Friday 31st July

Still raining, not particularly cold but not warm either. Washed hair to feel bit more human, switched on hairdryer, thought the wiring looked dodgy and after a few minutes the motor went slow and the holder on the wall, sparked, smoked and died. Went to breakfast, (very good, lots of cake, different sorts every day, my kind of breakfast) – when we got back a smiling boy and a scowling fat man brought us a box with a new dryer. What we’ve come to understand is that at least 2 or 3 people are employed here where one would be in Europe – wages are probably low, living is certainly cheap. This has the effect of over attentiveness in some cases – take a sip of wine and they shoot over and top up the glass – or indifference as in the staff at breakfast who stand in a row chatting and don’t move any item of crockery the guest may have finished with until the table (very small) is full and the guest gives up and leaves.

Went out in the drizzle to look for the beach and the hotel in which the conference is being held. Walked for miles along a picturesque canal thinking that we needed to be on the other side and not seeing how to get over. canalAll the way along the road were landing stages and some had funny looking boats on them, sometimes with a man on it, sometimes empty. We asked someone and disagreed about what she had said, then we asked another couple who spoke very good English and they took us back to a landing stage and said this boat was for use by their condo and it took them across to the beach side of the canal. However we had walked so far that it would be at least 30 minutes to get back to the Windsor hotel … We waved goodbye to our new chums and got across free with the grumpy old man kept specially for the purpose.

When we got to the seafront and turned left, the wind and rain hit us and we realised how sheltered the canal path had been. Umbrella blew inside out several times and we looked for a café. The only one we found was a sitting outside one and people were, admittedly under (leaky) awnings, sitting outside – they don’t seem in the least phased by the rain and certainly make no concessions in their dress. There were a few umbrellas, but positively no raincoats, and most people were in jeans or shorts, t shirts, flip flops. I wondered if it had caught them unawares, or whether they didn’t care. I’ve come to the conclusion that we’re on the edge of mountains and rain forests and everything is verdant so rain can never be far away, but then neither is the sun, and it’s not cold. Walked a bit further on and we found large green coconutty things on the grass, don’t know what they are called. but they had deffo fallen off this palm treegreen things


there was also a little street market and I liked the arrangement of vegetables on this stallveg boxes

We got cold that day because we had jeans and jackets on which got thoroughly soaked but if we’d worn light stuff, it wouldn’t have had the same effect on us – we know now as we got soaked last night, but of that more later.

So having walked round ourselves and got lost, we eventually arrived at the Windsor and were accosted by a charming French jewellery salesman called Pierre who came from Nantes and had married a Brazilian woman, spoke impeccable English and told us all about the fabulous factory tour we could take to see the wonderful jewellery being made. I saw the advantage when he said the factory was in Ipanema and we would have a car there and back and spare time – aha, my kind of tour. So we agreed to do that at some point.

We found a shorter way back but got lost several times and arrived on the highway not knowing which way to go to get back to the hotel. We walked a long way in the wrong direction looking for a number, we knew we were on the right side but the numbers didn’t sense – 2001 was followed by 1679 (we were trying to get to 487 so this was a relief), then was followed by 1718. We asked in an HSBC bank, (Mike has great faith that they are all knowing in HSBC) and had been going the wrong way. We walked for more than 3 hours and were knackered altogether.

Coffee is cheap here but decaff is not the norm sadly. I’ve brought decaff tea and a kettle so life isn’t so bad!

Went to a grill in pouring rain, had a Portuguese speciality which is round after round of different cuts of beef roasted on a spit and sliced at the table. We also get chicken and sausages and lamb, far too much but gorgeous. Started with salad from a big round table and a waitress followed me straightening up the food in the trays before the next person came along – irritating, especially as the next person was Mike!

And yes, it was pouring when we went back. Have entirely the wrong clothes, white pedal pushers now muddy from the water thrown at me waist high by the cars and lorries. Have long white trousers, 4 floaty summer dresses, summer tops and sandals, useless when it’s pissing down. Got a pair of trainers but they’re letting in water … I have a suede jacket and one umbrella between us – can feel a trip to the shopping mall coming up for cagoules – not cold though.

The toilet seats here and in the Windsor are square – whoever thought that was a good idea? My bum is round, very round and does not take kindly to being forced into a square, so unless Brazilians have square bums, I guess the designer is male and does colonic irrigation, therefore never has to endure the discomfort of a square loo seat. Grr