Excerpt 9: Would you live in a house with 15 people?

I lived with some absolute nutters on my trip teaching English around the world. The craziest house I stayed at was in Brazil, Salvador. By the time I got to Brazil, I was pretty skint so I had to make do with the best I could find. A Nigerian English teacher, Murphy, who I’d met while job hunting, suggested I live with him. He didn’t say anything about the other 15 people until I was on the way though. Here’s the next excerpt from my book.
Not a bad place to live for 4 months. Pelo – Bahia
Photo by corvojoe
After a couple of days traipsing round Salvador I realised two things. Firstly, I was probably going to have to wait until after the Carnival to find a job; most of the directors were welcoming, but unsure of student numbers so they couldn’t promise me a job. Secondly, Pelo was probably one of the coolest, but dodgiest parts of Salvador. I was determined to stay but had to find a flat. The only person I knew was Murphy.
“Hey man, good to see you,” he said in his aggressive tone. We met at the bottom of Largo do Pelourinho. He gave me a sideways high five and whacked his knuckles on mine.
“Yeah, you too, so – where’s the flat?”
“Up there,” he said, pointing up a street sloping away from Pelo. I had purposely kept away from that deserted side of the city.
“So is it your flat?” I asked as we walked along the quiet cobbled back street. Houses were even more worn down than the centre of Pelo.
“No man, my flat?” he said, laughing deeply. “I am staying there, you know, it’s a Brazilian woman’s. She has fifteen rooms.”
“Fifteen?”
“The flat can be busy, but it’s safe, you see now,” he said, wiping the sweat off his brow.
Thinking back, Murphy could have been a malicious gringo murderer leading me to his den. I’d taken a risk, but it paid off. We walked for ten minutes, past a local supermarket and a small internet cafe, and into a house that stank of spicy meat. We waited in the square lounge.
“Come, this is the owner,” said Murphy, introducing a dazzled lady with black frizzy hair.
“Hola, tudo bem?” she said. She was about forty, plump, and wore a dirty stained apron. Her smile seemed friendly and trusting. A little skinny naked kid ran through the lounge.
“FABRIZIO!” the lady shouted. She whacked him on the bum, pushed him into a bedroom, and slammed the door.
We followed her past the untidy kitchen and onto the outside patio. On the left were the ten rooms, or cells, in a prison block, five up and five down. On the right were the two, stinky, communal bathrooms.
“Here is the room,” said Murphy. I peered in. Two single beds took up most of the length of the cell and were separated by a dusty chest of drawers with cobwebs hanging off at the back and a small pile of ants scurrying around the base. Burgundy metals bars protected the window, which had no glass.
“She clean before you come,” said Murphy, trying to sway my decision. “I live here,” he added, pointing to a similar cell next door. “We can be neighbours for the Carnival.” He grinned and stuck out his pink tongue.
Frizzy seemed delighted when I agreed, especially when I told her I had a friend who wanted a room. Nish was going to kill me.
The next morning, Murphy escorted me to my clean cell. The view out the bars towards the toilets was less romantic than the mountains in Quito, but it would do.
The set up of the house was confusing so I separated everyone into three groups: The Royalty; those that lived in the house, The Servants; those who helped The Royalty, and The Prisoners; those that lived in the cells.
The Queen of the house was Frizzy and her son Fabrizio was the main Prince. The King, at least I think he was the husband, was a weird middle-aged pasty white man. He looked European, was constantly mumbling to himself while drunk, and lived in the bedroom.
I decided the young muscular Brazi
lian lad with a completely shaved head was also a Prince, and a pretty, young, and skinny Brazilian girl was a Princess. I was unsure how, or if, the Prince and Princess were relations of Frizzy, if they were brother and sister, or a couple.
The Royals’ servants included a chunky female cook with massive breasts, and a short tubby bloke who looked like a big friendly Teddy Bear. Teddy Bear was the odd job man and lived with the Royals, whereas Big Breasts lived somewhere else.
The Prisoners were Murphy, I, soon to be Nish, two dark Brazilian lads: one with huge buck teeth who watched too much television, another with a strange small head who never flushed the toilet, and a short white curly haired girl learning the funny string Capoeria instrument.
Of the twelve, Murphy was the only one I understood (at least until Nish arrived). I had to get cracking with the Portuguese.

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