Archive for September, 2012

A Little Light in your Life

Yes, after yesterday, the candles are back on the wine rack, the new light bulb is installed, I have returned the stepladder and paid for yesterday’s beer. It’s been a busy morning.

Oh, I have also been blogging. Five posts so far and this makes six.

I forgot to tell you, last weekend I started a new blog project. One of the reasons I was not so active, the other was lethargy.

Blogger’s Cafe was one of my original blogs before Google got the snots and deleted everything.

It is a blog where you can find good blogs to read. The original had 1,000s of blogs listed. The new blog at present has four, but in time it will grow. Every now and then I see a blog that really has merit and I list it on the Cafe. Little by little I will restore what I had to it’s former glory. I’m taking a risk, because it is a Blogspot blog, and I run the risk of losing it again; I hope not. The reason I am using Blogspot, is that as a free platform it is more versatile than WordPress and I can use gadgets/widgets that WordPress free won’t allow. Only Library 1 is active at the moment, Library 2 hasn’t been created yet.

I am not doing reviews as I did on my original, but each blog will have an intro post on the front page.

Check it out.

I must get my sole fillets out of the freezer for lunch.

Later, you may get another Sunday Travel post.

Lucky day, the gas truck was outside the gate and I went to investigate. They had a promotion in gas price, saved R$5 on my next bottle of gas…

By the Light of the Silvery Moon

Pink Floyd also had a version

As the 1909 song goes.

Well, not quite.

This is a two candle power post, one candle in a wine bottle the other in a whisky bottle.

My light burnt out sometime today and has left me in the dark. Mind you, it’s not the first time in my life that I have been left in the dark.

The problem is that I need to borrow a step ladder to reach the fitting and change the bulb. So tomorrow will do.

Last week when I was at the supermarket, the day I bought the Australian wine, I forgot to mention that I also bought a loaf of wholemeal bread, which has become my habit lately. I was intrigued when I saw a loaf of Tipo Australiano (Australian style), so of course it joined the Australian wine in the shopping cart.

I won’t be buying it again, the Australians can keep it; I hope the wine is better.

For the past couple of years TIM, one of the cellphone operators have been using TV ads with blue men. I never thought much about them, other than they seemed reasonably talented.

Today on the afternoon variety show I discovered who they are; Blue Man Group, apparently quite famous and after seeing their performance on the variety show I can understand why.

For your edification…

The Drumbone

Fluid Retention

It’s soooo cold. I can’t hold fluids. I drink a cup of coffee and I have to pee twice. I have been peeing the last two days like water over Iguaçu Falls. It has been bitter, I have two T-shirts and long pants on trying to keep warm. I didn’t go to work yesterday, nor this morning, I am going to my evening class today, because it is a case of instant gratification; private student pays for each lesson at the lesson.

The south of Brazil has been hit with snow and many have had the house roofs destroyed by wind and hail; they showed hailstones the size of golf balls on TV last night, house roofs looked as though they had been peppered by a huge shotgun. Many crops were decimated as well, as this is the primary zone for cool-temperate farming, so we can expect higher prices.

Tuesday night we were hit by a cold front. After an extremely mild – hot winter (hottest and driest in 40 years) here in Rio de Janeiro, in fact most of Brazil has suffered with very low humidity extremes. Last week/weekend (I’m not sure of the day now) in my part of the city we had 14% humidity, some of the world’s deserts are more humid. Officially now we are in Spring, and the weather has decided to be winter. We went from a hot summer’s weekend (39/40°C) to winter temperatures (15/19°C) in the space of  24 hours.

Weird weather, unseasonable changes, extremes… Now tell me there is no such thing as global warming. I’m not apportioning the blame here, just saying it’s here.

My kitchen gas just ran out. Luckily, the water had boiled to make coffee, so it wasn’t quite the disaster it could have been. I was rather pleased, I had anticipated the gas would quit sometime in August, and here we are at the end of September; that’s five months from one gas bottle for all my oven heat. A bottle of gas costs about R$39 (currently that’s about USD2o).

I always buy a spare the month after I change the botijão. Most Brazilians don’t do that. Their gas runs out and they have to ring and wait for a delivery, usually about a half hour. Then there is the problem that most Brazilians don’t have money for that eventuality and have to wait for the next pay day.

All my intentions of getting a post out yesterday, failed. Today nearly failed as well.
I have just woken from my afternoon nap. It was not so much because I was tired, more a way of escaping the cold.

Coffee is nearly ready…

Ahhhh, that is so good. My ‘hangover’ (caffeine deficiency) is abating already.

“If You’ve Got a Pulse, You’ve Got a Purpose” I RTed that yesterday from @laicos360. I love it.

*Checks pulse*

Well, at least something is functioning correctly, even if it isn’t my bladder; there maybe hope yet.

Now I have to wonder as to what the purpose might be.

It’s something that we all wonder at times; even as just a fleeting thought. “Why am I here?”

The most unflattering answer is ‘procreation’ and no more, but there must be more to it than that. All species, plant and animal are here to propagate, but we humans are here for such a long time when compared to most, there must be a more compelling reason than just to propagate.

The only things that we have done collectively as humans that could remotely be considered successful is to screw up the planet and create a society that even Freud couldn’t explain; he put it down to poor toilet training. I wonder if he was right…

Time to get ready. I am about as reluctant to do that as I am capable of flying to the moon, but as I said, instant gratification is a draw card.

Sunday Travel Tales

Puno is on the northwestern side of Lake Titicaca

Back to Peru this week, but not Cusco, at least not yet.


This small city is the hub for Peruvian tourism. Nearly every tourist passes through Puno on the way to somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re coming from Bolivia, going to Bolivia, coming from Cusco/Machu Picchu, going to Cusco, or if you’re coming from Arequipa or going there, or whether you are visiting the Uros (floating) or Taquile islands on Lake Titicaca. The tourist trail goes through Puno.

Most people don’t spend much time there, usually an overnight on arrival before onward plans, trains boats or buses. They don’t go to see Puno.

The centre of Puno is Jiron Lima, travel agencies, cambios (exchanges) restaurants and banks.

I spent five months there in 1999, I worked as a dog’s body for an agency. Sometimes as a guide out to Taquile Island which I knew from past trips very well, sometimes I simply collected tourists from their hotels and saw them off on their various transports.

When I wasn’t doing this, I was opening a restaurant. You see for all the tourists passing through Puno, there wasn’t one restaurant that offered them anything familiar except pizza, and it wasn’t very good pizza. The agency I worked for wanted a restaurant, mainly for their tourists, but that is another story, the politics of which were screwed up beyond recognition. I designed the restaurant, the bar and the kitchen and prepared the menu as a Peruvian/English parellel, and I named her.

The Lake Pub

I also carved the plaque for above the door. It started out as a 40kg slab of hardwood, geez was it hard wood, 100cm x 55cm and about 10cm thick.

The result was this…

The Lake Pub


The centre piece was an oil painting of Taquile Island sunset. I paint too… Sorry the photo is B&W, but I haven’t managed to recover a coloured version yet.

As I mentioned, the politics involved eventually meant that I quit the project and moved on to my next job. I heard the restaurant was changed to solely Peruvian and became ‘just’ another restaurant in Puno which failed after a few months.

Sad really, after all the work I did.

In the supermarket yesterday, I found this bottle of chardonnay.

Now it’s not often one finds an Australian wine in a Brazilian supermarket, especially one so remotely removed from anywhere chique like where I live, which is only a stone’s throw from the boondocks. You will find Argenine wine, Chilean wine, wine from Portugal and France and Italy; but to find one from ‘Down Under’ was a total surprise.

It was about then that my ‘Impulse Buying’ mode kicked in, especially when I realised that this bottle had traveled one width of the Tasman Sea further than me to get here. R$26 (about USD13) was a reasonable price, that was when my ‘Impulse Buying’ mode totally took control nearly singeing the label as it was launched from the shelf to my shopping trolly.

It now sits in my wine rack awaiting a suitable occasion when I should trot it out to impress the local yokels.

It’s probably not plonk, Australia does produce some good whites, better than my own New Zealand ones, but we do hold the upper hand with reds.

There is a shop in Barra da Tijuca that has New Zealand wine, but at R$106 for the cheapest bottle, it doesn’t trigger my ‘Impulse Buying’ mode in the same manner.; a bit like the Ballantynes 30 Year Old Whisky I found in the same shop for R$1,360… they stay on the shelf. I dream.

Cool again today and cloudy, and it’s time for a nap.


Hat Trick

Hat trick… I’ve done this twice

I can’t think of a title at present. Mind not functioning correctly as I have just woken from a little doze.

At least today it is dozable, yesterday was far too hot without a beer within reach.

That eventually happened as my afternoon student did cancel as I had hoped. When he rang, I shouted “Hat trick!” when I answered the phone, then I had to explain what a hat trick was; that he’d cancelled three lessons in a row.

New R$20 note issued last month

So, it was a case of pass the brush over what’s left of my hair, grab a R$20 bill and off to the botequim next door. It’s surprising how it can suddenly become beer o’clock.

The official temperature for the city was 41.6°C, but here it was hotter, 44°C (110°F) and in one part of the city, a scorching 46° (116°F). The official humidity was a low 14%, that’s the lowest humidity I have experienced. No wonder I wanted beer.

The promised weather change came at 11pm with winds gusting up to 90kms/h in Copacabana, but a mere 60kms/h here.

The temperature at the moment is a comfortable 26°C (78°F) and rain has been threatening since morning, but as yet it hasn’t managed to wet the ground.

Finally decided on the title…

Blogging right along, I still have to think about a post on Shit Happens.



It’s not Spring Yet

At least, not for another two days.

But the temperature here is 40°C (that’s about 106°F for our American cousins who haven’t shifted into the 21st century with the rest of us), It was 37 yesterday, and I melted, today I feel like a batter pudding, dropped into smoking hot fat and returned to the oven on the highest temperature.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I have class at 5:30pm, I would have deemed it to be beer o’clock already. There is still hope that the phone call will come…

Talk about global warming; it’s warmed more than my glo bals I tell you.

Even Lixo is exhausted. Even though he finds solace on the slate floor which is measurably cooler. I am tempted to lie on the floor with him, but it’s difficult to see the keyboard.

I have drunk so much water today, I am in fear of drowning.

Last summer was intolerably hot after a hot spring, this year it looks set to repeat.

The Australians surprised me. Damned sight more conservative than I thought; they have voted against gay marriages. After all they have the largest gay Mardi Gras parade in the world, I would have thought it to be a foregone conclusion. Then you only have to look at their parliament from the prime ministress down and you’d understand.

I have decided that Mitt Romney is the most dangerous man in the world after his most recent gaffes about 47% of Americans are lazy and will only vote for Obama, then he gets stuck into the Palestinians saying they don’t want peace, that they are determined to eliminate Israel, but he forgot to mention that Israel has the same agenda for the Palestinians, the Palestinians are not happy chappies. The Muslims are all up in arms over some film and busy turning the world further against them than it is already.

But one piece of good news, according to the Borowitz Report (link, don’t be lazy google it) Romney is having his mouth wired shut until after the elections.

Then there was the case of the little old ladies who found a frog in a bag of Tesco’s spinach; apparently one of them was a vege or vegan, and the idea didn’t go down well at all, in fact it all came up.

It’s so nice to see the world is a happy place.

Blogging right along.


I Waddled Home

Yes, I did, like a pregnant duck, I waddled home.

As with most arrangements and appointments in Brazil there is an aspect known as hora do Brasíl (Brazilian time). It’s an element of flexibility that suits Brazilians. Brazilians are rarely on time for an appointment, never early.

I had arranged to meet Shirley and the kids at the restaurant at 7pm, at the time of the arrangement I was to arrive about 7:15.

However, as typical for a Monday, my student cancelled for work reasons. I left home in plenty of time to have a wander around the stalls at the bus station to pick up a few trinkets, after all it was a birthday dinner for all.

My timing was perfect, I arrived at 6:59.

I’m known at this particular eatery, so a handle of frothless beer was soon at the table and I started nibbling. Actually, I was famished due to the fact that I had skipped lunch in anticipation. The chips (French fries) we close to cold, then a pizza tray floated past with lovely big shrimps; Oh yum! Had to have. Next were chicken hearts cooked in onion, nibble, nibble. Oh, and more beer.

So the time had advanced to 7:38, no sign of anyone. I rang; they were on Margarça highway in the bus, which meant another half hour at least.

Garlic pizza went past. Had to have. Little pieces of pork fillet, had to have. Another beer, mushroom pizza was on the way past, had to have.


Eventually everyone arrived. Kisses, hugs, little presents and a return to eating. I made the observation that Erick, the way he had his hair and wore his cap looked like a suntanned Neymar, the current flavour of the month in the Brazilian soccor team. Actually, Neymar is a brillant player, even Erick’s coy look when I mentioned this was just like the player.

I discovered that at six Emmylee had lost her first tooth, so she is on the way to growing up.

Eating and drinking continued, I discussed social politics of gossiped about where I used to live. The 16 year old neighbour is pregnant, her younger brother is up to no good, etc… and then it was time to go. Shirley and the kids had an hour bus trip home and I had a 5:30am wake up for class.

I didn’t sleep at all well. Thirsty from so much savoury stuff, I was up and down like a yoyo for water. Finally settling about 3am. I did not want the alarm to go off, but it did.

I can’t do these social events like I used to. The body complains. A sure sign that I am past my prime.

Later, my student has cancelled again, which means it’s beer o’clock!

Silly Bitch

After my cleaning lady goes on a Sunday morning, I spend the next couple of days wandering around the house muttering. Things in the wrong place, not done properly, or simply not done and each time I mutter “Silly bitch!” She really is. I need a new one, but I can’t find one, so until I do, I will stick to “silly bitch.”

Dead ant, dead ant, dead antdeadant, dead ant, dead aaaaaaaant….

My muttering isn’t limited to silly bitch, I find ants, usually in an unwashed cup, or a trail across the bench. I run the cup under water, or fiercely wipe up the column of ants, humming… “Dead ant, dead ant…” to the tune of the Pink Panther, try it, it’s catchy, you’ll curse me.

These are some of my small pleasures in life.

Monday has started. This is my fourth post for the day, so far nothing has gone amiss, but I do need more coffee.


In Brazil we have this custom of serving coffee accompanied with a glass of iced water. Seemed strange to me when I first came here twenty years ago, but now I like the idea and grab a bottle from the fridge for a healthy swig; no need of cups living alone.

English breakfast this morning. Four poached eggs and two franks on toast.

Good way to start the day. I’ll probably forgo lunch, because tonight is pizza night with the kids. Don’t want to spoil the appetite.

I do believe it’s time for my nap.


Sunday Travel Tales

We’re leaving Cusco this week and going back to Brazil. During the week I found a photo that I thought was lost. I have been recovering some 13,000 images from a broken HD, and there it was, although some similar photos have not surfaced.

Meet Alan


Alan is a Jacré de Papo Amarelo (Black Paraguayan Cayman), he was rather a decent size, about three metres.

This story is from 1996 and amongst my first experiences in the Pantanal.

This dinosaur-like reptile lived in the lagoon beside the camp. There were plenty of his species to keep him company but they all stayed respectfully on the far side of the lagoon, it was only Alan who preferred the company of tourists. He was very photogenic.

Alan was a placid sort, lying in the sun on the grassy sandy bank.

My first meeting with the beast was after a swim in the lagoon. I had not been forewarned of his residence, merely that the others stayed over there. After my dip, I lay on the bank to dry off. It was while I was lying there in the sun, I felt a presence close by. Turning my head and opening my eyes, expecting to see another tourist, I was instead face to face, as it were with Alan who had likewise come to bask in the sun a little more than a metre away. Now for our American cousins, a metre is 3″ more than a yard; it doesn’t matter whether you use metres or yards, IT WAS TOO FREAKIN’ CLOSE!

Avoiding a blood curdling scream, which was my first thought, I managed to inch away without disturbing my neighbour until I had put enough distance between us and was able to summon up the courage to RUN!

I learned that Alan often did this. He was not menacing the tourists, he was quite a happy cayman, if indeed you can measure a reptile in degrees of happiness. Alan was never hungry because he ate the scraps from the kitchen, so he was never considered a threat to the tourists. Cayman only bite for two reasons, they are hungry, which Alan wasn’t, or you piss them off.

The guide showed me by laying close to Alan and draping an arm across his shoulders. Alan didn’t even blink.

Tourists often used to ask me why he was called Alan, was he male? I didn’t know, in fact no one in the camp knew. I always suggested that if the tourist wanted to know, was he/she brave enough to lift his tail to find out…

It remains a mystery to me to this date; for I never met a tourist brave enough.

I went for many trip to this campsite that year,  Alan was always there. The campsite was deep into the Necolândia region of the Pantanal, about six or seven hours from Corumbá on the Bolivian border. It is a beautiful place, one of the most beautiful I have ever been to.

Sadly the Pantanal is shrinking, the climate is changing just like the rest of the world. But also in 1996 a project called Hydrovia was responsible for ‘straightening out’ the kinks of the Paraguay River. It was these kinks that slowed the drainage, now the drainage is much faster and the water that created the Pantanal is diminishing. Progress has claimed another victim.

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