Belated New Year Greetings!
Hello, dear Reader,
May I wish you belated New Year Greetings for 2014! I have suffered a selection of computer and internet connectivity problems which have kept me rather isolated since Christmas 2013, including the loss of a near completed Blog post. I had stopped being paranoid about losing information, so I suffered from not backing up as often as I should – but they say that every problem should be seen as an opportunity… so I now have the opportunity of writing a new and different Blog post for you. He sighs, resignedly!
We have been on a brief summer break, too, down to a seaside place called Paraty, or Paratii, depending where you look. It is apparently named after the local Indian name for the fish thereabouts, which we would probably call Pirate fish, so I gathered from a local leaflet. The coastline down there is reminiscent of the best parts of the French or Italian Riviera scenery and the later part of the journey was a pleasurable drive. The first part was pretty horrible, however, as we had to travel through northern Rio de Janeiro and the traffic was horrendous following a particularly terrible road accident.
So, for us and many others it was the cause of bad delays, but for the people involved it was much worse! A very large tipper-lorry was travelling one of the busy roads in northern Rio at great speed (it was later reported that the driver was late, he and the lorry should not have been on that road at that time of the day, and he was on his mobile!!) Moreover, his empty tipper section was in the hydraulically raised position (which the driver should have noticed!) and it eventually struck a pedestrian bridge, which it flattened, killing and injuring pedestrians crossing the bridge, and people in cars trapped beneath. I believe five people died and another five were seriously injured. So there were many families whose lives were changed for the worst, in the space of about two seconds.
We heard about it on the radio as we were crossing Niteroi bridge, but the first information was not very specific as to which road it was on and Fatima was immediately concerned because her son, Aldo, and his girlfriend had set off in his car about 15 minutes before us, so she tried calling his phone to make sure they were OK. There was no reply; and no reply; and no reply… for about six or seven minutes, and then they managed to call us – his phone was low on charge, so cut out each time they tried to answer. Eventually they called Fatima on Sabrina’s phone. It had been a VERY long six minutes.
PHEW – but, of course, not everyone was so lucky. The words ‘What If?’ spring to mind.
So, onwards to Paraty, the mind somewhat distracted by the tragedy which had suddenly burst into other people’s lives, the body somewhat tired from the radically extended journey time, the spirit a little soothed by the pleasing scenery as we neared our destination and the knees a little stiff from enforced immobility and, it has to be admitted, age!
The Pousada was quite pleasant and comfortable and, in recepton, we were able to book our outing for the next day. We went on a schooner for a five hour sea trip involving swims in delightfully warm seawater, calmed from the Atlantic by protecting headlands and many islands. Visits to two delightful beaches only accessible from the sea, and what I thought was included as lunch – spaghetti – were also part of the package. So I was a little surprised at the start of the outing that someone was coming round offering a menu for lunch which we had to pay for!
Silly Fellow! The spaghetti (“esparguete” in Portuguese) were those long sponge things you see at swimming pools to help you float!
And the picture attached shows Fatima using some spaghetti to brave the fathoms-deep water at one of our stops. Aldo is looking on, ready to rescue his mother if she gets into difficulty!
At this point I have to admit that I did not take this photograph – there was a photographer on board, as witnessed by the other picture, of me relaxing in the sea!
I did take the other two photographs you see below, however, when we got back home. I was doing some tidying in the garden and came across this monster amongst the leaves. It is about three inches long and by far the biggest grasshopper I have ever seen. I say “grasshopper” deiberately because there was some discussion that it may be a “locust” but on looking “locust” upon the internet, I discovered that the word really only applies to one of these things if it is part of a swarm. Nearly did not see it amongst the dead leaves…
The other picture is of something that we have had all the time I have been in Brazil, but neither of us had noticed it until very recently. We have our very own fóssil – of what looks to me like Scottish heather. It is on a paving slab in the garage área, but out of our normal walking zone and I just happened to see it after Christmas and New Year festivities, when tidying – so, perhaps I should “tidy” more often and discover something else exciting to tell you about!
From an Old British Fossil in Brazil (who, by the way, is still capable of beating 20 year old Aldo at tennis, as proven after all the swimming. Mind you, he HAD never played before!!)