Our month-long trip began in Rio de Janeiro. We were met at the airport by the sister of Newton’s crazy friend, Jorge, and her very sane American husband, Tom. They drove us to the family’s mountain retreat in a lovely place called Cachoeiras de Macacu. Friday night was the gathering in of the celebrant 50-year-olds, Newton, Jorge and Moair, and members of their families. A fourth celebrant, Luis Pureza Paixão, would arrive on Saturday. Yes, you got that right…his name means “pure passion,” and both Newton’s sister, Lilian, and I looked forward to seeing Luis – possibly the most handsome guy we ever knew – after many, many years. Lilian drove from São Paulo with her husband David, daughter Mariana, and Newton’s father, Alfredo, pictured here at left. I loved having some time with my niece.
Crazy Jorge had devised a brief skit for us, which he enacted with Moair’s son: “What’s your name?” “Ton.” “NEWton” …and then, “What’s your name?” “Sandy…Sandy, Mondy, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday…” This one works better with a Portuguese accent, where Sandy sounds more like Sunday. I explain these details to give you the flavor of the weekend. It was jokes, jokes and more jokes and plenty of laughter that belied the actual hilarity of the jokes. But then the laughter itself was pretty hilarious! Jorge and Moair dubbed Newton “Botox” immediately and kept it up for the weekend, as Newton has the smoothest skin of the lot. Moair, far right, works for a state of Rio technology agency, and Crazy Jorge is, get this, a former surgeon who is now a lawyer. He was also a child actor in television and film when the guys were growing up.
The mountain retreat is huge and lush, though we didn’t discover to what extent till Saturday morning. The daylight brought us all out of the countless bedrooms and guest houses for a walk up to Tom’s sublime Zen garden. He had landscaped around a natural spring that runs down the hill, creating an incredibly beautiful spot in the middle of an old-growth bamboo forest. It was as if we were suddenly in ancient China.
Enjoy the sound here, especially:
Luis Paixão arrived with his beautiful wife and nine-year-old daughter. Alas, with some added weight and years, he is now merely handsome and possibly the nicest guy Lilian and I ever knew! His daughter Luisa is definitely one of the most disarming nine-year-olds we ever knew. Luis is an engineer who works on an off-shore drilling platform – two weeks on and two weeks off.
The day of celebration centered around a churrasco, which means a really big cook-out. Brazilians normally include many kinds of meat, sausage and chicken in this exercise. It was scrumptious with the cold beer and the fresh mountain air.
Jorge had gone all out with party hats and wigs. I was assigned specifically the Statue of Liberty get-up, for which I was duly proud. My favorite memory will remain the Saturday night joke that set the four 50-year-olds laughing with tears running down their faces, including a short breather and an extended encore. I promise you the joke doesn’t live up to it, but the mood of the day, their youths together, and again - the mountain air – were indeed infectious!
After Sunday lunch with Luis’ family in Niteroi, Rio’s twin city where the guys grew up, Newton and I caught a short flight to São Paulo. We had a couple of days with all of Newton’s family there.
What is it right now about getting together with old friends? “Gold,” as the Girl Scouts always sing. There would be more old friends to savor in the coming days!