Friday, June 12, 2009

"Have you ever seen the rain?" So asked Credence Clearwater (pictured at the top), but, by all accounts, Brazilians really haven't. They're scared stiff of the stuff. Things I miss about England #35: people know that a little rain won't kill you. We had a moment on our way into a football stadium yesterday where I wondered if we were going to have a rain-related disaster. Somehow, from walking into the stadium (when it was bone dry) to passing our tickets through the barrier and pacing over the terraces, the heavens opened. In a stadium with no overhead cover there could only be one result. Everyone outside the stadium crammed to get in and everyone on the terraces scrammed to get off. We were in the middle. Fortunatelty, as often happens in the north east of Brazil, a quick tropical downpour often gives way to more dry, hot weather so we were spared a people squash.

But, this isn't the first time I've found Brazilians running from the rain. A few memories stick in my mind of Natal's population viewing rain as pretty much falling poison from the sky. If you stay out in the rain for more than 10 seconds, so the thinking is, you're subjecting yourself to every kind of disease known to man. Back at our old house, I was once walking a very little Gloria home from the shop when, unexpectedly, I got caught in a shower. I cuddled Gloria close to me and walked briskly the last 50 yards to our house. Old women were falling out of neighbouring windows berating me for the wickedness of taking a little child out into such fearful weather.

Another time, we were at the hospital and I had Nelson with me. I was coming out and there was alight drizzle. It was just a short 50 yards to the car so I grabbed Nelson up in my arms and started to slow jog towards the vehicle. Out of nowhere, an umbrella holder (see this blog post) appeared alongside me running. I knew he wanted a tip for the service he was offering and I knew I had no change so I said to him in Portuguese - "don't worry about it. The car's right here!". He gave me a look that suggested he thought I, when it came to callousness, was right up there with vampires, and then mouthed, almost in slow motion: "But the boy! What about the boy!? WHAT ABOUT THE BOY!!!???".

One final yarn on this... several weeks ago Rachel was away and I was home alone over the weekend. I spent Sunday with friends from church and ended up going swimming in my clothes in their pool as it was raining. Very liberating and a good opportunity to pretend I was Andy Dufrense from the Shawshank Redemption. Anyway, afterwards, my good pal Paulo - certainly as much of a "lad" as the next guy - challanged me to run in my wet clothes and dive on the wet grass in the rain. I dutifully did (as I had done on numerous occasions in my misspent footballing or otherwise youth). With gob wide-open he said: "I was joking. Be careful spending so much time in the rain like that. You'll get ill". I waited for the punch line, but it never came. Natal's people are, in this respect, not unlike the Gauls from the Asterix books. They both believe the end will come when the sky falls on their heads.

Things I love about Brazil #35: open air swimming. They're everywhere! What fun!

PS. There is an explanation behind the other photos on this post. All will be revealed tomorrow.

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