Three months in

Tomorrow I have to go to renew my visa at the airport. I’ll have been here for three months.

Everyone says time goes fast here, which it does, since nobody seems to bother to sleep much and there is a kind of insane repetitiveness about everything. It’s the repetitiveness of a drunk who plays the same record every night. I actually once lived with a drunk who played the same record every night, but admittedly it was nowhere near the beach.

The world of pubs and cricket is a long way away, although tonight it’s actually cold. The other reason I’m staying in bed is the sound of gunshots earlier, which really could have been right outside my door. When I looked, I saw two young boys, sitting on the wall and shouting, though they didn’t have weapons. The housekeeper here says drug dealers are very young when they get involved in that life – maybe 18 or less – and often get shot by the police or killed by rivals before they reach 30.

For some reason, it reminds me of a story someone told me last night as we watched the latest dismal performance from my adopted team, Flamengo. A soldier was on a break from Iraq and decided to head to Rio. He had no qualms about heading into the nearest favela on his own, where he gave West Ham shirts to several of the folks he met there. This tells you everything you need to know about the type of preparation you need to do that (insert your own West Ham joke).

Now it couldn’t be more tranquil. Though it’s dark I can see Guanabara Bay in the distance from the safety of my window, and an eerie-looking Cristo, eerie because he is lit up and the clouds around him look like some kind of ethereal smoke. It’s this I’ll be staying for, this peculiar battle between squalor and glamour, and, less agreeably, the Carioca ability to forget everything moments later in favour of a veneer of perfection.

Could still murder a pint though.

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