Sunday, December 20, 2009

Onde é o banheiro? Blog de Brasileiro, dia 13 (quarta-feira, decembro 17)

Mosquito bite count:
-Hands: 4 / Arms: 7 (+1) / Shoulders: 4 / Chest: 1 / Head: 8 / Neck: 2
-Back: 0 / Legs: 1 (+1)

Sunburn incident count: 2…maybe (first incident is completely healed, feeling a little sensitive on the face and forehead)

WARNING: AIRING OF DIRTY LAUNDRY. I’m not a big fan of airing dirty laundry in a public forum like Blogger or Facebook (where this blog is posted). Air dirty in public and everyone will know the colour of your underwear. However, this is also to serve as a public service announcement (because knowing is half the battle. YO JOE!). Names will not be mentioned to protect the remaining shreds of dignity, although everyone who was there will know exactly who this refers to. This will be the only mercy that will be shown in this blog. This will be honest, raw, and harsh, but it will be fair.

Parts of this blog were written down outside various medical clinics between Natal and Paraiba. The non-Capoeira practicing member of the group has dragged us here because against all of the basic life survival lessons that they teach children (e.g.: don’t stick metal objects into electric outlets, don’t accept rides from strangers, don’t swallow liquids with the “Mr. Yuck” sticker on it), she hand-fed a stray cat which then bit her. So yes, she’s trying to find a rabies shot.

Look people. They teach you not to handle stray animals when you’re a kid. The basic life survival lessons go double when you’re in a foreign country, triple when medical facilities are hard to find and may or may not be adequate. And surely enough, after hours of searching, we STILL haven’t fount a rabies shot.

While the previous day had me on edge, this incident has officially gotten me pissed off. I accept that there are certain risks associated with traveling abroad, but you do whatever it is that you can to minimize them. This is especially the case in a group trip. If one person gets an intestinal parasite and has to make a bathroom trip every fifteen minutes, the trip will become that much less fun as the van has to make stops every fifteen minutes.

Even as a Capoeirista, I run the risk of serious physical injury every time I step in to train or play against an advanced student, but I know how to minimize the risk. Always play in a respectful manner, don’t provoke an aggressive game if you can’t back it up, protect your face, warm up before training, and if it hurts, don’t push it. As Capoeira training has been one of the primary reasons for me to be here, and if someone gets hurt and we have to go all over town to find suitable medical facilities to reset a broken nose, I’m not going to hold it personally because this is not always preventable or predictable.

Evidently, this didn’t happen for our possibly-rabies infected travel companion, as this was something that was completely preventable. Even more insulting is the lack of anything resembling an apology, although she “thanked” us for accompanying her to all these medical facilities. Guess what, we don’t leave anyone behind and this was not a choice for us, and even if it were a choice, we still would’ve done it. And when presented with the question of whether or not she’s going to do it again, she says that she will, justifying it by saying that the cat was really cute and she couldn’t help herself.

This is a facepalm moment which further cements my perception that she’d be the first to die if we were in a horror film. I’m not looking forward to spending any amount of time with her, which is a shame because I was hoping to go partying on my last night here (tomorrow night), and she’s likely to accompany us. If she’s willing to pet a stray animal just because it’s cute, part of me expects her to let common sense to go flying out the window and accept a spiked drink from a stranger, which will mean the group of us will be involved in the search for her (or her body), will be required to make witness statements, and then be subsequently forced to miss our flights home as a result.

At least the general air of resentment and rage in the van has prompted her to vow to not touch stray animals again.

Not counting the search for the rabies shot, this would’ve been a pretty good day. We woke up and found that our belongings were not rifled through and no one shot at the front desk person. The toilet takes a long time to fill up, but at least we don’t have to sleep in a run down neighbourhood.

We drove to the beach where we alternate between lounging and swimming. The waves are high enough to make me long for a surfboard, but we opt for body surfing instead. The throat burns with sea water and I hit one wave hard enough to knock my goggles askew.

We end up going on an exhilarating dune buggy tour of the Natal sand dunes. The exhilaration is due to the element of danger – and I’m the only one that actually bothers with a seatbelt (which incidentally isn’t working properly). We make several stops for photos, many of which will be part of my screensaver at work.

We come back for Capoeira class on the beach, taught by rotating instructors including Instrutore Parata and Contra Mestre Pequeno. Movements are relatively basic, either to accommodate the large range in ranks or to accommodate us soft Canadians. I’m thinking it’s more of the latter.

Upon completion of class, we hop in the van for another part of the beach for lunch. Beers are continuously piled up in front of us while we wait for the catch of the day prepared to perfection. With drinks, we pay 15R$ each. We all eat our fill while we are swarmed by stray cats, circling like vultures, waiting for us to drop something. We all have the foresight to not handle or feed them.

A small group of us make our way through the nearby residential area to visit Mestre’s relatives. Again highlighting how good we have it, doors are secured witih padlocks and the walls and floors are bare. Many of the locals make their living by fishing, and while business is good now, it’s entirely seasonal. Mestre helps out his extended family wherever possible, and half jokingly laments that he has no money left every time he goes to Brazil. With the number of friends and family that Mestre has here, this is not surprising.

Mestre’s relatives share some mangoes with us, which I hope ripen before I leave Brazil (can’t take it with me). This is when we all hop in the van and find out about the need for a rabies shot. Considering that we’re 6 hours away from our accommodations in Porto de Galinhas, the trips to medical care facilities will add on another 3 hours at the very least.

We don’t end up getting home until 3AM. This had better not mess up scheduling, or I’m going to be even more pissed.

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