Wednesday 8th November 2006, 9.15pm
Home Sweet Home
So I guess this is it, I am now totally out there, independent and on my own. I finally moved into my bedsit today, welcomed by a glorious cockroach. Funny because all day I had been imagining a room riddled with roaches and praying that it wouldn’t be… and lo… I heard it before I saw it, the click and screech of iron skinned legs as it peeled itself from under the gas rings to have a look at what was going on. I hate cockroaches. They are my worst phobia, as anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting one whilst in my company will know. But, I’m on my own now, what’s the point of screaming if there’s no one to hear you or no one to get rid of the roach.
I meticulously covered it with a pan, trapping it inside with the lid and removed it downstairs to throw into the bushes, it’s legs skittered and scratched the metal while I tried not to wretch. I have visions of hundreds more crawling out from under the bed, trails of them along the wall, running across my sheets as I sleep like in all those stories you hear of people in Africa who go to sleep with one roach in the room, turn the light off and suddenly the whole place is alive and breathing with glistening shiny, black orange bodies and flickering antenna, but so far so good – I have yet to turn off the light.
The light is halgoen (grim), energy saving, fixed to the ceiling fan and it crackles and buzzes, flashing like a strobe, the Italian guy who owns the place came to my rescue with a halogen (still grim) table lamp and says he will fix it tomorrow, I’m not quite sure how. Good lighting seems to be a problem wherever you go. Catching glimpses through other’s doorways it is amazing what people have done and amazing how much stuff they have. It I seem to have joined an intriguing community of long-term travellers (supposedly although I’ve yet to meet them) and Brazilians who have made the rooms into homes. I wonder if I will like it…
The one saving grace is that I have my own balcony where I currently sit, I am surrounded by tower blocks of varying shapes, sizes and colours (mine a small 3 storied building with palm trees out front) and the sounds of a hot, gritty city slowing down for the day mingle with the constant chirping of insects although quite where these insects abide is hard to fathom. Even on the 9th floor of my tower block, I slept to the sound of crickets and imagined a fantasy ecosystem of wild plants, animals and trees growing in the clouds atop the tightly packed ‘edificios’ where people live one on top of the other.
From either side once more the incessant chattering of TV’s from my neighbours’ quarters. Probably engrossed in one of the off-the-wall soaps that are so popular here. In the street below me a man stamps on drink cans to crunch them and exchange them for cash and in the block opposite the fairy lights on a fake Christmas tree flicker and flash.
Quite a change from my yoga weekend away to the valley of Capao, one of the most beautiful and formidably powerful places in the world. I spent four days in the middle of nature, the middle of nowhere, towards the middle of Brazil . A natural paradise where it feels like the stones are breathing and as if the world itself began there. Six kilometre hikes up mountains, across plains atop mountains, to see the biggest waterfall in Brazil, to lie on the edge and look down, climbing behind waterfalls to watch the water fall and catch the sun creating thousands of tiny rainbows and white light which looks like electricity sparking, swimming in the cleanest, softest, cold but not cold, clear but orange stained water whilst everything around you breathes harmony and life. I cannot explain how breathtaking this place is, you would never imagine somewhere like it existing, let alone in Brazil. It was painful to have to leave. I am going to go back at some point, for at least a month to practice Reiki – at times my hands would hurt just from the energy out there – and to consider another way of living. There is a small alternative community in Capao of travellers from all over the world who arrived and could not leave and of locals of course. There is a self-sufficient way of life, houses built from wood and stone, vegetable plots, honey and propolis for sale on every corner, goods and skills are exchanged rather than paid for, everybody knows everybody else. There is no tarmac, no street lights, just the moon, a chorus of frogs, fresh, pure, cool air in the evening and horses hovering restlessly in the shadows. Of course there is also the ever-increasing flow of tourists…
My plans as always are vicarious, I came back full of energy, beaming radiant sunshine smiles and now Portuguese lessons are over, I am on my own with only a handful of acquaintances whom I’m still trying to work out; staying in, wandering aimlessly by day and afraid of the great but nerve-wracking challenge of giving English lessons to kids. My month of acclimatisation and relative relaxation is done and I need to get out there, get back in tune with the other reasons why I came and what I can do to help, It is a matter of motivation and courage, the typical Jones tryst of wanting to do so much and the self-paralysis of laziness (?) and nerves. I am afraid of losing the language I have learned through not having lessons every day and afraid that having given up my teacher I have also given up the only confidante that I have here.
The seventeen year old is seventeen and slightly unhinged, lost in a quagmire of unrequited love (no longer for me but for an ex-model Austrian girl who we met on the beach) and confused about the relationships between tourists and Brazilian men. The surfer that I spoke of pops up every now and again and his smile warms my heart, still I think one of the more likely friendships that I am to make and yet as far as I can make out he’s leaving for Brighton tomorrow. And still no women… I have decided I need to make some girlfriends.
And start my job.