picosgemeos: (Montanhas)
I decided to go for a bike ride today, timing it with the start of the Brasil vs Mexico game.  I knew this would give me empty streets (emptier than usual) and a lower risk of falling on my face in front of an audience.

10 minutes in and I was dying.  I tried going up a hill that leads out of town and had to stop halfway.   My strength wasn't there.  So I turned back and glided past homes blaring the game, letting myself explore the town's small streets. Every house had an open door, families gathered around the television. Was this the case across the country?  Millions of people stopping what they were doing to watch the game?  I counted a few exceptions: the guy cutting down stalks in a field, the man on a wheelchair on his porch, the three boys playing football, the two teenagers playing pool at a local bar.

I returned the bike to my brother 25 minutes into the game's first half and set out on foot, warmed up and ready for a long walk. I tuned into Expanding Mind's latest podcast - an interview with philosopher Michael E. Zimmerman on Nietzche, Religion and Deep Ecology - and kept my eyes on the distant mountains.

This time, I mastered the hill and left the town behind.  Suddenly, a black dog approached me. I think she wanted to be my friend. She'd race to the front, enter the fields to check on the cows bordering the dirt road, then sit, watching me as I approached. Once I was by her side, she'd trot for a few moments beside me before dashing ahead again.

She reminded me of Ian McEwan's short novel Black Dogs, except that she wasn't as threatening as the dogs in that story. She abandoned me after a while but, on my return, she joined me again until I reached a bridge and faced calves herded by a boy on a horse.  I got home just as the game ended as a draw.

Today's ride was the first time in my adult life I took off on a bike by myself. It was a new and yet familiar experience, as if I was a child again.  My brother later told me I can build my strength up in no time - I just need to go for bike rides every day and in two weeks I'll be fine. It's a new challenge I'm willing to embrace.
picosgemeos: (Montanhas)

When I can, I try to go for walks in the morning, after preparing breakfast for our guests. Sometimes I listen to an iTunes playlist on shuffle, sometimes a podcast ("The Sound in My Head", "Expanding Mind", "The New Yorker Fiction Podcast"). Today, I listened to a lecture by Mary Beard on "The Public Voice of Women" given to a London Review of Books audience. I think the lecture may have been given at the British Library.

My brother's German Shepherd Lelo likes to accompany me on these walks.  Six laps in total, equivalent to 4.800 metres. I enjoy Lelo's company but today I decided to sneak out and avoid him: he barks and runs after any motorbike, nearly knocking off the riders. I don't want to be there when he causes an accident. He's also got a thing against chickens and cats.

So I walked on my own, freezing slightly even though it was sunny, picturing myself in that British Library auditorium. Temperatures have dropped these last few days, reminding me of what a friend from São Paulo recently said: Winter is much worse than Summer in Brasil; we don't know how to cope with it.

I walked past tractors and builders working on a construction site, a mechanic's shop, stray dogs, horses, cows, birds picking over scattered corn. I walked past other walkers and to some I said "good morning".  I walked past our gardener collecting this morning's milk, my great uncle having a chat with my mom's cousin.  I walked past one of my mom's god-daughters having a loud conversation with her family and, finally, I walked past our guesthouse, six times.

Again, I'm amazed that I suddenly find myself living in a small town in Brasil, when only a few months ago I lived in London.  12 years in the UK's capital suddenly brought to an end... a temporary one I hope. When I first started listening to Mary Beard's lecture, I thought it might remind me too much of my London life and, consequently, depress me for the rest of the day.  But its effect was actually the opposite: I forgot the world around me and paid attention to her descriptions of antiquity and works of western civilization art. I became engrossed in her arguments. I even carried on listening to the lecture as I showered afterwards.

"What was that music you were listening to?" one of our employees asked me later. "Did you not hear me call you?"


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