I’m in the Cerrado region of Brazil, somewhere between Brasília’s Lago Sul and one of its satellite cities, São Sebastião. The urban vicinity of this vast tropical grassland (savanna) ecosystem area is gradually giving over to farmland-surrendered lot condominium developments, one of which I am currently resting up in, acclimatising for an indefinite while. Which seems to be working: I’m being spoilt almost as rotten as the fresh mango or papaya would quickly become, were I to decline the daily proffering. And my routine is as irregular as that of the temporally-random cockerel within my earshot – a consequence of which (the irregularity, not the cockerel) is the pleasing effect of mellowed out regularity (the converse manifestation of my previous stultifyingly, bruxism-inducing routine situation).
It’s hot and sleepy here, occasionally dozing in a shaded hammock under a big, three-dimensional sky. Watchable to the degree that we’ve been neologising (as far as I’m aware) clouds (“cottonanulus”), behind which night-time lightening thunderstorms both illuminate and obscure a semi-celestial hemisphere.
The evening is alive with washboarding insects and the baying exchanges of domestic wolves – and the consequently disturbed, confused, desynchronised cockerel. But whatever the time of day or night, these lovely burrowing owls ( Athene cunicularia )
are sure to be close by, guarding the drainhole in the kerb where they presumably nest, although they are surely bailiffed out of their squat when it rains – I mean rains. They’re not shy, being approachable to within a few feet, although they will be shrieking. Somewhat symbolically, there was one on a post watching the crowd arriving for the graduation ceremony I attended the other evening. I don’t know about yours, but I recall mine being a formal, muted, polite affair. By contrast, this was a veritable celebrity occasion: glamorously dressed fashionistas weaving among photographers’ lighting umbrellas, making their way into the hall for what was a veritable rock concert: loud music and constant applause, whooping and cheering and flashing, sustained through the awarding of around 400 degrees, including one to a member of the family with which I’m staying.
Similarities and variations: it is refreshing to be among different sights, sounds, outlooks and attitudes. Makes for ‘funemployment’ – at least while I can afford to rationalise it as holiday.