Diário de Brasil: Entry 001
A squadron of suspicious insects march up the wall towards a power outlet. The smell of gas is putrid; a humanlike stench reminiscent of unbathed genitals and yeast. Reluctantly, I spark a lighter in the oven, shielding my face from the off-chance of explosion. To no avail. The oven won’t light. The smell persists. The toilet won’t flush either. I swallow my concerns of air quality.
I give up on cooking and walk to the beach, Vonnegut in hand. Brazil in all appearances is exceptionally diverse, with a singular caveat: of all the colors, sizes, shapes and smiles, everyone speaks Portuguese. Perhaps French. English is nonsense. The sand is bleached white and falls through my fingers delicately. The finest sugar. The ocean it seems is cold in every country. Locals have realized that the beach is not a comfortable place to sit without posterior assistance. I learn slowly. The clouds dot and line the sky like cross stitches. The sun peeks through every few moments. The heat is moist and tolerable, it is the beginning of the Brazilian winter and the forecast calls for periodic rain. After a few hours I hobble back up the street. Hobble is an appropriate word considering the Brazilian sidewalks; these were not paved by the American asphalt industrial complex. No bulldozers or steamrollers. Simply a collection of cobbled stone, plated rock, concrete brick, haphazardly assembled with little mind paid to leveled ground. And why not? These peculiarities are only noticed by the foreigner, the English speaker, the civilian of purpose and organization. My perception is relative, and wholly isolated.
Many of the stores and vendors are closed. Tourists have fled the area, winter is coming, which means highs in the mid-to-low twenties. A Calgarian would hit the beach at twelve degrees in certain months, if there were beaches to be hit. Hotels are startlingly vacant, condos have been abandoned, the streets are dotted with locals and the occasional policeman. The military rides Clydesdale horses, sporting smiles and tipping hats. It feels indistinguishable from Mexico at times, albeit the level of poverty in Canasvieras is practically non-existent. Nobody seems to be rich, but nobody is starving. I begin to wonder if my appearance is unorthodox. The popular attire appears to be brand names, Tommy, Calvin, and any recognizable European-American logo. Haircuts are modest; men wear it short and even. Women long and unkempt. Occasionally, a man walks by with frosted tips. For the most part, fashion is caught somewhere between 1998 and 2003. Blue jeans and branded T’s. Edgy undoubtedly appears on the beaches of Rio, but in Florianopolis—my floral-print shaved-head beaded-wrist display might seem out of place. Or maybe not. Like the inexperienced and unfortunately stoned, I am overtly conscious of the fact that I may appear out of place. Everybody knows I’m high. Up the street I catch the distinct aroma of marijuana. Or is it simply the natural foliage? Perhaps I feel this way because I am, in fact, out of place. “Nom fala Portuguese” I repeat.
The birds are singing unfamiliar songs.
[audio:http://thenewlofi.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Marisa-Monte-Universo-Ao-Meu-Redor.mp3|titles=Marise Monte – Universo Ao Meu Redor]
Marise Monte – Universo Ao Meu Redor