Skip to content

Words for Barbecue – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rodolfinho is dead and along came a whole turmoil of policemen, citizens and lost bullets. The Yellow Line, one of Rio de Janeiro´s main highways, was closed for days. By the way, Rodolfinho was one of the drug trafficking head chiefs of City of God (Rio´s most violent favela) – he was shot during an operation from the Military Police. The Yellow Line crosses City of God in half making the highway a battle camp whenever shootings occur and for sure, not the most suitable way to reach work on a day-life basis.

There´s actually an app that informs live where shootings are happening in Rio. It´s called “OTT”, the initials in Portuguese for “Onde Tem Tiroteio(Where the Shootings are Happening). It allows any citizen or visitor to extend it´s life-spam by avoiding areas with intense point-blank activity.

On the fancy side of town though, life goes on chill mode. At Barra da Tijuca, the background is turquoise and the lifestyle includes sand, salt and that golden brown tan all over the skin. At the beach there´s all kinds of delicacies worth a try or a repeat: globo biscuits, grilled cheese, Mate tea with fresh lemonade, the famous Açai, cheese bread and so on. The bathing atmosphere calls for nano pieces of clothing, bike promenades and magnificent sunsets announced by the breeze and sponsored by Skol – Brazil´s famous beer.

The shootings don´t reach this part of the city. It´s like being in an enclave or in a different country. Some kilometers away someone is crawling on fetal position trying to avoid bullets, most probably. Barra da Tijuca neighborhood is like being in Dubai: a fancy and peaceful oasis surrounded by countries in war. However in Rio, all happens inside the same city. And from the top of Corcovado, Christ embraces everyone: criminals, peacemakers, BOPE, Lula, Dilma and Neymar.

Carnaval is over and Samba schools are already preparing next year´s festivities. Samba and MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) still pop in every corner – impossible not to gamble the feet along its rhythms. One of Carnaval´s main traditions is to kiss the larger number of people possible. Further up, guns and bullets might have taken away lives in an equivalent number of the ones who exchanged fluids on the Carnaval blocks. In Rio, life may not last a day, but Carnaval will always be three.*

Thank you Rio!

Maria Bonifácio Lopes


*  The article´s tittle “Words for Barbecue” was based on the album “Music for Barbecue” (Música para Churrasco) from Seu Jorge, a Brazilian musician, singer/songwriter and actor.

*This conclusion is based upon the portuguese/brazilian expression “life lasts a day and Carnaval always lasts three”. This saying means life goes so fast as if it lasts only a day, however Carnaval is always three days, no matter what. 

One Comment

  1. Grande crónica Maria. Os tios estão super orgulhosos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *