Sunday, 9 November 2008


Battered sandals on my feet, riding my creaky r$30 (slightly less than ten pounds) bike to the fruit market, Guinness The Dog perched precariously on my lap, I am not sure I have ever felt more at home in Brazil as I do now, more of the place. This feeling is heightened by the house in Olinda, and its riot of colours, the greeny blue of the sea, the gold and aquamarine of the sky, the thick greens and blacks of the trees and the white of the churches, and the general air of tropicality (is there such a word?) that abound. Yesterday, in fact, I was struck by the idea that I am in fact living in the Brazilian equivalent of Greendale, the village that is home to Pat, the world’s most famous postman (after Cliff Clavin of course) - as follows:

Guinness The Dog Gets Her Rabies Shots

It is another sunny day in Olinda. Birds are singing in the trees. It is very hot.

Mother Sururu stands in front of her house. She is smiling. Joao 1 comes out of his house.

Hello Mother Sururu, Joao 1 says, and waves.

Hello Joao 1, Mother Sururu says.

William The Builder comes out of his house and says hello to Mother Sururu and Joao 1. He lights a cigarette.

Joao 2 comes out of his house. He says hello to Mother Sururu, Joao 1 and William The Builder. He lights a cigarette.

James The Gringo comes out of his house with Guinness The Dog.

Hello Guinness The Dog, says everyone. Woof, says Guinness The Dog!

Did you get Guinness The Dog her rabies shots today, James The Gringo? asks William The Builder.

Oh no, says James The Gringo, I forgot!

You’d better run, James The Gringo, says William The Builder, and everyone laughs!

James The Gringo and Guinness The Dog run down to the praça. Paulo The Vet is there, along with neighbourhood dogs of all shapes and sizes, and their owners. James The Gringo and Guinness The Dog see Carlos The Deaf-Mute and Toby The Dog. Hello Carlos, says James The Gringo. Carlos The Deaf-Mute makes a thumbs up sign and grins. Woof, says Guinness The Dog to Toby The Dog! Woof, says Toby The Dog to Guinness The Dog!

Guinness The Dog doesn’t enjoy getting her rabies shots one bit!

Afterwards, James The Gringo and Guinness The Dog walk back up the hill. Joao 1 and Joao 2 are in Joao 1’s garden. They are drinking beer.

Come and have a beer, James The Gringo, Joao 1 says. Yes, come on, Joao 2 says.

Ok, Joao 1 and Joao 2, James The Gringo says.

James The Gringo and Joao 1 and Joao 2 stand and drink beer. The blue of the sky softens into pink, and shadows creep up the hill. James The Gringo and Joao 1 and Joao 2 watch the sunset.

Let’s take our shirts off, says Joao 1, it’s hot!

Good idea Joao 1, say Joao 2 and James The Gringo, and they all take their shirts off.

Let’s drink some cachaça, says Joao 1.

Good idea, Joao 1, say Joao 2 and James The Gringo, and they all drink cachaça.

Joao 1 puts a Chico Buarque record on.

This is a nice record, Joao 1, say Joao 2 and James The Gringo.

William The Builder puts his television outside his house. Then he puts an armchair outside his house. William The Builder sits in the armchair and watches television and smokes cigarettes.

Small children 1 through 46 play in the square in front of the houses.

Be quiet, small children! shouts Joao 1.

The small children are quiet.

Let’s have more cachaça, says Joao 1.

Good idea, says everyone! And everyone drinks cachaça until it's time for bed.

2 comments:

Laura Jayne said...

This is such wonderfully rich writing. I loved sharing this slice of tropicality (which if it isn't a word, certainly should be).

James Young said...

Thanks Laura Jayne! I just saw your comment now, and I'm going to have a look at your blogs...if tropicality doesn't exist then there is a good Brazilian/Portuguese word, tropicalismo, which is a musical/cultural movement, but will do just as well here....