Things I miss about England #2: family. It goes without saying, really... we're making our plans to move back to the UK and being close to Mum and Dad, to my cousins and Uncles and Aunts is a fantastic boon to our inklings to leave Brazil. In terms of having my family to visit us here, we've been blessed to have Mum and Dad and, all being well, cousin Dan should be joining us making him the first cousin to make it to Brazil to see us.
Things I love about Brazil #2: family. Rachel's family are wonderful and I've enjoyed getting to know them more and more over our two and a half years here. Rach's folks are a constant source of generosity and encouragement as well as numerous cousins, Uncles and Aunts too numerous to mention individually.
However, two stories that occurred across the Carnaval period really brought a smile to my face and made me grateful for such a joyful and well-meaning bunch of people I get to call my in-laws.
The first was down at Muro Alto (High Wall) where Rach's folks have recently procured a beach house. Lots of family were knocking around including Alvaro (Rach's Uncle) who taught us how to fly a kite, Aurora and family (who were based at their beach house walking distance away) as well as Laulau, Rach's granny. At one point, Rachel and Nelson and the girls found a large snail on the lawn. For quite some time they observed the chap sliming his way over some grass. When Laulau turned up she scolded everyone for playing with the "poisonous" creature. Before anyone could stop her or explain that nobody was about to touch the thing, Laulau had booted the offending critter into the nearest bush. Of course, there was no coaxing him out of his shell after that and three generations of Laulau's progeny (daughter, 2xgranddaughters and 1xgreat grandson) gave her a proper ticking off for spoiling their fun. I chuckled from a safe distance away!
And then, just 10 days ago we were down in Joao Pessoa for Rach's cousins 7th birthday. Melissa and her little brother Johnny (Johnny Pequeno as Nelson calls him) are some of our favourite extended family to visit as our kids love being around them. Anyway, just as the party was in full swing, and Nelson seemed to be a bit under the weather for some reason, who should roll up but Rach's Dad's brother Andy with his family in tow. Andy sat next to Nelson and pulled out a plastic bag claiming there was a present in it for Nelson. (Odd, I thought, as it isn't technically HIS birthday). But, there was. And the first item was a rattle. Like one of those you see kids using in football matches from the 1960s. One twizzle of that thing and the whole party was brought to a grinding hault, all heads turned to our corner by the deafening sound. Oblivious to this, Andy pulled out his second gift for Nelson - a bird whistle. Then 5 minutes later, a toy horn, and then one or two other noise-inducing items including something that made a piercing beep. Why, I thought to myself, would anyone possibly want to give a nearly-3 year old such ear-splittingly annoying toys? The answer, of course: but that's what kids want! Nelson, of course, was happily entertained creating a sizeable din. I'm constantly amazed by Rach and her family in how they prioritise the enjoyment of the kids above their own comfort (Tio Andy's presents being a case in point). This is, of course, a Brazilian trait but it's a good one. Victorian Britain may have given us all from the UK a sense that "kids should be seen and not heard" but Brazilians seem to hold the view that "kids should be both seen and heard".
However, my Englishness got the better of me as we got in the car for the 3 hour journey home. It was getting dark, it was raining and I didn't want any distractions as I drove. Andy's bag of tricks was stowed away deep in the back of the boot.