The night worker
Today is Monday. The day begins early as usual; with nothing much planned as Amy and Dudu have things to do – first thing. So, after breakfast at home, we meet Amy for coffee a bus ride away in Botafogo. Then we wander back through the streets of Rio; seeing sights that most tourists can only dream of -the architecture, gardens and parks, the coffee shops, street vendors and small industries along the busy streets.
And back up the hill for lunch.
Yesterday, we had been to Ipanema, it was beautiful -everything a tourist would expect, palm trees, golden sands, blue sky, crashing waves and Ipanema – girls and boys – honed and bronzed to perfection.
Around the corner we found a market selling crafts by local artists; beautiful and well made but expensive trinkets bearing no resemblance to the real Brazilian culture that I had seen so far. Paintings for instance of a favela; colourful splodges and images of people with smiling black faces, playing guitars and dancing the samba in flamboyant dress – reminiscent of Carmen Miranda. Had these artists really experienced life in a favela, I wondered?
I was ashamed that as tourists we feed and encourage this culture … and disregard the Brazilians who strive to make a living in the streets unnoticed.
Back to today; laden with shopping we enter the favela and walk along the narrow paths. As we pass one casa Dudu calls out ‘Marcia!’ a lady comes to the door way and greets us in a mixture of Brazilian and English. She is lively and beautiful; her earrings caught the sun and clearly not a lady to go without her lippy! – a snap shot of colour in the concrete shade of the passage. We talk lightly of the local beauty spots and places we should visit during our stay in Brazil. We wish each other ‘bom dia ‘ and go on our way. We gather breath before we continue our journey up. Out of earshot I ask Dudu about Marcia’s background as she spoke such good English. ‘Yes’ he replied ‘She is a lovely lady, she has been a good friend and helped us a lot when we first moved in. She also speaks other European languages well’
‘What does she do?’ I venture. Thinking with such talents she may be an interpreter. ‘She works at night’ Dudu discreetly replied.
I ask no more, prefer to keep my romantic version of life in the favela – less honest but more comfortable …