Joao Pessoa

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Le Petit Paradis Pousada in Joao Pessoa

Family run Guest House in a quiet residential street and close to local amenities

Dengue: One mans Story

April 27th, 2009

dengue_bookletI contracted Dengue last week on Friday (June 2007) and can truly say it’s the most awful illness that I have ever experienced. I’m through the worst of it and I can now sit up for as long as 5 minutes but really have to stay near the bed. The smallest exertion means a lie down.

On that Friday night, it was as if a cold was coming on except every bone in my body ached.

However, on Saturday morning my appearance had changed. My body was red and bloated and every hair on my head was standing up. My now bloodshot eyes were popping out of my head. I was sweating like a waterfall, all my bones ached and I had completely lost the will to move. I couldn’t talk, only mumble and mutter or burble. To make matters worse I had a headache, which was like someone pushing metal spikes in and out of my temples.

A neighbour was summoned who immediately whisked me off to Unimed. When I first entered the hospital, I was shirtless, red, swelling and sweating, my eyes protruding, my head lolling from side to side, hair standing on end and I was blubbering like a three year old. To boot, I was walking like a horse riding robot, sans horse. To cap it all, I exploded from both ends. I was completely without shame because I had no control so don’t be embarrassed when the unspeakable happens. (more…)

The Arrival in Joao Pessoa

April 27th, 2009

Chevrolet Blazer

Chevrolet Blazer

We didn’t drive straight into João Pessoa, rather we stopped just on the outskirts at a little roadside restaurant serving fish, beans and rice. The cars thermometer read 34c but it felt hotter. Have you ever opened the oven door to check the roast and felt a blast of heat on your face? Well that’s what it was like when we alighted from our air conditioned car. I’m from Minas, you know and of late that sort of heat has been uncommon. Infact, it took me about three days to acclimatize to the heat which was more or less the same day and night. That said, there was always this gentle constant cool breeze to offset the effects of the heat. Fed and watered, we headed for the city

It was a Sunday, but even so the roads were eerily deserted. We easily managed to find Epitacio Pessoa, the main road to the beach area and to our pousada. The roads reminded me of English roads.

They were tarmaced and level with lane markings. There were traffic lights and speed cameras, even zebra crossings. I just wasn’t used to it all. All the roads we saw had road signs, we would get to the pousada using a map which was just as well as there was no one around to ask. Arriving at the beach area of Tambau and Cabo Branco I was amazed to find how deserted it was even for early afternoon. The beautiful beaches stretched off North and South into the distance. We turned South off the main road and followed the beach front road stunned by the turquoise waters of Cabo Branco. Plenty of free car parking spaces, surely that wont last; and virtually empty beaches. After such a long time in the car the children were going crazy to play on the sand but we had to find the pousada. (more…)

The Chicken

April 27th, 2009

favela2In the 1990s I was working in a favela in Baixada Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro. The streets in the area were all estradas de terror and the drains ran open on either side of the “road”. This particular day I had to catch a bus in to the city. As I waited at the bus stop, I watched the chickens running in and out of the open sewers, occasionally pecking at something in the dark, smelly liquid. I watched them for a while and thought “I wouldn’t like to have to eat one of those, skinny as they were”. I ruminated on the point that some people don’t have that luxury, thinking about what the eggs would taste like etc when the bus turned up.

That evening, when I got back home, I noted that the familiar rice, beans and sausage were conspicuous by their absence. “You’re going out tonight” said Mamae, a family from the Church had invited us to their home for dinner. I scrub up pretty well and soon we were all off to the house along with my new Swiss, German and Italian friends (another story).

As we wended our way through the tumbledown buildings of the favela, things became ominously familiar especially as the road widened out up to the bus stop. We went through a broken gate next to the bus stop, the very one I had patronised earlier in the day. We went up some steep clay steps cut into the side of the hill and into a little house where we all huddled round a rickety table in the middle of the room. (more…)

The Driving Test

April 27th, 2009

I didn’t actually sit the driving test, though some wag suggested that I had to sit a psychological test. Whether that’s because he had driven with me or it was a requirement of Brasilian law I wasn’t able to discern. Suffice it to say that it appeared to be the correct thing to do according to the clerk at the delegacia.

I turned up at the testing centre and spent half an hour filling in a form aided and confused by two clerks. “That should have been the test” I thought as I was led into a doctors consulting room. After going through all the questions on the form, again, she gave me an eye test. So far so good.

I was then taken into another room with a desk and chair. After sitting, it was explained to me that several diagrams would be placed in front of me. I would have to draw them. (more…)

The Great North Road

April 27th, 2009

Driving to João Pessoa from Minas Gerais

br101For many readers, the Great North Road relates to the old A1 in England. Here in Brasil, many would see it as the BR101. Its very mention brings shivers to the spine. Men huddle in corners and tell dark stories of pot-holes; of roads like Swiss cheese, bandits and ten kilometre long queues of three trailer trucks stacked high with scrap cars or tyre slicing sugar cane.

“I want to drive North” I said innocently to my Brasilian friends and I was pulled to one side as if I were a child been pulled from the path of a raging bull. “Taken leave of your senses, have you?” Well no says I. Its just the airports are in turmoil and really I thought it was a good way to get to know Brasil.

I approached several people including those who had driven from Fortaleza and Natal to Sao Paulo and Rio on a monthly basis. I also looked at all the websites that came up after entering “BR101 into the search engine. Not encouraging. Not a good word to be found and horror stories abounded, enough to put off the faint-hearted. (more…)

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