Surprise party for Rachel's parents (nearly) works! For obvious reasons, I wasn't able to mention this last week, but Rachel was cooking up a surprise party for her parents 50th birthdays (both this year). The party, billed as a 100 party, was in Joao Pessoa and Rach did a great job of rounding everyone up. I was particularly pleased to see old pal Andy Roberts (and seriel plagariser of this blog for his own newsletters!) and his girlfriend Rose for the first time on Brazilian soil. Andy works down in Recife at the extraordinary church project to Brazil's poorest - the residents of a dump heap in Olinda. Ruth, who was here last month, had been doing short term work on the project in July along with a team of students from Newcastle.
Anyway, about the surprise party. This is a copy of some of what I wrote about it this week...
We managed to keep the party a surprise for Rachel's parents up unitl about half an hour before the party (the decoy was that it was a 1yr old party for Rachel's cousin Johnny - even Nelson was primed to repeat ad nauseum "festa de Johnny! festa de Johnny!). But, for the first time in their lives (or in the life of any Brazilian), Rachel's folks arrived EARLY for something and so we had to stall them. I called with the "we've forgotten nappies for Gloria" excuse to send them off to a pharmacy. But they foiled us again when Steve decided to drop off Celia at the party and go and look for nappies just by himself. So, on seeing a bunch of family and friends who would not normally be seen dead at a 1-yr-olds do walk in, she twigged.
Steve on the other hand was left in the dark and his surprise was genuine - only problem was the diversion worked too well. He couldn't find nappies! He ended up driving 4 miles out of town to a 24 hour supermarket and got back a lot later than expected... But when he did arrive he was carrying a huge toy for a 1 yr old and was bowled over by the surprise. As he said "I love surprise parties and tributes - but only for other people!".
The "miss marple" prize for opportunistic sleuthing goes to Rach on account of her overhearing her Dad call his ol school chum last Sunday to wish this guy happy birthday - Rach got hold of her Dad's mobile, searched the "calls made" list on the phone and copied the number down of this old aquaintance. Later, she called the chap explaining she was Steve's daughter and could he come along to the surprise party and bring some other back-in-the-day school chums. Some of them he hadn't seen since his teenage years. It was the highlight of the night and Steve couldn't honestly believe they were there.
Things I love about Brazil no.94: hearses. Yesterday we drove past an undertakers shop (do undertakers have shops?) which was amusingly and perhaps appropriately-named "After-life funeral directors". It reminded me what we had seen on coming back into town from our road trip to Joao Pessoa - a long procession of slow-moving cars with their emergency lights on snaking their way through the city of Natal on their way to a burial. At the head of the long line of cars was the hearse. But, I honestly didn't recognise it as such until we stopped next to it at a set of traffic lights. What would you expect a hearse to look like? Back in the UK and Ì'm pretty sure in the States (and I imagine several other countries) a hearse is normally black. Sometimes the coffin is on display behind large glass windows for all to see. Not in Brazil, or at least not on this day. The hearse was a VW Kombi, completely white (except for half a dozen stickers advertising Sao Francisco Funeral Directors) and 4 orange lights flashing out from up on the roof rack. No windows. The image that came to my mind was of a 1970s hippy ambulance. Or, perhaps of a remodelled and retinted A-team van. If it wasn't for the stickers on the side, I honestly could have assumed the drivers were some kind of emergency decorators and the contents in the back of the van were tins of paint.
Things I miss about England no. something-or-other. I don't seem to be missing anything from the UK this week so I'll have to write this later...