So Alexandre was really against the idea of going to this rodeo/"country party." He kept saying that it was because of the music. When his friends told him they were going earlier this week, he said it was just going to be girls, and that he would sit it out and let me go with them. But when his friend Antonio said he'd be going, too, Alexandre agreed to go with me, since he wouldn't be the only guy. He kept saying I wouldn't like it. He kept saying we would be wasting our money. I kept saying that I didn't really like the music either, but that I just saw it as a cultural experience and please can we go pleasepleaseplease.
Sigh. I should have listened.
We didn't get to the party until about 10:00pm, but that isn't saying much because it's more or less a 24-hour thing. Alexandre's friends promptly downed a bottle of vodka in the parking lot to avoid paying for the overpriced alcohol in the park. Since the place was insanely crowed with literally tens of thousands of people, most of whom were already drunk, Alexandre and I thought it best to keep our wits about us, and stuck to Sprite. Also, I could feel a cold coming on and didn't want to aggravate it.
We had planned on buying the student tickets (half the price), but the rodeo planners strategically placed 2 employees at the student ticket windows and 10+ employees at the regular ticket windows. The result was a student line that was over 2 hours long. Alexandre and his friends joked that Brazil's entire college student population must have been there, since only 3% of the country attends a university. We caved and bought the full-price tickets to save ourselves an hour and 50 minutes.
The entrance area to the fairgrounds was fun and picturesque, with farmers showing off their prized cattle (only 2 reais for a picture on one!), and barbecue stands everywhere. There was also a GIANT metal statue (89 feet tall, to be exact) of a cowboy and his riding equipment. Unfortunately, I forgot to charge my camera batteries before we left, so I didn't take any pictures. But Alexandre's friends did, so I'll post them when I get copies. (Yes, I did wear a cowboy hat!)
We made our way into the center of the park, where all the concert stages were. This is when it started to get crazy, and when the regret started to sink in. Yesterday, I wrote how Brazilian country culture lacked the American country culture's political absolutivism and general intolerance. However, what it lacks in these areas, it certainly makes up for in chauvinism and drunken barbarianism. One guy tried to get our friend Bruna's attention by pulling her hair from behind. Someone slapped my ass in a crowd. Another made kissy and clicking noises at me while I was standing with Alexandre. (No, I'm not a whore or a horse [Joanna reference]. I flipped him off. Luckily, Alexandre missed the whole thing.) Another guy followed our friend Carol around for like 15 minutes, drunkenly grabbing at her and asking for a kiss. Some dumb Brazilian version of a frat boy actually made fun of Alexandre for wearing glasses. (That's right. Glasses. I haven't heard a 4-eyes joke since I was 6 years old.) Many stands were selling these popular beer can holders that were a woman's headless naked body. I would estimate that 30% of the men at the party were wearing shirts that had some kind of slogan about beer, whether it was just an advertisement or one of those shirts that have some witty phrase like "Conserve water. Drink beer!" The crowds were pushy and obnoxious. The women were sinvergüenzas. I'll take an annoying Texan over a Latin American cowboy any day.
The music wasn't horrible, but that's because I couldn't understand the lyrics. The ones I could understand, however, were repetitious jingles all about "getting" women. A popular slang for women in Brazilian country music is "fillet"... yes, like the meat. It doesn't help that the Portuguese word for "eat" is slang for "have sex." You can imagine the "creative poetry" that results.
Our friends were pretty intoxicated and love Brazilian country music, so they were all having a great time. One of the redeemable parts of the night was convincing Alexandre to dance around like a crazy person with me. But the fun of this, too, eventually wore off. When the friends decided to push their way into a full concert arena that easily held 60,000 people, we decided to go off on our own.
We walked as far as we could from the crowds, and found some benches in front of a closed restaurant to relax on. It was about 2am by this time, and my cold was kicking in. Alexandre was also totally crabby and agitated. I think the most significant part of my Barretos experience was the realization of what it's like to be around me, particularly when I get into my "I-hate-my-country-and-all-the-people-in-it" rants/moods. Danette, you have been most sincerely vindicated. I have to appreciate Alexandre for this aspect of his personality. I'm cada vez mas relieved that I've found someone with the same brain as me, even if it means that I sometimes have to help talk him through overwhelming stuff like "what's the world country coming to?" and "we are nothing like these people" while trying to ignore the competing Hummer and Ford pickup truck booths across from us, both with their insane bass-ridden stereo systems on full blast.
We talked for a while, and meandered some more. We ate some delicious food, like fresh hamburgers and doce-de-leite-filled churros (another redeeming quality of the party) and walked around the edge of the fairgrounds. We found some nice trails and camping areas that led us to believe that Barretos might actually be a nice place to visit during the other 355 days out of the year.
At 4am, our friends still hadn't called us to say they were ready to go home, so we called Carol and asked for the car keys. We slept fitfully in the car until about 7am, by which time the group was completely pooped and ready for their beds. Alexandre drove and I did my best to be loyal and stay awake with him. I was more or less successful. It started raining on the drive home.
Around 9am Saturday morning, we were finally able to crawl into our nice warm bed with our wonderful kitty and the even more wonderful sounds of thunder and rain against the window. Alexandre had given me some medicine for my cold (his diagnosis: an annoying virus. His prescription: tylenol, tea, and cuddles with him and said kitty), and the medicine, combined with exhaustion, allowed me to sleep until 5:30pm.
My final word on Barretos? The food was good and all, but Brazilian country culture isn't my favorite. Plus, I'm still trying to convince myself that the lessons learned were more valuable than the 5 sushi dinners we could've eaten with all the money we spent.