Having declared Petropolis as too European for my tastes, I’ve ended up going back there twice. Once was with my lovely friend Danielle, pictured here, and once for work. I’m teaching there once a month, which is enough to make me much more solvent, Gracia Deus. I’m not sure if I’ve gone through the same process as many before me, of becoming quickly infatuated with Rio and then finding it all a bit too much. It’s nice to have a mountainside retreat where hummingbirds flit past the windows. I don’t think I could live there as there isn’t enough to do, but at least it is an escape from the elections in a week. I don’t seem to be able to walk anywhere without seeing bored-looking folks dragging flags behind them, or having leaflets foisted into my hands before I can say “Eu nao posso votar!” One of the candidates looks a bit like Doctor Evil from Austin Powers, although I stopped saying this after I found out he was a police inspector nearly killed by bandidos. Seemed a bit mean to poke fun out of his appearance after that.
All of them seem to have their own songs written especially for the election, blasting out of scratchy sound systems on top of cars and even taxis. One guy was obviously going for the “cool” vote and played funk music out of his election-mobile. It’s like imagining David Cameron releasing a rap during the Conservative Party Election campaign. Another candidate gave out leaflets when I went to see Flamengo play on Saturday. As they are the most popular club in Brazil, he probably is making a smart gamble by claiming on the leaflet “a vote for me is a vote for Flamengo!” and choosing black and red (the team colours) for all his leaflets and posters. He’s proposing to build a dedicated theme park and to hold red-and-black masked balls in honour of the team, which is definitely what this country needs right now. It takes on a far more sinister turn when you remember that it is compulsory to vote in Brazil, so even those who haven’t a clue will be forced to put a mark somewhere. A friend with family in the north east said there are people he knows who never realised that Lula, the current president, had been elected, even though they were receiving the Bolsa Familia (family allowance) which is arguably his biggest legacy. Those candidates almost seem sensible in comparison with a pole-dancer called the ‘pear-shaped woman’ and some sort of clown fellow, a tv presenter right out of The Fast Show, who are also running. Also of course we’ve got Bebeto and Romario, two footballers, who are bound to succeed. It’s enough to make me take Boris Johnson seriously.