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At far left, volunteers paint and tidy up a facility for invalids in Brazil. At near left is Dr. John Loofbourow in the futbol stadium.

girls; they beat small metal-rimmed plates, with varying metallic sounds. I visit Nana, a 90-year-old matriarch, who occasionally lends me her Wi-Fi connection; she is in her kitchen, on her own computer, copying verses from the Bible in huge text. After writing for an hour, I relent. She loves to talk, is in the last years of a long difficult life, quite alert, and lonely at times. We speak together for hours, almost understanding one another. We talk of everything and nothing. Once she says, “a mea mae estaba en cadeira de roda por seis anos.” I am challenged by the consonants and 16 variable vowel sounds; and by the miscues I get from both Spanish and English. After a time, she makes clear she means wheelchair … cadera means hip in Spanish, while in Portuguese, cadeira is chair; roda begins with the sound of h. (My mother was in a wheelchair for six years). I break out my hearing aids. She’s somewhat hard of hearing, too, so I pass her one. We continue, each one-eared. Nana had tried some hearing aids before, but my Costco’s seemed much better, so she plans to get a pair. Out of that decent, healthy countryside, I venture into rough, tough, raucous São Paulo. If Rio de Janeiro is the beautiful painted lady of Brazil, São Paulo is its body and soul: Futbol, Samba, and industry. I often go to a corner restaurant – Segredos de Minas (www. segredosdeminas.com). I like the name – Secrets of Miners. It reminds me of the 13 little mining towns of my childhood, even though the restaurant has nothing to do with mines, except history, and an extract from a poem by Frei

Betto on the back of the menu: Segredos de Minas. Minas and mineros remain a treasured part of the national lore. When there is a chill breeze at night, I order hot soups. They come boiling in big clay pots with a ladle in the middle, accompanied by buttered garlic bread. I order water sem gas (no gas). And possibly an espresso later, but not too late. Yes, I’m an old man. One reason I stay on in São Paulo is a disease: xenophilia, love of the other. Besides, I have a conceit about being an American; one living in both our continents; an America with three major languages.  Brazilian is the one I most lack. What better way to learn than immersion?   This is my third São Paulo trip, but the others were touristic and short. I did study some before coming; the overlap between both English and Spanish, and Brazilian, is sometimes helpful, sometimes very misleading! Even so, I can now read almost everything. I can make myself understood fairly well because, when totally lost, I revert to gestures and to Spanish. Nonetheless, I can hear almost nada, except when  the subject is quite clear, as on TV news about assault, murder, robbery, ads, erudite art, news… etc. Of course, teenagers talk in strange tongues in Brazil, as they do everywhere. It seems to me Brazilians are reliably tolerant, and considerate, even in crowds. On July/August 2015

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Profile for Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society

2015-Jul/Aug - SSV Medicine  

Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine is the official journal of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society (SSVMS) and promotes the history,...

2015-Jul/Aug - SSV Medicine  

Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine is the official journal of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society (SSVMS) and promotes the history,...