(part six of Thirty Days in Brazil: Fiber in a Faraway Place)

Yesterday, on the way to Campinas, we passed a burning favela. A few kilometers later, we passed a burning forest. A bunch of workers stood by the side of the road, halfheartedly waving people through the choking woodsmoke. We entered the blinding white cloud, we exited. We moved on.

These things happen.


There are flowers everywhere down here. I really mean that. The favelas are overtaken by vines of crimson trumpets, the hotel's palm trees are host to orchids. Trees, quite sudden, spread on the margins of the freeway, revealing a wild canopy of yellow and cerulean. Swathes of purple flowers alongside pollution-choked canals. A vine of delicate white.

Jungleland. It makes me homesick for places that aren't my home, like grundoon and wertperch's backyard, like twisting stairs in Berkeley, like greenhouses in the hills above and tiny flytraps. Like wine in West Lafayette and gardens in Eugene, and drinks in Portland.

I miss my friend Salami, mad scientist and obsessive Italian that he is. He's trying to cure cancer, or at least, prevent it. Like so many others.


The thing about the desert is that it isn't dry. Well. It is, but where I am, even with sandstorms, it's agricultural: there are broad swathes of orchards because there's nutrients in the soil. There are vineyards and banana plantations, there's a river choked with trees and blackberry bushes.

And tumbleweeds, too.

There's orchards on the way to Campinas, and even as happy as I am, I look at them and I think of home.


Palm trees are unreal. They stand so straight, and the fronds are everywhere. When they're small, they're round and thick at the base, like a fat baby waiting to grow up. The fronds droop against the ground like they're tired.

Bamboo, too. They look like trees from far away, until you get up close and realize those are segments on the dark green trunk - and that's no bark, and all that greenery is enough to keep a panda happy for at least a week or two. Campinas is choked with the stuff.

Just like California.


I'm two weeks into my Brazilian journey, with more travel to come (maybe) in the future, and I'm having an amazing time.

But I guess at heart I'm a Minnesotan, because all I can think about is home.