Current home: Rio das Ostras, RJ, Brazil
Past overseas location: Houston, Texas, USA
Cyberspace coordinates: A Kilt and a Camera | Travel tales, reviews, photos, interviews and crazy goings on. Because you never know what’s going to happen (blog) and @KiltandaCamera (Twitter handle)
Most recent post: Brazil — “Getting to know Aldeia Velha,” by Peg Peter [Brian’s American photographer wife] (December 19, 2011)
Where are you spending the holidays this year?
What will you do when you first arrive?
Peg will arrive three weeks before I do, so the first thing I want to do is hug my wife. After that I’ll put my feet up and relax after the long flight from Rio for a few hours. That night we will spend the evening with good friends we haven’t seen in way too long.
What do you most like doing during the holidays?
Relax. We are living in Brazil while I’m working as a manufacturing and production manager in the oil and gas field. The growth in the industry has been enormous. I’ve been working long hours, and long weeks, for too many months. I’m going to turn off my phone, keep my laptop shut and switch my mind off.
So you’ll be offline?
Pegs is the Internet junkie of the team so I trust she’ll let me know if anything important happens out in cyberworld.
Are you sending any cards?
Peg will send a few Christmas cards for us. As for a Christmas letter, we do too many things and go to too many places each year to write something brief. Our family and friends who want to know more about what we’re doing can take a look at our Web site.
What’s the thing you most look forward to eating?
A bloody decent whiskey, and a tin of haggis. If I can find a good smoked mackerel, I’ll eat that too. I really wish I could get my hands on an Orkney black pudding.
Can you recommend any good books other expats or “internationals” might enjoy?
Because of work I haven’t had time to read a single book all year, unless you count industrial engineering books as a good read. But Peg always has her nose in a book. Right now she says she’s really enjoying Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. The sense of stepping into another world is something any traveler or expat can relate to.
If you could travel anywhere for New Year’s Eve, where would it be?
I’d love to do an Old Year’s Night in Comrie, a small village in the Scottish highlands. As I remember, its Hogmanay ritual starts in the evening with the kids in a fancy-dress parade riding on the back of a lorrie — a kind of float. That goes on until nearly midnight, when the whole community gathers at the bridge on the side of town near Oban and throws three flambeaux (flaming torches) over it into the River Earn. Then there’s a procession through the village with a pipe band leading the way — the villagers in the middle, the float bringing up the rear. When they reach the bridge at the other end of town, they throw the remaining flambeaux into the river. The whole thing is a ritual to protect the village from evil spirits for the year. Back in the center of town the party, including a céilidh, will go on for hours.
My sister has lived there for the past twenty years. Someday I’ll take Peg back there to show her how my family of Scots does an old fashioned Old Year’s Night properly.
What’s been your most displaced celebration of the holidays?
My first Christmas in Houston. I spent the day in shorts, roasting by the pool. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas without freezing your b*******s off.
How about the least displaced — when you’ve felt the true joy of the season?
Even though we live in Brazil, we always go back to Houston to spend the holidays with Peg’s kids. I’ve enjoyed the last few holidays with them, among new family, but I still don’t feel at home as much as I did back in Scotland– especially since I’m so far away from my own adult sons.
However, last year was a bit more exciting because Peg and I had a big secret plan between us. On Boxing Day we hopped on a plane and flew to the Caribbean. One long haul, three airports, three islands and one ferry later we arrived on St. John in the US Virgin Islands, where we eloped on the beach on December 28th. The photo above was taken of us on the ferry ride over to the courthouse in Charlotte Amalie to pick up our marriage license the day before. This year, of course, we’ll have our first anniversary!
How do you feel when the holidays are over?
It’s a bit anti-climactic. I start the new year with a long flight back to Brazil, which is a country we love living in, but it means back to work for a while. When my job is done there, we’ll have more time to travel when we please. In the meantime, we’ll enjoy as much of Brazil as we can. We both love to travel and look forward to the day when we can just keep going.
On the first day of Christmas, my true love said to me:
THREE DECENT WHISKIES,
TWO CANDY BOXES,
& AN IRISHMAN IN A PALM TREE!
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s featured nomad (4/12) in our 12 Nomads of Christmas series.
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Brian, I loved your plans for Christmas and hope they all panned out! Black pudding is something I sometimes buy for my husband for Christmas (he’s a Yorkshireman) although I don’t share his love for this delicacy, despite my 1/16 Scottish heritage. I do, however, share your wife’s taste in books – lurrrrve The Poisonwood Bible.
One year I intend to spend Christmas on a beach – probably just the once before I agree with you that it isn’t Christmas unless some part of the anatomy is freezing off. I haven’t managed to persuade the kids about the beach idea, but OH is coming round to it. (1 down, 3 to go.) Hogmanay in Scotland, though? A resounding Yes Please, especially if it involves hiring The Proclaimers for a private party… so let us know if you want to chip in 🙂
I should point out that Kate has two posts that could be of interest:
1) CONTEMPORARY DISPLACED WRITING: Barbara Kingsolver and The Poiswonwood Bible, which inspired me to read the book just before Christmas (as Kate knows, I even based my Christmas letter to friends on it — yes, I do write circulars, but quirky ones!); and
2) Displaced Q: Where and how would you spend your ideal Christmas? — in which Kate ‘fesses up to her fantasy of spending Christmas on the beach. (Must be a common fantasy as it was echoed by several of our nomads…)
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