Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Brazil's Orwellian Islamabad

Keola and company finally made our way out of limbo, and headed south via Miami to Brasilia.  Nothing to report or speak of on the way down, and we arrived redeyed to Brasilia.

Years ago, I wrote an entry on Islamabad titled "Pakistan's Orwellian Brasilia," and in the spirit of its opposite, we have arrived in Brazil's Orwellian Islamabad.

Brazil's capital turned 53 years old just the other day, and sadly we missed the celebrations.  I find the city to be a bit fascinating.  It is laid out in quadrants and sectors, with wide boulevards driving through.  There is nary a place to make a left turn in the whole city- those are conducted via circles and underpasses.  The city feels as inorganic as you can expect from a new capital that was built from scratch some 5 decades prior in the middle of nowhere.  But it also has its charm.

Keola and company headed out last night for dinner with my contact at the Embassy, Ramona the ACAO.  We took a taxi to meet her and her husband Ted (who also works at the Embassy), and I chatted during the ride with the amiable driver in spanguese- the bastardized Portuguese that I speak of pushing Spanish words out through my nose.  He told us of the satellite cities that ring the Brazilian capital, the traffic of the greater Brasilia area and how expensive life can be in Brazil's capital.

We arrived to an immaculate hole-in-the-wall called Paulecia to meet Ramona and Ted.  We sat out on the back patio, at plastic tables on plastic chairs.  The metal barbecue that was shaped like a tin house was just a stone's throw away, and the grey smoke swirled around in the cool night.  We sat out in the cool evening, sipping Antartica beer in small cups as the barbecuer kept bringing us picahna- hunks of meat with a thick marble of fat on top-rolled in rock salt and cooked to perfection.  He would take the chunk of meat right off the grill and right to our table, and slice it small.  We breathed in the smoke of the grill as we ate the perfect cuts of grilled picahna kept coming our way until we could stomach no more.  'Twas quite an immaculate welcome to Brasilia.

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