Paolo and Carlotta where now well into their third week of the trip, and all seemed to be going well. They still hadn’t argued, but this was more down to Paolo just agreeing with everything Carlotta said, whether it was right or not. For example, when it rained all day yesterday and Carlotta said “I don’t expect they get much rain here”‘ Paolo agreed while silently thinking “Hang on? We’re in the rain forest in the rainy season. Hmmmmm ….” The early decision had been made that Carlotta would be in charge of booking hostels, and Paolo would be in charge of linguistics. And everything else. Linguistics was difficult for Paulo. Every time something was required Carlotta would calmly say “Just go and ask that man over there”. Yes, fine. In theory. Very easy for Carlotta to suggest that. But Paolo knew the horrible truth, that communication was merely an introduction to humiliation, embarrassment and confusion, and therefore even more sweating. So far he was getting on OK with very few phrases – Hello, Goodbye, Please, Thank you, How much?, Here?, Nice bottom, Two beers please, all helped along with the Brazilian Thumb. But anything slightly more complicated was a gateway to gibbering rubbish, and an unexplained habit of breaking into a mixture of French, German and Italian. A bit like Esperanto with Tourrettes. This had lead to various procedural rules – for example, buses: Paolo decreed that it was only possible to go on a bus if their intended destination was the actual final stopping point of the bus, as buses only stopped when required by passengers, and as Paolo and Carlotta never knew where they actually were, this was particular difficult to explain to the driver. However, Paolo was slightly surprised, if not somewhat miffed, when watching Carlotta buying some new shorts that SHE wanted for HER own use, that she spoke fluent Portuguese with the shop owner, in a local accent. She did of course deny this afterwards, when requiring Paolo to ask the waiter to explain Einsteins Theory of Relativity in Conjunction with Brazilian History and Culture. In Portuguese. On the subject of buses – Paolo and Carlotta were staying miles out of town up a dirt track road, in the very epicentre of the Amazon Basin, 4000 miles from the nearest civilisation. There were 2 types of buses to get there – the official local bus (52 seater, 75p a go), or the unofficial mini van (Mercedes Sprinter, 14 seater, 72p a go). The mini van would circle the bus station 10 minutes before the official bus was due and steal all the customers from the local authority’s business and under cut them by 3 pence. It was a winner. Today Paolo and Carlotta had grabbed the last two seats on the mini van, leaving some of the locals very irate. However, they then learnt that it was possible for the mini van to seat 14 people, and carry a further 143 people standing, kneeling, squatting etc. I suspect in England this would fail various types of “safety” rules. Rachael Denny would have had a seizure at the potential danger. In England I also believe we have some equal opportunity schemes and laws enabling old people to get jobs. Looking at the mini van driver it was obvious that Brazil had similar rules, but for employing dead people. Either that or he was 112 years old. But this didn’t stop him from from driving like a demented banshee on an excess of warfarin. 0-80 in .3 of a second, but then breaking immediately to take into account the speed bumps. (Because of the wild driving and neglect for human life, all roads have speed bumps every 36 cm. These are more like fortress walls than speed bumps, topped with razor wire and perimeter guards with AK47s. This necessitates all the passengers to get off and LIFT the vehicle over the wall in a similar manner to the Marines event at The Royal Tournament. Honest.) They reached our final destination, and as Paolo handed his £1.44 to him, he actually gave Paolo the vaguest hint of a smile and his hand moved 2cm into almost a Brazilian Thumb! He was alive!!!!! Paolo felt he’d achieved the status of a local. So, life in the jungle. There was a central communal hub, with little villas all around. Paolo and Carlotta had a private room with en suite, a fan, and the Millionaire’s Jackpot that was air con!! This could not be under estimated in any way. How smugly they looked across the grass at the dormitory with their bunk beds and no air con! Pah! Surely those people in there were peasants! Paolo and Carlotta’s bathroom was quite small. Actually very small. One of the advantages of this was that Paolo could sit on the toilet and rest his head on the wall in front of him. Obviously this was usually done naked, as the bathroom was not regulated by air con, and “sitting down toilet functions” induced great sweating. So Paolo preserved his clothes (if not his dignity) by shedding them. However, so great was the sweating that Paolo’s head would slip and slide up, down, across the wall, until it eventually looked like an internal water feature, the sort you see in posh banks with water cascading down a Yorkshire grit stone wall. Following this, Paolo dived into the shower, taking clothing with him for washing. Paolo’s laundry bag was currently resembling a weapon of mass destruction, with green noxious gas emitting from it. He was fearful that the UN we’re going to send in an inspection team. So he finally gave in to Carlotta’s crazy ideas, and introduced washing powder into the mix. Unfortunately, the heady mix of Uvo powder, a tiny tiny shower cubicle and Paolo’s grape-treading washing technique resulted in an Ibiza-style foam party threatening to overcome the whole villa and disturb the delicate Eco- balance of the surrounding jungle. Monkeys were fleeing for their lives, bears went into early hibernation, and the vultures circled overhead. Only the early intervention of the Brazilian National Guard prevented complete destruction. The subsequent effort of cleaning the forest, rinsing the soap-sud ridden clothes and wringing them out left Paolo once again in a state of sweat-related saturation, necessitating a further shower, his 79th of the day. The staff at the hostel were all Argentinian. With there being 5 English people here, Paolo was amused to hear Carlotta say to them “The English are taking over!”. Paolo didn’t think this was in very good taste, yet still continued to refer to his villa as Goose Green. Paolo discovered in conversation with them that Argentina is much cheaper than Brazil, and that beer was at most 1/3 the price of here! This provided great hope and comfort to Paolo for that meant he was looking at 50p a pint! Also, what had at first seemed to be a terrible evening of trauma ahead was now veiled with promise – Carlotta (and thus Paolo inadvertently) had signed up for a tango dancing lesson in Buenos Airies! Paolo had been keen to forego this episode of tragic ritual humiliation, but on reading the small print Paolo discovered that the lesson was followed by a free bar and free dinner! So Paolo was currently planning how he could attend this event with his foot all bandaged up with a fake injury, allowing Carlotta to fandango the night away with Oliviero, while he took advantage of the buckshee fayre……. Paolo felt it was a plan as cunning as an Argentinian fox….. All in all, Paolo was very happy. He was having a lovely time with the very beautiful Carlotta, 21 years of police work was becoming a distant memory, and sitting here on his verandah watching the hummingbirds flitting about was heaven!