Letter to a Sister : Brazil

20th June

Showered, breakfast then left Cult Hotel in Recife. Was glad to survive shower, which has electrical wires coming out the top, was hard to relax when using it. Also left the room with some added duct tape, which David had used to seal the massive gap around the aircon unit. It worked – we got no mosquitoes ( which was important as they carry dengue fever here) but I’m not sure the bright red tape blended very well with the dingy brown decor.
Apparently all the electricity is slightly weird in Brazil. Was certainly a challenge to bring the correct power adaptors, as the plugs seem to change from region to region. ( If you plan to visit, bring a range!)
We also left the rather sexual art displays at the hotel. On the first evening the team leader led us in a time of prayer. It is the first time I have ever prayed next to a large statue of an erect phallus, while sitting below a painting of a naked woman ( who definitely had not had ‘a Brazilian’!) Tearfund trips are always unexpected.
Drove for a couple of hours to Coqueral. Interesting drive, passed lots of small communities, people driving horse and carts, big lorries. Rained hard a few times.
Coqueral is a small farming town (1,500 people.) The area did not really support that many farmers, the town was off a track beyond a track, most people were unemployed and on benefits. The pastor told us they were ” less poor in money” than the people we saw yesterday but ” more poor in the mind”. I don’t think he meant they all had ‘special educational needs’, more that a sense of hopelessness pervaded the town.

They had a lot of knife crime and alcohol addiction. We didn’t see any teenaged drug addicts though, which is good as I found it very difficult to just walk past them yesterday and leave them in their mess ( and I just know my family would be cross if I arrive home with a selection of drug addicted boys – never mind that I wouldn’t have the first idea how to help them.)
It is StJohn’s festival time ( seemed like our harvest festival but is cultural, not religious.) The children at the mission hall had decorated the hall with plaited banana leaves and dressed in costumes and make up. They danced for us, a bit like a barn dance. I certainly didn’t feel the display was too short. We then joined in, which they thought was hilarious, especially as most of us were wearing the ‘aid worker’ sensible outfit of long sleeved shirts, long trousers and massive walking boots ( look really ugly and no good for dancing in but when you’re wading through raw sewage in the slums, fashion doesn’t seem so important.)
We had lunch there, which was a bit unusual. They seem to eat a lot of carbs here ( I had spaggetti and rice for my lunch, as salad might be washed in local water and I didn’t feel like eating meat.) They also have a fizzy drink, which is everywhere and has a picture of something like cherries on it but isn’t cherry. Was comfortingly synthetic. Barbie stuck with coke.
Drove for about 5 more hours. Someone put a religious CD on. David ranted at length about the quality of the music ( for the length of the song in fact.)
Arrived in Afogados. Staying at Hotel Brotas, which is quite like a motel. Room full of mosquitoes and ants ( will use lots of deet while here.) D busy rigging up a mosquito net to sleep under. Am hoping it doesn’t involve anything too structural.
Take care,
Anne xxx

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