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Forgetting English

Paulinho's night school where he teaches English

Paulinho’s night school where he teaches English

I have met a number of people here in Miracema who speak English. But I think I might be forgetting how English works, because its a little difficult to understand them at times. But with my Portuguese and their English we manage to cope.

Meet Paulinho. He has three jobs, and is passionate for the English language. He soon became my most regular visitor here in Miracema. He calls me Mister Adam every time he sees me as he wants to practice his English. I visited his night school where he helps to teach adults who never got the chance to go to school when they were young. I felt an inspirational chill when I was introduced to the whole school and talked with a few of them. Some of the students were older than 60 but just wanted to get an education.

Meet Terese. She runs an English school here in Miracema and nearly broke down in tears when I came to visit and speak with thirty of her students. As she says, We need more forig-aners to practice our English with. The students were a bit shy to start with, but after taste-testing some Marmite, they loosened right up and began to ask questions about Australia and Sydney. They couldn’t believe that I had learnt Portuguese as few people in the world speak it. English to them is a language of opportunity, opening doors in other countries for work and communication. For me, Portuguese is all about understanding a culture better by speaking to them in their language.

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Tarantula Attack!

A very hairy way to die

A very hairy way to die

People with phobias of spiders should not read past this point (if the picture hasn’t already killed you). I now have a phobia of spiders and didn’t even re-read this next section after I wrote it…

Practice makes perfect apparently, so I was out on the streets chatting after dark at the window of some new friends. I must have been totally engrossed in the conversation, because when one of them pointed at a spider near my foot, I could only remember to curse in Portuguese. I am ambivalent about the existence of spiders. I don’t necessarily have them around the house or anything, but I also don’t have a huge fear of them – Australian spiders that is.

Black, hairy and lethal, this tarantula was at least 10 cm in diameter – that is, if you squeezed all of its legs together and then tied it up with string into a ball. With its legs stretched out I would estimate the diameter would have had to have been double that. I didn’t get much time to admire the size of it, as the owner of the house threw some liquid on it followed by a burning match. The blaze was a beauty and made some headway in diminishing my growing fear of spiders.

Seeing the charred corpse the following day cemented my newly discovered phobia and now I tend to roam the streets at night, jumping with terror at the slightest movement by pieces of appropriately sized litter blown by the wind.

From the City to the Country

The Bakery Bees: live-in sweeteners at the Miracema bakery

The Bakery Bees: live-in sweeteners at the Miracema bakery

While in Rio I met Savio, a Brazilian actor who had spent the last 3 years in New York. We soon became good friends and spent a lot of time together at the beach and eating out at many of the good restaurants around Rio. After my robbery, he invited me to visit Miracema, his home-town, and spend some time there in his family’s house. This was the perfect solution for me to not spend money, stay with a Brazilian family and get to know the country life.

As the bus rolled into town I knew straight away I was going to love this place. We arrived at dusk to find the homes and streets bathed in a glorious orange. As I walked with Savio around the streets we were always running into new people to say hello to. Im pretty sure that not many tourists stop in Miracema by the way that people would regard me with odd curiosity.

After meeting his family and extended family, I had a shower and then hit the streets to taste some of the Miracemense nightlife. We walked maybe 30 metres before we met someone else and stayed there talking for a while. I made at least another 50 metres up the street before we ran into the next group of people that wanted to chat. Two hours, ten conversations later and another 1.5 km down the street we arrived in the city centre. The corner bar was open and people were milling around ordering drinks, pizza and other snacks. My portuguese improved dramatically over the next few hours as I recounted my story of the drugged piece of chewie with the locals and swapped stories of Rio.

Making my way back to the house I felt completely at peace. This is one of those country towns which people dream of. Tranquility, peace, no violence and a burgeoning sense of community spirit and friendliness. This place is so friendly that you have to factor in which route you will take to get to your destination if you want to keep track of the time.

Things are done a little differently around Miracema and thats fine with me. I went into the local bakery the next morning and was shocked to find the place filled with bees. Discovering that this was normal for the bees to hang out and help make all the sweet buns even sweeter. I had to take pictures…