So my time in Rio is over. I am sitting writing this in Merche's house on a sunny Saturday morning. It is 8 am here, but my laptop still shows the UK time of 12. I fly back this evening at 7 pm and will arrive in the UK early tomorrow afternoon.
The sessions went really well at Botafogo, I thought. Raquel had done a huge amount of preparation and the children had all been looking at my blog and preparing a huge list of questions to ask. Some time soon I will try and put a lot of the questions on the blog with my replies, to share all that as a kind of Q&A.
Going into schools, as I have said in a previous blog, is always a little bit of a gamble. Sometimes, for instance, the teachers view an author visit as a chance to do something else. Not only does this leave the author to police the children (something that we are not really in a position to do) but it does not really get the most out of the author. A teacher can prompt the children and ask questions themselves. The sessions I did at the British School where the teachers took an active part were definitely the most successful, and that was the case here in Botafogo.
I had another excellent school dinner here and bumped into Priscilla Howe who was about to go for lunch with her South American agent who is whisking her off to Sao Paolo for three weeks. I told her I had arranged to meet Mimi later at Urca and we were going up to Sugar Loaf. She said she would come along too.
So that's what we did. The climb is by cable car in two stages. I am not fantastic with heights but I coped pretty well. It is worth it for the incredible views from the top. It had clouded over by the time we got there, but what an amazing place to have a cold beer (ice cold, as always in Brazil). Black vultures swooped about effortlessly and there were tiny marmosets looking for food under benches.
Priscilla and I said farewell to Mimi at the base of Sugar Loaf. I owe Mimi a lot as she has put a lot of time into sorting out my trip and has been very supportive while I have been here. Book Week is obviously a hectic time for all of the librarians and they have all taken a lot of time to make me feel very welcome and I'm sure Priscilla feels the same. It has been hard work, but it has rarely felt like it because of the friendliness of Mimi, all the librarians and staff and, of course, the children.
I shared a cab with Priscilla, dropping her off in Copacabana before heading off to meet Merche in a bar on Ipanema Beach. But there was a confusion over which bar it was and I lacked the confidence to get out at a bar with a different name and so ended up getting the cab to Merche's house (via another bar in Barra).
This caused an international incident as my mobile would not let me call Merche and Merche did not have my mobile number with her and so called Judith Weik in the UK to find it and Judith called my wife and told her that I was lost on Sugar Loaf! She had half an hour of wondering what that meant. Merche eventually called as I was approaching the condominium. All was well. The cab driver came in for much abuse for this by the Clark family, but he was OK. He was genuinely trying to sort out a confusion.
Or that's what I choose to believe anyway.