A house in Rio de Janeiro


In between getting older and being old, have I left living in Brazil a bit late? I have always felt that there must be places that offer more excitement than Australia. “Oh Gerard, have you not learnt enough yet. Excitement is what you make yourself?” This is what reasonable people have always told me. “You are out of your mind”, from the same reasonable people. Another favourite saying thrown as a morsel to keep me sated or even sedated. ” You will never find anything better than Australia”, “it is the best country.” Is this last bit an attempt to quell their own uncertainty?

Perhaps it is nothing more than my own wish to escape from getting old, pretending that moving about will stop ageing, I have a tendency to dream that a nirvana exists always somewhere else except at the present place. Another bout of useless dreaming of foreign countries. It could also be, that reasonable people are possessed with a lot of sangfroid but bereft of coping with anything much more exciting than a change of direction of stirring the tea and milk anti clockwise. Their major concession to adventure. I am surrounded by a sea of tea stirrers all in tandem. Round and round they stir.

I know, that Christmas always brings out in me a kind of melancholy. Contrary to what most people seem to want, my melancholy runs its course and doesn’t stop just because of a looming deadline. Perhaps unreal expectations are running rampant in others and I know and feel that too keenly. Does a certain date of 25th of December make necessary for a total mayhem of life? Is the 26th or 29th of Dec not very much like any other date? If the 25th is such a nice date, why is every day not like the 25th? Yes, I know it is Christmas and very special, but we still continue breathing, laughing, or not, like every other day. The sun comes up and goes down, just the same as any other day. It also often rains.

Today, it is still more than ten days till Christmas. Even so, in the shopping avenues there is a certain tension building up already. You can see an increase in tempo. Is time starting to run faster? Is the minute now getting shorter?

Brows are furrowed and people are nervously lugging huge trolleys laden with mountains of food. Today I saw a lady wearing a floral dress who would normally, (I assume somewhat brazenly) calmly go through the dairy division (small goods) of the super market to buy a small diet yoghurt. Today though, she threw all caution to the wind, loading 12 six packs of apricot smooth yoghurt with attached spoons in her groaning trolley.

Later on, while I was studying the different bags of garden potting mix outside, this same lady was ripping into one of the six packs apricot yoghurts with the spoon now unattached. After I bought and rolled my two bags of potting mix on my trolley to the footrest car and taking the trolley back, this same lady was on her third yoghurt. Is the Christmas spirit causing a hot fever resulting in an uncontrollable urge to slurp fruit laden yoghurt?

I remember last year finding a half eaten leg of ham in a bin just outside the Woolworth super market. It was in the full sun and would have gone off. In any case, flies were busy buzzing. It had teeth marks on it. Did some soul’s hunger get the better of him or her? Later on I speculated on who could possibly have partly eaten a leg of ham and then discard it in a bin. Did some people hold an impromptu ham eating party around the corner on the grass verge to celebrate the Christmas. Did they eat it late at night?

It is not unusual to see people buying food at the supermarket only to see them outside the door and start eating. They wrestle with the plastic wrapping. Their hands are shaking. This eating seems urgent and the need to satisfy hunger is immediate. Not a second to lose. One can assume that food had run out at home and that finally only hunger drove them to the shop…


It is therefore not surprising I started dreaming of how life would be in Brazil. An escape from the tedium. I can hardly believe that those sort of strange Woolworth eating cultural habits would exist there as well. I know that hunger thrives in Brazil. The slums of Rio have hordes of hungry kids going around for food. But they also laugh and play soccer. From my experience in Argentina, people do have different life habits. Hunger here seems lonely and suffered in isolation. In Brazil, I hope and speculate, hunger if it is still rampant there, is shared and communal. A shared hunger is preferred to an isolated one. Shared anything is better.

I found a house outside Rio de Janeiro with twenty five hectares and two waterfalls. Here it is.

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26 Responses to “A house in Rio de Janeiro”

  1. auntyuta Says:

    This house in Rio for half a million US dollars seems to be a bargain!
    Would you be able to get your pension sent from Australia to Rio de Janeiro, I wonder.

    Don’t people have time to sit down in a cafeteria to have a break with some drink and a snack?

    I love Christmas celebrations with people who are not stressed out and take time to enjoy some Christmas food and listen to some relaxing Christmas music.

    In church today I listened to some Bach music. This was wonderful and really made my day! πŸ™‚

    Wishing you, dear Gerard, and your lovely Wife! a great third of Advent. πŸ™‚


  2. solidgoldcreativity Says:

    Wow! I want to live here too. To swim in that pool and look at the view. They do like large logs for their fires, don’t they?

    Cacked at so much here, Gerard. Esp the ham eater and “I have always felt that there must be places that offer more excitement than Australia.” Wouldn’t be hard!!!


  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, that wood stove looks impressive. Just imagine what one could cook there? The views alone would be enough for sustenance.
    I wonder what the disadvantages would be. Giant insects, marauding robbers or Evangelical maniacs trying to convert one into talking in tongues?
    Even so, walking through the graveyard of St Luke’s here in Bowral can be rather peaceful and life affirming. πŸ˜‰


    • solidgoldcreativity Says:

      Now Gerard, don’t go pious on me. Even I wouldn’t call walking in St Luke’s life affirming πŸ˜‰


      • auntyuta Says:

        Now, most graveyards we know from Germany are wonderful garden areas with lots of beautiful trees. Wouldn’t you call this life affirming? Here in the Sydney area by contrast we know of at least two graveyards very close by the ocean. These graveyards look absolutely bare, no trees, no plants of any kind. Berlioz is disgusted with graveyards like these. However I say on the positive side is the beautiful view to the ocean!


      • gerard oosterman Says:

        St Luke’s graveyard is very beautiful and unlike most graveyards, surrounded by very old trees and tomb-stones ravaged by time gone by. Some dating back to the early 19 hundreds. I’ll try and post a picture here…
        No, I can’t. Anyway. It is only minutes away from Woolworth and that leg of ham from last year. No, I don’t want or like being pious. I’ll be lucky to be let in.


      • solidgoldcreativity Says:

        I thought you were joking. My mistake. Certainly, beauty is life-affirming. What challenges me is finding the non-beautiful so as well. Like Mr Ham Eater πŸ™‚


  4. solidgoldcreativity Says:

    Hello Uta. I think I know the graveyards you’re thinking of … around Coogee? I think there might be a big divide between the “new” world and the “old” world in regard to death and memorialisation. Not sure what it is, and I think it exists even so …


  5. Andrew Says:

    A thoughtful and amusing piece, Gerard. We should have a worldwide campaign to ban synchronised tea-stirring. It is one of the great ills of society today. On a par with synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics – no artistic merit in either (discuss). Christmas has however some redeeming features. Shopping is not one of them. The music indeed is. The Christmas Oratorio. Bach and SchΓΌtz. Some of the carols – The Three Kings was always my favourite. A chance to bash through Vivaldi’s Gloria in D. Carols from Kings Choir Cambridge but not for me the Wiener Knabenchor. Too much icing sugar on their music. I am also a fan of Christmas pud and the traditional Yule Log rather than those provided by Colin Snout. Christmas is a time to catch up with old friends. It is not a time for pushing shopping trolleys. Brazil? Well I expect the soccer is better but provided I have access to birds I can live anywhere. Oh and we did shop at lunchtime today. We bought 2 oranges. And we did not eat them immediately after leaving the supermarket. Had I seen half a ham in the waste basket I would have been tempted to take it for Lulu. She doesn’t know its Christmas but she does like chewing the pine needles if they fall off the tree. Ho ho ho.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hello Andrew, have you tried festooning Lulu’s logs with a sprig of Holly? You are right about lovely music, especially Bach. But, I am afraid another ‘jingle bells’ might cause me to relapse into strangling sheep in Murphy’s paddock again. ( I was encouraged in a rehab to exercise strangling bicycle helmets instead)
      Loved you latest photo expose. (Accent)


  6. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Gerard, I read your posts first thing in the morning, it’s become something of a ritual, and something that I most look forward to at the start of my day. Your post today is particularly good πŸ˜€

    You know what I would say in answer to your yearning for pastures new, but then I’m a reckless 50 something who likes flying by the seat of her pants.

    I agree with Andrew, the best part about Christmas is the music and the food. I fill the house with candles all through December and only start to decorate on Christmas Eve when I go out and get greenery and foliage from wherever I happen to be. In London I’d take it from the parks (i’m sure nobody minded me snipping off a bit of holly here and there) and here in Andalucia I can’t find holly so it’s going to have to be rosehips this year. Not sure about a tree yet, need to have a think about that….

    Andrew’s reference to Colin Snout and the Yule Logs may have been lost on you – C.Snout is our new rescue dog (a ratonero bodeguero andaluz) a bit like a jack russell only longer legs – anyway I mention Mr Snout a lot on facebook because A) I love him and B) he’s into Christmas baking at the moment and by that I mean he likes making ‘Yule Logs’ and then leaving them for me to step in – ah, the joy of having a dog again!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I love praise and am glad that you liked this post. Oh yes, real wax candles. The flicker of their light weaving its magic, casting shadows against Spanish walls mellowed by age.
      Our Milo is on watch after just having watched on our ABC “the possum wars”.
      We have solar led flickering lights both at front and back garden. They are multi coloured and do give an atmosphere of childhoods long gone of magic with snow and fondant.
      Give Mr Snout a hug from Australia and put some X.mas cheer on top of his logs, perhaps some glitter or a nice red chilli.
      As for Brazil. I remember wanting a soothing Brazilian wax on my forehead thinking it was some kind of exotic South American healing ritual for tension headache. Old ignorant fool I am.


  7. Patti Kuche Says:

    Sated or sedated, you have such a wonderful turn of the screw and the mounting expectations of Christmas are certainly wonders to behold. Brazil, Bowral wherever we are the 25th will pass. As does a kidney stone!


  8. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    Yes, you make your own excitement and happiness, as other readers have said. If we are’nt happy where we are, we surely won’t be happy in Brazil or Tuscaloosa! Our small graveyard is old and filled with relatives. We do go for picnics on clean-up days. Dreary on a cold rainy day, but quite pleasant when the sun shines. Does that say something about me? Happy Christmas Gerard. You have given me much happiness with your stories.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hello Kaytisweet.
      The best wishes for the seasons to you too. You and many others are the reason I enjoy putting words in a certain order. I rather walk through grave yards than car yards. πŸ˜‰


  9. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    I love Christmas, but I have to admit, I am struggling with the guilt as I plan meals. The last book I read (about Sandakan) and the one I am reading now (about the Biafran war) and the nightly TV (Syrian refugees, Central African Republic slaughter) are all about people who struggled, or are now struggling, to find a crust on which to survive. And yes, I know, guilt is unproductive – and sending money charities is a form of evasion…

    On a different note, are there Jaguars prowling round this Brazilian dream, or what?


    • berlioz1935 Says:

      While understanding your feelings in regard to the refugee problems in the past and present I can not agree with you. The war in Biafra was terrible and I think the world has completely forgotten that conflict. I still remember the starving children on our nightly TV news.

      Please, Hilary, don’t feel guilty about all the problems in the world when you plan your Christmas. Just keep it simple and enjoy the company of your loved ones.

      You say, “sending money charities is a form of evasion”. I don’t think so. You are sharing your resources with people in need. We can not go all there and be active, this would create other and more problems.

      We feel guilty, because we hear all those regretful things happening in the world. Centuries ago people knew only what happened in their own little corner of the world. Now the global village complex encompasses us.

      I have no solution for our problems, and I guess nobody has, but YOU have to try to cope with the tsunami of bad news and emotional upheaval. I have no idea where do you live or what Christmas tradition you have. But take a quiet moment, light a candle or two, switch off the ceiling lights and listen to a quiet Christmas carol.

      This is what I wish for you and myself. Merry Christmas


      • hilarycustancegreen Says:

        You are very kind Berlioz, thank you for your sane advice. I lead a lucky and happy family life. It is awareness of this contrast between my life and those less fortunate that produces the guilt. I will be able to look forward to and enjoy Christmas and I will continue to try and share my luck. Merry Christmas to you and yours.


  10. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes, guilt does prowl around at Christmas. We try and not overdo it. Presents for the grandkids and we cook a nice meal, but no extravagances. No food thrown out. We never do. Scraps to the garden.
    I am sure Brazil has jaguars. I noticed in one of the Brazilian house pictures a large dog on the veranda.


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