In the streets of Rio. Nas ruas do Rio. In den Straßen Rios.

Attention: This post contains three versions in English, Portuguese and German. One language per page.

Arriving in Rio, it takes me only a few steps to realize that this city is totally different from mine, and from all other cities I’ve known so far. One of my first impressions is that the streets are full. Full of scents, of products, of people… 

… people going to work or to the shopping mall; people living on the street because they don’t have a home; and then, there are (and this attracts particularly my attention), people working on the street. In the chaos of the city I find a variety of persons earning their daily bread under the open sky, on the street, in front of subway entrances, on the beach. Fresh popcorn, a coconut, or a golden watch? Anything is available.

Then, there are those ones who try to control or to remove the chaos of the city: Road sweepers and police (wo)men for example. (Police presence is a lot higher than in Germany, as also the risk of being robbed/assaulted).

In the first days, all this seems new to me. But with the months passing by, I also pass by those people and rather give them a glance.

But I want to change this again. I decide to portray some of those people for a project at university, in words and in pictures. And so I find them:

Damaris, the cleaning woman and road sweeper, who probably can raise the temperature with her radiant smile, and who talks about her life with such a delight that one could think she lives in pure luxury without any worries – and who, being asked about her biggest wish, responds “A house of my own, with a room for my kids of their own– this is the dream of any mother, isn’t it?”

Monalisa, whose initial name was Luciano and who came from the Brazilian Northeast, empty-handed; and who now holds tourists’ hair in his hands to make them braids; who is marked by a life on the street, with scars, about their causes I don’t dare to ask yet;

Marlene, who for ten years has been selling Coconut water in the parking lot of a supermarket, after having lost her job in a pastry shop, and who has difficulties to think of a dream, stating, “I don’t think about my life anymore, I just always try to go on”;

Vitória, who has just turned 15, and who after school goes to the street, to prepare popcorn, and who with enough money would buy at first instance a “decent house” for her mother, who sells sweets two meters next to her;

And Márcio, who with a metre wide smile tries to convince me to rent a chair or to drink a Caipirinha –and, when we got into a profounder conversation, shows me his bullet wound and explains, “Here I smile all day, and my smile comes from my heart. But when I once took some tourists to my house in the favela (slum), they couldn’t choke back their tears”;

These five persons, and others that I met, answered in the same manner to one of my question: The question about their biggest dream.  It was always about an owned house.  Or a house for others, as in Monalisa’s case: she wants to own a NGO to help people the way other people had helped her before.

With these people I also got to know a part of Rio de Janeiro, which was so present and at the time hidden from me. By portraying them, I portray a part of the city, which is  so much to me:  marvellous, cruel, and, first of all: full of life.

 P.S. Miguel Díaz, congratulations to your first traduction from German to English!

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