1 January 2000

New Year's Day
Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
Caçarras, Brazil

Here is what happened today:

We drove to Randas's aunt's house in the morning.

After eating breakfast, I went swimming with some of Randas's cousins in a big outdoor pool.  It was nice to swim between the raindrops.  Afterwards, we went to an indoor salt-water pool.  It was really warm and it felt wonderful to go from the cool outdoor water to the warm salty pool.  Little water jets propelled water into the pool, and I put my back up against one of them for an excellent massage.

After a few hours of swimming, we returned to his aunt's house.

Randas's aunt is married to a Brazillian man of Japanese ancestry.  He has created an immensely successful business for his family here in Brazil.  They make boots for the Brazillian army, the British Army, as well as safety boots for the industrial workplace.  They even make make sandals.

One of their friends who I spoke with at lunch said that they make between $ 50 million and $100 million a year.

The following story occurred in about five seconds.  The lesson that I learned from it will last a long time.

There is a golf course next to the house, and after lunch the father went out to drive some golf balls with his sons.  They asked Randas to come with them, but he said he has never played golf, and chose not to try.  From where we were sitting on the porch, we could easily see the men getting ready to golf.  The father is a proud man.  At 76 he no longer runs the business himself.  He has handed over the reins to his sons and daughters.  He was very happy to have the family together for the special day.

With everyone watching, he grabbed a golf club and put the ball on a tee.  He gave a mighty swing, missing the ball completely.  He swung so hard that he lost his balance and spun off the tiny grass hill, his shoulder sliding into the muddy ground.  He lifted himself quickly amidst an eruption of laughter.  To see him whirling around before hitting the grass was the kind of slapstick comedy you might see in an old movie.  Though he had not been physically hurt, I could tell that this proud man had taken an emotional blow.

Though the laughter subsided in a minute, to him it must have seemed like an hour.  He had looked bad and lost face in front of everyone.

His sons grabbed some golf balls and they began to hit them off into the distance.  They asked Randas if he would come out and try, and finally he agreed to give it a shot.

He drove one ball way wildly off the course, and people started to laugh.  Then he swung at the next ball and instead of hitting the ball, the club slammed into the dirt.  Another shot banged into a coconut tree which grew along the edge of the course, and more people laughed at his reckless golfing.  I laughed silently at the unpredictability of his shots.  He seemed to enjoy the display of  his lack of skill.

I was surprised he had even tried to hit the ball.  It was obvious he had never golfed.  After our conversations a few days earlier when he had explained the importance of never showing your limits, here he was showing everyone the limits of his golf skills.

Our day wound down nicely.  The rain stopped, and before long I gathered into the truck with Randas and the family and we headed home.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com

2 January 2000
Jeffrey Luke's Brazillian Diary
Curitiba, Brazil

I returned to Curitiba with Randas and his family.  During our late night talk, we got to talking about the golfing incident.  Randas shared a gem of a lesson with me.  It turns out that he had purposely made a spectacle of himself on the golf course.  He had not wanted to golf at first, but when the Japanese father had fallen down and been laughed at, Randas decided to go out and ease his pain.

Randas made himself look worse than the father by golfing worse than he had.  By swinging wildly, people started to laugh at him.  Even the father started to laugh at Randas.  "Those people thought I was trying to hit the ball, but that wasn't my goal," Randas said.  "I could have concentrated and taken some practice swings if I wanted to perform better, but that wasn't the point.  I took the pressure off the father, and I think it helped him face the problem.  Because if I didn't let him and everyone else laugh at my bad golfing, he would probably feel bad about himself for one, two, maybe three days or more.  But he was able to deal with his bad feelings, and by now it probably doesn't bother him at all.

"I had even thought to fall down on the grass after one of my swings, but I thought that might seem like a little too much.  The father might have realized what I was up to and he might have even thought I was making fun of him.  But I think it all worked out all right because they could see that I was a worse golfer than he was.  As long as it took the pressure off the father, it all worked out all right."

Through his action, Randas taught me a valuable lesson of compassion and sacrifice.  He went far out of his way to help a friend.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com

5 January 2000
Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
Curitiba, Brazil

Today Randas operated on a young man who was very sick with Chagas disease.  It's a disease that attacks the immune system and enlarges the heart.

The surgery began in the early afternoon around 1 or 2pm, and we didn't get out of the hospital until around 9pm.  This young man, José, was just my age, 31.  Randas ressected a very large piece of his heart.

I photographed the surgery right to the end when Randas sutured José's chest together (with stainless steel wire) and the staff wheeled him into the intensive care unit (ICU).  Randas spent about an hour giving instructions about the patient's care to the doctor who would supervise during the night.   Randas said that if any of José's vital signs, such as blood pressure or heart rate, changed, they should call him on his cell phone.  Then we went home.

At 4 in the morning, Randas woke and called the ICU to find out how the patient was doing.  José was awake, and had began breathing on his own, so the staff removed the tube that provided oxygen during surgery and his first hours in the ICU.  It's a good sign when the tube comes out.  José was even talking to the staff, they said, and Randas reminded them to call him if any of José's vital signs changed.  Then Randas went back to sleep.

This morning I woke up early and had breakfast.  I sat on the couch waiting for Randas to join me so that we could return to the hospital and check on José.  The phone rang, and Randas answered it.  He talked for a while.  Then he walked into the living room.  He looked at me and the first words out of his mouth were, "The patient's dead."

This was the first time I had ever photographed a heart surgery and the patient died.   It didn't make sense.  He was so young.  The surgery had been deliberate, the patient left the O.R. in good shape.

Randas was disgusted with the ICU staff, especially the doctor on night duty.  At 6:30 in the morning, José's condition went downhill quickly.  His blood pressure dropped and other vital signs changed.  No one called Randas.  At 7:30 they called to tell him what had happened.  "Who do they think I am, Jesus?" he asked.  I could have told them what to do if they'd called me when his condition got worse, but they didn't call.  They think they will look incompetent if they can't solve the problem themselves.  So they wait until now, and it's too late.

I thought of José, who I had first taken pictures of about 4 weeks ago when we first learned of his enlarged heart.  He looked so lonely in the hospital bed when Randas and I walked in.  There was no one with him.  He was just waiting.

I thought of his wife, an attractive young woman with naturally reddish-brown hair, who came into the ICU right after surgery, and whispered into his ear, though he was not conscious.  She tried to be strong, but I saw tears through my camera's viewfinder.

It was so upsetting to think of his wife and the rest of the family gathered in the hallway just outside the doors where we operated.  Someone would walk out and tell them that their husband, their brother, their son, had died.

What a horrible waste.  After all of the work that Randas had put in.  While I was upset, Randas was furious.  "I tell them so many times to call me if there are changes," Randas said.  "They never do.  The coin never drops.  I go in there and work to save his life, and then I come home and go to sleep and [the ICU doctors] kill him.

"I wonder how those doctors would feel if that were their brother," he said.  We sat around and talked.  An hour passed.  Then I went upstairs to my room and packed up my camera equipment and clothing, because I might go to São Paulo soon.  We had lunch, then after making some more phone calls, Randas asked me if I want to go to the hospital with him.  He said the José's condition has been improving.

"What do you mean,?" I asked him.  "You told me he was dead."  Well, it turns out that the patient had not actually died.  He had gone from a good to horrible, and José's blood pressure was so bad, Randas thought he would not survive.  Randas knew that the patient was not absolutely, positively dead.  But he didn't tell me that.  He told me the patient was "dead."  I never knew there were shades of death.

So we went to the hospital.  I was so happy to see José.  His eyes were open, he was responding to Randas's questions.  He was alive.

For me, it felt like a resurrection.  In the morning when I learned of his "death," I was really upset.  Somehow I had to find a way to handle the situation and move on.  I had to come to grips with the death of someone whose heart I had photographed as it pumped away the night before.  That afternoon I had to come to grips with his life.

I have never experienced someone's death, then life, in the same day.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com


Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
6 January 2000
Curitiba, Brazil

I feel as though my work here in Curitiba is complete.  I have learned about surgery, and how to survive in Brazil.  I even helped Randas create a web site.  I have learned lessons in the past ten weeks that will stay with me forever.  When Randas told me that he was going to the U.S. soon, I could tell this was our goodbye.  Yes, I can stick around Curitiba or travel through Brazil for a few more weeks and return to Curitiba.  But my days with Randas feel like the last pages of a really good book.  You know you just have to savor them, because it's all about to end.  I feel a strong sense of accomplishment, and also a little sadness.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com


Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
7 January 2000
Curitiba, Brazil

Randas tells me I should go to Machu Pichu, in Peru, or Terra del Fuego Argentina.  He says that Buzios and Angra do Reis are two beautiful places to discover here in Brazil.  He says that if he did not have surgical commitments, if he had the time that I have, he would explore South America.  I think about how nice it would be to go experience these wonders.  I loved going to Foz do Iguaçu a few months back.  But I feel like making things happen.  I think that if I go into nature now, I will just be thinking about leaving and getting things done.  I don't know exactly what I want to do, I just feel like using my camera, my pen, paper, and Portuguese.  I'm craving hard work.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com


Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
8 January 2000
Curitiba, Brazil

(If you have already read about Marcos de Moraes, continue on.  If you have not, click here to read the December 26 entry so that you will better understand the next few entries).

I told Randas that I wanted to meet Marcos de Moraes.  He made the call to Marcos's zip.net offices in São Paulo on Wednesday and left a message for his secretary, who was not able to reach the phone, to call us.  She called us back and I asked to set up an appointment to meet with Marcos.  She said that he is incredibly busy and about to leave on business for two weeks.  She said if there was any time available for a meeting with him, she would call me.

She never called back.

On Thursday morning I spoke with Randas and decided that I wanted to take the risk and go to São Paulo regardless of whether his secretary, Elizabeth, could arrange a meeting.  Now or never, I thought, I will take the chance.  Randas drove me to the hospital, which was on the way to the airport.  I took a $30 Real cab ride from the hospital to the airport.  Then I called Elizabeth and asked her for zip.net's address.  She asked why I wanted it, because she had not been able to make an appointment for me.  That's o.k., I said, I will take the chance and hope I can catch him for a moment.  "You are taking a big risk," she told me.  I thought I had less of a chance of meeting him if I didn't go at all.  I told her that sometimes in life you gotta take risks.  She said, "You're not coming to São Paulo just to see Marcos, are you?" and I told her I sure was.  She said that if I did not get to meet with him at least I could have coffee with her.  I said it would be a pleasure.

I flew to São Paulo.  I arrived at the zip.net address, corner of  Avenida Faria Lima and Avenida Rebouças.  It was pouring rain.  My shirt got soaked as I dashed from the cab.  I walked in the main entry way, asked for a bathroom, changed to a dry shirt, polished my shoes with a paper towel, and went up to the 15th floor.  I had been in the waiting room for 5 minutes when Marcos walked out of one meeting on his way to the other.  Elizabeth explained to him that I had just travelled here to meet him.  Marcos walked into the waiting room where I sat next to my camera bag and suitcase.  He said hello, he asked what I was there for and what I wanted.  I explained who I am and what I do in one minute.  He asked me if I would come back the next day at 4pm.

I did and we had a meeting.  He wanted to know exactly what it is that I would like to do.  I explained in greater detail.  I told him about Batista, photographing heart surgery and designing his web page.  I showed him the book of photos and text about Batista's surgery.  I told him about photographing Bill Gates, and having photos in the New York Times and USA TODAY.  I told him about the web page I have created and maintained while on this Brazilian adventure.  I told him about my investment skills and the portfolios that I'm currently managing.

He asked me if I could give him a résumé.  He wants to see who I am and what I do on paper, so he can have something in front of him.

I said I would be pleased to create one for him.  He asked me to send it to his e-mail address and gave me his card.

So that is where I am today.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com


Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
9 January 2000
Saõ Paulo, Brazil

I came to Saõ Paulo to meet Marcos.  I found a hotel that was close to his office building.  It was pretty inexpensive and simple, and I figured it would do the trick.  I was not going to spend much time in the room, so it didn't matter as long as my clothing and cameras were safe.

I made the worst hotel decision in my life, and I didn't know how bad the place was until it was too late.  It turns out that the place was undergoing renovation.  I was awoken at about 8:30 in the morning by hammering from right outside my window, the day I was to meet Marcos.  I had wanted to sleep in because I wasn't able to fall asleep until late the night before.

That morning I told the hotel owner about the problem.  He thanked me for bringing it to his attention and told me he would not let the noise happen again.

That night when I returned to the room, it had not been made up.  There were no clean towels, bed sheets, toilet paper, etc.  This was a small, old, dirty room.  I had to go downstairs to ask the girl at the front desk to have my room made up.  I noticed men and women walking into the hotel.  They all seemed to have a hungry, crazed look in their eyes.  This hotel, I realized, was for sex.  I had spent $39 a day to stay there.  But I noticed a price chart on the front door.  You could rent the room for two hours.  Or three hours.  I was staying a whole day, much longer than anyone else.

In one of the more surreal experiences of my life, I took the elevator up to my sixth floor room with this young woman from housekeeping.  She had a sheet and pillowcase draped over one arm, my towels and soap in her other hand.  She pushed the "6" on the elevator with her one free finger.  It was very late, about half past midnite, and I was tired.

Then I was standing in my little room in this hotel for sex, and there's this really cute woman making my bed.  It was like a scene out of a really bad movie.  The situation was full of all sorts of possibilities, but they all had terrible endings.  We talked about this and that, but nothing in particular.  Then the phone rang.  It was the front desk, they called my room to tell her that guests in one of the rooms needed condoms.  This maid had to leave to take care of the task.  I thanked her for making my bed at such a late hour, and as she walked out the door I fell onto my bed and into dreamland.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com


Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
10 January 2000
Saõ Paulo, Brazil

The next morning I woke at 7:30 to several men banging around under my window.  Whereas yesterday there was one with a hammer, now there were many.  They were carrying large slabs of concrete and throwing them on the ground.  I called the front desk, and asked them to have the workers stop renovating until after 9 or 10.  They said they would stop the noise.  Nothing changed.  I called back 15 minutes later.  The woman at the front desk apologized, offered an excuse, and said to just wait five minutes more.  I was so tired after getting to bed so late.  O.K., I told her.  Just make them stop.

They continued throwing things around.

I realized I was not going to be able to fall back asleep, so I packed my bags.  I went to the front desk and asked to speak to the hotel owner.  He was gone, would not return for an hour, they said.  I told them I'd return soon and hit the street in search of some fresh, bread, coffee, and papaya shake.

When I returned, the owner had still not arrived.  I got into an argument with the manager, a hapless little man with a cell phone clipped to his belt.  His job was collecting money and making sure people were out of their rooms after their two hours were up.  I was so upset at my hotel experience that I had to let him know.  It was really cool arguing in Portuguese.  I think I'm pretty good at it.  I don't argue in English, it's not in my personality, I guess.  But here in Brazil, I've become a fighter.  I don't let people roll over me.  If anyone's interested in learning the details of this fight, let me know, and I'll elaborate.  It got pretty intense, and lasted more than an hour.  Eventually I told the guy I was not angry at him, just the lousy hotel stay.  He gave me a big discount on my hotel bill, we shook hands and I left São Paulo.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com

Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
11 January 2000
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I decided to leave São Paulo because I had reached my goal.  I met Marcos.  I was Dorothy, he the Wizard.  It was time to click my heels and move on.

I wanted to go somewhere far away from the city traffic and pollution, a place to think about everthing or not think at all.  I wanted to relax and let the ideas come to me.  I decided to go to Rio de Janeiro.  I got a bus at 11:30 that evening.  It was dark when my bus arrived in Rio at 5 in the morning.

I decided to stay in the bus station instead of heading out into Rio's unfamiliar streets in the black morning.  I waited about an hour, then I put my suitcase and camera bag into a storage locker, and with just a toothbrush, toothpaste and some money in my pocket, I hit the street.

I walked along Ipanema beach as the sun rose over Corcovado, the giant statue of Christ the Redeemer.  It was six or seven in the morning, and Rio was just waking up.  A few early sunbathers showed up with beach chairs and sun umbrellas.  I walked and walked and walked.  These words filled my head:

"Olha que coisa mais linda, mais cheia de graça, é ela  menina que vem que passa,  no doce balanço a caminho do mar."

They were put together by Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, the first Brazil's best composer, the second it's beloved poet.  The two were having beers and soaking in sun at a café along this very beach.  A beautiful girl walked by, and inspiration hit.  The two tapped a gentle rhythm with their feet and put a melody to the words. In these moments, Brazil's unofficial anthem was born.

The translation:

"Look at this most beautiful thing, this girl who walks so full of grace, and balances so sweetly as she passes on this road by the sea."

I spent two days on this beach, in this town, meeting people, drinking fruit juices, swimming, imagining Tom and Vinicius and the birth of Bossa Nova almost 50 years ago.  There is magic in Rio that cannot be explained.

I thought of all of the incredible things that have come together to bring me to Brazil.  I felt particularly grateful for Randas's invitation to live with his family.  I had learned so much from him.  I found a bookstore in Ipanema with a cybercafé --- it had one computer.  I had a cafezinho (a little cup of coffee, a very Brazilian thing) and sent an e-mail to Randas:

11Janeiro 2000

Olá Randas,

Cheguei em São Paulo ás 13:30, Quinta-Feira.  Uma hora mais tarde eu estava falando com Marcos.  Ele tinha um minuto entre duas reuniões, e falamos.

Ele perguntou para mim se eu podia voltar no próximo dia, quando ele teria mais tempo para falar.

Nossa segunda conversaçao foi muito bem.  Obrigado para dizendo o que você faria se você estivesse em meu lugar.  Vale o risco.



11 January 2000

Hi Randas,

I arrived in São Paulo at 1:30 in the afternoon on Thursday.  One hour later I was talking with Marcos.  He had one minute between two meetings, so we talked.

He asked me if I could return the next day, when he would have more time.

Our second conversation went really well.  Thank you for letting me know what you would do if you were in my place.
It was worth the risk.



Hi Jeff,
See, It's always worth trying!
Good luck,

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com


Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
12 January 2000
On a midnite bus ride from Rio to São Paulo

Though Ipanema was beautiful, it was crawling with tourists and Carioca beach bums.  I felt like relaxing, and could not feel at ease in Ipanema.  At the beginning of my third day, I decided to travel to Buzios, or Angras dos Reis, where I could relax.  Each place had been described as tranquil, beautiful getaways only an hour or two by bus from Rio.  I was on my way to the bus station when I decided to travel to São Paulo instead.  There was so much I needed to learn about zip.net before Marcos returned from his business travels.  I had one week to learn all I could about his company.

I went to the bus station and bought a ticket.  The guy who sold me the ticket asked if I wanted a window or aisle seat.  I said window.  He showed me a seating scheme.  I chose seat #31.

At midnight we boarded.  The guy who sat next to me on the bus is a helicopter pilot.  He's 33, a really nice guy named Edson.  He was a champion wrestler here in Brazil and also trained in Jiu-Jitsu.  We talked for a long while.  It must have been 2 am when we fell asleep.

We arrived in São Paulo at 5 am.  I had my heavy bags, and he asked me where I was going.  I told him I would wait a few hours in the bus station until the sun came up, then I would look for a hotel.  He told me he knew of an inexpensive hotel near where he lived.  It was clean and recently renovated.  He helped me carry my bags onto the metro, and in a short while we arrived at the hotel.  It was still very early, about 7am, and all either of us could think of was getting more sleep after a pretty tiring bus ride.  It's always hard to get restful sleep on Brazilian buses.  I thanked him for helping me find a safe place.  He lived nearby with his parents, and said he'd come by around noon.  We could go get lunch at a good self-service buffet, he said.  It sounded good to me.

This hotel was much like my last nightmarish hotel, only a lot more tacky.  My room in "O Corpo Dourado" (The Golden Body) had red walls and red carpet.  There was a giant rectangular mirror on the wall alongside the bed.  There was a light switch next to the bed that turned on two tiny lightbulbs, one red, the other blue.  The effect was supposed to be romantic, I suppose, but they were just silly.  They did not blink, glitter, or glow.  Everything in that room was designed for sex.  There was no table to set my suitcase on, nor was there a desk.  There was no window , just one bed, one plastic mattress with a single sheet draped over it.   I put the t.v. on to have some background noise as I fell asleep, and it was a porno channel.  The room had such a hollow, empty feeling to it.  I closed my eyes, tried to forget it all, and fell asleep.

It was noon when the phone rang.  There was someone outside to meet me.  It was Edson's brother, James.  He was there with his car to pick me up.  We went and joined Edson and their friend Rachel, then we all went to this wonderful restaurant for lunch. We wound up spending the whole afternoon together.  The four of us went to the botanical gardens for an after-lunch walk.  Then James brought us to the art gallery where his work is on display.  It was a very modern gallery and apparently he has gained considerable success as an artist here.  There is one collector who has a entered into a contract with him.  This collector has the exclusive right to buy each of James's paintings.  He seems to have a good thing going.

James let me crash at his apartment that night so I wouldn't have to endure the "Corpo Dourado".  The next day he brought me to a hotel that Rachel knew of.  It is much better. Much, much better.  It is perfect.  Wanna know why?  It's only a five minute walk from zip.net.  This makes it super easy for me to go there and meet people and learn about the business.  There's an internet café three minutes from my room.  And a terrific bakery.  My stars are lining up beautifully.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com


Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
13 January 2000
São Paulo, Brazil

Things are happening.  I went to zip.net today.  I was going to call first, but I didn't have the phone number on me.  Instead of going back to my hotel room for the number, I just went to the office building without an appointment.  When I got there, Marcos's secretary, Elizabeth, was out having lunch.  I was greeted by Etiene, who is incredibly kind.  We talked for a while, and she taught me a lot about the company.  She's a singer, and we talked about her favorite American music. We talked about the oil painting on the wall by her desk, and also about photography.

Then Elizabeth arrived and she suggested that I talk with Ana Paula.  Over a glass of bubbly water we discussed zip.net.  She told me about how hard it is to solve problems as they occur while simultaneously growing at an extremely rapid rate.  She told me about zip.net's internet portals and their new alliance with Pelé, the soccer legend.  She told me how the company has donated 5,000 computers and internet service to São Paulo's public schools.   Because Marcos travels so extensively, he has taken the position of chairman, and appointed a new CEO, Fernando Teles, to head the company.  Teles used to be the vice president of Mastercard, and according to Ana Paula, he will have a lot of challenges to face in managing this company's explosive growth.

I have the feeling there may be large scale problems that need to be faced.  I have begun searching for them.

I spent more than three hours talking with these smart, incredibly helpful people at zip.net.  This was a productive day.

In the evening James invited me to join him and Rachel, her sister Eleanora, and a bunch of his friends for a dinner party.  It was so nice to meet his friends.  One of them, Andrew, is a dentist.  He works with young people in the favelas (slums) and next Friday he invited me to join him.  He says there are beautiful photos to be made.

I am here, and I am happy to have these wonderful new friends.

I feel much less alone, much happier now.


e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com





18 Janeiro 2000
Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary

Still in São Paulo, Brazil

Tuesday Afternoon, 4:25 our time

We are all just renting space.

This became clear to me yesterday.  I had to call my credit card company in the U.S. to find out what I owe them, as  I no longer receive monthly bills.  The customer service guy told me how much I need to send them to keep them happy.  Two of the charges stood out in my mind because they remind me of how much space I rent on earth.

The first space I rent is a big plywood storage box.  A storage company put  it on the sidewalk next to my apartment before I left for Brazil.  I filled the box, and they carted it off. A $59 charge shows up every month on my credit card bill for the storage space.  In retrospect, I need few of the things in it.  Just today I wondered, "What do I need a kitchen table for?"

The second space I rent is this web site.  I get a bill for $19.95 to lease this tiny corner of the virtual world.  If for any reason my internet provider doesn’t receive money, they will pull the big plug in the sky and it's “Goodbye Brazil Diary.”

I was thinking about how life is like an endless renting of space.  Here in Brazil I have to rent space every night to sleep.  Hotels are a daily reminder of the endless amount of money I have to shell out just to exist.  In Seattle, I paid the rent once a month (ouch!) and it was over.  Now I pay every few days, whenever I go to a new town.  If you think about the things the bills that you pay each month --- your rent, your mortgage, college tuition or health club membership --- I think you might agree that we are all just renting spaces as we travel through life.

The other night when my money started to run low I started to think about the best way to get by on what I have.  As you may recall from an earlier entry, figuring out a way over (or under) any obstacle is a Brazilian way of life.  It's called "Dar um jeito."  I was in Rio at the time, trying to figure out how long I could stay at this hotel which cost $96 Reais (Reais is plural of Real, the currency here) each night.  It was the cheapest hotel in town, all the rest were in the R$150 to R$400 range.

I thought about this for a while, and then I realized that I would save quite a bit the next night when I took the bus back to São Paulo.  Because on the bus, you pay for your all-night trip, and you get to sleep as you ride --- for free.  I have done a few calculations since I've been in Brazil, and in my thousands of kilometers riding buses across this land, the average I pay is R$4 per hour.  An 8 hour bus ride only costs about $32 Reais, so I can actually save a lot on hotels if I keep on riding.  The only drawback is the shower thing, and while I actually managed a pretty good bus station wash-up and shave one morning last month, there's nothing like a shower.

If I start to run really low on money here in São Paulo as I wait for my zip.net prospects to pan out, I'm thinking of buying nightly bus tickets to destinations about 4 hours away from São Paulo.  I'll leave here around 10 pm, arrive there (it doesn't matter where "there" is) at about 2am, and then get a bus ticket back to São Paulo by 6am.  I will have traveled all night, and paid only about R$32.  I will pay much less than if I continue to stay at hotels here in the city.

Just in case you think I'm going too far off course in my thinking, please remember this is typical Brazilian thinking.  Brazilians are incredibly inventive, and always find ways to get by, even if it’s just day to day.  It’s always one day at a time.  Last night I bought a single razor blade to shave with this morning.  Can you imagine asking to buy a single razor blade in the U.S.?

Speaking of living paw to mouth, the grocery store near where I live sells dogfood for sale by the cup.  The open bags are right there on the sidewalk in front of the store, so you scoop out as much as you need, pay, and go home to feed the cachorro (dog).

A final note on storage.  I think the coffin is the final storage space.  At least that one is paid for in full, up front.  There would be nothing more annoying than an unending series of bills for a buried box.  Sorry to get macabre on you, it just seems to prove that life truly is an unending series of storage events.

*   *   *

I am aware that there have been some typos in the Brazil Diary, and I thank you for your patience with them, and me.  Please keep in mind that I rent the internet time for R$9 an hour.  I often have to decide, "Should I have dinner tonight, or should I write and upload the Brazil Diary."  And I usually try to get the diary done.  I’m not asking for sympathy, just a bit of understanding if you find a letter or two or five out of place.  I was probably in a hurry.

A man handed me a leaflet a little while ago, it had a picture of Christ on it, attached to the cross with big nails hammered through his hands and feet.  The writing on the leaflet said, "Tudo isso fiz por ti," which translates to "All of this I did for thee."

To understand the sacrifices I make to bring the Brazil Diary to you, please recall the image of Christ on the front of the leaflet.

(For anyone who thinks I'm serious, let me remind you,



e-mail me: jeff@jeffreyluke.com

19 Janeiro 2000
Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
São Paulo, Brazil

One of the readers of this Brazil Diary sent me an e-mail the other day. She had just read an article in an American magazine about a Brazilian bread called pão de queijo. She asked if I'd heard of it.

Pão de queijo (bread of cheese) is a delicious and addictive piece of chewy pastry. Each piece of bread is roughly the size of a golf ball. Brazilians eat pão de queijo with their morning coffee. Kids eat it when they get home from school. People munch on these tangy, doughy, sensuous treats all day long.

During my first few weeks in Brazil, I never saw Dr. Batista eat pão de queijo. Then his wife bought a small oven designed to bake the tiny loaves. It was covered in shiny stainless steel and about the size of a television. Soon after it was set atop the counter and plugged in, Randas quickly set out to make the perfect pão de queijo.

I remember the first time I saw Randas prepare the dough for pão de queijo. Sitting in the kitchen wearing only a swimsuit, he cradled the huge metal mixing bowl between his knees while kneading the dough with his bare hands. It seemed as though he liked making pão de queijo more than performing heart surgery.

He mixed the manioc flour, which comes from cassava root, with water, warm milk and grated cheese. He ordered his wife, Odessa, to heat up just the right amount of olive oil on the stove, and when he gave the word, she poured it into the dough. The oil dissolved with a sizzling hiss. He concentrated on each stage of the dough-making as he focused on surgery. After working the dough for about 10 minutes, he scooped it into small balls that he tossed onto a baking sheet and slid into the oven.

He whistled all the way to his bedroom where he joined Odessda and his kids to watch Terra Nostra (Our Land), the very popular novela, or soap opera. How he loved Terra Nostra! Randas became so engrossed in the story about the first Italians to immigrate to Brazil that he forgot about the bread in the oven.

But I did not forget the pão de queijo. I peered into the glass window on the front of the oven and watched as the little blobs of manioc dough expanded, their tops delicately exploding like tiny volcanoes, leaving delicate golden-brown rifts. As soon as they were done, I walked swiftly into Randas' bedroom and told him they were ready. He hurried back to the kitchen with me, looked through the glass window, and exclaimed, "Acertou o ponto!"

The best translation for this phrase is, "You hit the nail on the head," or "You got it." Literally, it means, "You hit the point!" I had figured out the perfect amount of time to cook the bread.

To show you how much Randas admired the fact that I'd saved his prized cheese bread, I must to tell you about something that happened one day at the hospital. One of the patients could not breathe, his airway was clogged with blood, fluid and mucous. I knew it was serious when Randas, who is a heart surgeon, gets called to do a tracheostomy, but this is Brazil, and you do what you must. To give you an idea of how fast things happened, we didn't even have time to get to an operating room for the surgery...we did it right there on the patient's hospital bed.

There was no anesthesiologist around, so we gave the patient a shot of a liquid anesthetic to knock him. Then Randas went to work and cut a hole in the guy's trachea. There was a lot of blood, sopped up by copious tufts of fresh gauze.

I was perched on a small chair in the corner of the room taking pictures. It was exciting. I'd seen so many heart surgeries, but never a tracheostomy. This was horrible to watch. It was much more difficult to see Randas cut into the guy's throat than into a heart. All of the sudden, Randas could not find his knife, and bellowed "Onde está minha faca?", where is my knife? The nurses scurried to find the scalpel. They could not. Randas became more and more frustrated with each passing second. His job is to operate. Nurses are supposed to keep track of the clamps, knives and retractors. Randas does not tolerate laziness or carelessness. It is bad indeed when a surgeon cannot find his knife. It could be inside the patient.

From my rather precarious position behind my camera´s viewfinder in the corner of the room, I did a quick scan of the periphery. I noticed a tiny reflective object at Randas's feet. "Está no chão!" (It's on the ground!) I exclaimed. Randas looked down, and sure enough, there it was. Relieved, he kicked it aside, called for a clean knife, and continued the operation. One of the scrub nurses gave me a thumbs up.

All of this to say, Randas never thanked me for finding the lost knife during the emergency tracheotomy.
But I sensed his gratitude the night that I rescued the pão de queijo. For keeping a watchful eye on the rising balls of dough, I won a special place in his heart.


e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com




























































































20 January 2000
Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
São Paulo, Brazil
4:50 pm

Today the world became different.

This is too much to absorb at once.  If I seem disoriented, it's because I'm trying to understand things as I write.

This morning I had to get up early to go to the Brazilian Federal Police, an agency that issues passports and visas.  Yesterday I noticed that my visa was about to expire, as I've been here almost 12 weeks.  If I want to stay here beyond this coming weekend, I need to extend my visa.  I tried to take care of this yesterday.  I asked several people on the street which bus to take to get to the Federal Police Station, each one suggesting a different bus.  Suddenly I noticed a bus coming my way marked  "LUZ," which is the name of the train station where the Federal Police are stationed.

I was so excited to spot this bus, I jumped aboard, never realizing the mistake I'd made.  Several people have warned me of the assaults and muggings that occur on São Paulo buses.  Some of the other passengers had menacing looks, and they leered at me as though they were angry at me for riding their bus.  I had simply forgotten the warning  in my haste to get my visa extended.  I decided to sit still in my seat and wait until we arrived.  I tried to look un-American.  I looked no one in the eye.  I tried to look like a bad dog.   I arrived unharmed.

I finally arrived at the Federal Police Barracks at 4:05 in the afternoon.  The front door was locked.  They closed at 4.

So today I ate breakfast early and got on a train to make another attempt at getting my stay in Brazil extended.  When I got to the police station I first had to get in a line marked "Information."  When I arrived at the front of that line, I was directed to another line for visa extensions.  I waited in that line for a while, and when I got to the front, the police officer asked me what I plan to do if my stay is extended.  I don't know for sure, because I am just beginning to delve into zip.net.  Hoping to connect at a high-tech internet company would not be a good enough reason for a stay.  I told him  that I've been taking pictures of heart surgery.  I told him that I hope to take more photos here in Brazil.  He said he needed a fax by tomorrow from a hospital that explained exactly what I would be doing, or he would not give me an extenstion.   I told him I could not get a fax to him that quickly.

I got scared.  It felt like my stay in Brazil was about to come to an abrupt halt because of a bureaucratic detail.  I could just feel the momentum of this tremendous journey grind to an abrupt halt.  My Brazil Diary would read: January 19, big dreams, January 20, big dreams cut short and Jeff returns on plane to U.S. because he didn't have a fax.

I told the police officer that I had just taken a long train ride to get to the Police station.  It was my second trip, I told him, because I had arrived the day before five minutes after they'd closed.  He seemed slightly sympathetic to hear this detail, and he told me to go pay $22.08 (where'd he get that figure?) to the Bank of Brazil.  I walked to the bank, and when I got there, they said I needed to buy a special document from a paper store down the street.  So I went to the store and bought the document and returned to the bank.  The teller scribbled a few things on the document after I gave her the money, and then I returned to the Federal Police and waited in another line.

I felt uneasy as I waited in line and watched as a couple in front of me handed two bottles of red wine to the officer.  I was empty handed.  I wished for something like chocolates or cigars to magically appear so I could give them to him.  But I was next.  The man took my form and told me I could stay for 30 days.  I was so relieved that he had decided in my favor.  What would happen, I asked him, after 30 days?  He told me I could come back with a fax and request more time.  That's the last thing I wanted to do.  I told him it would be much better for me to have the option of more time in Brazil.  I didn't want to have to worry about coming back to this police station in 4 weeks.  He told me I was lucky he was letting me stay at all.  I thanked him and said, "Isso é melhor que nada," (This is better than nothing).

The officer asked me to sit down on a chair with tattered plastic upholstery.  Then he disappeared into a small office in the back of the room.  I waited thinking of the best way to use my next 30 days.  Then he came back and handed me my passport with the visa extension.  "I gave you 60 days," he said.  I smiled and thanked him.

With just a few hours of patience, I had won a very long and beautiful extension of my stay in Brazil.  The future has never felt so pregnant, so full of possibilities.

 I had just read a quote earlier today.  "Patience is bitter, but its fruits are sweet."  --- Rousseau

The SECOND part of today rocked my world.

I had set up a meeting two days ago with a woman named Susan, who is the Product Development Director at zip.net.  I did not know much about her except that she is very highly placed at the company and has many responsibilities.  I had met her secretary, Etiene, last week, and she made strong efforts on my behalf to help me meet Susan.  On Tuesday, Etiene urged me to call Susan on the phone and try to set up time to meet her in person..  It was not until my fifth call that we finally talked at 6pm.

Susan said she'd have time Thursday at 3.   That was today.  Let me tell you what happened.

When I walked into her office, we said hello and I  told her how happy I was to see another American.  I was surprised to feel this way, but seeing her felt like touching a little piece of home.

I asked what had brought her to Brazil, and she told me that she had worked for a high-tech company in the U.S. When that company was taken over by Marcos, she began to work for zip.net.  She is more enthusiastic about working in an emerging internet market like Brazil's, which is just being born, than in already established markets such as the U.S. or Europe, where she once worked .

She told me about zip.net's strategies for developing products and services, and about how she is responsible for evaluating new businesses.  She is about to hire four people to work with her: a financial expert, a technical expert and two project managers.

Susan also explained that when zip.net originally offered free e-mail in the fall of '98, the company imagined they would get about 200,000 clients.  In just six months, the number passed one million.  They currently have more than two milllion users.  She explained that because of zip.net's rapid growth, the company has decided to separate its "Products and Services" division  from its "New Business" division.  I was impressed with the way she explained zip.net's growth strategy.  She said the company will now focus on vertical development, and explained what this means.  She is attractive, deeply insightful, and speaks with assuredness and poise.  It was a delight to talk with her.

She wanted to know what I'd been doing in Brazil, so I told her about meeting Dr. Batista, and how he'd invited me to Brazil.  I told her that when one of his patients has a heart problem, he asks his brain for the best solution.  Then goes out to his farm and works with his horses, or plows the fields or pulls up weeds.  While he does these things, his unconscious mind finds the solutions for his patient's problems.  He says he just remains receptive, and the answer comes to him.

Susan and I talked about this concept, and she told me how in the internet industry, people work hard and non-stop to solve problems.  She says that she often thinks it would be a great idea to take a break and do something else --- as Batista does --- and return to the problem with a fresh perspective.

I have had a lot of problems to solve in Brazil, everything from day to day survival to photography, surgery, and uploading the Brazil Diary from remote locations across the country.  I have learned a lot about trouble-shooting and problem solving.  I told her that's what I want to do for her company.

Then Susan asked me when I began taking pictures.  I told her I started when I was about 7 years old, when I lived on sand dunes in a one-room shack with my dad and sister.  She asked me what town I lived in, and I told her North Truro, MA.  As I began to explain that North Truro is located on Cape Cod, I noticed her expression change.  I couldn't tell what was going on, and I thought maybe she didn't know where Cape Cod is (I have to explain this to a lot of people).  She grabbed her wallet from behind her desk, pulled out her driver's license,  pointed to the address on the front and said, "That's where I grew up.  That's where my family lives".

We were both amazed.  Then she asked, "Wait...you said you were 31, didn't you?  Well I'm 31 too..." and I asked her, "Did you go to Truro Central School?"  She said yes.  I asked, "Did you have Ms. Johnson for 2nd grade?"  And she did.

"So, we were both born in 1968," she said.  I asked her what month she was born.  "June," she said.  I told her I was too.  It turns out that I was born on the 21st, she the 27th.

Her full name is Susan Mooney.  I remember taking the bus home after school with her.  Her family owned "Mooney's Feed and Grain," there was a big silo near the store.  Here I was, on the 15th Floor of this huge office building on the corner of Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima and Avenida Rebouças in São Paulo, Brazil, talking to this girl I went to school with more than 20 years ago, thousands of miles away.

She told me that she has recently become fascinated with photography.  Several people who have seen her photos have been impressed and encouraged her to keep at it.  I think she said she just finished taking a course, or perhaps she said that she will soon exhibit her work.  Everything that we talked about after our discovery is a blur in my mind.  It was just too much for either of us to absorb.  She told me she would call her mother tonight and tell her about this.  I still need time to understand what this means.  Suddenly, this enormous world feels so small.  I  think that I will see Susan again before long, and I have a feeling that destiny is steering me toward zip.net.

I have traveled a fantastic course today, from the Federal Police Post, and thinking I'd have to go back to the U.S., to finding Susan Mooney out here in Brazil, a world away from Truro, where our lives began.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com


26 January 2000
Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
São Paulo, Brazil
Wednesday Afternoon

I walked downstairs to have breakfast Monday morning.  The hotel where I'm staying serves a simple, yet filling breakfast of french bread, papaya, coffee, and orange juice.

As I was about to sit down and eat, the girl at the table next to mine asked:

"Excuse me, do you speak English?"

I replied, "Just a bit."

I sensed a nervous tone in her voice as she asked if she could talk to me a after I´d finished my breakfast.  Of course she could, I said.

I wondered what she wanted to ask.  Before long we had begun talking.  Sabina had arrived in Brazil two days earlier.  She had been invited by a friend of hers, a Brazilian girl named Danielle who she had met in Oxford, England, two years ago.  The two had kept in contact through letters and e-mails.  They had been planning on Sabina's trip to Brazil for quite a while, and they had just talked on the phone a few days ago.  When Sabina arrived in Brazil, Danielle was nowhere to be found.  Sabina tried calling Daniela's home, but no one answered.  She was along in Brazil without her friend, unfamiliar with São Paulo and unable to speak Portuguese.  To make things worse, her luggage went to Chilé.

She was understandably shaken, but not visibly upset by the situation.  She told me the whole story, A to Z, and at the end was one giant question mark.  Where was her friend?  São Paulo is a dangerous city.  What should she do now?

I offered to bring her to an internet café so that she could try to send Danielle an e-mail, as she apparently checks them daily.  Before long, Sabina and I were walking to the cybercafé beneath the hot São Paulo sun.

She checked her e-mail.  No word from Danielle.  Then we took a walk.  Sabina lives in Holland, and she told me about what she does there, what brought her to Brazil, and a bunch of things in between.  Our walk was long and we soon earned a big hunger.  I brought her by my favorite lunch spot.  It was such a unexpected surprise to meet her.  I was happy that I could show her around São Paulo and try to help her find her friend.

Sabina told me that she is Indo,  a word used to describe people who have both Indonesian and Dutch ancestry.  Her father, who had both Dutch and Indonesian roots, lived in Indonesia as a boy.  When Indonesia, a Dutch colony, was granted its independence from Holland in the 1950's, anyone who was not pure Indonesian had to change their name to an Indonesian name and could no longer speak the Dutch language.  So her father, along with many other "Indos," became a rufugee and travelled to Holland.  There he met her mother, who is 100 percent Dutch.

Our talk was fun, the walk long, and a blister formed on the back of each of Sabina's feet, for she had been wearing her new black leather shoes --- not too good for walking.  We went back to the hotel and put some BAND-AIDs on those feet, then she put on her sneakers.  As we continued our walk, I brought her by Rachel's house.  Rachel, you might recall, is one of the first people I met when I arrived in São Paulo two weeks ago.  She was asleep when we got to her house, but she said she was glad we'd woken her.  She had been napping since 5 o'clock, and now it was past 7pm.  If she had slept much longer, she would never have been able to sleep that night.  She took a shower and before long we were driving around, looking for a place to get pizza.  Everything was closed, as it was a holiday, and the few sidewalk grocery stores and café bars didn't look too good.  So we went back to Rachel's and made spaghetti with garlic, olive oil, and fresh tomatoes.  We had yummy bread and a really nice time listening to music.  Before long we were almost falling asleep.  Rachel drove Sabina and me back to our hotel.

*                    *                    *

I walked down to have breakfast the next day, and Sabina was nowhere to be seen.  She had told me that she might sleep late, but please would I wake her so she wouldn't miss "O Café da Manha."  I went up and knocked on her door, and before long she had showered and joined me for breakfast.  There is nothing like hot coffee, fresh french bread, ripe papaya, and good company to start the day.

It is amazing how much you can learn about another person when you find yourselves in a foreign land.  You are surrounded by different buildings, lands, and people.  Your past is somewhere else, your future just beyond the horizon.  Given the time to walk and talk, I felt like I was able to assemble a realistic idea of what Sabina is like.  When I develop a black and white photograph in the darkroom, at first I can see just a faint image.  With time and patience, the image becomes crisper and better defined.

I feel it is a gift that I'm able to get to know Sabina.  I have shared a lot with her, and we connect very well.  She has a way of understanding some things without them being said.  I have told her a few stories about my life with Dr. Batista, and she has made some comments about him that are incredibly accurate.  It seems she has her finger on a pulse that runs deeper than blood.  She understands life.
I'm glad I can help her find her way through São Paulo, keep her safe, and teach her some Portuguese.

As the late afternoon sun made it's downward course, we found ourselves very close to a cemetery.  We entered and began weaving our way through the walkways, looking at the grand monuments of stone, concrete and steel that adorned many of the graves.  There were a few angels, there were beautiful sculptures of women and men in mourning.  They were all there for one man, Jesus.  Each monument told a part of the story about his life on earth, his death, and his resurrection.  One sculpture shows him bearing the cross, the other shows him with the stakes driven through his hands and feet, hanging from the cross.

Wherever you looked, there was Jesus.  I was struck with the number of different ways his life was depicted.  The crucifiction scenes were the most fascinating, because each sculptor had focused on a different aspect of facial expression or body contour.  One stone showed great detail in every muscle in the abdomen, while another did not.  But each showed a characteristic that the artist felt conveyed Jesus's essence.  One sculptor showed the way the skin on Jesus's foot rippled around the stake.  It looked and felt real.   I had to take a picture.

The setting sun cast beautiful shadows wherever we walked.  I took a few photos of Sabina, then a few more.  There was such a good feeling.  She told me, "I think you will find Jesus."  I told her that she's lucky.  "I took photos of you and Jesus on the same roll."

Sabina has long brown hair that falls to the side of an Indo face that frequently sports a smile.  Most Brazilians think she's one of them.  Deep, dark brown eyes with a touch of green go well with whatever she wears.  She's a smart dresser.

We telephoned Rachel, because she had said she wanted to get together at 8 pm.  She didn't answer, so walked to her house, but she was not home.  I'm beginning to believe in fate's wonderful twists and turns.  Sabina and I decided to go out for dinner.  We went to Galinheiro´s and had rice, beans, farofa and polenta.  We washed it down with Guaraná soda (that's what I had), and she had orange Fanta.

*                    *                    *

Today I woke before her (again) and summoned her down to breakfast.  We had a leisurely meal.  I am beginning to discover some of the best stuff in life is all about taking as much time as you want to do absolutely nothing.  After breakfast I ran to the photo lab to drop off my photos of Sabina and Jesus.

I ran because the rain was pouring down so hard.  I thought of taking a taxi, but somehow the rain was inviting me to run with it.  I had to weave through a cavalcade of busses on Avenida Pedroso Morais because the bus drivers decided to strike.  They waited until rush hour, then drove their busses into the most important intersections and parked.   It caused terrible congestion.  Brazilian drivers know how to strike.  After dropping off the film I went to the gym for a workout.  I ran a lot on the treadmill.  I originally thought I'd run for 10 minutes, but 10 turned to 15 to 25 to 35 and before I knew it I'd run for more than 60.  The more I ran, the more energy I got.  Finally I went to the weight room and did my workout before returning to the hotel.

After the gym, I met up with Sabina and we decided to walk to the cybercafé, from where I write.  She sits at a nearby table in her vermillion shirt and jet-black pants, writing in her own diary as I write in mine.  I will wrap up this entry as I don't want to keep her waiting.  Until next time, I wish you all well.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com

28 January 2000
Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
Pinheiros, Brazil

Today Susan and I were able to connect via e-mail.  We decided to get together for dinner.  She sent me her address and said 8pm was a good time to meet.  When I arrived, I met her and her husband, Luciano.  They met about two years ago when Netcom, an internet company that Susan worked for in the U.S., joined forces with zip.net, where Luciano works.  They got married about two months ago in Truro.

We talked for a while in their apartment, then walked through their beautiful living space, which is adorned with Susan's framed photos.  She has already had a show of her work here in Brazil.  Her photos are of buildings and architectural wonders she found while traveling through Europe, as well as some photos taken here in Brazil.  She says she wants to learn to photograph people without their knowing, and without invading their privacy.  This concern of moving into people's space to photograph them has prevented her from taking pictures of people.  I shared some ideas I have on the subject, as people are all that I ever photograph.  Once again, I wonder if our meeting is chance, or set up by a stronger force.

After a while they brought me to a small outdoor Italian restaurant.  We had sun-dried tomatoes drizzled in olive oil, artichoke hearts (Luciano taught me the word for artichoke --- Alcachofra), mozzarella cheese, marinated eggplant, and fresh bread...and those were just appetizers.  My dinner was  gnocci with delicious tomato sauce, and they had pasta dishes.  We talked, our glasses filled and re-filled with spring water and red wine.

They told me that they have a friend that they really want me to meet.  She runs an Italian school here in São Paulo, and Susan thought that I should teach English there --- she seemed certain it would be a great job.  She told me that they have cooking courses at that school, and the food is amazing.  I was so appreciative of her offer, but it had nothing to do with zip.net, my reason for coming here.  So I asked her if she thought that teaching English in Brazil would be a better choice for me than working with her internet company; she would know better than I what life is like at zip.net.

At that point, we started talking about zip.net.  I knew that Susan had a very powerful position at the company, but I had no idea that Luciano had been Marcos's partner since the beginning.  Marcos is chairman, Luciano vice-chairman.  We talked about  the Brazil Diary, and she was interested in my experience using internet cafés all over Brazil.  She asked me if I knew about the cyber cafés in São Paulo, for example the one at the FNAC bookstore.  I told her that people at that café have complained that the overhead lights reflect off of the black i-MAC keyboards, making it hard to see what they're typing.  Then something clicked in Susan's mind.

She thought it would be a great idea to have me create a web site for zip.net's travel section, so that Brazilians (and tourists) who are about to travel in Brazil would be able to find cyber cafés and read about which are the best, worst, and why.   I am probably the only person in Brazil who has traveled through this entire country and maintained a web site from the remote Southwest corner (remember Foz do Iguaçu?)  to the Northeast (Bahia!).  I know where to go, I know the score.

I shared some of the stories about Dr. Batista, things that happened both in the operating room (losing the knife during the tracheostomy) and out (pão de queijo, driving all night long).  We talked about Brazilian inventiveness in culinary matters.  They told me about how at futeball (soccer) games, fans eat hot dogs topped with mashed potatoes and sprinkled with potato sticks.  I said I don't think Americans get that inventive, but I mentioned the ingenuity that went into designing the  Gillette MACH 3 razor.  I told them how my replacement cartridges disappeared somewhere in Brazilian customs.  It turns out that Luciano loves the MACH 3, and bought a bunch of the replacement cartridges when he was last in the U.S.  He told me I could have one of his when we got back to their apartment.

We talked about running, which is one thing that Susan loves to do.  She said that God's gift to her was the desire to run.  She lives close to Parque Ibirapuera, and whenever she has the chance, she puts on her Saucony sneakers (good toe box) and runs.

I told Susan and Luciano about Sabina, and how we had just met.  Luciano immediately suggested that Sabina and I join him and Susan the next morning for a drive into the countryside.  There is a Brazilian restaurant there, a place where he has dined with his family since he was a child.  He was really excited about all of us going together.

After dinner we went back to their apartment.  Luciano gave me a whole pack of MACH 3 cartridges.  He is such a thoughtful and generous guy.  I am so happy!  I have gone 3 months without them.  We talked about the importance of a good shave.  Susan thought we were nuts.  "I have never heard men talk so enthusiastically about shaving," she said.

It was about 1:30 a.m. when they drove me home.  The night had passed so swiftly.  It was a delight.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com

29 January 2000
Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
São Paulo, Brazil

Luciano and Susan came by around noon and picked us up.  Sabina had not yet left São Paulo, and it was a treat for me as well to drive into São Paulo's interior.  After driving for about an hour and a half, we arrived.  Not many people would drive so far for lunch, so you can understand how much Luciano loves the place.  When we arrived, I could see why.  It was such a down-home restaurant.  They had two big pots, one filled with rice and the other with beans.  You just went to the stove, piled your plate, and went back to eat.  They brought salad and eggs and beef to our table, along with guaraná soda and beer.  As we ate, I looked to my right and could see that Luciano was in paradise.  I could see that his joy stretched all the way back to childhood, going to that restaurant with his family.

I had brought along my camera and some black and white film, and took a few photos of the occasion.  I thought he might like some pictures with Susan at his favorite place.

After lunch we took a walk through a nearby cemetary.  It was a really hot day.  We baked in the afternoon sun as we walked.  It might seem like a strange place for a walk, but it was not depressing at all.  It was a good stroll, a good place to digest, Luciano said.  I could tell it was a ritual from years' past.  Then we strolled through a park full of mango trees, before driving back to São Paulo.  It was early evening when we arrived.

e-mail me:  jeff@jeffreyluke.com

31 January 2000
Jeffrey Luke's Brazil Diary
São Paulo, Brazil

Before I came to Brazil, I had small problems.  My apartment had windows that wouldn't open, it took forever for the landlord to fix them.  My car got stolen.  UPS did not deliver a package of photos on time.  There always seemed to be something to be bothered about.  It was always the small details of life that knawed away at my time, until I was weary at day's end for no good reason.

Right now I have a problem of epic proportions.   It feels like I am living the life of a character in a myth.  I have to make a choice which will affect the course of my life.

As you know from an earlier entry, I met this great girl exactly a week ago at breakfast.  She was in a tough situation, alone in Brazil and not speaking a word of Portuguese.  I was able to help her out, show here around, and teach her to say a few things in Portuguese.  I loved every moment of it.  Every day we shared breakfast together.  A slow, liesurely breakfast, full of silliness and stories and laughs and ideas.  Sometimes we stayed at the table for an hour, sometimes more.  Time did not rule our lives.  We lived.

We eventually made our way out onto the street, and she did her thing as I did mine.  I was able to learn what I needed to know about zip.net, make calls, and write.  She wrote postcards, updated her own diary, made calls to her friends in Holland.  We walked from bakery to café, singing Alanis Morrisette's version of "King of Pain" outloud as we crossed busy streets, the Brazilians looking at us quizzically.  At night we munched on cheese curls and had sandwiches made of queijo from Minas Gerais while watching MTV until we were too tired to talk, or think, and she lay there, half asleep drooling into her pillow.

Then came my big decision.

Sabina decided she'd had enough of São Paulo.  She'd been here one week, and life in this dirty, dangerous city was enough for her.  I understood.  If I did not have a definite purpose here (zip.net), I don't think I'd stay.

She wanted to go to Rio, to lie on the beach, to swim, to soak in the sun.  She wanted me to come with her.  It would be much safer for her to go with me than alone, and it would be fun.

So I had to decide between pursuing the job I may or may not get, or going to beautiful beaches with a great girl.

I chose to pursue the job.

Sabina left for Rio this morning.