Brazilian brother – Charles

Please, excuse me for my english mistakes!!!

Once again, Mário Leal annual meeting, Bonsai 2011, at Ribeirão Preto city, state of São Paulo, Brazil, was a success.
There was more than 100 people, from 6 countries: Argentine, Brazil, Namibia, Uruguay and Venezuela. However, in our hearts, there were 7 countries, because our friend Louis Nel, from South Africa, was with us all the time!

Africa, continent whose bonsai styles are almost unknown to us, was very well represented by Bernie O´Callaghan. In a short time he showed us that, more than just  “a strong man from Africa” as he used to say sometimes with humor, he is also a very talented artist and a man with remarkable sensitivity. In many moments we could see emotion making his eyes get wet, showing us to be also a golden heart man!

Before starting his job, Bernie dedicated his demonstration to Louis, our friend who was supposed to come with him to Brazil.
Since the beginning,  Bernie was very didactic, explaining clearly the effects on the trees  of the extreme climatic conditions in Namibia, producing very unique styles  characteristics, what he showed us in a brilliant way, working in a ficus tree. All the people watched almost  in disbelief, without breathing, Bernie cutting of all the big lower branches of the tree, leaving  just a few higher ones to make the crown. With didactic and emotion, Bernie allowed us to see, a few yea rs in advance, the finished tree in all its splendour due to extreme climactic conditions and animals behavior of Namibia.

Always in a very good humor, Bernie gave suggestions, answered and asked questions, interacted with every people, whatever they were bonsai growers, pot makers, bonsai exhibitionists or just old or new friends meeting again.

Apart the good energy reigning in the event, beer, cigarette and coffee were his constant fuel. His wide shirts, designed by himself, also caused people´s curiosity, and he explained us about it! Lightweight fabrics because of the Namibian hot weather, “V” neckline not to warm up the neck, hide size to ease movement and, of course, pocket for the pack of cigarettes! I have no doubt that the 2012 shirt version w ill have a refrigerated pocket for the beer, and hot pocket for the coffee!

The cheerful and relaxed Bernie personality always walked hand in hand with great respect and humility for all the artists at the meeting, always wanting to learn a little about each one and,  thus it was not his intention, in fact, teaching us a lot!

Some other emotional moments came when we were celebrating the 76th. anniversary of our eternal bonsai master Ossamu Hidaka. Bernie, respectfully took his hands, and asked for a careful translation, saying he was great pride holding the hand of a Grand Master of Bonsai.

Still, at the close of the event, Bernie, moved, lamented the loss of his friend Louis, but celebrated the new friends he made and, in a mixture of joy and sorrow, he called us his new family. Indeed Bernie, we have formed a beautiful family.

On the breaks, Bernie always seek to know about Brazilian trees, and if all conditions permit, some will be blooming in Namibia, under his care.

Last night of the event, Bernie still reserved us two more surprises!
There was a bonsai enthusiast at the event which is also a tattoo artist and Bernie asked him to do a tattoo of the logo of the Namibia  Bonsai Association, drawn by himself. In a hurry, under a strong flashlight, the guy made a tattoo while the taxi driver was already waiting to take him to the airport back home. The same night, Bernie prepared us a delicious Namibian barbecue, and we spent some pleasant hours sharing friendship, wine, beer, friends and laughter.

So, bonsai is not just our passion in common, but an marvellous opportunity to meet people like Bernie O´Callaghan, my new brother, The Crazy One!

Thank you very much to be with us those great days!

Best regards from your brazilian brother

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