On the streets

Rio is hilly and green, both of which I had forgotten until we began our first adventure and passed through the convent gates and along Santa Teresa’s steep cobbled streets. Lined on either side with living accommodation old and new and no two the same. A few of them gracious but mostly not so gracious and between these grey facades glimpses of the favelas. A constant reminder of the uneven distribution of the country’s growing economy.
Our strategy on such walks is to follow a bus route until we are tired or hungry or both and then hop on a bus travelling in the opposite direction.
Thus we continued noting the buses that are circular and their frequency in this case each displaying a set price, we lamented the absence of the famous Bondi tram, a cheap means of travel. Not yet returned to service since a tragic accident; blamed by the users on a lack of regular servicing and investment. In response the authority have provided a cheap bus service which runs only every couple of hours and is not reliable. Forcing the higher cost onto those least able to afford it.
On arriving in the city we halted our walk to buy a coconut cake from a refrigerated barrow which was washed down with an iconic coca de agua all the time observing the people of Rio get on with the day’s business.
Though roads are crowded with traffic drivers seem to have a sixth sense and cars slip in and out of each other with little more than a hair’s breadth to spare, with mercifully few accidents. And mingled in with the traffic, boys with barrows making home deliveries of building materials.
With a visit to the Living & learning project scheduled for the afternoon we boarded the bus for an unforgettable white knuckle return journey. Boarding the bus was one thing getting past the ridiculously narow turnstile required contorting the body into a very unnatural shape, just when I was about to give in I popped through like a champaign cork. Most embarrasing to me but amusing to Keith. Great speed was achieved up through the narrow streets along the cobbles which caused every bone to shake, as well as every bolt of the bus.
During the afternoon we helped the children to make flags for the fundraising party on Saturday. The celebration marks the feasts of St Peter and St John.
Monica and Wellington were busy helping and organising the children and good humour and kindliness poured out of them.
Monica reluctantly became another bemused victim of an enforced conversation in Portuguese.
The visit though brief was a powerful reminder of the impact the project has on the lives of the children and the importance of expanding our fundraising efforts.

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