Theo's pictures of sand dunes. As has already been mentioned one of the best things about this part of Brazil is the proliferation of sand dunes. Theo took some ace photos, two of which are here. The first is of Natal's most famous landmark, the Morro de Careca (bald man's hill). The second is from a place called Maracajau. At Genipabu beach you can hire a buggy+driver to take you out on the sand for a rollercoaster experience and a chance to sample the extraordinary scenery and views. Ruth Leckenby described her experience like this. Anyway, I've added two videos to my YouTube account to give you guys an idea of what it's all about. Video 1 is the view from outside the buggy. Video 2 is the view from the inside. See if you can spot a yelling Theo and Tom in the back seats on the latter.
Christmas survey. This Christmas I will be without these usual British Christmas things a) mince pies and mulled wine b) cold weather c) the Queen's speech d) Boxing Day. None of these things exist in north-east Brazil. Of course, we have church and a chance to celebrate the real reason for Christmas, so I'm happy. But, which of those things would you say were (nearly) essential to giving you that Christmas feeling back home? Go on, vote!
Things I miss about England #60: Toilets don't block so easily, and you can flush toilet paper. Guests to Brazil from the UK or USA are often horrified to find that when you get here you are not supposed to put used toilet paper down the loo. When you're doing a number 2, and after you finished your business, any toilet paper you feel you need to use to... well, you know... has to be wrapped up and put in the bin. In part due to the visit of Tom and Theo who carried out the necessary toilet procedures in thoroughly British ways, and in part due to our forgetfulness while on the john and also the erroneous assumption we harboured that by living in a house as opposed to an apartment we were somehow more exempt from this sanitary protocol, our toilets - actually, one in particular - became thoroughly blocked last week. With rubber gloves on, a small and ultimately useless plunger in hand and a peg on my nose, I attempted to fix the stench-inducing problem. My best efforts resulted in little more than the discovery of a cockroach under the rim of the bowl so we had to call in a man. In the man came, and he fixed all our upstairs toilets (all 3 of them) saying that the other two were reaching the point of no return too. So, it's all sorted and we won't be flushing paper down the loo no more.
Things I love about Brazil #54: cheap labour. The cost of our toilet repairs: R$100 (about £25). A small price to pay for fully functioning commodes, I guess... The low cost of labour makes service provision very cheap in Brazil. This week we've had to rely on it in different ways. For example, apart from the toilet episode, we were able leave Nelson at a playgroup with a babysitting for half an hour at the shopping centre so we could get our Christmas shopping done (cost R$4 or £1). Rachel got our car totally cleaned inside and out (cost R$10 or £2.50) and Nelson has been constantly impressed by the small army of brass band players performing Christmas hits, the clowns, chaps on stilts, the Father Christmas', the Santa's little helpers all on hand to entertain him and his young colleagues at the shopping centre (cost to us zero!).
Christmas away. Tomorrow Rach, Nelson and I drive to Joao Pessoa for festivities proper with all Rachel`s extended family. Nelson`s great great granny Bemvinda is celebrating her 90th birthday too and a Brazil vs Rest of the World footy match will be taking place at some point to commemorate this. After Christmas we will be by the beach at a resort with Rach's immediate family. Anyway, the upshot of all this is I think I will rest the blog until after new year... it`s in need of a bit of a rehaul too, so watch this space in January for a new look, swisher blog. In the meantime, why note vote on the new poll to the left. Have a wonderful Christmas whoever you are, wherever you are, and a blessed New Year!