This article was last updated on the 26th of November, 2015 by Patrick Carpen.
The Portuguese word for “Brazil” is “Brasil” – pronounced “braziew”.
Accordingly, Brazilians don’t call their country “Brazil” they call it “Brasil”.
Normandia is a Brazilian city in the far North of Brazil, near to the border with Guyana. The English translation for “Normandia” is “Normandy”.
For proper coherence then, the title of this article, should be “A trip to Normady…”
But if you ask any Brazilian to point out “Normandy” on their map, they can’t, because “Normandy” doesn’t exist for them. But “Normandia” does.
What I’m trying to explain is that I will not always be consistent in translation of names of places when writing about Brazil.
But that’s not the point of this article at all! So let’s delve straight into the adventure.
Some time in October, 2015, while I was stationed at the Takutu Hotel in Lethem, two young women checked in. Being the talkative guy that I was I opened a conversation with them. When they told me that they were from the Brazilian city of Normadia, I was “all excited”. For some inexplicable reason, a trip to the Brazilian city of Normandia had always intrigued me. I wanted to go there. I wanted to learn about this city, its people and culture.
My newly made friends told me that I am always welcome to come visit; that they have vacant rooms and food is never a problem. About a month later, I finally got the chance to take two weeks’ leave from work.
I was told that the big bus leaves the bus station in Bonfim at 3pm. That morning it was hectic. I had to put so many things in place to ensure the smooth operation of the hotel while I was gone. I had to give the supervisor, Ms. Desiree Hamilton, some training as well.
By 2 pm that afternoon, I was scampering like a rabbit trying to get my suitcase packed and making sure that everything I would need was packed. The clock seemed to be ticking away on me. At around 2:30 pm, I hurriedly grabbed the phone and dialed “Come over right now to the Takutu Hotel please”. My voice expressed a sense of urgency. The taxi driver answered in the positive and I started to hug everyone a farewell “bon voyage” hug. I then proceeded with my small suitcase and haversack to the gate.
But fifteen minutes later, the taxi still did not show up. I had just fifteen left to get to the bus station and I figured I could barely get there in time if the taxi didn’t delay much longer. But the second hand on the clock ticked mercilessly onward, paying no attention to my running out of time, while the taxi driver “Chatch” showed no signs of arriving.
Driven to the point of frustration, I ran back inside and picked up the phone. I dialed another taxi number. He told me he was 5 minutes away from the hotel and he could be there in five minutes. “Please do!” I exclaimed.
I hung up and went back outside. Just then, the first taxi, Chatch, arrived. I signaled him to open his trunk. I put my suitcase inside, closed the trunk and went into the front seat. “Fast” I said. “Take the straigtht road and hurry, or I’ll miss the bus”.
I borrowed his phone and called the second taxi, Tony and told him not to come anymore, expressing my apologies.
We reached the bus station in Bonfim at around 2:50pm. I breathed a sigh of relief. But it got even better. The bus leaves at 4:30pm, not 3! This was indeed better, but more boring. I now had to wait for about one and a half hour. Well, better early than late!
What a sweet ride it was to Normadia. Was it the comfort of my seat? Was it excitement brewing in my mind? Was it that I finally got hold of a long overdue holiday? Or was it a combination of all of the above? I’m not sure but I sure enjoyed the ride to Normandia.
When the bus pulled into the bus station at Normandia, I could have sworned that it was an exact replica of the bus station in Bonfim. Same color painting, some architure, same size….
Enough of these observations.
Did you know I didn’t advise my friends I was coming? I didn’t even know her exact address!
She told me that she lived across the street from the bus station. What if she wasn’t home? What if she lied?
I didn’t know anyone else in Normandia. I walked across the road from the bus station and went to a shop that was open. There was a young man sitting there. I asked him if he knew “Deusilene Oliveira”. He said no. I asked a few more persons and got the same negative response. I was about to conclude that I was on my own when an old woman approached and told me that Deusilene lives right over there, two houses away and that she is presently at the supermarket.
I walked over to the supermarket and gave Deusilene a “pleasant surprise”. As you could have guessed, after the usual compliments, she said “you should have advised me” (of your coming).
Ah what the hell? I don’t have time for advises. Like Nike, I “just do it”.
Deusilene said the room I was supposed to stay in is too dirty and that she will place me in a hotel until the next day. By then, the room will have been cleaned.
But I insisted “no”. I’ll sleep in the room. I’m no prince of Wales and you don’t need to put a “pea” under my nine mattresses!
It took some convincing but Deusilene finally agreed. She proceeded to clean the room. I tried in vain to stop her. And what an awesome job she did! I couldn’t have done it half as good in twice the time.
It is the first night I will spend in the Brazilian city of Normandia, and here I am penning this article. Whether I will stay two days or two weeks or somewhere in between, I’m not sure.
PICTURES COMING SOON!