Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The simplicity of happiness

As an update to this post I wanted to add this link a news story about a man who lived for a year without money and said it was the happiest of his life:

The longer I live here the more I come to understand that the human spirit needs very little to be happy.

Understanding the poverty that exists here has been a journey for me.  At first my snobby first world head was appauled and kept complaining about how awful it is that people live like this and I must help them.  But getting to know these people I have realised that they are some of the happiest people I know.  They never complain and seem to be very accepting of their lot in life.

Last Friday my husband and I went to help his father organise an event for teenagers at their church.  There were quizzes, dinner and a sleepover - which luckily we didn't stay for.

My mother-in-law (centre) with the women volunteers - the sisters are behind

The whole thing went really well and on the way back we gave a lift to two sisters who had voluteered their time to cook the dinner - which was for about 50 people.

They live outside Maringa, in Sarandi which is know as a 'favela' (a slum) and where most of this city's poorer workers live.  These two women were so happy and full of stories about their lives and how wonderful it was to be alive etc.  I felt so humbled seeing how simply they lived and I was glad to have had the opportunity to get to know them first-hand.

I am looking forward to many such encounters in the future.

Monday, November 9, 2009

On the street where I live

If you have ever wondered where all the 'Rag 'n' Bone' men went, well they packed up all their things and moved to Brazil. 
Brazilians have street vending down to a fine art.  Whether it's street fairs and markets or cars, carts and bikes driving down residential streets hocking their wares.  Even on the beach it is possible to buy practically everything but the kitchen sink, but I will do a separate blog on that when I am there as it is quite a sight to behold and there are many characters to be captured on film.   
Over the few months that I've been here I've slowly been compiling a list of my favourites, much to the surprise/shock/shame/horror/amusement of my husband and his family.  Naturally they think I am totally mad whenever I hear the familiar cries of whichever street seller happens to be driving by but I have to rush out and click away with my camera. 
My street and many streets in Brazil resemble a latin-american version of the wonderful scene from Oliver's Who will buy?, when all the vendors gather in the square selling milk, roses, strawberries etc. 

Get your brooms...

Orange, juicy oranges...

And my absolute favourite - the saucepan car...

Yes, you did read right, I did say Saucepan car, which I have literally translated from the Portuguese - O Carro da Panela.  This is a car that comes round about once a fortnight to mend saucepans.  I don't expect you to understand but over here pots and pans are really expensive and so people tend to keep them forever - about 20-25 years.  Over this time period they get battered up and dented and this is where the Saucepan Car comes in handy.  This handyman will come round and bash your cookware back into shape and offer a six month guarantee. 

For those who share my fascination I have also captured this wonderful advert on film. Don't judge him by the state of his car though!