Let's talk about the weather... The heavens opened on Natal over the last 3 or 4 days, gushing forth torrents of tropical rain. When it rains in Natal (according to some of my teacher friends) the whole place grinds to a hault and people are confused, late, bothered, disoriented, ill and generally not themselves. Basically, it sounds like what happens in England when it snows. Anyway, everything is leaking: our house, the supermarket and the language school have all had dripping corners. Nelson caught a small bug which he seems to be coming out of, but now I'm worried I have it... thankfully, today the sun is out.
When you greet a stranger... Do you remember this guy? Well, he came back a few days ago asking for some money if he cleaned the grass at the front of our house. This was our conversation.
Me: I don't have any money (which was true!)
Bloke: OK, do you have any old clothes that I could have?
Me: Yes, I do. Wait a minute (Dave finds old shorts, St.Mikes houseparty T-shirt and old flip-flops). What about these?
Bloke: Will you let me have those if I clean the grass?
Bloke: But, I don't have anything to cut the grass with.
Me: Neither do I.
Bloke: If I go home and get some equipment can I come back and clean the grass for those clothes?
Me: Yes, that's fine.
Bloke: If I came back at 2pm?
Me: OK, no problem.
Bloke: Can I take the clothes now?
Me: (remembers how he gyped us before) Er, no, it's better if I give you them after you do the work, isn't it?
Bloke: OK, bye! See you later.
2pm came and went and I still haven't seen him.
Baby's got some new rules... Nelson is being potty trained. We wanted to get him "sorted" before his sister arrives next month. He was quite reulctant at first and even now generally seems to think having to sit on his little throne is a waste of valuable seconds when he could be doing something else like playing with cars.
Anyway, following a system of incentives in which he won a small wrapped present after each successful poo or pee in the specificied zone he's got the hang of it. Saturday was a different matter, however. Sporting his new undies we went out for a few hours to a shopping centre - bad idea. Half way down one toy aisle there appeared a small puddle on the floor. Rach got the shop assistant with the mop on to it (to be fair, judging from their reaction, this was not an uncommon occurence). I picked up Nelson and took him to the changing room.
Depending on how you look at it the changing rooms in Brazil are either very nice or really annoying. Basically, as with most things in Brazil, the cost of cheap labour means people are doing jobs that don't exist in the UK. And in Brazilian shopping centres there are often half a dozen employed women on hand to help you clear up your child's mess (a good thing, you'd think!). Now, if you remember what we learned about Brazilian women and how they feel about men taking care of babies, I was eye-balled by these assistants the moment I walked in. A man in here? A foreign man? With a baby? This I got to see!
Being the kind of male who hates asking for directions or any kind of assistance I saw it as my mission to get in and out of there as quick as possible - I was not interested in any help whatsoever. But, when I went to change Nelson and they all noticed he WASN'T wearing a nappy and that, lo and behold, he had wee-ed on his pants and I WASN'T going to put a new nappy on him it was just all too much for one woman in the dumbfounded semi-circle of curious females that had formed around me at the changing table. From beneath an extensively furrowed brow, she said, "have you run out of nappies? We have some if you want one".
Grrrrr, no! We're potty training him! Go away, all of you!!!
After that experience, Nelson and I had a pretzel to calm down.
The music will provide the light, you cannot resist... Happily, R.E.M. release their new studio album this week - the first one in 4 years. Even more happily, it's actually very good and everyone else says so too. There's some quite funky videos here by French filmmaker Vincent Moon of R.E.M. playing acoustic songs from their record in odd places - in a car, under a tree, in the road, in a cavern etc. A prize for the person who can tell me which R.E.M. songs I've cited lyrics from in the headings on this post. I cheekily downloaded an advanced copy of the new record a few days back and reviewed it here on my other blog.
(For those of you who don't know, this other blog is called beyond random, and it is where I write about everything else that's not connected to living in Brazil - it's about music, art, film, God, life etc. Take a peak if you have the time).