Sunday, 25 January 2009

Belem do Para

Our Guyanese colleague Anil

The frogs are whooping glissandoes and the cicadas are bizzing. Just time for a quick wibble before dinner.

It was amazing to hear stories of fights for justice in Brazil today from the horses' mouths. One female politician who has just left the cabinet ("The failings of development are not inadequacy of technique but inadequacy of ethics") and one 86-year old liberation theologian who spoke slow drawly Portuguese and enjoyed elaborating on how philosophy is rubbish, theology is all wrong and the Pope's intellectual life is in the 12th century! It's interesting sitting in a hall of 200 people from about 20 countries, with dalits whose most mainstream language is Hindi, Amerindians from Brazil and Guyana who share the same tribal language but split up in the Portuguese and English sessions, a lost-looking Japanese Jesuit who jumped like I'd stung him when I said hello, and a majority of Brazilians who dance at every opportunity, take siestas between sessions and generally seem to be very good at Life.

The introductory session last night was like a parable of cultural difference. Each group gave a short presentation. The Europeans all backed away from the microphone. The African presentation seemed to be mainly a group hug. South Brazilians were quite reserved. Latin America was horribly disparate (4 of us from English speaking Guyana, the rest Spanish speakers, NOOOOOOOOOO consensus and a Columbian takeover!) North Brazil was a massive boogie, FOUR songs in different languages, I'm sure practically all of us wished we were Brazilian... the exuberance carried on into the singing and dancing later. B took some good photos, and was definitely happier behind the camera than in front of it! He's as popular as ever, but keeping his profile low (metaphorically only, of course... wait till we get to Aishalton! Standing OUT!)

The bus has just got back with all the others, so I'm off to dinner and a little bit of sociability before collapsing into bed. The heat isn't extreme, but it has a wilting effect. I feel rather like an untended house plant (one of the pallid kind).

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