Cos then I can have a baby……

People go travelling for different reasons. Some like the adventure, some the escape, some the cultures they meet and some like to have babies with foreign men after their mother in England said they couldn’t have one. This is the situ here. It’s been a cracking time.

After returning from the reservation, we’ve had a week of chilling followed by some vigorous exercise. After our discussion with the boss about the state of the school things have improved greatly. Steve is more communicative and Ian has gone to England to get married to a Brazilian woman after he has been refused licence to stay here. So with a foreign partner, they are both winners (or losers). Marriages of convenience eh? But now Steve and his chief girlfriend have been thrown off the reservation now and I have also heard she had lost the babies. What will happen now I am unsure but I leave soon. now back to the main event.

It’s been a week of getting to know the housemates via the fog of weed and vodka. alot has come out. Michelle from London is relaxed and shy, Alessandro is 18 (enough said), Christian is Austrian, speaks like one but a quality guy, two Scottish girls arrived, one a Kristin Scott Thomas look-alike dwarf and the other a reserved but nice holly. they are not staying long. Then there is Emma. for a woman of 35, she mentions her mother alot. She also hasn’t yet finished her degree and has a tendency, when she is drunk, to go on about old stories of men who dumped her. but last week she confessed the really reason that she is here. she wants a baby and then her mother will have to give her some money. she comes from a nice middle class family and therefore still believes in handout even though she is THIRTY FIVE YEARS OLD. When she told this plan to get a guy to inseminate her, I was lost for words.

so she has been sleeping with simba (not the lion king). after two days or two shags she announced to me that she was pregnant so she was going to tell him. I naturally urged her to follow caution but its okay as she will take the baby back to Wales where she will take care of it along with an orphan from the orphanage and “my mother have to give her some money then won’t she?”

there have been alot of highs and lows this week. It’s been university festival week so we’ve been there, getting wrecked with the students which is nice. Smoking some crack gave my heart some serious palpitations and anxiety which thankfully now has subsided though I add it scared the shit out of me and made me afraid to try to sleep as I felt something inside me had to give and unfortunately it felt like my heart.

This weekend we went to chapada national park which was stunning (see photo link). cascading waterfalls, red rock outcrops, ridges and plateaus and lots of wildlife. Magno was our guide, a student we met at the university and he proved a great guy. that evening the heavens opened and we danced and smoked to live music till the water was over our ankles in the town square, bordered by an old church overrun for mass this Easter weekend and bars galore. This country is ridiculously cheap and friendly. We have made loads of friends and u get a really good vibe around.

Quality of life is high here as with many places where the sun shines but I believe in all of South America the atmosphere is so relaxed and there is a genuine smile on most faces. I even like the taxi drivers here. last night we returned and today after cruising around with Antonio in his smart car getting the beer and meat for the BBq that we are having today for friends and students. Its 31C and all is fine. Better go and get some food.

Brazil

In my travelling days I’ve never had the pleasure of the infamous Delhi Belly until last week. I had it on the flight over which was a shame as the airline here had possibly the fairest female crew I’ve ever seen. The sight of me making faces trying to keep my guts in meant I didn’t get a refill of beer. But as I slept on the Indian reservation, it returned and I dashed from the hammock to the toilet, designed by worst enemy and cleaned by his best friend, to pour everything I had out. It never happens just once and on my second trip to the darkened place, I realised I was travelling again and smiled.The boy is in Brazil and just came back from 6 days on a remote Indian reservation. Interesting stuff, far off the tourist track, a wooded land with a plain in the middle haphazardly inhabited by concrete block houses and locals sitting on doorsteps. It’s poor but good tourism. I say that like a cynic. Alas I am one here. The job is in fact just tourism. We do little but play with the kids. Being a kid again is great, but I don’t bounce like before and busted my foot.To get there, we drove through pot filled roads into a storm at night, waded through water waist high to meet a silent Indian with a huge knife who paddled us up river to the reservation. There is where the cow, horse and snake roam.The houses are mere partial shelters, the kids friendly and curious. Adults are respectful but look at us with ambivalence at best. With no phones, Playstations or drugs to take, they rely on the old games of playing football, chasing and beating each other up.The chief is a woman and the Indians do little outside of life chores beyond, but hunt, drink and play music loud. The signs of poverty and deprivations are everywhere. They are desperately poor and we did little to help for reasons which will be explained later. On the excursion was Michelle, a girl from London, myself and an ageing Scot called Ian, and the project leader, Steve. Arriving there you find he has little interest in teaching, or constructive help and so we just messed around and me and Michelle try and teach a bit. We were due to go to the reservation again next week for the tribe birthday party but that couldn’t happen. This pregnancy has brought tensions to the reservation and we aren’t too welcome.Volunteer projects can be very hit and miss and this one forgot its dart. The head teacher here is a non-communicator which is predictably to the detriment of his education craft and importantly, his students. It’s already led to two stand-up rows with two other teachers. I’ve generally stayed out of it so far though I did state there is a lack of clear structure here. Once arguments come to a head, the truth, hidden behind talk of education development and generosity weasels out. It’s now clear one major reason for the reservation Indian project is the project head has got the female chief pregnant. The project is small-scale so you know everyone involved. His wife is in the process of falling apart and the school is failing due to poor management, and the project leader is not sure which way the shore is. He’s retreated in himself, denies metaphorical punches in the face and the debts hanging over him.Fortunately I was staying only two months. It’s difficult to care about the school when the head doesn’t but especially it is a shelter for plenty of confusion and hurt. The teachers feel deceived. The Indians are confused about what is happening and feel no value is what we bring. The owners are lost in this world and hurting each other. It’s really shitty to see his wife falling apart. The teachers took change into their own hands, but the project leader abruptly left for the reservation. We changed focus and are concentrating on helping in an orphanage, teaching, painting and create a play space and allotment which resulted in an attack of fire ants. Ouch!I smoked local marijuana and that was a regret. I’m no smoker and it left me unable to sleep and paranoid. The guy who comes round selling, casually offered cocaine the other day like it was a snack. Sitting round in the evening, as a group we wonder how long we’re going to stay. The truth is there is little to constructively do and we don’t have the local resources or frankly, the aptitude to make a difference. Young volunteers typically pay for the set-up, hoping to make a mark or more honestly, a memory. Soon enough, it’s time to move on. Travelling to the reservation gives you an idea of the size of South America. Further, longer journeys are ahead to Bolivia, Peru and Argentina.chapada-fallsMore drolly, as I sit in my hammock looking across the Cuiaba, I’m wondering what I make of the cities so far. As you can guess, Brazilian cities in the interior are a heap of concrete and humidity. Little that is man-made will make you stop and wonder. Only a church holds your attention for a minute. The national parks of Chapada are stunning, cascading waterfalls and rock outcrops. The young educated locals are more thoughtful and serious than us probably by having a world to confront. It makes them more reticent to give strident opinions. The real world is complex if you don’t have the luxury of coming and going.