The real Rio – São Christovão fair

Last night I made a trip, that once again when I tell the about it, will cause my colleagues to raise their eyebrows and say something along the lines “I don’t understand why you foreigners always want to go to such places..”. I went to the northeast art and culture fair in São Christovão, in the northern part of Rio, a place which is often frequented by the maids and the doormen of those same colleagues. What a great time!

The adventure started on the city bus, which bounced like a roller coaster the entire 1 hour ride to SC. If I haven’t mentioned this before, Rio bus drivers drive their buses as if they are driving a little sports car, barely stopping to take or off-load passengers, cutting corners and other drivers. Soon after the beginning of the ride, we got some company at the back of the bus. He was about 60 years old, no teeth, very tanned (as most of the poor are), dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, and carrying a duffel bag with him. He smelled of death (more or less), and was holding a small piece of cloth into which he was sneezing or wiping his face, while complaining about the stench. His main accessory was a mobile phone (or something that looked like it), into which he kept mumbling. When he would get bored with talking into his phone or playing with the antenna, he would start singing random songs and grimacing at us, hoping for some attention. At first this was quite entertaining but quickly enough  I really wanted to push him out of the bus and drop him at the side of the street.    Thankfully, after sometime he got bored with us not giving him any attention and went to bother other people at the front of the bus.

When we arrived to SC, the contrast with Ipanema’s chic crowd was stark. We were finally in real Brazil. The physical features, the dress style, the music, everything was different. We got to try some random foods from the Northeast side of Brazil, most of which had the same colors and textures (despite being different types of meat), and carried names such as Vaca atolada (stuck cow) or carne chovendo (raining beef). I also had one of my best caipirinhas (passion fruit), and saw some fierce forro dancing all around. We failed to buy Funk (something like Brazilian Reggaeton) CDs because they were sold out in every one of the 5 different CD stores we visited. At least I stocked up on some hot peppers to spice up my life!

In the taxi on our way back to civilization, to the sounds of Forro (newly purchased CD), I was reflecting on how grateful I am for the opportunity to be “one of those foreigners”.

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