Travel Journal

Still another week in Ilha Solteira

(Sunday 26 July 2009) by Brennan-adventures
Hello folks,
It not so long since the last blog, but quite a lot has happened... well for Ilha anyway. The temperature is hot again around 30c and I am finding it difficult to keep cool. The pool however is too cold to swim in… well for me, Mike uses it to cool down after he has been for a run. I am not that brave!! 8-O

At the beginning of the week I got my hair cut… always a fraught experience as with the language problem, it can end up shorter than I would like. I took a picture with me, but it looked nothing like the photo when he had finished. I do feel it could be nicer but not sure what the next step should be… Wait for it to grow a little or get it murdered at another place??
I will probably wait for a week or two then get it attacked again.

The day I had it cut Mike told me we were going out for dinner that night, he had been invited at lunchtime, there was to be another two people going as well as us…. Typical Brazilian way told on the day!!
The couple who invited us have a strange history.
The guy (Daniel) was born in Belgium, then when he was around 4 yrs old; his father took the family to the Congo. He lived there until he was around 10, when the government of Congo kicked all the foreigners out. His father had been a coffee grower in Congo. The family then moved to Brasil, his father starting another farm here.
When Daniel was 18 his family either split up or the father died… not sure which. Anyway his mother and sister went back to Belgium; Daniel stayed here and carried on with his studies, eventually graduating as an engineer. When the university opened in Ilha Solteira he got a job here, in 2 yrs time he is due to retire, he will be 58 !! (Here you only have to work 35yrs then you can retire)… great if you are working for the government or university as you retire on full pay…
Ohh if that was the case with us in the U.K.!! :-(

His second wife, Sirlene, who he has been married to for 23yrs is the tiniest thing you have ever seen, both in stature and girth… gosh that sounds like I am describing a horse !!!
She was working for a while for a government department trying to stop the deforestation of the Amazon. The job however was nearly impossible; mainly because of the logistics of verification and the road system there… mostly mud roads. She was living away from home and managed back to Ilha once a month. When we came this year she had given up this job and now lived at home.
We first met them about 5 yrs ago; Daniel always talked and wanted to practise his English and French… A fun conversation at times!! His wife hardly talked at all, this year she obviously had got used to us, as now she invites us to sit with them at lunch if we meet, probably because we can stumble our way through a conversation in Portuguese. ;-)

Well round to their house, me finding a newish chocolate shop and buying a nice box of chockys to take with us.
Their house was about the same size as the one we are renting here. They have had it remodelled and it was lovely.
They used the room I call “salla do nada” (the room that is usually not used for anything but show). It was a balmy evening with all the doors open, but no breeze.
In the lounge were two large sofas and two occasional chairs; there was also a fish tank with some pretty coloured fishes.
At the top of the tank was another smaller boxed off area that was being supplied with the same water as the main tank. In this smaller tank was teeny weeny baby fishes… 3 days old, they were so tiny they looked like dots. Daniel told us it was normal for him to be able to collect and hatch the eggs with 100% success rate. The female fish needs to be separated for a few days, so she is put into the nursery tank with an extra security part inside. This allows her to lay the eggs and for them to drop down underneath her.
Seemingly, if she was allowed to come into contact with them she would eat them…. maybe this was lost in translation because how on earth would the species survive in the wild?? :-\:-\

We sat in the kitchen, at a table set out for dinner like a posh restaurant…. The first time that has happened in Ilha. The table theme was blue and white. It looked so pretty, everything matched including the candles.
To eat we had couscous with a bean and vegetable stew that was quite sloppy, there was also chicken, beef or pork pieces to have with this…. Sirlene had been very careful not to use garlic…. The meal was delicious and it was really good to sit and eat with others without having to worry about garlic.
The other couple there were friends, not married. She also spoke German but no English and had been brought up in the north of Brasil, when she spoke she annunciate her words and spoke slowly so it was easy to understand her.
The guy however spoke really quickly and mumbled. He could read English very well……
Most Brazilian academics or medical doctors can, as the journal papers and research papers are written in English. The problem is they have no idea how to pronounce the words, as they hardly ever speak English.
He kept firing spurious single English words into his sentences that sounded like no English word I knew. It was a nightmare when he was talking as I didn’t know whether it was English or Portuguese, and nothing seemed to make sense….:-? Still it was nice to meet new people.

A funny thing happened, Daniel has a large dog that is 10yrs old, when we were eating dinner the dog was put outside and the only thing stopping it returning into the room was a thin piece of cardboard put across the doorway. The dog had no sense of pushing it away; it just lay outside until we were finished.

On our way home we were stopped by the police, a paperwork check. Well if you had seen this guys face when I handed over our passports and my international driving license… It is a little gray booklet with my photo inside, with information written in at least 5 languages that I have a valid driving license for the U.K. This was obviously the first time he had seen a foreign passport and one of these international licenses. A while later everything was returned to us, him having written something down and called in something over the radio…. Bet you if he sees us again we will be waved on… TFD … Too flipping Difficult!!

Next day I had a phone call around 10am inviting me to Pao de Quejo birthday party for one of the friend’s SOGRA (mother-in-law). This Cheese bread party was starting at 5pm. I then had to rush about getting some presents and decide what I was going to wear… and you all wonder why I get no time to do any driving work done!!

When I got to the party it was just women, Anna Lucia’s mother; mother-in-law and aunt were there, along with the usual motley amigos. Again everything was made without garlic and she had bought coco water especially for me….. I am really going to miss the agau de coco; it is the liquid inside the green coconut, very refreshing without being sweet.

There is a national obsession here in Brasil ….. Pao de Quejo, it is eaten at all times of the day when a snack is needed.
They are small ball shaped bread, about the size of a golf ball that has a slightly moist centre.
To make them you combine grated cheese, flour and other ingredients, and mix everything together so the cheese is combined throughout the mixture. When it is baked the outside goes firm and the middle which is moist, tastes most of cheese….. nice warm but very rich.

The other type of bread she had cooked had ham and cheese inside, again very nice but rich.
The birthday cake was a huge chocolate affair…..very sweet. The candles were the problem, one would not go out, it kept lighting again, although it was not one of those special ones.
Six times it was blown out and eventually had to be put into a glass of water…. Well there is only so much puff a 77 yr old has !! :o)

The party lasted about a couple of hours then people started to leave….. I felt I did well; I managed to have quite a long conversation with the aunt about where she lived and how long she was staying. We then talked about where I had visited in Brasil, and where she thought was nice in Brasil. All this without my mobile dictionary (Mike)…. God knows what my side sounded like though as I have no idea what is present, past or future tense…… She seemed to understand though!! :-)

The next afternoon we has a fierce wind suddenly appeared, very strong gusts, and so little rain. The city north of the city lost power, we had no internet, telephone or mobile. It was weird feeling so cut off.
The civil engineering department at the university had built a huge bridge structure on the grassy area near the fence just in front of a main road. The structure was made from HUGE wooden tree trunks bolted together. It was anchored at the ground by being forced between 2 large concrete blocks like bookends. It was not however secured to the ground by any other means.
The structure looked like a huge swing, it must have been 5mtrs high. Hanging from this structure was two pairs of ropes….. supposed to be the cables of the bridge……. with long planks of wood balanced between them, to denote the driving/walking surface of the bridge.

Well the gusty wind caught this and the whole lot fell sideways, the side not being forced against the concrete blocks. It demolished the fence, three trees, electricity and telephone lines were brought down, the poles narrowly missing a motorcyclist on the road. 8-O
We decided to go for coffee that night at 8pm, oh such a high life we have here!!! On the way home we went to have a look at the damage done. There were so many people working, trees being cut down; electricity cables being restrung; telephone cables being replaced; debris being disposed off. The next morning you would not believe there had been such devastation the previous night. If the fence had been repaired then the only thing noticeable was 3 trees disappearing.

On Friday the temperature dropped again… 12c rainy and overcast with a breeze. It was sooo cold. People at the padaria were laughing as I huddled away from the breeze behind a pillar, teeth chittering from the cold… “You are used to it being cold”, I am told this all the time !!…. That’s true but at least I have warmer clothes to wear and heating in the house in the U.K. !!
I drove around the town a few times in the car with the heater blowing hot air full blast at my feet and body…. Bliss!! :-^

We were out that night at the fish restaurant with Gilberto, Mariamelia, Vicence and Marilene. It was nice to catch up, Gilberto telling us what they had bought in Paraguay… Mariamelia saying they were poor now. We then went back to Gilberto’s for coffee… We sat in the kitchen, as it was freezing outside, well below 10c anyway!!
Today we saw the news, in the south of Brasil near Argentina the temp was -5c at 7am in the morning. The lakes and waterfalls had frozen; the fields had turned white with frost. Looked like U.K. in winter. This has never happened before in Brasil; I think there will be a problem with crops surviving the low temperature… look out for high prices for nuts, rice, beans and coffee.

I promise not to complain about the heat again… please can it get warmer, I couldn’t sleep last night as my feet were like blocks of ice, the dentist told me I should have use Mike to heat me up… HMMM I don’t think he would have liked that. I got another blanket out instead and then we were toasty.

Well away to make beef stew and potatoes for dinner tonight, a good Scottish winter meal !!!

Have fun wherever you are
Laur x

  • feeling the cold by Babs
  • photos by Babs
  • Mum by Mum


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