Steve's Newsletter 6 from Brazil

Sunday 3rd September

Eneida, Gabriel, Foggy and Lu

It's been a long time since I last wrote a newsletter mainly because not a huge amount has changed. In truth life has been starting to settle into a routine.

First news on the work front. Since the start of August I've been working much more. It has come as something as a shock to the system after a year of doing very little paid work. Currently, I have 3 private students: a university lecturer/want to be UK PhD student, a dentist and an engineering student. The last two were courtesy of a friends of a friend that used to teach here in Belo Horizonte before he decided to move to the city of Vitoria. Many thanks Bruno.

The rest of my current professional activities are working for the language school Greenwich that I mentioned in my last newsletter. This semester I had 4 groups, each twice a week, plus one special course teaching a teenager who wanted conversation classes from a native British speaker. She recently lived and went to school in the UK for 10 months. However,on Thursday I found out that one of my groups is likely to be no more due to lack of students. Therefore 2 groups are to be merged and I am the unlucky teacher. Oh well, at least I have Saturday mornings free again:-)

As a consequence of this extra work and needing to travel around, I bought a Ford Ka a few weeks ago. It is very nice, if a little underpowered on the streets of Belo Horizonte. It is just 1.0l and when the air conditioning is turned on at slow speeds or the hills/cliff faces of BH.......it is like applying the hand brake! Many of you wouldn't believe how steep some of the roads are here. One day I'll work out the gradient of our road which is by no means the steepest! Another interesting point about second hand cars in Brazil, or at least mine and Eneida's, is that their second hand value is roughly the same as the original purchase price. Perhaps this is just a fluke of depreciation versus inflation but second hand cars do hold their value much better here than the UK.

Foggy at about 2 months old

Foggy at 18 weeks

Our other main piece of news is the addition of a family member. You may have noticed him in the picture above. Back in June we bought a little kitten. When we got him he was a little over 600g but 10 weeks later he is now a whopping 2.4kg. His breed is called Ragdoll based on a true or mythical story originating in California. The story claims this cat who was half Persian and half Siamese was hit by a car. When picked up, it was completely floppy in the owner's arms hence Ragdoll. I don't think I believe it personally.

After much discussion we decided to call him Foggy. I don't really remember why but other names we considered such as Guinness just didn't seem right. His hair is very fine and fluffy. Our nephew, Gabriel, described him as nuvenzinha (little cloud). It sort of stuck. See below a couple more pictures of Foggy. The first is soon after we got him and the other was taken earlier today.

He has been a great addition to our family apart from the early morning wake up calls, numerous trip to the vet and his penchant for eating our plants. In truth it feels like he has had every possible minor thing wrong with him. First it was worms and ear mites, followed rapidly by a fungus in his ears each needing a different medicine. Then there was Ringworm which is another skin based fungus problem. Unfortunately this means bathing him every week and for the first 3 weeks we also had to apply a fungicide spray. Thankfully this has now cleared up but we still have one more bath to give him tomorrow. I'm sure you all know how much cats love having a bath! His last problem was regular vomiting soon after eating and then just as rapid re-eating of it unless we managed to get there first. Animals have some strange habits! We still don't know the cause of this, but my theory is age/eating too fast. Thankfully this has now stopped and on Wednesday the vet finally gave him a clean bill of health. Neither of us want to see Ronaldo soon (ie our vet)!

I guess this is a fitting, if slightly banal, lead into the final subject I'd like to talk about. You guessed it. It is the embarrassment of the World Cup (the top photo was taken during the first Brazil match in the group stages). I thought with a legitimate reason for supporting not just one, but two of the favoured teams, this year could have been good. I think England's performances, with some brief exceptions, were appalling. They must have played some of the most boring games of the whole tournament. What happened? And no, I don't blame Rooney. It was fortunate he could play at all. What was Sven thinking of just selecting 2 injured strikers, one who hadn't even played in the Premiership for his club and Crouch! No disrespect to Crouch, but he his hardly going to be Golden Boot or whatever it is called for top scorer. Now Brazil. They were no better and perhaps worse. I think I can honestly, and I hope I don't upset too many Brazilians, say that Ronaldo's first match performance was the worst I have ever seen in an international football game from any player in any team. The whole team failed to perform well for whatever reason, but, to be fair, Ronaldo's performance did improve. A bit.

Despite this, we were all optimistic on the day of the quarter finals. Both teams had to improve, surely. I was both looking forward and dreading the anticipated semi-final clash Brazil v England. When asked during the tournament who I was supporting, I replied England and Brazil however if the two should meet then it would be England. I was hoping to be very unpopular here for a while;-) Back to the fatefully day, many beers, a few Caipirinhas, some churrasco (barbeque) and several hours later, the day came to a rather abrupt and unhappy end. Neither team qualified and neither team played at all well. The streets were completely silent in marked contrast to the more usual frequent fireworks celebrating a win. I think everyone was completely stunned. I guess I now have to wait until 2010. I hope to have the same dilemma of which team to support.

We don't currently have any travel plans, but will doubtless do something during the Christmas break lasting until end of January. Then of course comes Carnival again... The holidays here keep on coming. In fact next Thursday is independence day here which I will unfortunately spend on my own as Eneida will be in Rio de Janeiro at a conference/congress for a couple of days. I would have gone apart from work and looking after our gatinho (little cat).

I hope you all enjoyed reading this even if there isn't much new news here. I have no idea when I'll next write but I guess it won't be anytime soon but please forgive me.

Please email or call us on Skype (Skype name is stevelathambrazil). I want to know all your news from blighty however small or trivial it might be! It is always good to hear from an friend

Abraços

Steve e Eneida



© 2009 Stephen Latham - All rights reserved
SL