Trip Start Feb 20, 2001
Trip End Jul 30, 2001

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Kids are great, huh?

Brazilian kids, too. Why, you should've seen the young cousins of my friend from Bahia, Christina.

Christina's six-year old primo was called Yau. (The name means "my mother was taking some wacky pain-killers when she filled out my birth certificate.") The kid was adorable. He had thin glasses and a wavy, sand-colored crest that hadn't been combed. He looked like a stressed-out office worker in the body of a butter-skinned, silly-grinned kid. One of his and Christina's cousins called him "galo cego" (the blind chicken). He talked like he was being tickled, even when he whined to his parents, during a party, that a vaguely nearby firework had blown off his ear. His preferred sitting position was upside-down on the couch.

Christina's nine-year old prima was called Thais. (In the language of Brazilian indians, it still means nothing.) She was a smart kid. Thus, I was spared from normal, stupid kid talk like pondering how they want to grow up to be which WWF wrestler.

Thais and I talked a lot. Once, we were at a party, and she boasted to everyone around, "Ele ja quebrou cuatro maquinas" - that I'd already broken four cameras while in Brazil.

I couldn't believe she'd said that! What a little punk. Man, I hate kids. Sometimes, I just want to reach across the table and slap 'em! Especially when they point out how big my head is.

No, no, no. I could never slap a kid. The worse I could do would be to hold his head underwater like I did to a flubbery little fellow at the pool I used to lifeguard at.

Say, I remember that kid. "Timmy the Tooth" they called him, because one of his teeth was triangular. He came to Lincoln Pool every day, hit on the female lifeguards, waded with his big tummy in the shallow end because he didn't know how to swim, constantly said "Suck it!" in tribute to his favorite professional wrestler (Jesse "The Rock" Hogan the Giant, I think), and kept pointing out how big my head was. Man, did that kid irk me. Sometimes, I just wanted to take him by the scruff of the neck and punch him right in the ...!

Calm down, Justin.

Rrrgh ...

There, I'm better.

It's just that the problem with Thais was that her facts weren't completely straight.

I corrected her. I HADN'T broken four cameras. I'd broken only THREE cameras; I'd had two stolen; and I'd lost one.

Here are the facts, day-by-day:

April 4 - In Joao "Johnny" Pessoa, for 62 Reals (about
$25), I became the proud owner of a new camera!

May 16 - In Jericoacoara, the stupid camera's button
got jammed as I jumped from the dunes taking
self-taken action photos.

May 19 - On the bus from Ceara to Belem, my camera
was stolen by a miserable onibus-hopper.

May 20 - In Belem, for 25 Reals (8 British lbs.), I
became the proud owner of a new camera!

May 21 - On Ilha do Marajo, I repeatedly banged my
latest acquisition against trees and dropped it
in the mud while searching the island for boa
constrictors. It should've broken, but it
didn't. This was the only good luck I had with
cameras, and I was glad the camera worked for the
whole week I had it.

May 30 - While climbing the Amazon River, my camera
was stolen from the shower. I suspect the
butler - I mean, the boat's miserable bartender.

June 4 - In Manaus, for 25 Reals (34,903 liras), I
became the proud owner of a new camera!

June 6 - The stupid camera's flash didn't work.

June 9 - Hiking alone and lost in the Amazon
Rainforest, I tried putting my camera in my
pocket, but it fell and was swallowed by the
miserable jungle.

June 19 - In Recife, for 45 Reals (with the Brazilian
economy in the state it's in, they also would've
accepted $700 in Monopoly money plus Boardwalk),
I became the proud owner of a new camera!

June 20 - At Praia do Porto, I slipped on a wet rock,
and my latest acquisition fell in the sea. Water
entered it. The lens-cover cracked. The stupid
camera's flash would no longer work.

June 23 - I realized that the batteries had fallen out
of the camera when I'd dropped it. I bought new
batteries. The flash DID work. Woohoo!

June 24 - In the Parque Nacional da Chapada
Diamantina, my stupid camera's flash broke when I
and my latest acquisition got soaked while
crossing a lake.

July 21 - My stupid camera's button is jammed.

So there you have it. Thais may be smart, but she was clearly WRONG!!! here. Ha, ha. I love it when I get the best of kids in battles of intellect.

But, Thais was right about one thing: that my Brazilian camera history has been two things: stupid and miserable. I have few pictures from Carnaval or Bahia and no pictures from Jericoacoara, the Amazon, Parque Nacional de Ubajara, or of the solo dog-sledding trek to the South Pole I took last month and forgot to tell you about. Boy, I shot some great photos of me and the dogs celebrating, but they sadly didn't turn out. You believe me, right?

Thais also could've pointed out that my handling of cameras was another thing: irresponsible and kid-like. And, seeing how we've already established that kids are great - when they're not obnoxious little know-it-alls - it just goes to show how great I am. Right?

"No"? Did I just hear someone answer, "No"? And then add, "Justin, your head is very big, HEH-haaaaah, hah, hah!" I'd recognize that choking laughter anywhere. Oh, no. The voices of Timmy the Tooth are returning!

"Go away, Timmy!"

He's not really there. He's not really there.

But ... if he was, seeing how I can't win a battle of intellect with that mastermind in annoyance ... why, I'd grab the snotty-nosed, isosceles-toothed chub-ball and give him a real throttling!

Wait. No.

I couldn't do that to a kid. Timmy the Tooth may be annoying, but he's still gr ...

I have to say it:

He's still grr ...

He's still grrrea ...

"Justin, you have a big head!"

Rrrrggghhh! Timmy the Tooth, if I ever get my hands on you, your tiny head's going underwater for a whole minute, and this time it'll be in the deep end! You hog-bellied, sun-poisoned, pumpkin-trousered ..."


I've gotta calm down,
Modern Oddyseus

Rrgh ...
Ah, who am I kidding? Timmy the Tooth does have smooth skin. What the heck? Timmy the Tooth IS great.

... in a very annoying way.
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