The real Lost
by Caio Fernandes.
There was me, 2001...Belen, Para... heart of Amazon jungle. A big City as a matter of fact. The local University had offered me a award for 3 paintings, i didn't have money as a flight ticket to Amazon is almost as expensive as to New York so my intention was to send a notice saying: Thank you very much, i apreciate a lot, i can't appear for the Cerimony send the check to my bank acount. But my uncle Milton had saved miles enough and when he knew about that ( i really don't remember how he knew about ) offered me the tickets back and for, not just that, he works with industrial insurance and had there a client, a very rich man that would be happy for recieving me in his house. It gets hard to say no as i had never crossed the country and went to Amazon in my life.
I love to travel in airplanes so i won't complain about the long flight, but take a look on map and you will have an idea of how many hours i spent sat on that chair, fron Sao Paulo to Brasilia to Belen.
What can i say ? I hated the city. First the house of this my uncle's client, the man, yes, did everything for make me feel confortable and gave me a good suite ... but he and his family hated Paulistas ( whom is natural fron Sao Paulo ) what is very common when i travel to Brasil, they call us imperialists, american friends or "americanizados", capitalists ( and worse things ), sometimes even "gringos"!! Well... they hate us and that is the reason i don't travel to any place of this country anymore not even for free.
Then the city by itself. I arrived in a sunday afternoon, the Cerimony of the award would be only at friday, in my mind i would have a whole week to explore the place, making some comercial contacts, things like that. This host of mine had a son of my age living with him ( 25 years old ) and it seens that he felt that should show me some local atractions and at monday night "i had to" prove the best Tacaca of the world. So he let me to this restaurant that looked like a public bathroom and ordered 2 portions of Tacaca. I had no idea what Tacaca is but i didn't care, i would prove and make a happy face. Didn't see bad at all, is a yellow thin soup with 3 small shrimps floting and a herb that they say gives you a funny feeling on your tongue, but i didn't feel anything and didn't understand why they like that so much as tasted like nothing. The guy started to get revolted, told me that had showed this place to an American client and at the end asked to this poor gringo: "so, isn't this much better than that stupid McDonalds" ? And the american guy answered: "no , i prefer McDonalds". Hahahah!! And i totaly agree , even McDonalds is better than that.. but this host of mine got really angry with the answer and then asked me :" and what about you Caio? do you prefer Tacaca or McDonalds"? - "ahh, Tacaca is the best thing i have ever proved, no argue about that"!!hahah! And he got happy, satisfied as a baby.
I didn't think so funny at the next day, after to have spent the morning visiting some "clients" showing my works, catalogs, portfolios, and geting nothing, so i decided to visit the down town and see the historical-turistic points. There has a harbor to a large river of mudy water with a popular open-air market named "Ver-o-Peso", great turistic atraction of then. That is when my laughs finished. I saw the way they sell the shrimps i had aten the night before. They make piles on the extremely durty floor of fishies and shrimps, i saw a large rat fighting with a vulture for taking a rotten fish's head. Naked drunk indian homeless running around and peeing everywhere. On the part of the harbor where the boats deliver the fishs a montain of garbage that is hard to explain with words. Everything smelling like shit under the heat of the mercyless sun. People with long knifes staring at me. That was when i had a crises where i didn't know if i started to cry or to puke. But i behaved myself and holded on.
Then i got to see their Cathedral where an art curator was suposed to meet me, one block fron this market on a hill. On the way i saw wonderful colonial houses but when i got closer to pay attention on the detais of the ornaments i realised it had girls of 8 , 10 , 12 years old asking me to get into with then for few money. What?!! It can't be real!! Maybe i am not understanding.
The curator was a very nice woman that first tried to flirt with me, but later started to think that i was gay and even introduced me to a local gay artist, hahah! She showed me all the art pieces of the Cathedral and told me the history behind it all. Was a nice moment. After this we crossed the street and went to an art institution in a pretty big building on a lovely place with many huge health tropical trees where she was preparing an exhibition of a German artists that was there being so rude treating her and all the local staff as slaves that i argued with him and we almost fighted. The securitys had to put us apart.
So i left the place hating "gringos", the locals , myself and everybody else, but had nowhere to go only back to that harbor and feel sick again.
There i discovered that at 6:30 a boat for turists used to let then at the midle of the river because they say the view of the sunset is fantastic fron there. It seems to be the biggest turistic atraction and i wanted to do something stupid, safe, ridiculous... and in my mind i was a turist, so should get into these turistic traps, but the price was to high. This is when i tried to be smart.
I realised that on this harbor have boats that work as bus leting people fron Belen to small vilages in the middle of the forest where there is no access by land.
It was very cheap and i thought i would see the marvelous sunset fron the middle of the river paying 20 times less than suckers turists that payed 10 bucks for a can of coke !!hahah!! Losers!!
I asked for informations and found a boat that would cross the river. It would depart soon so my plan was to leave that market before to be stabed, spend 1 hour and half going to some vilage, come back and see the sunset.
On the line for geting into the boat two mans in front of me were chating :
- "So i had to come back fron Rio de Janeiro because i killed too many people there and now the police is looking for me"
- Right, i know this very well, it has been 2 years i came back too but i feel like to go to Espirito Santo now, people is making money there and you can rape the girls of the indian tribes because nothing happens to you. They are only indians, the police doesn't care".
I couldn't leave the line because had iron gates around me so i could only walk towards the boat, and because they realised i was listen and i didn't want to look like a chicken running away. Stupid macho's proud.
On the boat i saw an old lady reading The Bible and didn't think twice , i sat by her side, then a news paper's man started to scream: "man rapes his sons and daughters, kill his wife and puts fire on the house with everyone inside when the gas exploded and all the neighbors died, you can't lose that!!" he repited this several times.
The boat crossed the large river and gets into a narrow little river into the forest. The travel was silent and i started to relax a bit apreciating the view of trees and sometimes passing in front of some isolated houses where familys lived distant of the standarts of life that i knew so far... very impressive and pretty, but i was still tense as i didn't know where exactaly i was going to, what kind of things i would find on the way. If Belen , the capital was like that...imagine the rest...
Two hours later the boat hadn't stop yet and my plans of geting down to take another one to Belen and see the stupidy sunset were ruined. I asked to the people if it would stop soon and they said that in 15 minutes the first stop would be in a vilage where i could wait for the next boat.
Yes it happened, it was a pier of concrete in the middle of nowhere and i got down... all empty. the place had only some boat garages but nobody working.. i started to walk and saw it had a main ( the only one ) street paralell the river and a tiny bar. So i went there for informations about the boat i should take back.
Inside it the bartender didn't even looked at me ignoring my presence as i had ofended him before or something. Sat on a corner had two whores, one should have 50 or 60 years old , the other 12 or less. I ordered a beer , sat and asked about my boat trying to be polite as i was speaking with the King of Denmark. The man told me that in 20 minutes would pass and it was diferent of the one i took, much faster and confortable. Ok, i had no choice , so i looked to the tv on the ceiling where i could watch soup opera and pretending everything was fine.
The bar was very small, had no tables , only the place where the man served the drinks, a block of cement, with 3 pieces of tree trunks as seat in front and the 2 iron chairs the whores where using, A door at the corner behind the block of cement where i saw had a toilet.
Sundely i start to listen an engine. My boat?!!Great, so i went to the door fron where i could see the river, but nothing. It is when i realised the sound was coming fron sky and saw a small airplane of one helix geting closer to land..... Where? Where is that plane going to land? Oh my ... no... it is going to land on this treet!!! The street was pure earth with stones of big sizes and holes everywhere...
Here comes the airplane...trackblaht boom, pow treivfkbvwopopr splash.... falling into all the holes and hiting all the stones in the way passing in front of me, riding all the street and stoping at the other extreme. Turning around with the helix pointed to the street and finaly parking. A little kid came fron the forest with a huge knife that looked like a sword and a rope. Fron the air plane comes a big man with a pistol on his belt , golden chains on his neck and wrists, dark glasses ... you can imagine the type. He came to the bar and i got inside fastly because didn't want that he realised i was observing him.
Working on my glass of bier i felt when he came into.. i didn't move, the man didn't show that had noticed my presence but stops only few centimetres fron me , the bartender doesn't say nothing only shakes his head. This man extends his hand and drops 3 tiny golden rocks, like grains, on the bartender's hand. Takes a shot of something some drink i have no idea what it is, takes the 12 years old girl and gets into the toilet. I heard the noises of then fucking, what was for 1 or 2 minutes. Then he comes out and go back to the air plane.
I had to see it , so went to the bar's door to watch... i was really curious of how that crapy machine would arrise on those horrible conditions.
So there was the airplane , this time tied by the tail to a tree with the rope the kid that had come out fron the forest broght with him. And there was the kid holding that knife almost his size. The pilot got inside the cabin, turned on the engine and started to accelerate forcing but the airplane didn't move so much because was tied, only the movements the tree allowed to do... smoke going to everywhere... when the man screamed: CUT!! the kid used the knife to cut the rope... and the airplane like a bullet crossed the street. When i thought it would hit the trees at the other side the plane arrises in a impossible impossible impossible ( i should repeat the word impossible hundreds of times ) angle of almost 80 degrees. Flying over the trees only touching a bit the top of it.
Still speechless i realised the kid had vanished into the forest as a ghost and at the same time i hear another engine: my boat! I runned away to the pier as was afraid to lose it. It was a really confortable speed boat with lots of seats. It had place to 100 people but there was only a couple of american turists coming fron i don't know where.
I sat on the back seats alone and quiet still thinking about that airplane stuff.
Looking through the window how the boat cuts the water and the jungle smooth and fast, the many rivers looked like avenues where sometimes other boats came fron diferent directions but obeying the same laws of traffic we have on the streets.
The sun was seting, the colors changing. It was when the boat crossed an area where many rivers met in total diferent and unlogical directions that i saw something that goes beyond the concept of sunset... all the sky , forest and waters geting orange and golden, then fastly purple, blue.. an atmosthere where i could breath the colors and touch it as bilions of birds passing through my body and all the matter i could see... the particles of air shined in milions of colors and i couldn't know anymore if i was sat on a chair, swiming, flying.. if wasn't by the noise of the engine and movements of the boat i could swear it happened an acident, i had died and didn't realise. Sundely The Milk Way was exploding colorful smiles around me and i was so tiny and infinite as one more particule of light...
When the boat arrived to Belen it was dark, i was very afraid of Belen's down town after dark, i am fron Sao Paulo, and had survived horrible things there, any other place of the world could scare me anymore... but Belen was scaring me.
Fastly i tried to find a bus that could take me to the house where i was hosted. It was all ok till a guy, a teenager, on the bus stop starts to chat with me and making me questions that really takes me fron serious. After to have heard my accent and realised i am a typical Sao Paulo's man, the questions started to get even dumber. One thing i never understand when i travel to Brasil is their obssession for want to know what strangers think about the local women: "are you fron out of here? What do you think about the women fron here? What do you think about Brazilian women?" they always ask this . I can't deal with this , i never did , so i always answer:" Why? Do you want to sell me you sister? Maybe you mother? If i get the both do i have a discount?" I must to say , they don't like this answer at all, i alread had several problems because of that, but it is another story, i just can't help myself.
That night i went to the house safe. The following days were a crap, the Cerimony would be friday night , but friday morning i packed up everything and went to airport to trade my ticket flight for the next one to Sao Paulo. Fuck. Send me the check by mail, send the money to my bank account, don't send nothing, whatever. Do what you want, i am leaving.
At the airport the last kid after milions that week got closer with that "smart" face trying to send me brasilian nuts or chocolate... i didn't have any patience and was pretty rude. The kid said: "Let me guess, you are fron Sao Paulo, aren't you?" We both started to laugh and i asked for appoligies. This was my last conversation on that city.
Before to take my flight i saw the pilot of mine with a hot blonde that seemed to be his girlfriend. She took the flight as well, and while the pilot was working in his cabin i did her in the bathroon. I though i was being very smart, cool, a unresistable sexy Don Ruan , but after me she went to the bathroon with more 3 guys. I hate to remember of this trip.
But it isn't over. Landing in SP, at the airport i saw a girl waving to me, it was my ex-girlsfriend's best friend. She said that had to drop her brother there because he was traveling to somewhere, Florianopolis i think, and knew that i would be arriving at the same time so decided to give me a ride as she knew i don't have a car or a girlfriend to take me home. She delivers me a book and says it is a gift.
- "How to paint oil portraits"? It was a book writen by some american semi profissional housewife with Dutch name.
- "Yes, Caio...i thought you would enjoy as now you are a profissional painter and are recieving awards, maybe it is a good idea to learn how to paint well. I've seen your paintings, it is going to help you".
- "You know , i am recieving awards maybe , maybe because my works aren't a total crap".
- "sure..." and she smiles as i was a little kid "... you are a promisse".
I hate to remember of this trip.
i wrote the text this morning before to go out and do my things. I only woke up feeling like to tell this story as sinse i started the Mein Welt blog i felt like to post about.
forgive me all the gramatical mistakes and if you didn't understand any part , i am sorry , i fix later.
done , i am posting this story. i feel free now.