I like to stay up late. I don’t mean partying (although, on occasion I’m game); I mean the quiet time; everyone else in bed (because I’m currently not living alone). It is often, I find, the best time to work, to think (… to write?). However, at the end of a very good day and night, something triggered the dark thoughts at 3 am, just before turning in. Recollections from the past start to cloud optimism of the future. It is no more certain than it ever was, and I lie awake contemplating scenarios with no evidential foundation – tormented by particularly belligerent mosquitos which evade swatting with electron-like uncertainty.
I’m still awake at 6 am. Outcome: I get up at noon. As the rescheduled class turned out to require further rescheduling (I’ve been doing some English teaching… if bewildering an idiom-confused brazileira qualifies as such) – cancelled because I wasn’t allowed into the government ministry building in shorts – I decide not to go into the modernist city, a play-safe thirty minute wait for a noisy, bouncy, tipping 45-minute jalopy trip. Instead, I trim this by half-hour, alighting at the Avenida Commercial. Quite what for, I wasn’t wholly sure (ultimately the purchase of some trivial items). But, as a struggling lusophone, it was an opportunity to interact in minimal Portuguese. Late afternoon, I decided to have a drink at a small outside bar, where I contentedly got on with reading Louis de Bernières, tipping pimenta onto my coxinha, sipping my cold beverage, and minding my own business. But, inevitably it seems, I attract a nutter. (Not a very scientific term – ‘seems’ – I probably do so no more than anyone else; but I’m an intriguing, lone ‘exotic’ to some of the antisocially social here.) A likely on-it-since-noon, late middle-aged drunk – at the point in life where’s he’s just playing out the game, taking the ball into the corner (I don’t know, of course; just the image I form) – somehow deduced that I was English, even though he hadn’t heard me speak, and started to try his few practiced phrases, including, early in the ‘conversation’, a guttural “Furk yuu!” I looked around, tensing, the others present finding this amusing, and looked back at him. He then extended his hand, “Howerr yuu?” The adrenalin stopcock closed and I relaxed. He wasn’t too much to worry about anyway – one good push would have done him; but it’s often the others you have to be wary of.
When I’d finished my beer, I headed towards the bus-stop, in advance of its estimated arrival, only to see it coming ahead of ´schedule.´ Luckily, the driver was happy to be flagged down (unlike the miserable English variety), and there was plenty of room, in contrast to the arms-and-legs-hanging-out-windows over-stuffing of those bound for São Sebastião, a Brasília satellite city, where I’d inadvertently and unnervingly ended up a few weeks previous after getting on the wrong bus. (I kind of like the system here: all single-deck; driver and another who takes your money; more efficient, in that it keeps the bus moving; however, the ´conductor´ does not walk around to collect your fare, but remains stationary-seated near the front, toll-manning an obesity-unfriendly turnstile.) Near the condominium, I decide to drop in to the ‘local’ – just ten minutes into the Spain game. Marvellous! I love watching Spain! I give you this: the Brazilian World Cup-winning side of 1970 is often cited as the best team ever. For me, this Spain goes even better. I would bet on them retaining both the European Championship next year; and the 2014 World Cup here in Brazil. I’d know my stake, though. Unlike when I subsequently agreed to a three-game pool challenge in the small unsalubrious-looking bar next door. I lost 2-1, but fortunately it only cost me the price of the games (totalling about 80p). Just as well: being out of work I could do without unwittingly gambling away my redundancy.
There’s a delightful little bird here, known as Tiziu ( Volatinia jacarina ), on account of the ricochet-like cry it gives as, in its instinctive mate-attracting ritual, it leaps, pirouettes and lands expertly back on its perch. I’ve been struggling, in my photographical incompetence, to capture a decent shot of him, being as I have to zoom-frame from below a small, black bird against a painfully bright background, and he is inclined to take flight if I get too near. (So, no photo, I´m afraid – will perhaps try and sort later.) The mating season is almost over for him; he disappears from this area soon. As must I. Unlike Tiziu, I´m not here to court; but like him, I sense it is time to move on.