I Think I Met an American Exchange Goat in Brazil

I spent my junior year of high school and my sophomore year of college in Brazil. I returned for three months in 1998 to spend time with a Brazilian dairy farmer who I was hoping to marry. That is not what this blog post is about though. That's a very interesting story, but includes lots of history and details that would make this post too lengthy and bore a daily reader. This blog post is about a goat that I met there.

The farm was was located at the very edge of a small rural town. Because I have a few Brazilian readers I will give the name of the town: São Domingos do Prata in the state of Minas Gerais.  For the rest of you who didn't even know that Brazil is divided into states and who didn't know there are towns besides Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo there, it really doesn't matter all that much. Just remember it was in rural Brazil.  But if you're interested, here is a map. Somewhere by the drawing of the dead goat is where you will find São Domingos do Prata. The goat, itself, is probably dead by now which is why I drew a dead goat.

Every day I took a walk toward town to a little store to buy cigarettes.* On the way I passed by a fenced yard that was home to a goat. I watched many people pass that yard every day and the goat paid no attention. Every time I passed by, however, that goat would run to the fence and put its little hooves on the top of it and stand there talking to me. I always stopped to say hi. She acted much like I did when I first arrived there as an exchange student in high school. I remember my first few months there. It's hard to have fun when you have no idea what people are saying, so running into someone who I might understand was thrilling! I didn't care if the person was interesting or even wanted to talk to me, I just started talking. It was a relief to be able to communicate with words and not gestures so even if the topic of conversation was cheese or panty hose or even cement I was excited.

In 1998, I felt like the goat was doing the same thing to me. Because she was a goat and mostly just said BAA BAA and MAA MAA, I had no idea what she was saying, but when I said "hi, happy goat - how are you today?" she seemed soothed and happy. And when I'd continue on my way she seemed to cry with disappointment. I think she was part of an international goat exchange program spending a year in Brazil. There was probably a Brazilian goat somewhere in Minnesota trying to figure out what the hell "You betcha!" means.

*Kids, I do not smoke any more. Smoking is a very unhealthy choice and you should never ever smoke. And if you already smoke, you should definitely quit. Right now.

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