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Prologue

God’s honest truth, it was the morning of Christmas Eve when Vivian casually mentions in conversation something about staying up past midnight. 

I’m like, “Really? I haven’t done that in years and would much rather be ready and refreshed for the morning”.

She then proceeds to tell me that celebrations are different here. “Sure, I can believe that but exactly how different?” I ask.

Ten days into the unknown…

We left the UK mid-December and it’s taken this long for me to want to write. You see, things feel very different this time around as I’m in a country, no wait a continent, that speaks little English and that’s applicable to my girlfriend’s parents and extended family.

It’s been over 4 years since my former alter-ego, The Unlikely Traveller, last surfaced. I haven’t picked up a DSLR camera since, let alone written or diarised anything. With the seal now broken and getting ‘pen to paper’, it did feel like a light form of escapism.

As for photos, well my surroundings aren’t particularly picturesque, which might surprise you. That said, I’m hoping for a scenery change in the days ahead. Irrespective, I shall aim to deliver phone photography which will be equally interesting content-wise,  just less ‘fancy’. A decent compromise, I hope.

Speaking of compromise, followers of The Unlikely Traveller will know that I try to write authentically, no different to who I am as a person.  However, I obviously don’t want to cause any unintentional disrespect as I, in amateur journalistic fashion, report back contrastingly.

@Vivie – any content you’re not comfortable with, edit away or publicly grill me. I’m sure readers would happily enjoy some authentic cross-points between us 🙂 #awks lol.

A memorable Manauara Xmas

Wow! She really wasn’t kidding. So here’s some cultural enlightenment for you folks and you haven’t needed to give up your job and rent out your home for the information!

We actually celebrated Christmas in the late hours leading up to the 25th and for some hours after. I bailed at 2am which was an achievement, the rest of the Brazilians went on till at least 4.30am.

A banquet of food gets laid on by all the guests. Great, but again I swiftly realised that the feast wouldn’t primarily be eaten on Christmas day but instead, tonight, closer towards midnight!

As for gifts, they were exchanged in the evening meaning that on Christmas day itself as I write this, well, the celebrations are more muted. Don’t get me wrong, last night was epic and an incredible experience to have witnessed and been involved in but for my own cultural habits, quite the contrast to have Christmas day itself feel pretty ordinary. I think a ZOOM back home is in order…

Anyway, here are some phone photos for you:

Epilogue

To conclude significant anecdotes to-date, on the way to a small vaccination clinic yesterday (not Covid related) the busy Manauara traffic soon revealed the cause of today’s disruption. 

We drove past a man that had very recently had an accident on his motorbike. As in, we drove right alongside him and close enough for me, at a glance, to see his leg badly cut up with maybe a 15cm diameter pool of blood that had formed.

Man, I’ve only ever seen that shit in the movies! I’ve traversed countless lands in 2015/16 and many poor countries but never did I see anything so real and relatively horrific and I’ve been here just 10 days!

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In the car today, Vivian’s sister was telling Vivian about the time in the last year that she was robbed. (My good lady does an incredible job at listening, buffering and then translating for me almost in real time).

I recall the state of bewilderment I was in not just at the ‘being robbed’ line but the casualness of Vivian’s translation for such a story. Remaining mute, I listen on whilst consciously thinking where must have you been you poor girl for that to have happened to you. That gets answered, by chance, pretty quickly – it was outside her Nan’s place. Also casually mentioned expect I’m again thinking: ‘Hang on, I know where that is and that’s not summit to be casual about’.

Their Nan’s home is quite literally a stone thrown from her parents home (where we’re staying). I mean FFS.

And for the piece de resistance, it was at gun-point. #mindblown

Thanks for reading.

14 Responses

  1. And he’s back on the road!! The unlikely travellers indeed! Can’t wait to read all about your adventures especially during these strange times!

      • Thank you so much Edmund. Sami has told me much about you.

        We don’t really know what to expect for the reasons you mentioned but we are going to make the best of our time.

        Vivie

  2. Merry Christmas to you both, and happy travels. Sami I was only thinking about you yesterday and was going to send you a message in the coming days asking how you are and what you are doing with yourself these days, now I know 😊 Happy Travels my friends, make lots of beautiful memories.

    • So lovely to hear from you Em. Lovely words, nice one.
      Yes, all a bit late and last minute planning. Not like last time. We once met in Toscana, feel free to pop over and come meet us in Brazil lol. Failing that , next year in the UK I hope.

  3. Whilst we all are stuck here following the tier rules.. you made your own.. good luck .. would love to see your updates and virtually visit the places (that’s the least we could do in the present situation).. stay safe ! Have fun !

    • Thank you, Shivu. I hope we get to show you some interesting places in time and more importantly, I hope lockdoen eases back home for the New Year. (Remember also though we have super big challenges lockdown wise as to where we go next etc). What if the whole continent locks down!? I pray not, of course.

  4. Loved reading this!
    Food looks really good.
    Happy Christmas to you both.
    We look forward to the next instalment
    Love Luci and Sally xx

    • Thanks Sally, Luci.

      Always lovely to hear from you.

      Her Dad just keeps dishing out meat and fish – it’s wonderful! 🙂 Definite resemblances to the Italian way of life including the food and family vibes.

      It was special to have time with Vivian’s Nonna. I’m really not sure how many Englishmen she’s seen in all her 70 years lol.

      S&V x

  5. Merry Christmas guys! You popped into my junk mail and I have only just seen this. Lovely to hear about your antics and we are expecting some pure unadulterated Portuguese to pop up in your diary as well 😉 Enjoy the journey, make loads of unforgettable memories together and take great comfort in us enjoying the read. Lots of love Sarah, Andy and the boys xx

    • Hi Sarah and Andy, lovely to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words. Sami says that he will learn Portuguese when you learn Italian 🙂
      We are hoping to make the best of it despite the challenges that travelling during covid brings. Let’s hope more of South America opens up so you can join us for a holiday.

      Love,
      Sami and Viv x

  6. Merry Christmas guys! Sorry for the delay, just found your email. Great pics, you look super happy and sounds like you’ve had some great experiences already. Just not the flight.

    Admit it! you were in bed by 12:01 really 🤣. Look forward to some more tales…hopefully less gruesome or potentially dangerous 😳

    The food looked fantastic.
    Love from us to you.
    Alex, Natalie and the girls.

    • Hello Mainstone Famiglia,

      Haha, great lines. Nope, first in years up past 12.01 lol.

      Actually the flight wasn’t that bad I’m relieved to report. A sleeping pill took care of that!

      Yeah, fingers crossed man on the less gruesome and dangerous! Keep me posted for Jan 4.

      S&V

  7. A belated Merry Christmas. Very interesting as usual. I think a lot of countries celebrate Christmas more on Christmas Eve than on the day itself. Make sure you both keep safe. Where will you be for the new year. do you know if Brazil do much differently than we do here yet?

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