Monday, September 10, 2007

I hate Mondays. In the manner of Garfield, I have had quite a Monday morning. It all began when Nelson's nappy was so full I got wee on my fresh trousers and shirt and it was a struggle to get Nelson to eat his papaya for breakfast. Several niggly things later, I've dropped Rach at work and am in the car with Nelson and we're pulling onto a main road. Next moment I hear a crunch. I've pranged the back of the car in front of me. Nobody hurt, no damage to us, minor (but expensive!) damage to him. To be fair, it is a notorious junction which involves pulling into a lane of moving traffic. I was so busy checking my mirrors and blind spot I hadn't noticed the guy in front of me had come to a hault.

There's nothing quite like bashing somebody else's car to dry up the flow of one's already frazzled Portuguese. I managed to call Rach who came down and efficiently set about sorting us all out. Unfortunately she accidentally locked the car keys in our car in the process. Mondays! But a short phone call later and a man with an orange shirt shows up on a motorbike. He is a chaveiro (key guy) and manages to get into our car within 30 seconds... (worringly fast if you ask me!). One problem solved.

Steve and Celia show up, somebody else takes Nelson to school. We wait for the traffic police to arrive. After nearly two hours they appear. It turns out a much worse incident occurred further up the road which they had to deal with first. When they do come they are helpful and efficient, albeit slightly confused about the paperwork for me, an estrangeiro. They are seriously "pimped" traffic police with endless gadgets hanging off their belts and proiminant hands-free cellphones draped over their ears. One guy has a pair of aviators on and the other a pair of fake RayBan sunglasses... I'm reminded of the Independence Day parade when all the uniformed forces marched past us (see last blog). On that occasion, the traffic police, with painted faces, had dressed up as traffic lights and could have passed for circus clowns. But on Monday morning, these "real" traffic police before me cut much more imposing figures.

Actually, I was very thankful to God this whole thing hadn't been worse. It could have been a disastrous Monday morning if somebody had got hurt or it had been more serious. Our car was fine, our friend's will need a bit of work but not much. The chap I bumped was quite banterous and took the occasion to chat with Steve about the possibility of sending his kids to Cultura Inglesa... Never one to miss a business opportunity, Steve filled him in on all the details. Brazilians, thankfully, they just seem never seem to get too stressed about it all.

Amy and Steve's birthday. Monday mornings always follow weekends and we did, it's true, have a very good weekend. My father and sister-in-law share birthdays and so the whole family were here with some cousins and friends thrown in for good measure. We relaxed by the pool on Sunday and ate some good shrimp followed by chocolate cake for lunch.

Football update: America don't lose! In the evening we went off to watch America RN play against Sport Recife. At least our local team didn't lost this time - but they will dissapointed to have only drawn 1-1 in a game they could have won. Pita (Rachel's cousin who was with us in York for a year) was one of those around and he's a big Sport fan so we sat in the away supporters end. Since America have started losing so much their support has dwindled. There may have been more away fans at this match than home fans. The huge Machadao stadium was mostly empty.

Football update: time to start supporting another team? Earlier that day, by the pool, Steve got chatting to a guy who it turns out is on the board of ABC, America's local rivals. This chap promptly gave us free ABC shirts there and then and promised us the chance to sit in his executive box at the next ABC game. Now, ABC are in Brazil's third division and I have been to their stadium before. Can't say I really noticed any boxes anywhere, let alone executive ones, but it's a nice gesture. If we do this my conscience will be pricked. Supporting a team is like being married... it seems very sinful to leave ones first love for another model even if the second comes with lots of freebies. America or ABC, who to support?

Things I miss about England #80: Gas from the mains. As part of the weekend festivities I cooked up a (mock) Brazilian curry for everyone on Saturday night. The gas for our oven comes from a container, which decided to run out when I had things boiling on all the hobs. Thankfully, Steve managed to find a place who filled it up, even late at night on a Saturday. Thank the Lord, the curry was saved.

Things I love about Brazil #24: Match day snacks. Watching football live in Brazil is half about the game and half about the associated atmosphere. A big part of the latter is the endless stream of snack vendors who try to convince you to purchase their beer, soft drinks, water, tic-tacs, popcorn and an endless assortment of other goodies. Personally, I wouldn't trust anything with meat or cheese in (you have no idea where it comes from or how it's been cooked!). But for the equivalent of about £2 per match you could have a couple of beers, some cashew nuts and, my favourite, churros - sort of long sugary doughnuty things with caramel sauce inside. I ate three yesterday and didn't need dinner after that.

Church. Rachel's Mum babysat the boy on Sunday morning which gave us a chance to have the rare luxury of getting over to church and sitting, uninterrupted, for the duration of the service. I was pleased I could make out some of Pastor Gerson's sermon. It's not easy with the echo from the microphone but he preached about the cross, saying it was the greatest work of God. Sound theology if you ask me.

After about twenty minutes the heat set in making it difficult to concentrate in any case. The building they use is like a warehouse and is in the process of being renovated and developed. To keep it cool they have about 20 fans on full power hanging from the ceiling and attached to the walls. It's like sitting underneath a fleet of helicopters. Sadly, the desired cooling effect is not as it should be. Most of the congregation and the pastor are wilting by the end...

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