Love in Brazil

Monday, February 18, 2013

In Brazil, passengers get on buses, say hello to the drivers and pay attendants before passing through little turnstiles.

At one stop in Rio de Janeiro, an older woman boarded. Most likely in her late 60s, she wore chunky jewellery and a long tight black dress - very Shirley Bassey in warm weather. She caused quite a kerfuffle at the turnstile, holding up other passengers while she searched amongst her many handbags for money.

Eventually, exasperated, she tossed several of the bags across the turnstile, hurtling them into an empty seat.

Gesticulating wildly, she seemed to be berating a younger, burly black man who was hovering behind her.

Once she'd paid - with a flurry of hands and dramatic utterances - and was through the turnstile, she turned to the man, embraced him, kissed him full on the mouth and then took her seat.

The man jumped off the bus, waving goodbye to the woman. She blew him a kiss through the window, as he made the "call me" hand-sign to her from the street.

Travel moments

Monday, February 11, 2013

Island off Wales from above.

I've just finished reading two books on the theme of travel and how you write about places you have visited and people you have met or seen: Paul Theroux's Tao of Travel and Jan Morris's Contact.

Both are full of short scenes from long travelling lives, particularly Jan Morris (some of which are also on this tumblr account).

Each scene or moment feels like it could be saying something profound, some kind of a metaphor for the city, country or people. But sometimes it just describes a moment or place in time, something random that happened, a one-off chance encounter.

I write about these sometimes (like in Istanbul, Monaco and Gibraltar - my favourite being my 'what I saw in New York' blog post) - and I'm going to share more.

Favela Rio

Monday, February 04, 2013

When in Rio, I decided to visit a favela. I wrestled with this - going to a favela felt a bit like going to point and stare. I decided not to go on a favela tour but instead go on a new cable car to Complexo do Alemão favela in the north of the city.

The cable car connects Complexo do Alemão wih Bonsucesso station, which is a short trip from Rio's Central Station.

The overall trip in the cable car is about 16 minutes, though longer if you get off at every stop along the way like I did.

It soars above a jumble of houses, electricity wires, satellite dishes, corrugated iron roofs and patched up streets.

I went on a Wednesday morning. All below the cable car was quiet, calm, hardly anyone to be seen. I had expected to see busy bustling streets, but these were mainly quiet residential areas. The only sound I heard was Britney Spears' I wanna go blasting out from a stereo.

At the top station, I got out and went for a small wander. A few small kiosks and shops were clustered near the cable car station, but no other amenities were to be seen.

I bought a drink from one shop-kiosk, freshly painted and seemingly newly installed.

The friendly guys behind the counter urged me to follow them on facebook. They seemed delighted to see visitors from other places, and with the long, complicated history of their neighbourhood hopefully now behind them, I wish them well with their new business.