Happy Port

I didn’t appreciate Porto Alegre when I was here a quarter century ago.  Your feelings about people and places often reflect your feelings about yourself. Times were hard, for me and for Brazil. Chrissy and I were abysmally poor. I didn’t make much as a junior officer and more than half of my take home pay went to paying off student loans. Beyond that, starting off in a new career, I had to buy suits and other work-related stuff.  Because of my particular position, we also had to buy all sorts of reasonably high-quality dishes and plates for at home entertaining. To top it all off, Mariza was born in Porto Alegre.  Babies bring great joy, but they are hard work and they cost a lot of money. 

Now add in professional problems. This was my first independent post. My boss was thousands of miles away and they really neglected me. I liked being left alone, as I mentioned in the previous post, but I realize now that I really needed a little more direction or “mentoring” than I got.  I worked too hard. Well, I worked too hard in the wrong way. I didn’t understand the old saying that you have to first seek to understand before being understood. I would have been better off “working” to get to know the society better rather than working on the ostensible work in the office.  It would have been more fun too. Sometimes you can go farther faster by running slower.

Finally, it was a hard time for Brazil.  The Brazilians were not happy with themselves so it was harder for them to be happy with us.  I was there during the “Cruzado Plan”.  They changed the currency and put on all sorts of price controls. This created shortages and black markets.  I remember it was even hard to get Coca-Cola.

It is better now for me, for them and better in general.

Porto Alegre seems like home and is familiar even with the big changes.  It is funny. The place is full of Mariza. I keep on “seeing” my baby girl in all the places we took her and even in the places we didn’t because she was always on my mind.  That was another thing I didn’t appreciate at the time.  I get a similar feeling in SE Washington, BTW, near the old Oakwood. It is filled with Alex from when he was a baby. Sometimes I just used to sit on the bench there and absorb that.  I have never really understood those feelings.  They are bitter-sweet, as it is with remembering intense things past.

So there were lots of reason I didn’t appreciate the place or the time.  I am better now and so the beauty of the place is easier to see.

The pictures show the beauty of the place. The first two are Parque Farroupilha where I used to run. Below is the street we lived on in a neighborhood called Moinhos de Vento.  The streets are lined with jacaranda trees. I got to POA a few days to early.  Soon they would be in beautiful purple flowers. It was a nice neighborhood then; it is fantastic now, with lots of shops and restaurants within walking distance down pleasant streets.  The swings are in Parque Moinhos de Vento, where we used to take Mariza to play. It looks like it is the same equipment.  The bottom picture is Zaffari, the grocery store where we used to shop. It is within walking distance from our old house. Zaffari is a chain of supermarkets. They are really nice, maybe like Wegmans in the U.S. 

Here are a few more pictures relevant to the story that I didn’t post.