Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The strange people we left behind: part 2. We finally hand over the keys to our old house today and so it was with a forlorn wave to Rua das Violetas that we say goodbye. You already met the woman called Keith (scroll down two posts) who works in the shop near our old house, but it's also the colourful characters who lived on our road who, while we may not consciously miss them, we will certainly never forget. Above, holding Gloria, is Percia, the mother of Jercia (the other little girl in the photo). Jercia's Grandma is called Mercia. All 3 generations of -ercia's lived in the house opposite us.

Further down the road was the woman with the bug eyes and poodle (see here for a mention of her) - font of all knowledge on the street. Her wild and woolly stories to Rachel were often the stuff of legend. An excerpt: "Did you hear that a baby was left on the door step of a house on the next street!? The owners of the house took the baby in, but the next week my friend says she saw a mad woman roaming the streets looking for a lost child!". We never had anyway to verify the provenance of her stories, and we were always left a little unsure as to how to continue conversations... "É mesmo? Não acredito...".

Up the road was the small, quiet, whispery man (he featured in this story). Despite first impressions that he was a bit touched he turned out to be surprisingly lucid. I recently once chatted to him in the street much to the consternation of several of the neighbours who, with gaping mouths had all paused mid-whatever-they-were-doing to eye-ball the spectacle of a gringo speaking Portuguese. At the end, I turned to walk away and I think the whispery man felt that he should at least try to bring God into the conversation. The context for this being that our household was the only non-Catholic stronghold on the street and most of those around us assumed we were at best heathens and at worst devil-worshippers. Anyway, the small whispery man whispered after me as I turned to walk on: "Vai com Deus"(Go with God). Maybe he didn't expect to be heard (he must be used to this after years of whispering) or maybe he was surprised I had a response - but I turned around walked right back, placed my hand on his shoulder and said: "Vai com Deus, tambem" (You go with God, too). All I could hear as I turned to leave once more was the soft thudding of half-a-dozen jaws hitting the pavement.

Funnily enough, close to the whispery man lived a Sr. Wilson - a very friendly man who would barrel over to our plot, often sauntering through our gate to tussle Nelson's hair and have a chat from time to time. First impressions were - here is a pleasant and clearly on-the-ball man. However, he never learned our names (nor Nelson's) despite repeatedly being told and he never seemed to remember I was a foreigner. Every time I spoke to him he retained the same look of utter horror as the realisation dawned on him I wasn't Brazilian. We expected it was he, and not the small whispery man, who was in fact a little touched.

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