Week ending 28th November


Men in Black and White


I was reminded today (ha – as if I needed reminding) of what a country of contrasts Brazil is. On the one hand we have a veritable war going on on the streets of Rio de Janeiro (http://soccerlens.com/welcome-to-rio-land-of-football%E2%80%A6and-civil-war/62018/ is an interesting, somewhat scathing article) as the police try to regain some sort of foothold in the drug-dealing no-go areas which infest the place, and on the other we have the announcement of another significant find of light crude oil a few hundred kilometres from Manaus with the added commentary that Brazil is experiencing a new dawn of prosperity and social mobility and enlightenment and growth and whatever.

Meanwhile, the news floods in of Europe offering bail-out packages to the sinking economies of  Portugal and Spain and Italy and Ireland; and we see interviews with “disgruntled of Dublin” and “pissed-off of Palermo” etc.  I was also amused to see Catholic convert Tony Blair failing miserably to defend a motion that “religion is good for the world”. Hmm. Quite how he reconciles his undoubted political skills in a western democracy with blind faith in a “celestial dictatorship” mystifies me, and calls to mind the phrase “someone has been f***ing with my mind”…

Strange place/times we live in, for sure.

"I must go down to the sea again..."

Here in Manaus we’re still frustrated by the low water, with no river trips planned until next weekend. Work on the bridge over the River Negro continues slowly, and the inauguration planned for 2010 will now take place next year instead.  There are lots of murmurings about development for the World Cup, but with the exception of the demolition of the old football stadium and closure of the Ponta Negra, little is manifest. The tourism business is a bit under the weather and awaits an injection of gringoes with wads of cash from the annual procession of cruise ships which start arriving next month. Christmas decorations are appearing all over the place and retailers (and petrol stations) await a hoped-for seasonal demand peak driven by the 13th month salary which is everyone’s due in Brazil. Unfortunately this is needed to see them through the dearth of economic, political and any other significant activity in the country between the new year and the end of Carnaval in March (although rumour has it the demand curve for drug dealers in Rio remains largely unaffected J

The wet season has failed to materialise so far  – a crashing first week or so, but still lots of sun around – but we’re preparing ourselves for the long, humid, sunless days ahead when the only way to get anything reasonably dry is to take an acetylene torch to it. Still, at least you wake up in the morning feeling cool enough to do a modicum of physical activity before 9 o’clock – who knows, perhaps I’ll start training again for the Sao Silvestre Marathon.

We are all well, although we had an attack of what we can only assume is chiggers (I’ll leave you to look it up), and we’re still struggling to get rid of this.  But there is rarely a week passes without some member of the family suffering from something…and this time it’s Toto, who escaped for an extended period and was thoroughly beaten up by the Rottweiler bitch he has set his sights on for the past few weeks (without the aid of a stool – possibly a step ladder – he might just as well assault the Colossus). So he’s here now with an ear hanging off (again), a bleeding testicle, and a leg that looks like someone’s taken a potato peeler to it. Never mind – it looks like he’s pulling through, bless him.  Ozzie, incidentally, is looking good now; and Kelly’s pregnancy appears to have been a phantom one. Phew.

I’m sitting here as usual at 21:00 under the Laurel Clock Vine with a few beers, and being peed on by some insect or other (did you know there are insects that pee on you?) and since I object to being peed on and the third can of Skol is making it difficult to type at a reasonable rate, I’m going to stop here and move to the pool to concentrate on the beer in a pee-free environment.  I won’t be taking my laptop, so this is it for the moment. Take care.

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