Tuesday, June 12, 2007
"I'd like a diet baby, a toddler burger, extra cheese... thanks". Last Thursday we went to Maracajau and to a water park they had there. Nelson loved it, as did we all. Spotted this amusing use of English at the entrance.
Busy but fun few days. On Saturday we flew down to Recife for Miguel's first birthday - Miguel being Nelsinho's best mate and the son of our good friends Barbara and Mariano. First year birthday's are huge events here - this one had 8000 balloons for decoration and was on the scale of a wedding reception.
On Sunday it was round to Tia Aurora's new flat and a surprise lunch for Nelson's Great Grandma Laulau who is soon 79. I hope nobody will be offended if I say that Laulau is a nutter - but the best kind of a nutter: the really good egg sort of a nutter. Much good family banter was had by all, the only hitch being when, after some short family speeches in honour of the great lady, Laulau took to the floor herself and got immersed in telling unconnected stories from her youth. (Excerpts: "I grew up in a lighthouse... My Father who was a strict Presbyterian made us dress up for a Bible study each evening... I was trying to come from the interior with a huge suitcase that was too big for the car...). Half an hour later the food was cold and people were trying to gently usher her toward a conclusion so we could start eating.
ENGLAND v BRAZIL
Things I miss about England #31: Bringing your own bags to the Supermarket. I've just come back from the weekly shop at Nordestao (a very good chain of North East Brazilian supermarkets) with another two dozen plastic bags. The problem here is that labour being so cheap, Supermarkets employ a small battalion of baggers. These baggers are generally amiable but they take their job very seriously and practically bag every single object TWICE. Today, I thought I got away with it as the till I was passing through did not have a designated bagger. I quickly started stuffing as many fruit and veg into as few bags as possible hoping to stem the tidal flow of crinkly plastic to our larder at home... but, alas, bagger "Maria" spotted me, (a customer!) bagging my own produce and so she stepped in and promptly took over. What's more she re-bagged (twice!) the fruit and veg I had safely put into the shopping trolley.
In the interests of saving the planet, Rach once brought our old bags to the supermarket to re-use like we would do at Tesco's in York. She was flatly ridiculed by the cashier, who then called over his colleague to look at the "crazy" lady who brought her own bags. The bagger was unimpressed by Rachel bringing her own bags as it encroached upon her job description of bagging customers produce with NEW bags. Last weekend, I saw an item on the news about an old lady in Sao Paulo who makes cloth satchels and takes them to the Supermarket to use instead of plastic bags. This was clearly seen as being "barmy" enough to warrant a news story... but, slowly, maybe due to her efforts and the efforts of my wife, the message of bag recycling is getting out there...
Things I like about Brazil #65: Cheap Internal Flights. Brazil is vast and travelling between cities can take many hours by bus or car. There is a very limited train network too. Internal flights are far more common and, if you buy smart, can be the cheapest and quickest mode of transport for any distance over about 200 kms.
So, we took some discounted GOL tickets down to Recife and were due to fly back late to Natal (on a "red eye" as Americans say) on Sunday night. Sadly, our plane was delayed over 2 hours. Imagine trying to entertain a confused, extremely wired but exhausted nearly-1 year old at 2am in a crowded airport. The main problem was trying to keep him from waking other people who were trying to have a kip. We finally boarded, took the half hour flight back, and set our heads to our pillows in our Natal home at 4.30am. Within two hours Nelson was up and I had a lesson to teach at 9am. Mental note: let's not do this again. Pay more for a day flight, but pay less in loss of sleep.