Saturday, October 23, 2010

Livin' it up in Centro

I have a love/hate relationship with Centro.

Ok, so let's get the negative out of the way first.

First, it's busy as SHIT.  And not in a 'wow, this city is lively! There's so much action going on!" way.  It's more of a 'move your ass and walk faster or get out of the way!!!' kind of way.  Add to the mix of sloooooooow-walking Cariocas the millions of vendedores selling crap that you would have never thought of buying in your life.  Rabbit ear TV antenna circa 1950?  A bootleg copy of Windows 95?  A squishy strawberry toy thing you can splat on the ground and watch it magically return to it's original shape?  A book light headband?  Ok, the book light headband I'll take but you can leave the other crap thankyouverymuch.

Then you have your 'flyer' guys.  These guys (and girls) are the worst.  They stand in the middle of the sidewalk giving out tiny pieces of what I can only describe as scrap paper.  I use the term 'giving out' lightly.  It's not really your option to take a scrap of paper - they are literally shoved down your throat and into your hands.  Sometimes 3, 4, 5 people right in a row.

Now combine the millions of slow-walkers, the seller guys (and don't forget the ones selling popcorn, cashews, candied peanuts and coconut, chocolate, gum, agua/coka/skol um real um real etc) the paper pushers, wrap it all up on really small sidewalks with maniac traffic by your side (let's be fair - also throw in that I'm late, as always, and lost) and you have yourself a goddamn mess!

P.S. This is a very special illustration of the area I love to hate aka. Uruguiana.

Now.  What I love.

Cinelandia and Carioca (the areas as defined by their metro stations).  Here you have the magnificence of old Rio.  Cobblestoned streets line the busy roads from a safe far distance and you have fantastic views of Teatro Municipal (which every day looks more and more spectacular to me).

Beside the theatre is some ridiculously awesome looking government building (I'm sorry I really don't know what the building is - Camera dos vereadores is what is being whispered in my ear). Across the street sits the Biblioteca Nacional, and you can find my feelings of this building here.

Today, while walking from Carioca station, I just happened upon this little outdoor theatre show that seemed to be centred around some Brazilian religious archetypes.  Later I learned it was the story of some important characters of Brazilian history.   I saw the story of Anastacia, a slave who suffered so many rapings and beatings they referred to her as A Santa (the saint).

The show was hardcore.  There were bare breasts and all.  The real deal.  It was very interesting and had a pretty huge crowd of people along with a helpful drunk guy homeless man who continuously blew a whistle (I guessed to add to the musicality of the show). 

After the show I found this little feira in the same park so y'know, I had to buy some R$2 earrings.

Then, walking back to Cinelandia I hear the Brazilian National Anthem blasting in the street.  It's a pretty majestic anthem and I must say, I do like it.

Anyway, I could see this homelesss guy up ahead (side note: the down and out are what add to the charm of Centro).  So this guy is really homeless and it seems like it's been a while since he ate or took a shower.  And he's, like, belting out the national anthem, pumping his hands to his chest in pride and all.  I thought, 'man, this guy is so clearly in a tough spot and could easily blame his country for his problems or for not helping him more but instead, here he is, proud as hell to be Brazilian and letting everybody know it.'

I smiled at him and gave him two thumbs up.

Today was sunny and warm and a very entertaining day in o centro da cidade. 


  1. I LOVE Centro - but only when I am not in a hurry (which is practically all the time -- qualidade de vida, remember?) I've learned not to wear Havaianas when we go there. Between the cobble stone streets, busted up sidewalks, stepping on and off the curb of the narrow sidewalks to circumvent the slow people - it's all too much for my toes, which have still not mastered the effortless holding onto flip flops exibited by true Cariocas.

    Be careful about the book light headband... I bought one only to discover that the tiny LED light was USELESS when it came to putting enough light on the page to read in a darkened room. Ahhh Paraguay! It LOOKED like a reading light...

    p.s. - glad the pie worked out. ;-)

  2. That's funny you say that about the play...About a year ago I was invited to go see a play with a friend and I brought my (now boyfriend, then man-friend)...and it was sooooo hard core. We're talking, naked bodies everywhere, raping, men in assless chaps, women with strap-ons...need I go on? I didn't understand a word of the play...I have do idea what it was about. I think I blacked out after someone's dildo grazed my arm (It was a theater in the round, so the actors got very close to the crowd)....very interesting.

  3. Ha ha! I love the homeless guy belting out the national anthem!

  4. Next time you're in centro, you've got to check arco dos teles. (If you haven't already) It's this great little street, no cars so muito mais calma, with some beautiful architecture and restaurants. The entrance is just off Praca XV. It's my favorite spot in Centro. I consider myself an unofficial spokesperson. Now, I kind of miss Rio. :(

    And Jim - You are soooo right about the Havaianas. No open toed shoes in Centro ever! Your feet end up black. Blegh!


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