have gone to. So maybe it's not all my fault.

Coffee has historically been the central export from Brazil to the rest of the world, especially in the early 1900s. There came a point during the 1930s that as a result of overproduction, the stock market crash and depression as well as the fact it coffee is a primary commodity, prices plummeted and being that the Brazilian economy during this time was almost solely based on coffee the government resolved to burn large quantities of the production to maintain the export value. Here is a chapter (in English) from a great book about the Economic Development of Brazil by Celso Furtado, one of the most respected Economic Historians of Brazil. I've read the whole thing in Portuguese thanks to my Economics professor at USP. There has also been a Canadian movie made about the topic that I would love to see.

The government during this time was a revolutionary military government turned democracy turned military dictatorship again led by Getulio Vargas, one of my favorite Brazilian politicians to study. He single-handedly transformed Brazil's economy, educational system and is the reason that Brazil has so much buracuracy. He was extremely nationalistic, the founder of Petrobras and the Ministry of Education and Culture (among like a million other government entities). He declared the New State (Estado Novo in Portuguese) and is the reason for the importance of Carnival and Samba in Brazil as he was attempting to create a "national Brazilian culture" for national unity, a pretty impossible task that he was actually very successful at. His legacy lives on in the name of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, one of the top research bodies in Brazil (that I would love to work for) that also has a variety of courses and social programs. I love to talk with my sogro about what school was like after his reforms, as he was going to school during the post-Novo Estado era and the nationalistic ideals were still the base of the national educational system. See, all military dictators aren't all bad....

Vargas was a HUNK.
What is the most interesting this is that as a result of the huge excess of coffee, it became a central part of Brazilian culture and today that feeling is still largely felt. Especially here in Ji-Paraná. My husband's cousin's wife's father (did you follow that?) was a huge coffee fazendeiro. I love hiking through his old coffee fields and hearing him talk about "the good old days of coffee" which was one of the main reasons he migrated to Rondonia. BY A HORSE DRAWN WAGON. He reaped the rewards of the coffee boom and managed to buy tons and TONS of land and today is extremely successful. He has turned large portions of his old coffee plantations into passion fruit plantations (equally delicious) and it's so interesting to talk about the changes, the challenges, the successes and the failures of living in a country based on primary commodity exports, being that I have studied this stuff for the last, ohh... 8 years.

In closing, it's not my fault I am addicted to coffee. It's Brazil's fault. If they didn't have such delicious coffee I wouldn't be drinking so much of it. Also, if it hadn't been an essential economic tool for survival, it wouldn't have become such an integral part of their culture. Brazil simply loves coffee and Becky loves that Brazil loves coffee. Case closed.

And now, I'll leave you with a beautiful song from the late 1940s sung by Frank Sinatra (re-recorded in the 1960s) about Coffee and Brazil. It's such a perfect song for any professor that is going to begin a lecture about the importance of coffee in Brazil!

"You can't get cherry soda 'cus they've got to sell their quota And the way things are I guess they never will They've got a zillion tons of coffee in Brazil" (see more lyrics here
Sing it, Frank.

I particularly like at the end when he says "Eiiii Pedro! Get the flashlight! I can not find the sugar!" in a really bad Brazilian-ish accent. Nothing like being politically correct.

Um comentário:

  1. Ugh, coffee. I'm off it for the time being, bit I do have some decaf in the house. Ut's not very good :-)

    I do love it, but black or with Almond Milk....both of which are impossible to find here.