Monday, 19 July 2010


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When I’m forlorn, melancholy or generally baffled at what life throws at us, the best remedy for me is to go to the beach. Amidst the swirls of humanity there to enjoy the surf and sun, you can immerse yourself into a world where all senses are piqued. This causes a degree of recuperation to the soul, slightly diminished on the ride home where egregious driving by drunk beach revelers reminds us of how reckless people cause such disharmony in society.

But let’s stay on the positive. Fortunately for me, a beautiful beach is ten minutes from my house. Last Saturday, we parked in a lot that advertized a five real fee. A team of people instruct you on how to park your car efficiently to cram as many cars as they can into this space. This is classic informal economy stuff, nobody is paying any taxes there. But if you chose to not pay the fee, there is nothing the people running the lot can do about it.

Me and Richard Bahia Hartley
We have a spot where the wait staff know us. Our main waiter, a large square man with an operatic voice and charm which he uses to make sure you tip him well, was not there.

“His knee was bad, plus the owner here refuses to pay us our tips. I am going to be moving on after the season is over; it’s impossible to live on what he pays us.”

This is partly what makes Brazil such an unequal society, this tendency to exploit to the maximum, the incapacity for long term thought in things that involve profit. The idea that having happy workers matters is irrelevant when there is a teaming pool of desperate poor ready to work under miserable conditions to replace any discontents. Squeeze as much money as you can and keep another people in thrall while doing it, capitalism in its basest form.

I must admit I spent rather less time than I should have considering these terrible issues of human exploitation, instead revering the magnificence in front of me. The aquiline water, intersected by cauldrons of white created by the waves, invited compellingly.

Our waitress finished digging a hole in which to place a large sun umbrella to protect us from the scorching sun. Pedro gave us about ten seconds to sit down and relax before wanting to jump into the ocean. There we went. Pedro, now six, has lost fear of the ocean and knows how to avoid the punches it throws at you and take advantage of its blessings in the form of waves and relief from the heat. He simply loves it now and will spend all day there if you let him.

Pedro aged 10 now

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