Steve’s Newsletter 7 (2007)

Friday 18th May 2007

A typical beach between Recife and João Pessoa

Well it has taken an eternity, I know, but here is our latest news (and not so latest…).  It has been nearly 9 months since I lost wrote and the best excuse I have to offer is a catastrophic failure of my hard disk losing weeks of work.  I know I have written to many people, but here is a brief resume of the last 9 months and the future plans.

First work.  I have continued teaching both my own private students and with the school Greenwich.  The private students tend to come and go but, at least during the school terms/semesters, my income seems to stay reasonably constant.  However, next semester I’ll actively be trying to increase this mainly due to our future plans.

Since we got our cat, Foggy, our ability to travel has been somewhat reduced but the benefits and pleasure we get far out way this small inconvenience.  He is now fully grown, but his markings still keep changing, currently his paws are getting lighter whilst overall he gets darker.  Foggy’s favourite game at the moment is chasing the reflection of the sun from my watch when I am at my desk working in the mornings.  He also has an uncanny nack of laying on the keyboard when I am most rushed! Unfortunately, he continues to have various niggling medical problems.  Just as he gets over one thing, another arises but thankfully, so far, nothing too serious.

And as for my Ford Ka!  I really don’t want to make a big point but suffice it to say, much expense later, the Ka will not be lasting much longer.  I’ll be selling it shortly as soon as I can afford something else.  I doubt I’ll ever buy another Ford, and yes, I have said that before. 

Beware the sharks, Recife

Now to the events, recent and not so recent.  Having said we haven’t been away much, we did spend about a week and half in the north east of Brazil over the Christmas and New Year period.  The first and last days were spent in the city of Recife (meaning reef) with Eneida’s mother and family.  In the middle section of the trip Eneida and I drove to a neighbouring state where we stayed in the city of João Pessoa.  

As is customary here, the main celebratory meal happens on the night of Christmas Eve. We ended having a very nice buffet meal in a hotel overlooking the beach. Christmas day lunch was also in the same hotel, but unfortunately lacking the traditional English roast. That had to wait until the weekend after getting back to Belo Horizonte when I cooked for Eneida and her mother. 

Recife is by far the larger of the two, but we both liked the smaller and more charming João Pessoa which I would not hesitate to recommend as a destination should you ever travel to Brazil.  Recife has more things to do and a broader selection of restaurants but the comparative quietness of João Pessoa attracted us.  A couple of quick facts about the two cities.  First, Recife is notorious in Brazil for shark attacks for bathers and surfers along the beaches.  Apparently, these attacks only started after the building of a new harbour.  For my fellow divers, I don’t know what type, but probably, given the location, some sort of reef shark,  Secondly, João Pessoa is the most eastern point of the continental Americas.  I felt like I was nearly home

Eneida and Steve at the Eastern most point of the Americas
(Brazil’s Land’s End/John O’Groats)

Before travelling to Recife, we had a family meal in a local restaurant.  Nothing so remarkable about that?  There were however a couple of things that stood out.  First, was the main course.  Rat, or more precisely Paca (a large Brazilian rodent similar in shape to a rat, but, in truth, probably not closely related), one of the world’s largest, if not the largest, rodent.  It tasted delicious, a bit like chicken or game birds in my opinion.  Secondly, the owner had a pet toucan along with many other tropical birds.  I doubt you’d see many of these at restaurants in the UK.  According some friends of ours, who have a small farm or situ, Toucan’s are native to the area.

Toucan, Eneida and Steve

A couple of months ago, we visited these friends for a day in their lovely situ (sorry no pictures but perhaps another time), they not only mentioned having seen toucans flying wild, but also that their staff had scared off an Onça the previous day.  For those of you who don’t know, an Onça is a native large black wild predatory cat.  It had taken a liking to one of their chickens.  Having said all this, I have yet to see any interesting wildlife in Brazil other than a number of monkeys.  One day I hope to get a chance to see more.

The Toucan 

In April, I nearly had my first face to face contact with a UK resident since my last trip back to the UK in October 2005.  Mick Stowe was touring in Brazil to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.  Unfortunately, Eneida and I were both working and couldn’t spare the time to travel to see him.  Perhaps we will have more luck with the next visitor.

I think this concludes the main events of the last 9 months or so, so on to the future.  

Last week, we started looking for a new place to live.  This will probably be an apartment as it fits our needs at the moment.  I’d prefer a house but it has many extra complications and expenses that are unjustifiable at the moment.  There are many reasons we haven’t looked before such as finance and time.  However, now that I am consistently working more and, post July, I should be able to contribute to the finances having sorted out my UK affairs.

Finally, and perhaps the main reason for writing now, is to let our friends know that we will be travelling to the UK in July.  We arrive on the 9th and leave on the 30th.  Our plans and itinerary are by no means complete but broadly speaking our scheduled is:

– London 9th – 15th July (we will be staying in the Barnes area)
– Other parts of the UK 16th – 22nd July mainly visiting family and friends
– Bilbão/San Sebastian 22nd – 26th July
– London 26th – 30th (we will staying in central London)

Whilst in London, I have many things (legal and financial) to sort out and will probably be busy most days.  However, I would really like to catch up with friends and find out all the latest gossip and news.  I should have a UK mobile number before leaving Brazil, so please let me know by email if you would like me to send you this number once obtained.  I’ll also have my Brazilian mobile (number on email) although it will only be turned on to check for messages occasionally.

One of the main objectives of our trip is to sort out the things I have in storage.  I basically, want to sell, give or throw away most of the things I have left in the UK.  I haven’t decided exactly what I will do with everything yet, but if you know of anyone looking for a few things for a new house….   More details available on request.  Also, if anyone is free in the second week of July and feels like giving us a hand shifting stuff, it would be much appreciated.

I’m sure I’ve missed many details and have other things to tell.  If you want to find out more, I guess you’ll have to join us for a beer or two.  Looking forward to some real beer and many other things that are difficult or impossible to find here.  

That’s all for now.  Hope to see you in July

Steve and Eneida