It was a long journey through the heart of the Beast. Full force with traffic, smog and heat…and stray dogs – who knew there were so many?
The cabbie who took us to a friend’s house and gave a great speech on the way there. It was another version of the ones I so often hear from cabbies in the Beast. They usually talk about how the country won’t go forward despite natural resources and it’s all because of the politicians and thieves and cheats and the uneducated, and on and on and on.
“I decline to vote,” he tells me, proudly. “I’m just so sick of it all, and what difference am I making? They’re all just a bunch of…”
Blah blah blah, I hear. Words are tossed about like leaves in the park – corruption, villainy, thievery – but it’s always on someone else.
It was a good one.
Humble, honest, well-informed and near insanity with the traffic due to the City. It could be worse, though, even for a taxi driver in this city. He tells me he drives 15-17 hours a day.
“But I’m glad to have the work,” he says from the front seat, his eyes mostly focused on the car in front of him. I nod in the backseat, waiting for him to tell me why.
“When I was a boy, around 12, I left home. I didn’t have a job so I came to São Paulo by foot all the way from Piauí.” I’m impressed. That’s, like, 1700 kilometers.
“It took around 3 years,” he recalls to me in a pensive voice, and I’m not sure he’s really talking to me anymore. He goes on to say, radiantly, how proud he is that he can put, not just food on his family’s table, but that they can have ground beef, and chicken in the fridge.
Think of that.
Word, man. Motherfucking word.
The city, the heart of it anyways, is sadistically glorious. A compilation of a few hundred years of colonial history shows in the architecture but contemporary times have begun to take over the concrete jungle. Graffiti climbing the sides of buildings like ivy, scattered filth on the greasy roads, mold around the worn edges on every thing capable of absorbing humidity. It gives the suffocated section of town an ancient but futuristic feel, sort of like Blade Runner meets Gotham City, if that makes any sense.
At night the streets are wet, though no one remembers when it rained. I want to look up, but I know that will give my foreignness away and then I will be haunted by the street children. This, I cannot have.
Youth here, does not last. Here, nothing has been young for a long, long time.