Sunday, August 17, 2008

Busy life and more people to stay. I seem to have a fairly packed teaching schedule again as the semester is really underway. I didn't realise until this week that one of my private students, Rafael, is the Governor's Grandson. His Mum also wants private lessons. With the local elections coming up, including Governor of the city, it will be interesting to see how interested the two of them are in an hour of English grammar when maybe they're expected to be making themselves busy electioneering.

Rachel's brother and girlfriend have come up to visit this weekend. It's been great to see them and we'll probably hit the beach this weekend. And with the football season starting back home, and a few more days of Olympics, there's plenty of ways to keep busy... oh, and I have to give a talk at church today in Portuguese. So, that's on my mind too.

Brazil shows Brazil. Natal has a large convention and conference centre situated on top of a sand dune overlooking the ocean. Rachel found out about an event there and we decided to get along as a family for an hour. The event was a fair, supposedly about informing Brazilians about the products their land exports. In other words, "educational". But, instead of a display of havaina flip-flops or a presentation on the export of Soya, the whole event, we realised as we got swept along by a tide of bargain-hunters, was actually a free-for-all time for sale shopping. Furthermore, we saw some decidely un-Brazilian things on offer - Nike T-shirts on discount, pirate DVDs of Hollywood films and most bizarrely some plastic, flashing, dancing crucifixes made in China as sold by an authentic Chinaman! As Rachel and I made our way back to the car after an hour of walking around we agreed - it was worth doing, but still the old addage remains: in Brazil always expect the unexpected.

Brazil @ the Olympics. I've never been out of the UK or the USA during the Olympics and it's interesting to me to see what the Olympics means to Brazilians and how it differs to being back home. Frequently over the last few days Rachel has been heard to exclaim to her friends and family how happy she is to be back here for this Olympics and not in the UK (in a holiday home in Cumbria to be exact) as was the case with Athens 2004. She says things like, "No more rowing! No more cycling! And thank heavens they don't show all 4 hours of the marathon like those Brits do!".

I, for one, would love to see a bit of the track and field but coverage of that has been reduced to the Jamaican Bolt taking the World Record in the 100m. Instead, the Olympics for Brazilians are about team sports and not individual performance - men's and women's handball, volleyball, beach volleyball and football occupy the most hours. The weight of expectation is on the men's football team who have never won Olympic gold - the only thing missing from Brazil's glistening record in football. Swimming and Judo make up the rest of the time. In the Judo, Brazil already garnered some bronze medals. In Swimming, Brazil won their first gold of these games in the 50m freestyle when the 21-year-old Cesar Cielo raced across the 50 metre pool in 21 and a half seconds beating his rival by 2 hundreths of a second or so. He, (blubbing away through the medal ceremony and for many hours afterwards) and his parents have featured endlessly on Brazilian TV stations since the impressive achievement. According to an article I read, President Lula himself called through to register his congratulations.

One more strange person: the under-cover cop. Last night, we took Rachel's brother and girlfriend to our favourite little tapioca place near Ponta Negra beach. On this occasion, we approached the establishment with extreme caution to see if we could spot the small, slightly chubby and extremely hairy man who had caused us a bit of grief at that exact same time and spot a week earlier when Ruth was here. If he was there I think we would've moved on, but he wasn't so we stayed.

There are many details to this, but the basics are...

Last Saturday as Ruth, Rach and I and the kids sat down for a tapioca we were joined by a man who wanted to practice his English with me. At first, we mistakenly imagined he was the restaurant owner welcoming us, but as time went on his manner went from very friendly (he invited us to his house for barbecue) to talkative (we covered some geography and politics and religion and Jesus) to oppresively talkative as he recounted intimate details of his life (he was a single Dad, his father had just died) and never stopped to listen to our responses.

The short story is he turned out to be an undercover cop (although, he kept assuring us he was a fair and honest cop, not given to taking bribes) and he was here to bust a night club on the street where there was a supposed paedophile stalking. He warned us not to stick around too late with the kids - we should take them to the "safety" of our home (don't worry, officer, we didn't fancy taking our kids to a nightclub where paedophiles stalk anyway!). He then emptied his utility belt on the table, stopping at one point to tell us he had a gun, then proceeded to under-pay his bill (the waiter didn't argue - they were more interested in getting him out of there as the restaurant had emptied!) and finally, we drew a line under our "friendship" when he called for police back-up and got up from the table with his badge to arrest a bloke seemingly innocently walking past outside.

Ruth, Rachel and I talked a while about how to respond to a situation like that. And I've been praying for the guy in question - he is obviously a bit lonely, very emotional (who knows what he witnesses/does as part of his job) and if he has had tragedy in his life recently then maybe he is struggling to deal with it. Even so, when his behaviour started to turn sour bordering on aggressive and there was a discrepancy between his words and actions (I am an honest cop / I won't pay all this bill!) and he has a gun - then, of course, getting us and the kids out of there has to be a priority, doesn't it? I think I still have his card - should I contact him? I probably won't. But, what would Jesus do?

1 comment:

Jan Krohn said...

Hi Dave and Rachel!
I should have read your blog more regularly... So many interesting things going on in Brazil.
News from us: We're expecting a little baby girl in November!