The fun of time travel – part 2

The Desk travels

The desk travels: my temporary desk in Rio Preto

I mentioned to one of my (many) cousins in Rio Preto that I was amazed at how much the town has grown, and pointed out the development of office towers and residential skyscrapers all over town. In true “I’m-getting-old-and-don’t-want-to-face-the-facts” fashion, I reminisced how when we were kids, we joyfully celebrated the fact that the town’s first McDonald’s was opening; we also had to play outside all day (or go to the movies) because there was no cable TV.

Now, there’s a massive Walmart, and smart little boutiques, and even a Hilton hotel opening in a few months. My cousin indulged me and listened patiently to my rant, before making an interesting comment; she called Rio Preto a “gentle giant”. Meaning: yes, the town may have grown over the past decade, but it maintained an endearing small-town mentality.

Within about 20 minutes of arriving in Sao Jose do Rio Preto, you start appreciating the fact that the town is nowhere near as stressful as Sao Paulo. While Rio Preto and Sao Paulo have some things in common (why does everybody here drive like they’re the only ones on the road?), others are a welcome change, for instance:

There is still a strong link with the town’s agricultural traditions. People still have fruit trees in their backyard. People still make home-made jam. People still know how to get a cow to get out of the middle of the road (step one: open your vehicle’s window; step two: proceed to tap your hand loudly on the outside of your car door). And, of course, people still have that easy-to-spot, delicious countryside accent.

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The distances are shorter, and it takes you a fraction of the time to travel them. Unless, of course, you’re stuck behind a tractor. Or there’s a cow in the middle of the road (in which case: see above). Although to be fair, the latter doesn’t happen very often anymore.

People walk places, and seem happy to do so. There are actual sidewalks! And walkways! How did I not notice this as a kid? People go about their business on foot and don’t seem as neurotic about security and crime as we unfortunately have to be in Sao Paulo.

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Castaway

I’m drifting. Somewhere in the middle of the ocean, there I am on a small boat, rowing, rowing, trying to get away from something, trying to make it home. I think to myself that I should have exercised more throughout the year because rowing is much harder than I thought it could ever be.

The water is at once clear and turquoise. I can see the shadow of my boat on the sand some three metres below me. Indeed, I can see my own shadow. And that of the other three people on the boat with me.

I let the oar down for a moment, and it nearly slips away and into the crystal clear water, just nearly. Before it does, Nowhere Man stops it, pulls it back into the boat, to safety. I’m exhausted, on the verge of tears, really. I’m so tired. I can’t go on. Continue reading

The big short

Hair, there and everywhere

Hair, there and everywhere

My hair came back from Barbados with a serious case of identity crisis; it simply refused to believe it was no longer in Barbados.

I can’t blame it. My name was on the plane ticket and even I can’t believe I’m no longer there.

Since I hadn’t cut my hair in nearly six months, two weeks of sun, heat and swimming in the sea amounted to about two years of damage. So about a week ago, I decided it was time to live up to my promises to myself and cut it short. Continue reading