Friday, July 04, 2008

OK, OK, we get the idea. I'm carrying my new birthday camera around everywhere which means its handy for any slightly odd or obscure thing I see. Actually, Rach and I often chuckle at the frequent occurrence of random things we come across just from driving around - a donkey standing in the middle of the road with nobody around, a man taking 15 dogs for a walk, a man juggling fire for money at the traffic lights, a huge hole in the road when there wasn't one there yesterday, a strike or protest of something or other... Anyway, we saw this picture above at a petrol station. They seem pretty adamant about not accepting any sort of payment by cards, don`t they? I wonder if they accept cash? If so, I bet they don't have any change.

Legião Urbana (Urban Legion). Back in Recife, Rach managed to dig out two CDs for the Brazilian band Legião Urbana for me. I'd first heard their music when it was playing on the loudspeaker at the Maracajau water park. Rach rolled her eyes when I said I liked it. This was the band all of her friends were into at school but she obstinately refused to listen to. They're kind of the Brazilian Smiths, and I think some of their songs exhibit a heavy REM influence (no bad thing). In many ways the band were known for being anti-religious or anti-church, but my current favourite is the ballad "Monte Castelo" from their album Os Quatro Estaçoes (The Four Seasons). It's a well-known song of theirs from circa 1989 based on the famous words of 1 Corinthians 13 from the Bible. You can watch a performance of it here.

James Blunt. Speaking of music, one of the worst imports of music here from the UK has to be James Blunt's tepid and squeeky vocal performances as sung over the top of predict-a-chord dirgey songs. Unfortunately for us, (but darned lucky for him and his publicity machine) a James Blunt song is being used as the theme to a Brazlian Globo TV soap opera called Duas Caras (Two faces). Now, James Blunt can count among his fans every middle-aged housewife in Brazil as well as every middle-aged housewife in the UK. Ana, the lady who helps in our house, listens to a radio station that plays only Brazilian popular music and James Blunt. Caramba! The song is all over YouTube, but someone has helpfully put Portuguese subtitles over this video of Mr.Blunt perfoming the number in question.

(Small fact: did you know that the Globo's soap operas are so famous and widely watched and Globo is itself such a huge a corporation that they can insist on late kick-offs for any domestic or international Brazilian football fixture so the match doesn't cut into soap opera time. This annoyingly means all major evening games, including Wednesday's Libertadores Final, start at the ridiculous time of 9.50pm!!! If the game goes to penatlies, as it did on Wednesday, it finishes after midnight. I'm always asleep by the second half).

Congrats to cousin Simon and wife Katie on the arrival of Lucie Iona Payne.

Things I miss about England #71: General administrative competence. OK, so it's debatable if this is even such a good thing in England given the numerous horror stories we have in trying to secure VISAs and passports or sign up for a new phone deal or phone the DVLA, but Brazil, on average has to be a lot worse. Don't get me wrong - it's not all bad. My ID arrived in one piece (after 18 months) and we recently got Gloria her Brazilian ID relatively painlessly. But, trying to get Gloria registered as a British citizen is not proving to be easy given there is a postal strike on at the moment. Furthermore, moving house and trying to switch our cable and internet providers and trying to get a spare key from the estate agents is proving to be a jumbled mix of red tape, conflicting stories and loopy administrating for poor Rachel who is burdened with sorting it out.

Things I love about Brazil #87: interesting city names. Our recent travels to Joao Pessoa and Recife and my plan to travel to Fortaleza this month have reminded me that Brazil has some excellent names for cities. Those three I mentioned translate literally as John Person, Reef and Fortress. Of course, we live in Christmas (Natal) which is close to the beach towns of Kite (Pipa) and Chicken Port (Porto da Galinhas) and down south there is Saviour (Salvador), January River (Rio do Janeiro), Saint Paul (Sao Paulo) and Happy Port (Porto Alegre). These names aren't like the ones we have in England are they? There ain't no Skegness, Cricklewood, Blackpool or Ponders End round here...

Oops, I've just noticed I have two entries for "fresh milk" in my things I miss about England list. Why didn't anyone tell me? I must really miss fresh milk to place it at both number 16 and number 48. In it's place (at number 48) I think I'll put celery, another food related item that I really miss...

This post has grown and grown to become another monster entry. Sorry folks.

1 comment:

Leonardo Pinheiro said...

Although Natal is indeed a great and beautiful city in the Northeast, the Northeast as a whole is an awful place to live and travel in Brazil (except if you are a tourist). You must had gone to the Sao Paulo State (cities like Campinas or Sao Paulo), Curitiba, Florianopolis or Rio Grande do Sul State to enjoy good roads, main gas supply (in Sao Paulo city), luxury cars on the streets, some nice museums, and other good things.

In general, flights between cities inside Brazil are considered very expensive. Perhaps you've got some discount tickets, so you thought they were cheap.