Wednesday, July 01, 2009

It’s the end of the blog as we know it (and I feel fine). The first post I wrote from Brazil was back in November 2006 and now this is to be the last one. It’s my birthday, I’m 29, and at the time this post is published to the blog I’ll probably be on a plane out of Brazil to America. True, we’ll still have some weeks in Brazil packing up later in the month, but for all intents and purposes this seemed like a good place to stop. My English Teaching career is over. Our thoughts are on the UK. We’re saying our goodbyes. I’ve enjoyed writing this blog and so thank you to any and all of you who actually read my long-winded, disconnected, haphazard, occasionally passable ramblings. And honorouble mentions to those of you who contributed comments and guest blog entries!

Maps and Legends. The blog in numbers: 310 (or thereabouts) posts at 250 words per post = 77,500 words.5,500 visits and 7,300 page views.85 comments.5 authors.

All the way to Rio. As the observant among you will notice I’ve tried to write a blog post a day for the last month in order to fit in everything I’ve wanted to say. In one respect I’ve failed though. My 100 things I miss about England and 100 things I love about Brazil lists are incomplete by about 10 entries each. I thought it would be a good idea to leave it this way as sometimes ideas for those posts hit me out of the blue, and if this happens over the next few weeks then I still have space to quietly add them in. I am absolutely determined to complete them both, though.

Begin the Begin. I’m sure you’ll all be delighted to hear that there are other ways to still read my writing. I’ll be penning thoughts on just about anything over at beyondrandom and Rach and I are starting a bilingual blog which will become a “proper” website called Britain Brazil Bridge. In fact, today sees the start of that project – check it out over here. And there are those other sites listed over there >>> which I still write for. Thank you for reading!

Until the day is done. I’m still not sure I know exactly reads this thing and so if you’ve been part of a silent majority, now’s your time to speak up. Let's treat this last page as a guest book. Please leave a comment if you haven’t before! That includes you Aunt Betty!

Strange Currencies. Finally, it goes without saying that I need to thank this strange, unique, enormous, beautiful, contradictory, optimistic, festive country of Brazil and it’s gorgeous people for teaching me so much, drawing me closer to God, enriching my view of life and giving me something to write about more than once a week. God Bless you all and may you always win at football except when you’re playing England!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Things I miss about England #1 and Things I love about Brazil #1: pals, friends, amigos. We’ll miss the ones we’re leaving behind, but we can’t wait to see the ones we’ve been apart from.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Things I love about Brazil #76, 78, 79: Churrasco, Picanha and Meat. I will really miss Brazilian barbecues (churrascos). The quality of the meat is so good and they have a cut, picanha, which doesn't even exist in European and Northern European butchers! It's like the primest of the prime steak and it's fantastic.

As a continuation of the post TILAB #19, I should add Things I love about Brazil #91, 92, 96: Condominums, Salao de Festa and Sweets. Brazilians love parties and they love condomoniums full of apartments and they've combined their loves into the perfect set up: the salão de festa - a room on the lower floors all set up for parties with kitchen, (sometimes) stage, games rooms and swimming pool access. It`s a cheap and efficient away to hold a party. It serves the purpose of a pub function room.

As it happens though, we had our most recent party at a mall. One of our friends noticed a picture we took of all the sweets available for the kids and noted how different this is from the UK where carrot sticks and tomatoes are the order of the day for the health-conscious Mum. Like Rachel said in response: "Your comment is so funny for so many reasons". Parties are about tanking up on sweets and no dental hygiene or child health expert is going to tell Brazilians otherwise.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Things I miss about England #2: My family. Of course, I miss my family a lot. I was so pleased Mum and Dad and cousin Dad made it out to Brazil. Everyone else was very generous, sending things by post for the kids and creature comforts we missed. We hardly ever get post though, and when we do it's sometimes several weeks late and has been re-routed through Thailand (as was the case with a recent packet of tea). Things I miss about England #4: The post. I'm looking forward to having the post back in England which leads to Things I miss about England #18: Cards in the post. Brazilians don't really do cards, and that's a shame. If the post works, it also means I can order more stuff online (Things I miss about England #53: buying things online). It's just too risky and inefficient to do this in Brazil. The country has one of the highest rates of internet fraud so people are very wary of giving out their details online. Brazil's computer networks, and our school's computers, are unfortunatley riddled with viruses which are proving stubborn to get off. Things I miss about England #17: Not so many computer viruses.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Things I miss about England #39: Bounty Chocolate Bars.
Things I miss about England #24: Grey hair. Thanks to my Mum for noticing this - dying your hair is very common, especially if you're a woman of mature years looking to hide the aging process. Mum, who has never dyed her hair, felt a bit conspicious with her "unsightly" grey.
Things I miss about England #37: Log fires.
Things I miss about England #19: Duvets. It's just too hot and many people don't have them.
Things I miss about England #40: Spices and Herbs. There's just not a great option of fresh spices and herbs. Coriander, Oregano, mixed herbs - that's about it.
Things I miss about England #42: Rafi's Spice Box. How miss thee oh curry packs (see TIMAE#9). Even when they get sent, the post doesn't always deliver.
Things I miss about England #26: Trees. Oh, they have trees, but they always come second to pavement and sand. Fortunatley, we have one good park in Natal with great trees.
Things I miss about England #54: High-brow Political Satire. Slapstick gets the most laughs in Brazil. Mr Blobby would be a sensation here.
Things I miss about England #66: Carpets.
Things I love about Brazil #17: Guga the Turtle.
Our pet turtle has been handed onto a new owner, Teacher Dyego. We will miss Guga. Gloria will have nothing to throw a sponge at, Nelson will have no creature with which to terrorise, Rachel will have no critter to ignore and I will have no small animal with which to forget to feed.
Things I love about Brazil #18: The Pernambuco Flag. Down there on the right hand side. Stunning.
Things I love about Brazil #22: Tiled floors.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Things I love about Brazil #32: Great Wall Art. That last photo is very bad, I took it out of the back window of the car as I couldn`t really stop. But, the reason I took the photo is to remind me of the group of artists I saw painting this mural. Presumably sent over by the council (who have, it has to be said, a good eye for presentation) several blank or grubby walls have been turned into works of art. You can just about make out some of the themes in the piece above - pollution, war, colour.

Things I miss about England #43: Museums. There are museums in Natal, but they're not very good. One famous one is the blue angel gallery (pictured above) which is around the corner from my house. I`ve never been but I haven't been able to find the door behind the monstrosity in the front yard. A great museum can be found at Parque de Cidade (Things I love about Brazil #38: Parque da cidade). It's a state of the art museum at the top of an impressive piece of architecture which looks like an eye on a pole (pictured above). We've been several times. Only problem is - when the new town council were elected they didn't spare funds to keep the museum open. A crying shame! In any case, I miss museums. There are hardly any up in the north-east of Brazil.

Things I love about Brazil #37: Orange. Orange (see above) is an amazing establishment. It's a diversified video store. It includes a kids play area, a fast food restaurant, a bar and a takeaway service. It's definitely the closest thing we have to "a local" (see TIMAE#10). We're now friends with the staff and they know our kids by name. What I really like about Orange, though, is their brand is a great example of how Brazilians encorporate English and then surround it with Portuguese. The Orange menu is full of such delights as "Orange dogs", "Orange Eggs", "Orange pizza" and even "Orange juice". At least its better than their local rivals Pittsburgh who offer "Pitts Chicken". Hmmm, yummy. Or, several hundred yards away their other rivals "Playburger" (see above). Eeewwwww. It's amazing to me that in the age of multinational brands, there are a few homegrown Brazilian brands which are fiercely resistant and continue to draw the custom of the local population.