It's a family affair

Trip Start May 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 30, 2006


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Wednesday, December 7, 2005

I headed back to Rio and then out to a city called Campinas, about 100 kilometers north of São Paulo. Itīs not a tourist town and there is no mention of it in my guidebook. Doing a search on travelpod only brings up one brief mention of the city by someone else. If youīre asking why Iīm going there then youīre asking the same question as the woman that sat behind me on the bus as well as the driver. "Familia" I replied.

One of my sister-in-laws is Brazilian and her family live in Campinas. This is a perfect opportunity to visit them, live in a proper house for a little while and have some home cooked food.

I was met at the station by Bruno and whisked away to his house. How nice it is to arrive somewhere and not have to run the gaunlet of touts and then have to heave your backpack around looking for somewhere to stay. Helena was at the house and immediately gave me a bit of a snack before I went to bed. Iīd met Bruno and Helena several times before at my brotherīs house and it was also great seeing a familiar face again. Welcome to Campinas!

They live in a great little part of town near a park with a lake. I was having a walk with Bruno one morning when I saw a big dog at the water edge. It looked like itīd been in for a dip. As I got closer I realised that something wasnīt quite right. It didnīt really look like a dog, but I didnīt know what it looked like. It turned out to be a Capivara, the worldīs largest rodent. It was massive, probably up to the height of my hip! I just canīt imagine how much cheese itīd eat, in fact Iīm still having nightmares about it.

On the Saturday I went on a day trip with Flávioīs family, his wife Eleni, son Davi (11) and daughter Sofia (4). Since Davi is a massive fan of animals and wildlife (and Iīm quite keen as well) we headed to a bird park, called īParaíso das Avesī (Paradise of Birds). It was brilliant. I was able to see loads of native birds and animals that Iīd never seen before, heaps of birds, (strangely enough), some dog type things, a few monkeys, including one that was sitting on top of a monkey cage, I think it was just visiting. some more birds, more monkeys and some african animals. Davi knew the names of them all and would be able to tell me without looking at the information sheet (when it was there!). Sofia found the going a bit tougher and was pretty tired by the end. As we were climbing a little hill back to the car she stated, "Subidona", which is apparently a completely made up word that kids come out with sometimes. This one meant īA hill thatīs hard to climbī. Poor little Cherub.

I found out as well that itīs polite in Portuguese to say īOiī to get someoneīs attention. In fact it just means hello. It was quite fun saying it at strangers, you felt quite rude, but it was perfectly ok. Can you imagine the problems that Brazilians have when they arrive in the UK!

On my last evening in Campinas I headed out to an evening concert with Bruno, Helena and Flávioīs family. It was a concert in aid of promoting the environmental problems of the pantanal, an area of Brazilīs interior. They had some clowns there doing an educational show about the animals, people were being pulled out of the audiance and made to wear a hat in the shape of an animal that they were talking about. For the last animal the most evil looking clown that Iīve ever seen headed straight for us and he grabbed Bruno and Eleni. They had a conversation in Portuguese, the jist of it being that the clown was trying to get one of them into the center.

Eleni whispered something to me which I didnīt catch. She repeated it, again in a whisper. In a vain attempt to try and understand what she meant I repeated the word sheīd said "Arara".
"Arara!!, blah blah blah Arara blah blah blah" said the evil clown as he grabbed me.

I then realised that the clown had been trying to get someone to name which animal the next hat represented. It was a parrot. And Iīd been had. I was marched into the middle of the circle while the clown continued his act, thankfully using the power of mime to tell me what to do, he still didnīt know at this point I didnīt speak Portuguese. It got to a section where he gave me some verbal instructions.
"Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah"
With proper BBC english I said "Iīm terribly sorry, I donīt speak any Portuguese".
He just looked at me and deflated for a second. He bounced right back like a true professional and was able to get his slightly less evil looking clown to do the mime for me and allow him to finish his act. As I was lead around, walking like a parrot. Great!

I had a brilliant time with my in-law-in-laws. I also met my other brother-in-law-in-law Paulo and his wife, Cristiane again as Iīd met them 10 years ago at my brotherīs wedding. Their twin daughters, Camila and Júlia (6) were a bit shy with me. Despite my attempts at speaking a bit of Spanish with them they ran away from the scary man that they couldnīt understand.

After six days though it was time to leave. I was leaving on a 15 hour overnight bus to the Iguaįu falls. Davi and Sofia spent the day at the house being looked after by their grandparents. When they had to leave though Sofia broke into tears, she didnīt want me to go. She demanded that I promised Iīd return, one day Sofia, but I donīt know when. Iīm afraid that youīll just need to make do with a postcard in the meantime.

Bruno and Helena took me down to the bus station and I was off.

Thanks again to everyone in Campinas that helped make me feel so welcome. I had a brilliant time. And whenever any of you are in the UK, then weīll need to meet up again. Thanks.
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