Destination Rio de Janeiro, third travel to the former capital of Brazil.
The first night of UNE Biennial, in downtown Rio.
Day 2, 21.00
We felt much better after our nap on the beach of Praia Vermelha, which was followed by a refreshing shower in the improvised shower containers in the campus. The six who had stayed in the dormitory, just had awaken from their nap. They yawned simultaneously. Six examples of pure laziness! .We prepared ourselves for the first cultural night in Rio. According to the program, we were about to enjoy an African night. That sounded promising.
It was already nine pm, when everyone was ready to go. I was one of the first to be ready, and I took the time to read the program leaflet thoroughly. The ladies took their time with choosing their clothes and using their make up palette. We went to the main entrance, where a temporary bus stop was created. There were free shuttle buses, to the center and back. In the morning, at night until 11 pm, and back from the center until 3 am. The buses were coded with different destinations. Our yellow wristbands were our bus tickets. These buses were normal buses that serve in Rio at day, and some more luxury buses.
There was a relaxed and excited atmosphere among the students. Everyone walked around with a smile on the face. It was a very interesting mixture of students from all corners of Brazil. I sat next to a student from Salvador, she talked a lot and asked me a lot of questions. Standard chats, standard questions, standard answers when I talk about my study and level. Later that week, I also had a lot of chats with students from Pernambuco, from Maranhão. But only a few from Southern Brazil. Are Southern Brazilian really that cold and introvert as other Brazilians have told me? Sometimes, I got the impression that Southern Brazilians are very different from Brazilians from the other regions.
We arrived in Lapa. We wanted to eat something, and to drink some beers. We already received the news that it was not allowed to carry drinks inside the cultural center, since they also sell them inside the center. The well-trained guards at the entrance were grim: you should drink your cans of beer outside or hand the cans to them, before you were allowed to enter. The majority opted for the first and most practical solution: drink the beers outside, near the entrance. As a result, it was quite crowded at the entrance. Again, I was accompanied by Juliana and Mariana. We stayed together all night long.
After having finished the meal and the beers, we decided to enter. We showed our yellow wristbands to the guards. These guard dogs in black suits nodded silently. We were allowed to enter. We went to the ticket booths, where we obtained three tickets. Our yellow wristband received a big blue line from a permanent marker. The tickets would be used for three shows later that week. One night of black music, one night of hip-hop (Brazilians like to pronounce it as ‘hippiehoppie’), and one night with a live performance of one of Brazil’s most famous pop bands: Lenine. I was sure that many of my friends would be very jealous when they noticed that I was about to attend a show of Lenine.
That night, the cultural night was the opener, with African music. We wandered along various performances, we clearly enjoyed the thrilling rhythms of Música Africana. Once and a while, we left the center and walked outside. We went to the big square under the Arcs of Lapa in our search of the barrack with the lowest price for cans of beer. This time, Juliana was an excellent negotiator. She managed to obtain big bargains. Others quickly followed her example: this beer seller had the best night of his life. We didn’t need to look around for a garbage bin for our empty cans: there were many can collectors wandering on that square. They sometimes even asked us to hand them the cans when empty. They skilfully flatted the can with their flip flops or even barefoot.
The night went on, we enjoyed the African beats. Mariana and Juliana had serious troubles to control their bodies: they were moving constantly, following the exotic rhythms. We met a couple of friends there, also the other six of our dormitory. The night lasted until 2 am. At two-thirty, the cleaners started to sweep the beer-soaked floors. We were kindly requested to leave the center. We went to the bus stop. This bus stop was easy to find, since a large group of students was already waiting for the next bus. When I arrived in the dormitory, I felt very tired. I lied down and almost immediately fell asleep. It was already 4 am….
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom