THE DIARIES OF PAUL K LYONS - 1986
I remember my time in Rio as if it were colourful exciting dream, though my diaries for 1986 show I felt lonely at times, and yearned for more stimulating society. I had an apartment metres from the sea, and there were glorious views from my desk across Botafogo Bay. I was rarely short of work, and maintained good stringer relations with a dozen or more industry/business magazines, not least ‘The Economist’. Occasionally, lucrative assignments allowed me to travel to distant parts of the country: the Pantanal (Mato Grosso do Sul), the northeast (Belem), and the south (Rio Grande do Sul). I swam most days in front of my apartment, sometimes twice. I played volleyball every week with a group of ex-pats, and, every few weeks I was invited by a retired Shell man to help crew his large yacht, Tuna, for races or day-trips - every one of which turned boozy. My ability to speak Portuguese came quickly, partly because my girlfriend spoke no English at all (nor did my lovely maid who cleaned and cooked for me thrice a week) and partly because many of my contacts didn’t speak English either. I bought a bicycle and a motorbike, but it was the motorbike that I used almost exclusively, round the city, and occasionally for further destinations, Petropolis in the hills, Buzios by the sea.
Festivals came and went in a spectacular joy of colour, dancing and emotion: beach offerings to Iemanjá on New Year’s Eve, Carnival, of course, to which I had privileged access as a journalist, the World Cup (a nation crying on being knocked out by France), All Souls’ Day.
Early in the year my brother came to visit for three weeks, and we travelled north to Salvador. Soon after he left, the Royal Ballet arrived in Rio, on tour. Thanks to the British Council, I met a few of the dancers, fell in love with them all and, somehow, became their unofficial guide for a few days. In July, I returned to England, for my mother’s 60th birthday, but I also spent time with Barbara. We talked about her wanting to go to university, and also about us having a child together. A few weeks later, she telephoned to Rio to say, yes, she wanted a child, so I suggested she make arrangements to fly out as soon as possible. She came in November, we had a wonderful time; and, before the end of the year, she’d called to say that - miraculously - she was pregnant. (Diaries 30, 31. 32. 33)
Paul K. Lyons (April 2015)