The third first: Our first visit to the Bull festival (festa do boi). The annual bull festival has been in session this week in Panamarim, a small town nearby which doubles as Natal's southerly suburb. We took the kids along on Friday afternoon and a great time. "Bull" festival is an apt name as their are cows everywhere including some MASSIVE horned beasts who look like they share their genetic makeup with rhinos, bison or mammoths rather than their bovine counterparts.
All this was basically an excuse to see what Brazilian cowboys do. There was cattle auctions and best breed competitions and displays from the major suppliers of compost, cow urine, vegetables, fish, beef, cowboy hats, farm machinery and tractors. The last was of particular interest to Nelson, and perhaps surprisingly Gloria, who both happily passed 15 minutes sitting on a new Massey Ferguson pretending to tend their crops. As was the case at the Brazil shows Brazil fair I mentioned a few months ago, there was plenty that was not strictly relevant to the occasion's billing - noticably, swimming pools for sale and fake Nike baseball caps. They had a fairground too which Nelson loved despite the very real lack of health and safety procedures on most of the rides. For me, even more interesting than the astonishing smells and tastes accompanying the bevvy of snacks that were being roasted, fried and boiled everywhere, was just the chance to see Brazilians from the interior - real Potiguar folk, generally smaller and with darker skin - in their element displaying their cattle and wares proudly.
NOT QUITE A FIRST: The musical soundtrack to the north-east interior of Brazil is forró music - which features a heavy dose of accordians. The general consensus is that the old forró stuff is excellent but the new bands are very brega (cheesey). Playing after the bull festival on the Friday night were the forró outfit Deseja de menina, one of the brega-ist around. These were the guys who remade Robbie Williams' Angels as I mentioned (with a link to the video) back in May on this post. I would have given my right arm to go to this - just once to see a full-on cheesey forró show. But, sadly, I needed to keep my right arm so it wasn't to be. Next year, maybe.
On the subject of cheesey forró I recommend the following delight. I mentioned back here that James Blunt has become extraordinarily popular after his song Same Mistake was used as the theme team to a Globo TV soap opera. Well, the airwaves are still clogged with Mr.Blunt's warbles and his song has also been given the forró make-over by the most famous of contemporary forró acts, Aviões do Forro (Airplanes of Forró). Their version is better, in my opinion. Click here to be entertained and amused. And this is also funny - a forró remix of the same song but keeping James' voice.