The horizon opens over the pampas, the lowlands of Southern Brazil, and the eyes drift far with the aerial dance of the maçaricos, or sandpipers. The place is so flat they say you can see your dog running away for three days straight.
The landscape along the highway is one of infinite pastures sprinkled with slow moving cattle, plush sheep that just went through a rough winter, joão-de-barro, or ovenbird, nests (or forneiros as the local gaúcho calls them) studding the tops of posts, and a variety of birds and flights that allow for long and lazy daydreams.
In this land of many fields and ranches we arrived in Jaguarão, a town on the border with Uruguay. There it’s normal to walk around pilchado (in traditional gaúcho garb). In shops, restaurants and squares, you’ll always see someone in bombacha pants, with a hat or beret, leather boots, and a neckerchief. And chimarrão, the local mate tea, seems to be a collective rule, addiction, or dependency. Sitting on the porch, walking down the street, driving a car, inside restaurants, teaching class, wherever you are, the mate must be by your side.
The bridge that joins the two countries is an invitation for a free cultural, economic, and social exchange. Cigarettes, groceries and gasoline are cheaper in Brazil. Cheese, liquor, tires and electronics are cheaper on the other side. The mate, along with some songs and dances, almost lost their nationality, since they don’t respect territorial borders. And so, with some going from here to there and others from there to here, they are freely “exchanging” a way of being and living, bringing a local color to this place.
A Jaguarense in this town has the opportunity to buy milk fresh from the cow, knows how to card and spin lamb’s wool, is an expert on floor grilling during Sunday fishing. The horse and buggy are part of the urban scenery, and one of the most popular events is the rodeo. One way or another the fields make themselves present in the city.
Text and photos: Renata Meirelles