Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Yesterday, we joined a caravan of embassy families and took a trip to Cristalina, about 125km south of Brasilia. As the name indicates, the town is famous for being one of the largest centers of production and commerce of precious and semi-precious stones and crystals in Brazil. The road to get to the crystal mine tested the limits of our 4WD beast of a car, but I think everyone had a pretty good time.
I don't remember the portuguese name for this balancing rock formation, but I think the rough translation was something like, "Big-Ass Balancing Rock". Or some such.

 See my little boy right there in the middle? Remember the orange shirt for later in this story.

After we visited the Big-Ass Balancing Rock, we went to the mine, where there were hills and hills of crystals. You could take as many as you wanted. The kids each filled bags, and yes, being that I'm the world's best diplomat's wife, two of my children used Trader Joe's wine bags, because that's what I had in the car, yo.

 Look! We forced our teenager out of bed at the ungodly hour of 8:00am to join us.
Practicing his studied indifference.

This is where Grace slipped on the crystals and was telling me from the top of the pile that if I didn't come up an administer first aid to her tiny little scrape, she might possibly die from blood loss. I refused and told her to tough it out. She went back to foraging for crystals, while giving me the occasional "you're the worst mother in the world" looks, and finally forgot about her life-threatening knee scrape. You'll be happy to know she survived her injury and did indeed eventually get a bandaid when she was done with her collecting.

 Reservoir near the mine

Henry and his buddy walked to the "arcade" while the rest of us were getting settled at the restaurant for lunch. What does an arcade look like in a small Brazilian town?
Yep, those are big box tvs hooked up to Playstation 2s.  They charge by the hour, but the boys didn't find out how much, because it was time to eat.

After lunch we visited a geode factory, and the kids all bought souvenirs. I thought of buying something, and although the geodes were beautiful, they were super heavy (and would ultimately add to my weight allowance), and not really my style. Above is a random kid that was playing soccer outside the geode shop. He was smiling and gave me the thumbs up, but gave me his most serious pose when I raised my camera.

 What's a geode factory without chickens?

More geodes.

So, remember my little boy in the orange t-shirt? Well, there were about 70 or so people in our group, so when we were at the restaurant, a churrascaria, my kids were scattered about, sitting with their friends. When the waiter came by to figure out the bill, I used my best portuguese to tell him what our drinks were and which children were mine in the room, so he wouldn't forget to add what they had to our bill. I pointed to the table of teenagers and he figured out which one was Jack "the tall skinny boy" (in portuguese, yay me!), and then when I pointed out Henry, the guy started laughing and turning red, but he did know immediately which one Henry was, so I figured I had done well with me developing language skills. You would think I'd have learned my lesson by now.  As we were driving back home towards Brasilia, I picked up my English-Portuguese dictionary.

Which is when I discovered that I had told the waiter my other son is the one wearing an orange condom.

Camisa? Camisinha?


Nomads By Nature said...

I love reading about your family adventures!

Jen said...

That's awesome! BTW, if I ever hear of you NOT having Trader Joe's wine bags in your car, I will be very, very concerned!

Daniela Swider said...

Haha, love the orange shirt story!!!

Emily said...

That is a fabulous adventure. It has everything needed for a good FS story, language issues, children loving every cultural moment, and animals in unexpected places. Thank you for this awesome story.

Denise said...

Awesome! That's our kind of vacation...honestly, just what we talk about doing when the girls are a little older. If we went now, the wee one would eat the rocks... And I don't feel like sifting poo. Great post and so glad you are digging (ha ha) into Brazil :)

Adriano Argenton said...

I'm from Cristalina, and I saw you having lunch at "Rodeio's", and I think that this kind of attitude is so cool, and it makes Cristalina so happy to have people like u here! Thank you so much! You're welcome anytime you want :D

Sadie said...

Oh I needed to laugh out loud like that! You just have the greatest stories to tell, always :-). Pretty geodes!