Guest blogger Ruth Leckenby.
The time I thought: "That was somewhat surreal!!!"
The first morning in Natal, I was woken by the sound of a man coaxing a reluctant donkey up the street. The donkey was pulling a cart laden with fridges and front doors and bits of chairs. Seems like he was the local recycling service, or maybe the fix it man! A short time later a car drove up the street with a loud hailer strapped to the roof of the car and a man driving and shouting out of it. Again I had no idea what he was saying but the car was busting at the seams with fresh fruit and vegetables in all shapes and sizes. The local green grocer isn’t a shop but a car with very cheap fruit!!! They came around most mornings so after a while I started to recognise certain words, maracajau (passion fruit) coco (coconuts) laranja (oranges).
My favourite thing to do in the mornings was to sit on the balcony reading and waiting for the bin men. I used to sit by the window on bin day when I was little and waved to the driver who usually looked up and waved back. But the Brazilian way of doing bins is far removed from the slow amble and general disdain to bins that the English bin men show. In Brazil rubbish collecting seems like a sport. The truck drives at a steady speed, and not particularly slowly, and the men run along behind picking up the bags and hurling them at the back of the truck as it trundles up the cobbled pot-holey road. All the while that they are doing this they have a chant going, I’ve no idea what they were saying but it sounded motivational!!! They were enchanting to watch, and could certainly teach the English bin men a thing or two!!!