Visit to Tumacácori National Historical Park

Today I drove down to Tumacácori, a Spanish mission founded by the Italian-born Father Kino, a remarkable Jesuit combining religious zeal, scientific interest, compassion, and courage. He founded this mission at a village of the local O'odham people, who had begged the Jesuits come help them, apparently mainly to introduce agricultural advancements.

Spain replaced all the Jesuits with Franciscans, which unsettled whatever order the Jesuits has established. The mission was under constant threat of Apache attacks, there were internal cultural clashes, and mission was under constant strain. After Mexican Independence, the Spanish were booted in 1828, but the mission kept going. In 1848, the Tumacácori mission, its church tower never finished, was abandoned for San Xavier del Bac. The abandoned mission slowly decayed, helped along by vandals carving their names, including John J. Pershing.

Today there is a nice museum, a very pleasant small garden, the incomplete church, mission ruins, an orchard, plenty of trees, and paths, including one to the Santa Cruz River, which provides water year-round. One of the booklets notes that the placename Arizona is a Basque phrase meaning "the good oak tree", thanks to a Spanish soldier who was a Basque.

It was a very pleasant couple of hours! I look forward to another visit.

Grocery Item Deathwatch

My local grocery store tends to quit selling products my wife and I like. We occasionally ask the store employees about this pattern, and they say the disappearance of even popular items is noted by both employees and customers alike. Here is our growing disappearance list:

  1. Marie Callender's Key Lime Pie: This disappeared from our grocery store for almost a year. The next closest grocery is a Safeway, which continued to sell it. Some weeks after complaining to a store manager, this item returned.
  1. Private Selection Black Bean and Corn Salsa: This delicious salsa was a slo-mo disappearance. It would disappear from the shelves, then return in a few weeks, but always in ever smaller quantities. In its stead appeared a new similar product with a name like Black Bean and Corn Salsa with Smoky Taste, which I bought by mistake, to my regret, as it was strongly reminiscent of bile. Since Private Selection is Kroger's own brand, I wrote them a letter, which yielded a
  1. Tillamook Cinnamon Horchata ice cream: The best ice cream we have ever eaten, such that I wrote the company a letter praising the flavor and asking that they make sure to keep selling it; the next week it was gone and my step-brother encountered a Tillamook stocker who said the company had terminated that flavor.
  1. Lundgren Butternut Squash Risotto: This tasty risotto is still sold by Lundgren's, but no longer stocked at our grocery.
  2. El Mexicano yogurt drinks, individual: These have been sold out and had their shelf size reduced, which suggests they are trending toward deletion. Our grocery never stocked the piña colada; our Walmart primarily stocks the piña colada and the strawberry, with occasional mango, so we'll buy them there.

Some Brazilian Portuguese Expressions

"A gasolina estava batizada," literally "The gasoline was baptized," meaning the gas was illegally diluted with water. An amusing expression from a very Catholic country.

"A mão de vaca," literally "the cow's hoof," meaning a cheapskate whose hand holds money tight, that never opens. Maybe an expression from the Northeast.

"Não há para onde correr," literally "there's nowhere to run," which means there is no other way to do something.

Two Brazilian Movies

Three weeks back I watched Elite Troop, the English title for Tropa de Elite, about BOPE, the special forces of Rio de Janeiro. It is a disturbing movie on many levels: violent crime, extrajudicial killings, pervasive corruption, citizens abused by both gangs and BOPE. Yet it is also quite interesting for many of those same points. My Brazilian friend had recommended it to me, but only recently did it show up on Amazon Prime.

Two weeks back I watched The Second Mother, which is Que Horas Ela Volta? A mother from the poor Northeast, a Nordestina, who is in fact from Pernambuco State, is a live-in maid for a wealthy São Paulo family. The arrival of the maid's daughter, however, causes various problems that reflect the employer-employee, old vs new generations, and notable Brazilian demographics. The daughter is a bit annoying, but the mother who has lived apart from her for over a decade, sending money back the whole time, ultimately chooses her own daughter over the security of her maid position.

Candlelight Vigil for Tiananmen Square Massacre, 30 Years Ago

There will be a candlelight vigil for the Tiananmen Square Massacre victims of thirty years ago when the Chinese Communist Party slaughtered many of its own citizens who wanted greater freedom. The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation works to maintain awareness of Communism's horrible track record of oppression and systemic impoverishment, environmental pollution, and mass murder.

I remember watching that unfold over days and weeks while on summer vacation. Unforgettable.

No Pecan Nuts to Brazil

Around Christmas 2018, I mailed a one-pound bag of pecans, harvested from local groves, to a Brazilian friend, since he didn't know what pecans are. His wife does, but she acknowledged they are rare and costly, certainly in the country's northeast. Surely they would enjoy a bag of pecans, I thought.

Mail to Brazil is slow, often a few weeks, but my friend says the Brazilian postal system is reliable, if slow. He says they have never lost or stolen anything. I expected delays because of Christmas and other seasonal holidays as well as a Brazilian postal workers' strike. But March came without the pecans showing up, so we gave up.

Around May 1st, almost a half year later, the pecans returned to me. They bag had been opened for inspection and a pamphlet inserted, written in Spanish, about what is prohibited entry into Brazil by Vigiagro, Vigilância Agropecuária Internacional. I had checked with the USPS about whether nuts could be sent to Brazil and got a definite maybe, so I decided, Why not? And now I know.

What I found particularly interesting is the forbidden items pamphlet in Spanish, not English, the international language of business. I find it odd that Brazil's Vigiagro has no English forms; however, since Brazil's neighbors and, probably, majority trading partners are nearly all Spanish-speaking, maybe there is no real reason for such forms in English.

Next time, like Ghostbusters, I'll know who to call.