samedi 12 février 2011

A Tropical Storm in a Teacup

Reading on the Hot-ometer: 110%

Number of escapes from potentially savage beasts: Several

Number of mosquito bites: I look like a teenage cheetah with chicken pox

Walking along the side of Vicosa’s beautiful lakes on one of our daily walks with Tonika, a living mission legend, and my new friend Juliani, we come across many things. A family of strange-looking turkey-type birds, monkeys spying on us from the trees, parrots having an argument about who had more than their fair share of guava, and... some unusually large, smelly droppings. “Ah don’t worry about those,” says Juliani, “those are just from the ferocious beasts we have here in Viçosa. They’re giant rats. They live in the lakes but hardly ever come out to kill.” Just as I stop and pale, thinking I’ve stepped into The Princess Bride with its Rodents of Unusual Size, five brown figures emerge from the water. They can only be described as giant rats with fetching green lake sludge coiffed on their heads. Juliani is in absolute hysterics at the look of horror on my face, when Tonika kindly points out “they’re just Capivari. Think of them as big cuddly guinea pigs. The only way they could kill you is from their fleas. ” Later, I go around merrily telling everyone about all the amazing “capirinihas” (strong rum cocktail) I’ve seen floating around, and everyone starts to think I’m very strange (I suppose it’s better that they work this out sooner rather than later).

The next day I find myself at the University’s Vet School with Jan, as her cat Pepsi has got the runs. The experience has certainly given me new respect for my cat, Moses. In England, we can just drop our animals off and pick them up when all the yucky bits are done with. Not so in Brazil. Having told at least three different students about the VERY precise nature of Pepsi’s condition (*shudder*), one vet comes into take some blood and her temperature. When that one fails, another enters. Then their supervisor is brought in. Then the senior professor. Half an hour later, eight of us are crowded in a pokey, hairy surgery holding legs and tails and teeth, while things are stuck in unmentionable places. Poor Pepsi.

Aside from all this, I have had lots of time to spend with God and think things through, which has been great. His creation is so beautiful and... baffling. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to opening the bathroom cabinet and finding a lizard there. When I get back to England I will need to play a CD recording of frogs, cows, and mosquitos in order to sleep! God has been so gracious in bringing me here and introducing me to some really inspirational people and such a beautiful part of the world. When I sip my tea and look out at the much-needed rain, I’m reminded of how refreshing talking to God about my mistakes can be. It washes all the gunk away, so that I’m ready to be filled again.

“Hettie” has so far proved rather unpopular in Brazil, particularly with the children I'm going to be working with, and “Heather” is totally off the radar. “Luisa” and “Header” are still on the table, but I’m not too keen. I’d appreciate your suggestions! :)

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