Friday, January 3, 2014

Armadillos or Tattoos

By the title, you might think I'm deciding on a hobby... or whittling down some strange list of New Year's Resolutions...

Not quite.

For anyone unfamiliar with the creature that is the official mascot for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil, you might be surprised to learn that it is an armadillo, or tatu (pronounced: "tattoo"), as it is known in Portuguese.

Up until now, most people didn't associate Brazil with armadillos — parrots or jaguars, sure. Amazon river dolphins and stinkbirds, maybe. I don't recall seeing an armadillo in the movie Rio, either.

This energetic mascot needed a campaign all his own, I guess.

"Fuleco," (pronounced: "fool-ay-koh") is a colorful, playful rendition of a Brazilian three-banded armadillo that is one of the two species of armadillo that can roll into a ball. What better mascot for soccer?

As a Texan, I must say that Fuleco is one of the two cutest renditions of an armadillo that I've seen.

When I first moved to central Brazil, I was surprised to hear that Texas didn't have the market cornered on these armored creatures. A fellow Texan was even more surprised when he learned that some armadillos are actually eaten in certain regions of the country.

That came with a disclaimer:

"...but [they] don't eat the ones that eat dead people, though."

Whew! That's a relief!

I suppose?

You know, that statement sounds like a line straight out of a Scooby Doo episode. Perhaps it's the Mystery Meat factor.

Mystery Meat is best experienced vicariously, in my opinion. (Especially if it's the kind that can give you, say, leprosy.)

Tourists need not worry that the kebab, or espetinho (pronounced: "eh-speh-cheen-yo") stand on the corner will be serving mascot, since the hunting and consumption of this creature is discouraged due to its endangered status. (That, and it's hard to come by in the big city. Kidding!)

Appropriately, Fuleco's very name reminds us to be eco-minded. On a related note, in Goiânia there is a slang term pronounced like the English word "echo" that is used in place of "ew, gross."

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