May 5, 2009

Meanwhile Back on the Farm

Some days are just perfect.


The air is crisp and the dry leaves smell a little dusty and the mid-afternoon shadows are long and the light falls just so.

Overhead, the João Graveteiro has finished his nest.


The sticks he used still have green leaves clinging to them. Clever fellow, he knows how to build, but doesn’t seem to know when to stop. Lucky for him all those extra rooms confuse would-be thieves while he stays nicely hidden.

The neighbor’s horse heard me walking on the road and came galumphing down the hill looking for sweets or possibly a hairbrush.


Poor baby. Somebody really ought to tell him to stay away from the sticker burrs.


Dharma gets a wild look about her on afternoons as pretty as these.


And who can blame her, when air is so thick with the sweet smell of the Bella Cruz.


Sunday was the Festa de Santa Cruz – the Feast of the Holy Cross – and the Bella Cruz takes its name from this day because it blooms at the beginning of May. The hills are covered in it.

I love how many of the plants in the countryside get their folk names from the Catholic holidays. Every medicinal herb is seems to be named after a saint. And then there are the plants that bloom in season with the liturgical events, like Bella Cruz and the Quaresma tree.


Quaresma means Lent, and the trees, flush with royal purple blooms, dot the forests in the months of March and April. Lent is over, but I guess the trees on our farm are still feeling particularly repentant…

And then there is this plant. Vicente pointed it out to me.


It’s called Conta de Lagrimas. (The Rosary of Tears). On the roça they use the seeds to make rosaries. In English its called Job’s Tears or Chinese Barley even though it isn’t related to barley at all.

Sometimes I wonder if the early missionaries didn’t come to Brazil and see all of its wild, fecund abundance and perhaps feel a stirring in their chaste loins, and think:


“Oh Brazil, you shameless hussy! You unbridled temptress! We have to give all your plants proper Christian names to quell your wanton ways!”

And the butterflies laughed and said, “Whatever man. You go your way, we'll go ours.”

April 22, 2009

Celebrating Earth Day on the Loo

In honor of Earth Day, I’d like to introduce you to our new best friend (on the left).


Anyone know what it is? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

It’s a Bio-Digestor!!!!

We’re so excited about this we could just… well…. pee!! And with this, we'll finally no longer have to do it behind the bananeiras.

So what is a bio-digestor you ask? Well, it digests biological stuff. At least at the end stages of that stuff.

In carving out our little spot of paradise (petulant, bratty and trying as it can be), we have done our best to keep it as sustainable and low-impact as possible. Not too hard so far, given that we don’t even have electricity.

But a suitable arrangement for our plumbing and septic had us a bit flummoxed for a while. The traditional way on the roça is either the afore mentioned bananeiras, or if you’re lucky enough to have running water and a porcelain vaso, you build a septic leech field. Well, behind our house and a level down is a large swamp. A beautiful one actually, full of lilies and cattails and birds. It is home to all sorts of animals and plays a very important role in the ecosystem, one that we didn’t want to upset with possible contamination from a nearby septic field.

Enter the bio-digestor. This little beast can handle organic waste of up to 600 liters. After it does its digesting job, it releases from one end water that is tested 99% pure. And from the other end, into a small casement box the effluent gathers which once every 4-6 months needs to be cleaned out. It comes as dry as ash, clean and uncontaminated and can be buried or sprinkled about as fertilizer. Cool, hugh!?

(Here's C with his internet instructions trying to work out with Vicente how to install it.)


But wait, there is more…

Do you know what makes this grand process work? You’ll never guess….

Soda bottles.

Yes indeed! The bio-digestor runs on PET plastic! We were totally blown away when the guy in the store opened up the top to give us a tour and out tumbled chopped up Sprite and Coke bottles. We though they were just in there for packing material, but no! They are actually the filter that enables the anaerobic process to take place. Don’t ask me how, I haven’t quiet figured it out. It’s a design invented by some clever Brazilians (they are very good at coming up with ways to reuse PET plastic) and I think patented as well.

Up until now, bio-digestors have been mainly used for recycling livestock waste. But there are a number of efforts being made, especially in areas where poverty and sanitation are real issues, to bring them into residential/community use. Many bio-digestor designs allow for the methane gas they produce to be reclaimed and used for heating, electricity and cooking gas! How cool is that?

We’re very excited about our newest addition. I was really hoping that we’d have it installed and ready to be inaugurated by Earth Day, but alas, as usual, things are moving slowly. So for the time being, we’re still roughing it in the great outdoors.
April 20, 2009

Life Less Large

We’ve all been hearing a lot lately about how people are cutting back, economizing, living more frugally. “The Crisis! The Crisis!” my nightly NPR broadcast screams. Even people who are comfortable and haven’t been laid off or foreclosed or even had their hours cut (although they may have seen their 401K disappear) have been trying to spend less and cut out extravagances. Of course this isn’t doing anything to help the economic recovery – there are a lot of people who have the same paycheck coming in now as before – but fear and uncertainty and also a certain solidarity that “we’re all in this together and it just isn’t fashionable to indulge” have cause a lot of people to reign it in. I think it’s good in one way because the American culture of excessive consumption could use a little balancing. But on the other hand of course, people are going to have to unfreeze their wallets eventually if any promise of recovery is to be realized. They will, we can all be sure of that.

In some ways, principally psychological, Brazilians haven’t felt the full impact of the global meltdown. The middle class was just starting to stretch its wings into the buy-more-spend-more areas. They were just beginning to dip their toes into those shark infested waters alternately known as “Living Large” or “Spending beyond your means.” So now that they’ve had to scale back, it feels more like business as usual than the sky is falling. For most part, that is. Certainly there have been layoffs and people are feeling the pinch in very real ways. Retail sales are down, wallets are closed, people are complaining. But given all the economic upheaval Brazilians from the age of 25 + have had to weather in their lives, I think for many this just feels like one more spin around the economic merry-go-round that has once again been manically and recklessly pushed by the invisible hands of greed. So they heave a big sigh, put their heads down and trudge onwards.

Anyway, all this talk got me thinking about the ways that living in Brazil has caused me to live less like a pre-crisis American with swagger in my pocketbook and more like a Brazilian, cautious and frugal. And although these changes were initially made out of necessity over choice, I’ve come to appreciate how it often translates into a less impactful way of life.

Here’s a few things I noted that have changed about my lifestyle. And I think they hold true for a large swath of Brazilians down the middle as well.

1. No clothes dryers:
Clothes are hung up to air dry. Electricity is just too expensive for the great majority of people to run them. A very small market for them also makes it a very expensive appliance to buy.

2. Lights on timers:
All the public spaces in our building have light switches that you flip when you come into the area and that automatically shut off after a few minutes. This is largely a hold over from Brazil’s energy crisis in 2001. Energy saving compact florescent bulbs have also been omnipresent since that time.

3. Conscious car use:
Gasoline is expensive, although the reasons for this are confounding. Brazil is now 100% fuel independent yet gas prices remain nearly double than what people pay back home in the States. (Someone’s Petrobras pockets somewhere are nice and heavy). Current gas prices are hovering somewhere around R$2.55 a liter, which translates into USD $4.70 a gallon. Remember when gas prices hit that high in the United States? People were freaking out. For Brazilians it’s just another day at the pump. What that means for many is more carpooling, public transportation (when available) and smaller fuel-efficient cars.

4. Less packaging:
I’ll never forget buying a small bedside lamp at a behemoth home improvement super-store back in Brooklyn. It had a tiny stem base and a small square paper lampshade. The whole thing wasn’t bigger than a breadbox, but it came with more plastic, Styrofoam and cardboard than my Imac. The added cost of producing and shipping goods with useless, unnecessary packaging doesn’t make any fiscal sense in Brazil. Packaging on everything from ketchup to dry cleaning to the new printer we just bought is lighter, leaner and minimal. Thinking about this, the line from that fake Trader Joe’s commercial keeps playing in my head – the one about 4 Fuji apples in a plastic box. Is there anything more pointedly indicative of unnecessary packaging than that?

5. Fix it, re-use it, milk-it-to-death:
There are repair shops for everything imaginable in Brazil. Recently I stumbled upon a galleria in a poorer section of our downtown shopping district that has a line up of 4 stores that specialize in umbrella repair. UMBRELLA repair. Yes. You can fix that bent, broken five buck umbrella that flipped itself inside out not ten minutes after buying it on a street corner one rainy day you got caught out wet and empty handed. It seems they’ll fix anything here in Brazil. Blender on the fritz? There’s a fix-it store for that. Cheap boom box isn’t reading cd’s anymore? They can fix that too. Blew out your counterfeit Nikes imported from Paraguay? Yep, there’s a store on every block that will put a new sole on them. When things finally do grow worn and tired, they aren’t typically thrown out either. They’re passed down to the maid who proceeds to fix, re-use and milk-to-death whatever comes her way.

6. Everything smaller:
And that applies not just to the famous bikinis. Not only are things less weighted down by unnecessary packaging, but the quantity, volume, general bulk of things is more diminutive. I’m thinking principally of items on my grocery list. You’ll never find a gallon of milk on the shelves here – 1 liter (1/4 gallon) is the biggest it comes. Gigantic tubs of mayonnaise? Not at the consumer retail level. Even the regular sized jars of things like mayonnaise are sold in a smaller quantity than they are in the States. Try to stock up on Tylenol – you’ll never find a big fat economy bottle, but instead will go home with a bag of pills in 8 count sleeves.

There have been numerous studies done on our consumption habits that have proven over and over that we eat/use more when things are presented in larger quantities. Hand someone a giant bag of Smartfood and ask him to eat until he’s full and he’ll eat far more than the guy next to him who was handed a bag half the size. Talk to any Brazilian who's traveled to the US and one of the things they always marvel at is the portion size of food in restaurants – “and on top of that they give you breadsticks!” they always exclaim in disbelief. (Followed inevitably by a comment about American waistlines…)

In Brazil things haven’t typically been sold in larger quantities, largely in order to keep retail prices attainable (with grocery items there is also the concern of spoilage in a tropical climate). But what it amounts to is that people end up using less and certainly wasting less of whatever it is – mayo, olive oil, turkey flavored potato chips (yes, they exist). And the end result being, they tend to look better in those tiny bikinis.

7. Eating local
Yes, I went ahead and pulled out the buzz word of the second half of the decade. In Brazil it’s largely inevitable. A quick perusal of my kitchen, came up with less than 6 items that had been produced out of state. Now one big factor in this may be that I live at the crossroads of the agricultural and industrial part of the country. But even so, there are still far more local brands throughout the country than there are national ones. It just costs too much and the roads and railways are too undeveloped to go shipping lettuce from one end of the country to the other. (The last time I visited my father in Panama, we bought lettuce shipped in from Salinas California. Talk about a carbon heavy salad! Can tropical Panama not grow its own lettuce?)

Local eating is not limited to just fresh fruits and veggies, but goes for a lot of packaged food too. In my kitchen I find corn meal, rice, beans, hot sauce, loaf of bread, frozen lasagna, pão de queijo and so on – all relatively local, produced in the state of Minas. I realize however that this may not hold true everywhere in Brazil, especially the Northeast where agriculture has long been based around a single crop economy of sugar cane. But there instead of importing what they don’t have, people historically gone hungry. That’s changed to a certain degree now, but there are probably still far more local products on the shelves than ones brought in from other places in the country.

Those are just a few of the thing I could think of. I’m sure I and my fellow ex-pat bloggers could come up with more. But while life and consumption habits are scaled back and simpler in Brazil, that doesn’t mean that Brazilians aren’t chomping at the bit to live large. Everybody wants the bigger car, the flat screen tv, the new house – even if it means that it has to be bought in installments at unreasonable interest rates. But those desires continue to be tempered by economic forces and at least for now, living the average day-today existence in Brazil feels more sustainable and a bit greener – without having to try at all.
April 13, 2009

Up in Smoke

We didn’t burn any literal figures of Judas on Saturday night, but we did burn a lot of bureaucracy.

My friend Juliana’s father recently passed away. It was very sudden. He was only 60 and it caught everyone by surprise. She’s now dealing with a mountain of legalities trying to sort out his estate. In emptying out his house, she collected 6 huge trash bags of paperwork dating back to the 1980’s. He had worked as a civil servant for the ferroviária and a lot of the papers had his CPF (social security #) and other personal information so in the absence of a paper shredder and in presence of a cool fall night and plenty of red wine we decided to make a bonfire.

It was good for her I think. People are buried very quickly in Brazil, usually within 24 hours and while Catholics hold a mass for the deceased 7 days later that tends to be as significant or even more so than the actual burial, there really does seem to be an absence of mourning rituals that help ease the transition for the family. We were up in the village when we got news in the morning that he had died the night before and that the funeral was being held that afternoon. We didn’t have time to get back for it. I asked if there was somewhere I could send flowers and the response was a bit confused. Flowers? For what exactly? They don’t do that here. Then we went to pay a visit to his house and I asked C’s aunt if there was any particular etiquette I didn’t know about - like do people bring a dish of food for the family? No, she said, we don’t do that here. It felt kind of strange not being able to do anything except offer words of condolence. But I guess death is like that. You can’t do anything. We are all completely helpless to the essential fact that every birth is eventually followed by death.

Burning up years of bureaucratic accumulation I think was a good cathartic exercise. And I felt happy to have at least something practical I could offer her by in the way of help. We tore open bag after bag and sent the papers fluttering into fire. It took us until well after 3am to get through all the bags.

Max decided to get in on the act and pulled out a box of papers that had been accumulating in his house for decades. He owned a video store back in the late 80’s and early 90’s and most of his papers were in relation to the store. For some comic relief, C started reading through some of the receipts for the store’s purchases and it sent us howling in laughter. Check it out:

Yes, it really truly is a receipt for $18,000,000 cruzeiros. Eighteen Million. The purchase of Imperdoáveis (Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven) alone cost $5,600,000 cruzeiros. And that's over 2 million for Pinocchio! This receipt is from 1993, right before the cruzeiro was flipped into it’s 3rd incarnation, the cruzeiro real – which would be the 4th currency in 7 years. The currency changes didn’t do anything to stem the rampant inflation that was increasing at a rate of 30% a month. They just kept changing the name and knocking off zeros so that the calculators could handle it. Bus fare alone cost 16,000 cruzeiros!

In looking around for details I read that at the time the currency was considered such a joke the central bank had a hard time to find mascots to print on it. No one wanted to be associated with it – the family of author Guimaraes Rosa (considered the Brazilian James Joyce) turned the central bank down when asked for permission to reprint his image. On the 5,000 bill they ended up putting a traditional looking character of a gaucho (a cowboy from the south of Brazil) on it framed by what were supposed to be mate leaves – although botanists protested that they were so badly drawn that they looked like weeds.

I also remember seeing in a exhibit at the New Museum in New York of Brazilian artists, one (I wish I could remember his name) painted on cruzeiros because they were worth less than the paper he would have otherwise purchased.

The cruzeiro lasted until 1994 when they finally got things under control with the current currency, the real. After scrounging around for some estimate on the exchange rate at the time – which was hard to pinpoint, with the inflation rising so rapidly on a daily basis – I did the calculations on Max’s movie purchases. In US dollars, that 5 million cruzeiro movie would have been around $70 USD.

We saved that receipt from the fire. If for nothing else then just to remember that crisis or not, things are relatively pretty darn good. But the rest we burned. Some things truly are better left in the past.
April 10, 2009

Coisas da Roça


It’s Semana Santa, the Holy Week, the heart of the Catholic liturgical year and pretty much the lynchpin of the whole theology. It’s a very sacred week with many activities. Passion plays, processions, masses, music performances and over 25 tons (tons!) of fish were sold in my city alone. Many business and most restaurants are closed today in observance of Good Friday, Sexta-feira de Paixão.

Geraldinha mentioned that growing up on the roça, you had to clean your house thoroughly on Palm Sunday and were not allowed to do any cleaning at all until after Easter Sunday. You couldn’t touch a broom or do any mending. That in addition to the ban on hunting and fishing.

But as holy and austere as this all important week is in the largest Catholic country on earth, there is at least one tradition celebrated throughout the countryside of Brazil that involves a party: the burning of Judas - a tradition not part of the church rituals.

I’ve never seen this ritual because, like Carnaval and Christmas, the Holy Week is a very expensive time to travel in Brazil. It’s a vacation week for most families, kids are off school, and prices on hotels double. So we’ve stayed home. Maybe next year if our house is livable, we’ll be up in the village and get to see the festivities, but for now I just get my stories second hand.

On Good Friday, in many small country villages, an effigy of Judas is strung up, tortured and then burned the next day. Usually the effigy has the cutout face of a corrupt politician, or anyone else that the village may hold a particular resentment towards. He’s smacked around a little like a piñata and people are encouraged to yell at it and get their frustrations out. Children sometimes make their own Judas doll and go around with it bugging shop owners for candy, until they fork over the sweets. Then on Saturday afternoon or evening Judas is lit on fire and sometimes fireworks are even set off from inside the effigy. The burning is usually accompanied by music and followed by a party.

The Burning of Judas started in Europe and is still practiced there in some places, although the celebrations have been toned down a good deal because of the obvious anti-Semitism involved. But I don't think that part of it enters into the countryside rituals here in Brazil. Most of the people who participate are simple, many illiterate, and probably don't have much inkling of a connection between their Judas effigy and the Christian dogma that vilified the Jewish people. Instead it’s about scapegoating their grievances for the year on the figure of Judas - particularly with politicians. Geraldinha tells me that they didn’t always even refer to the effigy as Judas – usually they called it by the name of whoever they have a gripe with and frequently it was more than one person. They’d chant, “Let’s burn Sr. João! And now let’s burn Sr. Marcos! And now let’s burn Sr. Henrique!” The poor Judas effigy was assigned many different roles.

Winter is over for many of you, (you lucky tulip-tiptoeing northerners) and while Spring doesn’t play into the Easter symbolism here, it is still considered a time of renewal and rebirth. And as twisted as the roots of the Burning Judas ritual maybe, those countryside fun-loving cachaça soaked celebrations are held in in a the light-hearted spirit of letting let go of past hurts and grievances and starting fresh. While I don't think any of us are going to go around burning a Judas effigy, we could probably all use a way to metaphorically get rid of our grievances and move on from whatever is weighing us down.

Happy Easter!
April 8, 2009

The New World Order?

Am I too idealistic to think that perhaps there could be a new world order dedicated to fighting poverty and improving human rights? One that would not allow its developing economic muscle to become corrupted by greed and a desire for dominance at any cost, be it social or environmental. Could that really happen? Or am I just naive. Yeah, that's more likely.

But as we watch the United States and Europe melting down before our eyes, it seems that India, Brazil and South Africa are quietly conspiring to level the global playing field while keeping China at arms length.

Today's Wall Street Journal has an article about this coalition of three called the IBSA:

IBSA is not a security alliance -- Brazil and South Africa, after all, are harsh critics of India's nuclear program. What it is, rather, is an alliance that seeks to use democratic ideals to effectively reshape the U.N. and other international institutions to serve poor countries better. In a strange way, IBSA is a community of democracies from hell -- a group of countries with impeccable democratic credentials who are using that common identity to challenge rather than advance U.S. interests. International relations scholars call this "soft balancing" because rather than confronting the U.S., they are simply trying to restrain and reorient it. The reason this may work is that, as democracies, these countries have the moral stature in the international system to achieve those goals. Indian and Brazilian diplomats in particular, already among the world's best, can advance the IBSA agenda because they share common ideals.

Click here to read the full article.
April 7, 2009

Some thoughts on Cinema Brasileiro

Last week Ray commented on the post about Roberta Sá and my complaints that it’s hard to find quality Brazilian cultural activities. He mentioned films and how directors keep coming out with these violent shoot ‘em up in the favelas movies. Well, he’s right to a degree – after Cidade de Deus (City of God)made such a huge splash both here and internationally, there have been a number of films that followed suit. The most notable recently was that abhorrent film (that everyone but me seemed to love) Tropa de Elite (The Elite Squad). If you haven’t seen it, it’s a violent film about a good cop fighting both the corrupt system and the drug dealers. The acting was pretty good (even the worst movies here tend to have good acting because there are so few options for the country’s actors.) Artistically however it has all the production values and creativity of a mediocre made for TV movie, and thematically it is tedious and unchallenging.

The reason I really didn’t like it was that it seemed like bait and switch propaganda trying to use shock value to actually lull people into some sense of security and distract from the real roots of the problems. It’s message seems to go something like, “See folks, we have heroes saving us from the bad guys. Don’t worry about a thing, just don’t buy drugs (cause drugs are bad and it gives money to the bad guys) and the police will take care of the rest and all our problems will be solved.” If only it were that easy.

I have some friends who are very well-educated, dedicated Spiritists, meditation and yoga practicing pacifists – who loved the movie. I gave up trying to talk people out of it after running into a wall with them.

But just because violence and drugs has been the overriding theme in the Brazilian movies that have gotten the most notice recently, that doesn’t mean that other movies aren’t being made. They just aren’t getting much attention or distribution - so not many people know about them.

Casa de Areia is a good example of this. Directed by Andrucha Waddington and staring the country's two most famous actresses, Fernanda Torres and Fernanda Montenegro, it got little attention here in its home country. We were living here in 2005 when it came out and the first time it crossed my radar screen was when I read a pretty glowing review in the New York Times a year later. It's a lovely film.

Another perfect example is Linha de Passe. Directed by the biggest name director in Brazilian cinema, Walter Salles, it won a bunch of awards in film festival circuits, including Best Actress at Cannes. It was released here in Brazil last September and I don’t ever remember seeing it shown or advertised at the movie theaters. It’s coming out on DVD now so we’ll finally get to see it.

So the problem isn’t that Brazilian film directors aren’t making nuanced, sophisticated films. They are. The problem is that they aren’t getting distributed. In 2007, Brazilian made movies accounted for only 10% of films shown in Brazilian movie theaters and although there has been a bit of a push by Brazilian filmmakers to change this, the number hasn’t grown much. And this isn’t because Brazilians aren’t making movies, or that there isn’t an audience for them. But rather the movies that do get made can’t even begin to compete with the marketing machine that backs American made films. So the films don't make any money and the national industry continues to struggle.

One estimate has a whooping 65% of the total revenue earned by the American film industry made in markets outside of the United States. Here in Brazil, the movie theater franchises that monopolize the market are multinationals. Companies like UCI, Cinemark and Hoyts General Cinema with their surround sound digital technology and stadium seating, show predominantly American films – which bring in the revenue to keep the cinemas operating. How can the practically non-existent Brazilian film industry, which struggles to raise the money to get even a few films a year into production, even begin to compete with the marketing power of Hollywood?

Naturally Brazilians have had little chance to develop a taste for their own movies. They earn very little money, are poorly marketed, weakly distributed, and do nothing to further the Brazilian cineasta’s dream of developing a national cinema industry. If there were money behind it, there is certainly no shortage of talent. Show up at any one of the country’s film festivals and you will see a number of very good, original feature length movies as well as documentary, shorts and animation, that apart from the festival circuit receive very little, if any, screen time.

A few years ago we spent ten days at the Mostra de Cinema de Tiradentes (an annual film festival in the city of Tiradentes in Minas Gerais). C had gotten accepted to a digital filmmaking workshop that ran as part of the festival.

I spent the afternoons watching movies and sightseeing around the historic city with Dharma and eventually was roped into participating in the short film the workshop produced.

It was a disastrous little 5 minute short – exactly what you’d expect from 25 students trying to collaborate on everything from script to costumes to direction in ten days. The only thing that turned out decently were the opening credits which were filmed by the guy who was assisting the director of the workshop. But it was a good and sometimes hilarious learning experience.

While we were there we did get to see a few feature length films that definitely proved that there is a lot more being explored in Brazilian cinema than violence. Here’s a short list (in no particular order) of some good recent Brazilian cinema. Check these out – if you can find them…

  • Sonhos de Peixe (Fish Dreams)
  • Crime Delicado (Delicate Crime)
  • O Ano em Que Meus Pais Saíram de Férias (The Year My Parents Went on Vacation)
  • Anjos do Sol (Angels of the Sun)
  • O Concepção (The Conceptualist)
  • Baile Perfumado (Perfumed Ball)
  • O Veneno da Madrugada (The Evil Hour)
  • Abril Despedaçado (Behind the Sun)
  • Lavoura Arcaica (To the Left of the Father)
  • Olga
  • O Quatrilho
  • Linha de Passa
  • Casa de Areia (House of Sand)

One thing that ties almost all of these movies together is that their funding took years and years to raise -- 14 years in the case of Ruy Guerra’s Evil Hour. Anyway my list is not nearly complete – I’m sure there are Brazilian cinema lovers out there that know a lot more than me, so feel free to add suggestions!

Oh, and in a funny anecdote, while we were at the Tiradentes Film Festival, the movie O Concepção was being shown and one of the actors, Matheus Nachtergaele was in attendance. But much like his character in the film, he’s a bit of a drug fueled lunatic. One evening, C and I were sitting in the garden of one of the nicer restaurants in Tiradentes, conversing with the owner, an old friend of C’s. He brought us over to some benches in a quiet corner of the garden next to the hot tub he had just installed. (I know, a hot tub in a restaurant seems weird, but it was very tastefully done and had a bamboo screen around it). Anyway suddenly Matheus and his boyfriend came charging through. He was clearly high on something and he started tearing off all his clothes right there. We were trying to get up but were trapped in the corner between the building and the bamboo and couldn’t get past. The owner kept saying, wait, wait, hold on a second. But the crazy actor got stark naked and jumped in and then called to his boytoy to join him. We were tripping over chairs but managed to get away, barely containing our laughter.