on rio and beyond

As I look upon the expanse of land and water and take in the cool fresh morning air, I feel happy. Happy and content. I stretch my arms out as if to embrace the entire earth in front of me, tilt my head back and cry out, I am here, finally.

And then I wake up. I have been dreaming of Rio again as I have for the last waking years of my life. I have been dreaming of climbing the Corcovado, and seeing with my own eyes the bowels of clean fresh water, the busy streets, soccer at the beaches and the provocative curvature of the hills. I have been dreaming of seeing the entire city in the morning, the mist slowly unveiling this amazing city teeming with life and pain and love.

I have read and read, watched and watched, talked and talked about Rio, not because I want to document it or talk about it but simply because of my obsession with it. I want to know everything there is to know about Rio. I want to be able to magically relate to people, places and objects as I see them when I get there, as if pulling out a captured piece of memory. I do not want to become a camera toting, smiling, out of place tourist. I want to become one of Rio, one with Rio.

As I have learned about the place, I have come to discover, as with everything else, that not everything is as you see in postcards or documentarys. Rio is what it is because of the people who live there and because of the people who have made it so. There are stratas of society in the city, the layers so deep and varied, a layer doesn’t interact much with other layers except for the one it neighbors. There are million dollar villas surrounded by 8 feet high walls and guarded by vicious dogs and gun toting guards. There are the shoulder to shoulder houses on streets bustling with day to day activity, activity of commerce and of livelihood. There are vast expanses of shanty houses, barely able to shelter their owners at night, standing empty during the day. There are children and homeless without a place to sleep during a storm or a corner to call their own. There are smoke chimneys and sounds of labor, signs of industry.

All these layers and others not mentioned interact only with their immediate neighbors. The mestres of the villas rarely see the faces of the children from the shanty houses who tend to their gardens. The bourgeoisie of the cities rarely ever get to see the people behind the dark windows of the limousines, and they shun the shanty people as if they were the plague revisited. The so called street urchins are rarely invited to even the leftovers of lavish parties, dumping it on the trash dumps instead.

incomplete.. more to come.

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