Seasonal fruit


In one week, the clocks here will change, officially heralding autumn. When I arrived here, we were in the full throws of autumn, although all I remember are dazzling blue skies and the force of the sun in my eyes every day. I felt some dismay when I realised this. A part of that is knowing that those sweltering days, day after day of the late 30s, watching the huge orange stone of the sun dropping into the ocean at Arpoador, only to see the same thing happen again the next day, and the next day… all that is going to be over soon.

Someone told me last year that winter in Rio de Janeiro is beautiful, and it is – not even the occasional grey sky will take away the drama of the mountains or the lushness of the vegetation on them. At that time, everything was new for me. Now, I am going to be following the inevitable pattern I am already familiar with. The pattern of the seasons that shrinks time, so it is impossible to forget what happened this time last year, what usually happens at winter, what’s been lost and how long you will have to wait for that state to change. It’s like the boat in The Great Gatsby, pulling you back into the past (even the recent past).

I think that’s what makes me anxious about it, more than just the loss of the hot beach days. Everything was new when I arrived, an unending horizon. Now, I am a slave to routine again without perceiving when that change took place.

On the upside, that means I am no longer on the treadmill I was on when I first arrived. I know where to get nice food for less money, I can get around and I’ve got friends, all the things that I didn’t have during the exhilirating (and sometimes really difficult) first six months.

Many’s the time I’ve missed things in life even when I knew full well they were actually awful at the time. The approach of a year here, and the reverting of the seasons back to the one I arrived in, has made me realise just how long it’s been. A certain type of person will always look back at the past like this and I definitely am one of those. I think today I realised I was just content, it’s home here now, and I didn’t even notice that happening. Bye bye summer, roll on autumn.

Love and lies

In what is I’m sure time-honoured tradition, I split up with someone (again) during carnival. I soon discovered this is nothing. Another friend, having been seeing a guy for a while who told her how much he loved her, etc, was excited to meet up with him when he got in touch.

When she arrived there, he was already kissing another girl, and asked her what she was doing there to boot.

If love is tough here at the best of times, carnival is easily the worst of times. The sheer drunkness of most folks makes fidelity an impossibility, while “carnival kisses” are a solid part of the experience.

Something strange I’ve observed here: flirtation is a daily way of life (and I’m in favour of that, it definitely makes the day go more smoothly) but so is jealousy. It’s much less common for people to have friends of the opposite sex, generally because their partners won’t accept it. I was often asked “amigas or amigos?” (the female and masculine of the word) when I told my fella I was out with friends.

As usual in this country, them’s the rules and very restrictive they are too, but there is always a way round them. It’s not unusual to see catfights between women in the streets, as despite feeling this jealousy keenly themselves people still cheat like nobody’s business.

The trail of a few half-hearted blocos continues today, and into the weekend, but many people will have woken up today, quite possibly hungover, probably going back to work, and in some cases, contemplating the fact that their fling/relationship/marriage is now in tatters. That’s carnival for you.

The party’s over…


…And I couldn’t be happier. A great day on Saturday (at least I think it was Saturday) gave way to last night, when I turned up in Lapa (party central at any time of year) sober. The attempts at pulling had become more agressive and joyless, like the spasms of an animal that has already died (I forget why they do this; something to do with electrical impulses).

Lifeless, dead eyes; a man kicking another man who was already lying on the ground, unmoving; police threatening a group of child robbers with sticks (the child robbers were crowded under the arches with us, but there was nothing we could do except hold on to our phones and money because it was pissing down with rain); rivers of urine flowing down the street to meet the tide of litter and rainwater.

It’s been good at times, but I can’t help rebelling from the universal gurning and grinning assumption that all partying is good. Maybe I’m just too old for it. The man with chattering teeth, who stood alone in the bar we finally escaped to last night, interrupting us occasionally to eat our spare bits of food which had dropped on the table, was probably not on the good side of 50 however.

Maybe it’s just that things go in cycles, and now it’s time for order, peace, diligent hard work and normality. Though since I haven’t found any of those things in the past eight months of being here, it’s unlikely to happen suddenly now.