Homeless in Minas

4th of July, PA MG
Zero Grav Sorveteria

This is not the 4th of July I had previously imagined. Sitting in an ice cream shop watching the pigeons fuck in the plaza is not the triumphant patriotgasm I had hoped for. I don’t know what specifically I had in mind… the scene that runs through my mind over and over again is the Ghostbusters driving a supernaturally animated Statue of Liberty through New York City. Now replace the Ghostbusters with me and Nate, and New York with this boonies ass Brazilian town. And there’s beer. And Bruce Springsteen. And cheerleaders.

America, fuck yeah.

But no, we wander the streets aimlessly, homeless and desperate. SoCo was a no go; she and her Mobile drawl are stranded at some farm house an hour out of Piracicaba, and unless we take three buses and rent a mule, we’ll never make it there. The girl Nate… met from Borda is also missing in action; whatever jabbering relative answers her phone is completely unable to communicate with foreigners like us.

And so with a checkout time of 12, and tickets for Rio at 22, we’re widdling away the 4th of July in a country so primitive they don’t have shower curtains and they televise volleyball.

We’re doing our best to cope, however.

For we are survivors.

Ordering beer in cans and drinking straight from the delicious aluminum mouth… put that cup away, garçon, we drink from the can. Humming Jack & Diane over and over again, we wandered the streets in search of the one true American pursuit available to us here: commerce. I searched rack after rack of a CD store for a chorinho album for my father, while Nate lectured a hapless Brazilian teenager on the intricacies of hip hop.

(In Portuguese…)

Nate: “Put that Eminem away here, son. Try this now.”
BR teen: “Eminem is great in America, no?”
Me (in English): “You shut your filthy mouth, rapaz. Eminem is merda.”
BR teen: quizzical look
Nate: “Here you go, De La Soul. These are the good things.”
Me: ” Happy Independence Day, boy. Viva Ludacris.”
BR teen: “Superlegal!”

Hopefully we dispelled a few cultural myths and opened at least one Brazilian kid’s eyes. It’s all worth it, if you can save just one.

Next I bought As Aventuras de Tom Sawyer, Alice no País das Maravilhas, and some random Brazilian book from a frantic, pot-smoking used book salesman downtown. He cussed me out after I told him I read Paulo Coelho, and I apologized profusely for the error of my ways. If there’s anything I respect, it’s an angry, outspoken literature fanatic, and I assured him I read the book only out of Ignorance of Brazilian literature and would never read any Coelho again. In a way it was reassuring; I thought perhaps I had missed something in the mental translation, but no, Brida really is a trashy ass book devoid of literary merit.

Tom Sawyer in Portuguese, friends. This shit is a trip.

Several hours left to kill before we head east to Rio, the Rectum of Brazil. Assuming we survive the perilous journey and the Rio bus station, it’s on to Búzios, the beach, and salvation.

All ahead full, gentlemen. This trip isn’t about looking back. It’s not about bitterness or injustice or cynicism, it’s about the future. This trip is a monument to all that is good and powerful in one’s early 20’s, and there is no doubt in my mind that the fanged, firebreathing jungle gods of this beautiful place will guard our passage and show us the way.

Hark! the red suited hotel attended handed Nate the phone just now. Who could be on the other end?

Wheels are in motion, friends, and we’ve still got two weeks left in the País das Maravilhas.

-T.

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