from Sandy Needham

Thursday, November 8, 2007

São Paulo '07 Dispatch

November 9, 2007

Our first stop on the 5-week marathon fall trip was São Paulo for Newton's Mother's 70th surprise birthday party.

Jannice (Jan-EE-see), Newton's Mother, was not expecting us. We were able to spirit ourselves into Newton's grandmother's apartment in the same building where his parents live at 6:00am, without fear that Jannice would spot us from their 16th floor window. We had to disguise our heads and slink a bit to leave the building later for lunch with Newton's sister, Lilian, and her husband, David, just in case Jannice might be looking out!

After lunch Lilian and David took us for capuccino at Kopenhagen, a Brazilian chocolate company that puts big chunks of chocolate in the capuccino, which then melts into the coffee. A spoon is needed, as well as a well-ventilated room to keep one from fainting from the fabulousness!

Alfredo, Newton's father, had everything in place for the surprise fest, including a fake call earlier in the day from the custodians about a mess a tenant left in the party room that Alfredo, as a member of the building board, needed to address. Once the 80 guests were all assembled in the party room and Jannice thought she was going out to a theater on a typical Saturday night, Alfredo mentioned to her that he wanted to check if the tenant had taken care of the problem in the party room, so they stopped there on the way to the garage. SURPRISE!! It helped that this was a week before her birthday.

These very smart guys have a crepe catering business, complete with five portable flat griddles and all the fixings for both dinner and dessert crepes. Offerings included four-cheese, chicken, salmon, etc. plus apple cinnamon, chocolate, etc. with ice cream to precede the birthday cake. Divine! I say 'etc.' often because my memory is SO BAD.

Besides recorded music, live contributions were made by relatives on cavaquinho (sort of a ukulele) and tambourine. Here is an action clip with dancing participants:

I got to see all of my very fun and darling Brazilian nieces and nephews with girlfriends and boyfriends, plus many relatives and old friends from the beach resort we've visited for years. Newton's second cousin Tatiana is married to a Californian who teaches in the American school in São Paulo; Newton's sister teaches English, plus the son of old friends travels to the US on business now, so I could gab and joke in English as well as fracture the Portuguese language throughout the evening.

On Sunday afternoon we took off for Madrid/Rome. Since I had nabbed the last reservation on Iberia airlines to Rome, Newton had to catch a different airline for the connection. Alas, the new terminal in Madrid is as oversized as it is lovely, and there was not enough time for Newt to get to his flight. I had a nice caprese and chocolate gelato lunch in the Rome airport waiting for Newt to arrive on a later flight. Then we caught the train...more to come.

A connection through Rio to São Paulo from Natal, and the two flights to Madrid and Rome crossed four flights off our lists, with 13 flights remaining!


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