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It is a funny thing, well it is to me, how I live in a place with a reputation for being quite tranquil and relaxing, yet I often seem to be extremely busy. Ok so I’m not rushing from pillar to post but that’s mainly because the pillar is a long way from the post and it takes time to do the journey.

I have recently completed the training for the peritoneal dialysis machine. When it arrives (it was meant to be delivered two weeks ago, now they are saying, sometime in the next 12 days) Neu will hook up to it at night and remain attached to it for 9 hours while it automatically carries out his dialysis during his sleep. He will then be free to do as he pleases during the day and what will please him more than anything else, will be to return to fishing. At the moment he has to be back at the house every 5 hours to do a dialysis session, this means he is currently only able to fish very close to shore, unfortunately the fish don’t appreciate this fact and tend to congregate further out.

I had to travel into Fortaleza 3 times a week to complete the training which meant taking the bus. Neu would take me to the top of the road on the bike, where I would wait for the coach, thankfully you can virtually set your watch by them so it’s never a long wait. Monday mornings were always a bit of a nightmare, so many people returning to the city after a weekend away that the bus was often packed, standing room only for the whole of the two hour journey but thankfully that only happened on Mondays, the rest of the week I sat in comfort which allowed me some reading time, or just gazing out of the window time, reminding myself to not get so used to life here that I cease to be amazed and amused by things, like the huge notice painted on a wall that translated as PANTS MAKE PENNIES! or the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting place in a tiny community, where I doubt it is possible, unless in heavy disguise, for anyone to be anonymous.
From the main bus station I would take a second bus, which came every day at 10 past 12 with the same driver and conductor, who very kindly ensured that I got of the bus at the right stop, in fact they continued to alert me that the stop I wanted was coming up, even when I’d done the journey several times, very kind. From there it was just a short walk to the clinic.

OK so there is nothing amazing in that you may be thinking and indeed there isn’t, except that people in village are generally very reluctant to travel into Fortaleza by bus, preferring to go by taxi, which is expensive unless there are several of you traveling together. Neu was absolutely horrified when I suggested taking the bus and indeed on the day we did go in by bus, his blood pressure was sky high by the time we reached the clinic. Why is he like this? Simple, he fears getting lost.
It never fails to amaze me, or the nurses in the clinic, that Neu has no fear of setting to sea on what is basically a raft, sail out for days into the deep ocean with no navigational equipment, stay out there for days and nights, fishing way beyond the sight of land and be able to return to the exact same spot that he left from 5 days previous, thinking absolutely nothing of it. Yet in to the city he has absolutely no idea where he is, which way is up or down, to go left or right, this way or that. He says all the buildings make it impossible for him to tell where he is, where as at sea he has clear vision, but vision of what? More sea! So how does he find his way back?
He tells me there is a wave that always returns to shore, it doesn’t matter where you are, or which way the current is running, if you watch for this wave which falls in between those going with the current, it will take you back. Ah! Easy then, just like a huge sign post that says BUS STATION.
I have never yet, in all the times I have been to sea with Neu, been able to spot this wave and if it wasn’t for other fishermen telling me the same thing, I would have long ago put this down as another of Neu’s tall tales.
Having done the trip into Fortaleza with me several times now, he is more confident of his ability to get from a to b but he has said that he would NEVER do the journey on his own.

Back at home, one of our dogs came into season, this caught me by surprise as she is so very young, she is also an extraordinary escape artist and consequently, despite my best efforts to keep her in the house, away from our other 2 dogs and walked only on a lead, she managed to get herself out and have a liaison with a stray dog who I’ve never seen before. End result 9 puppies. They are all so lovely but she’s not very interested in them, proving to be a very casual mother who has quite clearly had enough of them, consequently they prefer to follow us around, trying to walk anywhere with nine puppies swarming around your feet is quite a challenge and with their sharp little teeth they have quite a liking for nipping our ankles. They also keep us very busy cleaning up after them, nine puppies produce an awful lot of pooh! They are now 7 weeks old and have just started going off to their new homes, which tugs at my heart strings a bit but we can’t possibly keep them all, perhaps one or two.

While all this has been going on I have also been working with a friend, on a series of water colour illustrations of sea life, mostly fish but also seaweed and invertebrates. This was commissioned by an NGO for a book they are producing, with fishermen as the target audience. I was nervous, I know how critical an audience they would be so the illustrations had to be good, thankfully the person in charge was pleased with our work and I hope there will be more in the future.
Now I am working on revising some designs I did for a children’s story I wrote, I’m putting that down here as a way of making my self get on with it, rather than sitting here on the internet or any of the other million things I manage to find absolutely need doing now instead.
It’s a funny thing how the things I like doing most above all, are the things I put off doing, well it’s funny to me.

©Claire Pattison Valente 2013

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