I decided yesterday that today was going to be a stress free day as much as possible. My main objective was to get some more cash and to relax and with just 24 hours to go before it all kicks off in Sao Paulo, I’m feeling all the better for it now. I'm so relieved I didn't spend the day going to see Lencois or even Alcantara - I'd still be coming back now.
I got up quite early this morning after a pretty good night's sleep - the air conditioning here really is excellent so you can control the warmth/sweatiness threshold quite well - and had a nice brekkie again. This time I consciously ate a bit less as I feel I’m piling on the weight here. I had a bit of a chat with Giovanni’s wife and then Giovanni himself before setting off to get cash, again without a map, but this time pretty confident I knew where to go. Sure enough the HSBC bank was easy to find but my security measure of hiding the credit and debit card down my pants was so successful, it even fooled me! I got the bank and searched my wallet for the Citibank debit card I thought I’d taken with me but couldn’t find it. So I marched all the way back again to see if I’d put it in a different wallet only to realise it was in the secure place down my pants all along! So, back to the bank again and this time, no probs. At least it did give me the opportunity to get some water and some change to leave the cleaners. A couple of Reas isn’t much but if everyone did it, they’d be laughing.
|Brazilian toilet seats are soft and squashy - I am impressed!|
|My very troublesome lock. Frustrating.|
|The view of the street of Portas do Amazona Poussada from the top of the hill|
|Started chucking it down just after I got cashed up - so I hid in a doorway, just outside the main theatre, till there was a break|
|Another very busy market|
|And still more tiles|
|A square in the centre of Sao Luis|
|Some parts don't look so nice|
|Repairs going on everywhere, a lot of it privately funded.|
Then I walked along to the place where this cultural thing is going to happen later on, just to make sure I knew where it was.
|Apparently one of the costumes to be worn tonight|
|Convento das Merces - ex Monastery|
|The convent is at the end of a long dodgy-looking street just 6 minutes walk away. Should I walk?|
Then, back to the Poussada to get changed into my beach gear and then I set off to find the bus station, to catch the 403 (to Praia do Calhau) to take me to the beach. It all went very well and was very easy with no scares whatsoever. I'm not sure I got off at the correct destination, but I saw a beach and thought "that'll do". I got off, walked down to the sea and strolled along the wet sand and then waded (bipedally of course) in the Caribbean for a few minutes before having a beer at a characterful beachside café. Lovely. Bussed it back easy too and now I’m ready for tonight. Last time I did this in Brazil (Rio, 2009) I had my scary encounter with young guys begging for money, so I was relieved to get back without any hassles.
|A bit murky and deserted at the beach|
|Toe dipped in the Caribbean... TICK!|
|Beer by the Caribbean - TICK!|
|Iconic Brazilian Badge on leg pointing to the Caribbean Photo - TICK!|
The two outstanding things to do now are: 1) pick up my washed clothes. I hope there are no snags there and 2) book a taxi for early tomorrow morning.my flight to Fortaleza leaves at about 9am so I think if I leave at 7am that should give me plenty time.
One out of two! The taxi is booked (I was told) but the clothes aren’t here yet. Giovanni’s missus told me it would be ready at 3pm. Oops! The receptionist told me he’s waiting for a call…
An hour later... still no news. This is not looking good.
Anyway, let's change the subject... Football!
I received an interesting email from FIFA with some interesting stats.
England has the second highest percentage (22 out of 23) of its squad playing in its home league (only Russia has all 23playing at home) and of the 736 players in the World Cup squads, more play in England than any of the other 51 countries. In fact 15.5% of all the players at the World Cup play in England. 11% in Germany, and 10.6% in Italy. That's pretty good, isn't it? To listen to the doom mongers who want to introduce a division for Premiership teams, you'd think England were in a bad position. The argument that "there are too many foreigners" playing in the English leagues and it is detrimental to the development of the squad is nonsense in my opinion. Surely there can be no better way of become a better player than to play with the best in the world week, wee out, and that's what England has.
So, anyway, rant over...
I planned to go out on the final night to this performance of the local dance culture of Bumba Meu Boi, I think a rehearsal for the big event which will happen over the next few days. Having just got another “no, still haven’t heard anything” about my clothes, I decided to go out anyway. No point hanging about. Then the rains came – a typically huge tropical storm. I went up to my room to get my rain coat but then (Murphy’s Law strikes again) I couldn’t lock my door. I was definitely putting the key in the right way this time and the lock was turning but the sliding door appeared to have become slightly dislodged from its rail and I had to physically lift the damn thing a few millimetres so it would slot into the catch thing. Not easy with just a tiny door handle to get hold of. Anyway, to cut a tedious story out, I got frustrated and decided, instead to go to the pizza place next door (again – 3rd night running) to grab a beer and something to eat while I waited for the rain to stop.
It was a good idea as I got to meet, and eat with a stereotypically perfect Dutch family – handsome father and son, pretty mother and daughter, who now lived in Brazil, due to his work. The son, about 17 I reckon, was football mad and was very proud to show me the photos he’d taken on Ipanema beach a few days earlier with the Dutch squad. One photo in particular, a selfie with the coach Van Gaal was an absolute stormer – apparently it made Facebook within 60 seconds! It was a pleasure and privilege sharing a table with them for a few minutes but I didn’t want to encroach on their family time so I respectfully left and went off into the dark streets of Sao Luis that had scared me so much two days ago.
Somehow, I just wasn’t afraid. It was only six minutes for Christ’s sake. There was one dodgy looking guy on a corner but I just ignored him, crossed the street and walked purposefully on. No problem.
The concert was wonderful. My only regret is that I wasted all my camera battery life on the first two acts so I had no ‘juice’ left for the third.
The first act I saw was a bit strange and the ‘singing’ wasn’t very pleasant at all. With the benefit of hindsight I should have just filmed a few seconds of that one. The second act was wonderful. Lively, typically Brazilian, music with a beat, with a marvellous group of dancers, twisting, turning, skipping away all beaming with beautiful smiles. It just brings joy to your heart to see such things and it reminded me of my younger days in the Lietuva dance group with me darling. Some of the girls were absolutely stunning, drop-dead gorgeous. I guess the guys were pretty cool too.
|First Group - Men 'singing', women dancing|
|2nd Group - so lovely|
The final group were the most spectacular from a costume point of view but, frankly, I wasn’t impressed with their choreography. The second group were definitely my favourites.
|The only photo I got of the last group|
Half way through, who should I bump into but Giovanni and his wife, who’d advise me to go. He was, again, very friendly and explained to me a bit about what was going on. I bought a few tinnies (R$3.50 per can of local Brahma beer) and went to a cake stand to get a nice almondy slice of cake and a can of Coke from some sweet schoolgirls who were very keen to find out where I was from.
More video clips...
More video clips...
At the end, the thought did cross my mind that walking back down that dodgy street alone might be a bit risky but, again, not a problem. I got back nice and safe, had a shower, and got packed – assuming that my clothes would not be ready by the morning.
Another great day ended and the pre-World Cup phase (1/4 of it) was now over. Bring on the World Cup!