Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Andre the loverat and the destruction of a toilet

The farm...
I've mentioned Andre and Diana (the latter pronounced Dee-an-a) in passing before, but now I've decided that they both (Andre in particular) deserve their own little historic background.

After Mauricio left (not entirely on friendly terms) about four months ago there was a bit of a handover period while Carlinho and Euda looked for new people to help on the farm (somehow I didn't seem to be top on their list. Mind you, Cristina was happy about that). After a week or two of waiting for applications, one of Carlinho's brothers (Paulo) found a possible candidate. A guy had walked into his mechanic shop and asked for a job for him and his girlfriend. There were none going, but Paulo referred him to Carlinho. Now, these two apparantly had no experience of working on a farm, came from Mato Grosso (a more northerly state), and were desperate for a job as they were to be turfed out of their home by the end of the week. I don't think either party was too enthralled with the idea of them working on the farm, but needs must and all that. Still, I couldn't help but take it personally that despite Andre's complete lack of experience, he was higher in the pecking order for the role!

Andre and Diana arrived at the farm on a hot Wednesday afternoon while I was busy shovelling cow shit into a wheelbarrow. I didn't introduce myself at that point as I didn't think they'd welcome my stinky hand clasping theirs - that and as you know, first impressions count. However I watched curiously as they unpacked their meagre stuff from the lorry to move into the house. I couldn't quite help shake the feeling that they didn't know what they'd gotten themselves in for. While Andre appeared to be around 28, Diana looked more like 22 - both a bit younger than any other farmhands I'd previously seen. Still, maybe that wasn't a bad thing eh?

With little known about either of them there were bound to be rumours about why they had moved the 200km's or so south from their home, especially without a job to go to. So a few back stories were invented (mainly by me and Cristina's mum). My favourites were that they could in fact be brother and sister living in sin who had moved away from their home so they could carry out their dirty deed in secrecy, or that they'd commited a heinous crime in Mato Grosso and were fleeing the law. As usual the truth turned out to be very boring. They had in fact only moved because Diana's mum had recently moved down to Quirinopolis herself. A very mediocre story. Still, it didn't really explain why they couldn't hold down a job.

The main farmhouse from the back...
The next day they started very eagerly at 3:30am and helped to collect the cows and calves from the outlying fields in the darkness. Andre seemed to do this with some trepidation. I'm not sure why, but he was a bit worried that the calves were going to kill him (that's not me elaborating, that's the truth). The first thing that struck me about them both were their white, ankle high, rubber boots. They are possibly the worst decision for a boot possible. As they would be trouncing through cow excrement all day white was not the safest colour to wear. The next thing that struck me was that they seemed to do away with the long held opinion that on a farm you wear the crappiest, oldest clothes you can find and not your latest branded gear. It was a matter of days until they corrected that latter observation.

As they jumped down into the pit with me I greeted them for the first time and commenced their training on the milking machine. They were quick learners, and soon seemed to have it all under control.

You remember when I said that first impressions count? Well I was about to make one on them. One that regrettably lasted. It turns out that I had eaten something particularly disturbing for my stomach the day before. Whilst they were absorbing every mispronounced word I offered, my stomach was doing somersaults (before anyone says it I had not been drinking). Without any alternative I had to ask them if it would be possible to use their toilet as their house was closer than main one. Their toilet in their new house that they'd just moved into. Andre nodded, and I pegged it. Ignoring the mess and obstacles of the boxes in the hallway I bolted to the gents, hastily letting my pants drop and breathing a sigh of relief as my buttocks perched on the cold porcelain of the toilet's vase (they don't have a seat). I won't go into much more detail, but after the job was done there was nothing to freshen the air, and I had lingering doubts about whether or not the evidence may return later on that day due to the restrictive piping in Brazil, and the lack of water flow on the farm. I emerged from the house 10 minutes later, looking a little bit sheepish and trotting back to the pit. I noticed that due to the length of time I'd been using their facilities the sun had started to rise. I was greeted with friendly yet awkward expressions. I acted as if nothing happened and it were perfectly normal. I'm not entirely sure what they returned back to when they went to their house, but that day all the water ran out on the farm.

As time went on on the farm I got to learn a few things about Andre. Firstly, in addition to being scared of calves, he was scared of horses. That didn't really bode well for when he had to round up the cattle. Secondly he was scared of cows. Lastly, and I kid you not, he had a deep ingrained fear that if he rode the horse to get the calves they would actually try and eat the horse.

Apart from the above he was a very likeable fellow. He did treat me like a bit of an idiot only miming actions to me rather than speaking to me, but I'm used to that anyhow after my brief foray to Japan.

After a month or so with them, it was time for Cristina and I to leave the farm and with it Andre and Diana. We were heading to the city to start our jobs as teachers in a local English language teaching school (but more of that in another post). However we did from time to time see Andre and Diana when they came to the city to cash their cheques in, or when we popped to the farm for the weekend. When I asked Andre how he felt about farm life, he said that it was bliss. This obviously didn't last for long however as the following story was retold to us a month after we had left:

One day Carlinho and Euda could hear some arguing from their house on top of the hill. They went out onto the veranda and took a look down to the farm. They were greeted by the image of Diana picking up a large plank of wood and beating Andre to the floor. The next day Andre apparently had his arm in a makeshift sling. When probed as to what the argument had been about, Andre confessed that he had hidden a watch from her because another man had given it to her. Now I'm not sure who is worse in this situation as they both appear to be as childish as each other.

Sunset on the farm... A different shade
than before
Still, even after the above, they plodded on in their 'blissful' life on the farm. That is until Diana confessed to Andre a couple of months later that she loved a married man and was going to go and find him. She left, leaving Andre in a state of depression. He didn't eat for a week, and then decided to leave and go back to his home state. Normally that would be the end of the story, but a week later he was back, and this time he had spent R$2,000 carting a girl he had met there back with him. He said they had known each other since they were knee-high to a grasshopper and he had loved her all his life. I met her once before she quickly decided (in around about 4 days) that although he may be able to splash his newfound wealth around, and indeed love a lady perhaps a tad too much, he was not the man for her. Either that, or upon meeting me she realised I was 'that' man that had desecrated the toilet in the house. She left and I was expecting Andre to spiral down into a similar level of despair as before. As it turned out, he was perfectly ok with it, and confessed that now he had his eye on a girl that lived in Quirinopolis, close to the lake... What a player... Well... Maybe not.

As for the toilet and any possible consequences, Andre no longer shakes hands with me, and very much like a vampire I'm not allowed to cross the threshold of his house.


  1. Ah - but why did Diana's mum move down to Quirinopolis? Eh? Did you think about that? Nice one Peter! XX

  2. hey techear i found a canadian exchage estudent here in iturama it is really nice :D