Thursday, March 17, 2011

Where's Waldo of Rio de Janeiro

While I live in a big city, my neighborhood has it's own small town feel.  One of the beauties of Rio de Janeiro's Zona Sul is that the neighborhoods are all almost self-sufficient cities of their own.  Each one has it's own schools, daycares, grocery stores, bread shops, bars, restaurants,and about 1 million pharmacies. 

I sometimes walk around feeling like I'm in a big Where's Waldo book.  Just look at my sights on the short trip to drop my boys off at school. 

I walk out of my building to see the government parking man (think of it as a personal parking meter that will help you park your car) washing someone's car that's parked on the street.  

Then you run into the nannies/parents taking their own children to school. Each kid in a different uniform and all of them heading in different directions.  

You pass the gas station where there's 3 cars filling their tank, one getting it's tires filled, and a bum using the free water to hose himself off. 

Passing one of the restaurants there's a line of people waiting to pay while an equal line files in to get their bellies filled. 

The newspaper stand has a couple of older men reading the sports page that is pinned up against the wall. A woman is inside buying cigarettes and a coloring book for her little boy.

Steps away enter in the dog walkers. Men and women of all ages taking their 4 legged babies out to poop in the street. I hope they brought baggies.  One woman sticks out as she tries to lead 4 miniature pups of different breeds down a narrow sidewalk.  She was not having an easy time but seem to enjoy it just the same. 

We pass the police officers next, all of whom are leaning on their car. There are three of them and they seem to me more engrossed in their conversation than with public safety.  A pilates student passes by and their attention is diverted. 

The bar-zinho (little bar) has about 6 men standing on the sidewalk in front having an afternoon beer and laughing.  A couple of old guys sit inside at tables listening in. 

A large group of business men pass, I'm assuming, on their way to lunch. They looked nice in their dark suits. Must be torture in the heat. 

Cars sit waiting behind the line of school buses trying to squeeze into spots in front of the schools.  I'm no expert but my observations say that the honking did not, in fact, make the parking happen faster.  Someone should publish that little piece of information. 

Teens are loitering around the neighborhood of the school. This usually means they stand in a little herd in the middle of the sidewalk. After saying excuse me 3 or 4 times, someone notices and moves the group over. When in a bad mood, a good bump to the heels of one with the stroller will do the trick.  

I swerved around the homeless woman sprawled out on the sidewalk in front of the school, the magazines she's selling lined up on the edge of the school wall. I'm never seen anyone actually purchase one.

There's a woman passing out flying to unsuspecting parents rushing their kids into school. Half the time they also give a the little paper to the wee one in the stroller. I find that annoying. 

After writing all this down, I find it surprising that my brain doesn't steam a bit on particularly busy days.  What do you see when you are out and about? 


  1. I was just thinking the other day, how great would it be to have a photgraphic version of Waldo... A high def camera in a high angle of downtown Rio... and the Beach, and a game... it could be an interesting coffee table book...

  2. There's a sweet diabled guy who lives a few doors down from us. He has "his spot" on the sidewalk by the park where he sits all day (every day). It is a community effort to help him get to his spot, get comfortable, then get home (crossing the street often entails a big guy picking him up and carrying him across to the other side).

    There's the person who holds traffic for him to try and cross at the corner, there're the girls at the supermarket who bring him his lunch, there's the groundskeeper at the park who keeps his fruit crate seat tucked behind some bushes all night and hands it over the fence to him when he arrives to take up his spot, there's the nearby watch repair guy working out of his car who ties the large sun umbrella to the fence when it is sunny to provide shade, there are the numerous passers by who drop coins into this guys empty GuaraVita cup. It takes a village to help this guy survive. He is a neighborhood fixture, for sure.

  3. We live up a hill. We see lots of people on the street, all hours, a lot of familiar faces normally. We see lots of dog poop, dog walkers, uneven pavement, exercise finatics, maids, workers, porteiros, delivery people, old people, little kids, and most days Chico Buarque, walking up and down our street, he lives nearby and is a serious fitness minded person. I have several of his books and each time get mad at myself for not just keeping on in my purse at all times as I'd love for him to sign one. I know he hates this but...someday I might just. Sem vergonha.