Thursday, January 31, 2013


Bit me so hard today it bled.

Carelessness on my part. Done the training countless times, but he caught me unawares.

I wonder if my shots are up to date.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Don’t ask me what went wrong, the list goes on and on

As I climbed up onto the top of the perimeter wall, I glanced back to check if the police were making another round. At that moment – of all people – one of the teachers from the boys' school drives slowly past and I ducked down quickly. Did she see me? I thought, and wondered what she might have said if she had indeed caught sight of me entering that particular plot of derelict land. Just as I suspected...cavorting with the crack-heads. Hes no better than the wretched kids themselves!” 

I was honoring my threat promise to Enildo that if he did not make contact I would visit him every single day. At first, I feared breaching the wall, especially due to the invasions by the police in recent days, but the question “are you scared of going in?” by a pair of addicts nearby (who Id asked about Enildo) provided sufficient provocation for me to jump the wall. 

Walking tenuously over the crazy-paving landscape of broken bottles, tiles and smashed computer monitors (an effective alert of impending visitors to the huddled masses below), I pondered the puncture-resistance of the thin rubber soles of my old flip-flops. Over the next few weeks, however, I became quite familiar with that terrain, although the pervasive and overwhelming smell of human excrement is one that I will never quite become accustomed to.

Alex, the young and painfully thin “owner” of the patch intercepted me before I could reach one of the several boarded-up shacks scattered among the overgrown vegetation. He spoke as one in complete control of the territory and when asked about the father of our four brothers he replied - with the authority of a sage - that Enildo would “return when hes ready”.

But I don't want your opinion, I thought. I just want to talk to my friend. 

I just want to know what went wrong.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Failed Launch

One of the chickens died yesterday. She was evidently unwell, but I didn't have the nerve to finish her off with the end of a spade, so I chose instead to spend the afternoon oscillating between leaving her alone (wishing that she would somehow pull through) and wanting her to have as swift an end as possible (after convincing myself that it would be painless). She eventually died of natural causes at the end of the afternoon.

Shovelling her onto the end of a garden fork, I opened the back gate which divides the rescue house with the marshland beyond, and there, at the perimeter fence - after testing my swing a few times - I launched her into the air (her final flight, as it were).

Mercifully, she successfully cleared the high fence at the back of the rescue house, but then I watched in horror as she got lodged in the branches of a high tree.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Premature Virtues

“Patriotic Brazilians look away now: Brazil is no longer the world’s sixth-biggest economy.
According to recent forecasts from the IMF and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR), the UK regained its place as the world’s sixth-biggest economy last year, shunting Brazil back down to seventh place. 


When Brazil’s GDP first dwarfed the UK’s in 2011, it was a cause for much celebration in the Latin American country. Government officials and Brazilophiles have cited the fact ever since as proof both of the country’s virtues and of a monumental shift in the global power balance.” 
Source: FT

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ahead or Behind?

Few things calm my nostalgia for home like waking up (thanks to the joys of internet radio) to the ‘beeps’ of Radio 4 on the hour and to hear the news live from Aunty - the world’s most reliable source.

Few things have panicked me more, however, than the announcement this morning: “This is the news from the BBC at seven o’clock”.  I spring-vaulted out of bed - thinking I was two hours’ late - only to remember that England is two hours’ ahead.

Uh, duh.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The other side of town

The taxi driver slammed his foot on the brake pedal, my luggage tumbled behind me and I braced myself against the front passenger seat to avoid being thrown forward. I looked up just in time to see our car stop millimetres from the back of the stationary car in front. I instinctively swung my head round and braced myself for the inevitable (second) screech of breaks as the driver behind was also driving too close. Again - by some miracle - we weren’t sandwiched.

The exorbitant taxi ride into town from the airport was not made any easier by my elderly driver who - it became painfully clear moments after closing the door - didn’t seem to know his way about the city. “All I know is that I don’t want to take the main road back”, he croaked. “Far too busy at this hour. I’d like to cut through the centre, but I don’t know my way around. Do you?” 

I looked at him in the mirror incredulously and was rather glad that his eyes didn’t meet mine because I preferred his gaze to be fixed on the road ahead. Knowing what you don’t want is surely preferable to wanting what you don’t know, I thought.  “GPS?” I asked. He thought for a moment. “Actually, I think the previous driver did have one in here somewhere” he replied, before diving with one hand into the glove compartment. Needless to say, he didn’t know how to work the device and I spent the rest of the journey barking instructions at him from the GPS in my hand.

“So you’re new to the city?” I offered up, sympathetically. “No”, he replied, “I’ve worked my whole life the other side of town.”

Oh São Paulo, most unforgiving of cities.