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I am beginning to wonder if I have somehow become irradiated, or magnetised or some such thing, so many technological and mechanical things are giving up on me.

As I said in the last post, my laptop gave up the ghost. I managed to get another (to add to my mounting debt), and not unreasonably seeing as I am in Brazil, the computer programme is in Portuguese. As an added complication the programme is Linux, which I am not familiar with. Now I am not a complete idiot when it comes to computers, on the other hand, my knowledge of computer speak isn’t that great, my knowledge of computer speak in Portuguese is even less, trying to find my way round the Linux programme in Portuguese is a laugh a minute, oh yes I am really laughing!

OK I hear you say, what kind of idiot gets a Linux programme (when everybody I have spoken to says they take a bit of getting used to) in Portuguese? Well in my defence all I can say is: it was what was on the computer, I have been told repeatedly that I will have less problems with viruses, I like the idea that the programmes are free, it should help my Portuguese and I like a challenge. How’s that for starters?

The Portuguese Linux part of things is my choice and is just a matter of time (I hope). Were the problem comes in, is with the printer. A new printer that they said is ever so easy to install, just plug and print, OH yes, well not for me. I have followed the instructions to the letter, nothing, I have changed cables, unplugged it, plugged it in, turned it off, turned it on, un-installed, re installed, been on the web site, down loaded a new version of the install programme, tried it on a different computer, shouted at it, still nothing. The computer tells me that it is “unable to hold a two way conversation with the printer” ooh err, feels a bit like a theme for my life at the moment.

My mobile phone has decided that it will not let me speak to anyone, I can hear them but they cant hear me.

Neu came back from fishing the other morning, telling me the sail on his boat was ripped, yes I’ll fix it I said. He came back with the sail, I sat down at my machine which refused to lengthen it’s stitches, refused to do a zig zag stitch and kept breaking the thread. ARGH!!!! I had to sew the sail by hand, a long job.

And the problem seems to be catching

The toaster has a mind of it’s own, only one side works and then it sometimes refuses to stop, incinerating anything in it.

The Television is slowly giving up, sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.

Neu’s phone has decided to stop ringing, only vibrates now.

My son’s playstation portable broke (oh I am so sad about that, oh no I’m not! though I didn’t touch it I promise) as did his mp3

My daughter’s mp3 broke, and now her phone is refusing to charge.

The house phone, which we had to wait 3 years to get installed, often tells the person ringing, that the phone is engaged, when it isnt. When we try to ring our own number from within the village we often get told that “This number does not exist”, “This number does not receive calls” or “Please check this number and try again”. When the phone does agree to ring, the call tone sounds suspiciously like the effort is way too much for it, e er ee errrrrrhhhhhh e er ee errrrrrrrhhhhhh, and then very often when the phone is answered, the person in the house hears someone they don’t know wanting to speak to someone else no one knows, or just never ending silence. I mainly got the phone as I was informed we would be able to have the internet, what they failed to tell me was that it’s only available by dial up which is slow and prohibitively expensive.

Last month, while I was talking to My son who lives in England, the phone started to produce lots of clicks and finally we got cut off, we often get cut off, or get a crossed line, or fade away to nothing, and usually he rings back (it is way cheaper for people to ring me than for me to ring anyone who lives outside of the village, even Aracati, the town where we go to do our shopping is considered long distance). I was sitting in the kitchen waiting for him to call back, when I heard the box (that is something to do with our phone) on the post outside our house, making more of the same clicks, this time I could see the cable swinging backwards and forwards too. I called Neu and he went to investigate. It was dark but as he walked up the lane from our house, he saw three guys huddled together and the cable for our phone was hanging down beside them. When the guys saw him coming, they ran off but Neu found a strip of wire with clips attached to our line. We informed the company who sent someone out the next day to repair the line and put it back up the post. The engineer told Neu that the phone company would require us to pay for any calls the guys had made on our line, as that was undoubtedly what they were doing.
Now I still don’t know if that is true or not because when I went to Aracati to ask advice, I was told I would have to ask in Beberibe (the town in the opposite direction) because we live in that municipality, but a neighbour of ours had a bill for over R$400. of calls which he hadn’t made, and he paid it. When our bill came through, I was extremely relieved to find that there were no calls on it that we hadn’t made, I consider we were very lucky. I also consider it time to get rid of the phone.

And it isn’t only mechanical things going wrong either.

Neu’s small boat got attacked by termites, hopefully a soak in the sea got rid of them, and one of the bigger boats got washed off the beach in a storm, luckily they found it further down the beach.

All my tomato seedlings that were doing so well, have had something eat them or rot them, I don’t know what or why but they are all flat on their backs with hardly any stem left.

And it’s still raining, ok not with the frequency that it was, but the other morning Neu left to go fishing at 2, I had gone back to sleep but woke with all the electricity off and a howling gale blowing. In the dark I couldn’t see the time and just prayed that Neu hadn’t left for sea before the storm hit, hoped he was still on the beach. The storm blew for several hours and was one of the most violent storms I can remember here. Thankfully Neu hadn’t set out, he stayed at the beach hoping the storm would pass but finally came home at 5.30 when the rain eased off. Several boats were badly damaged by the force of the wind, even though they were still on the beach, boats turned over, had their sails ripped to shreds, masts snapped and so on. With our run of luck I was amazed that non of our boats had suffered any damage, but I was more than anything else, incredibly relieved to see Neu.

Neu said we should all go to church, he hopes a blessing will cure us of our run of bad luck, that’s not my way but I wonder sometimes, I really do.

©Claire Pattison Valente 2009

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