Brazil: Life, Blood and Soul by John Malathronas

By John Malathronas

Brazil is an eclectic state that conjures up pictures of vivid carnivals, crowded shanty cities and soccer at the seashore. formed by way of its many cultures, the Portugese, African, local Indian and ecu groups have ensured the evolution of a colorful, assorted inhabitants. John Malathronas fell prey to Brazil's seductive attract within the early Eighties, a fascination that keeps to at the present time. His odyssey throughout the adrenaline-fuelled, chaotic urban bars, the extravagant carnival, the plush rainforest and the destitute shanty cities finds the throbbing heartbeat of the rustic.

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Inflation was running at about 30 per cent a month, and money transactions were a risky business. Change too much foreign currency and you’d lose half its value if you dithered too long over a restaurant menu. Banks were giving weekly rates: if you give us your money on the 1st of the month and take it out on the 8th you’ll receive so much interest; cash it on the 15th and you get more; on the 22nd even more – and if you are naive enough to have your capital locked in for a whole month, we give you a bonus, presumably for bravery.

But I lunged at him suddenly, and he scampered into the darkness. I walked across to a petrol station whose attendants had been lazily enjoying the scene. Next time I’ll issue tickets. ’ I asked feverishly. ‘He drew a knife on me! ’ ‘You’re lucky his friends in the corner didn’t shoot you with their gun,’ was their response. ***** I passed the market by Rua Uruguay and reached Praça Tiradentes, a quiet spot in the mad megalopolis for a change. This is the old Largo do Rossio: one hundred years ago this square was the centre of nightlife in Rio with cafés, bars and French-style high-society brothels.

You’ll have to start from there,’ he said and pointed two hundred yards back to where I’d come from. So I had to swan my way down the human corridor in my plain dancing clothes and shoes, surrounded by beautiful transvestites and guests in many an exotic attire in the full glare of discerning Cariocas. I felt like a fashion terrorist. I could see the perplexed expressions of the crowd. Perhaps I should have pretended that I was a lesbian disguised as Boy Next Door. Amazingly there was no queue at the ticket office; I paid my $30 and walked in past the clicking of cameras, past the posing of the gleaming drag queens, past the cameras and highfaluting TV presenters into a vast ballroom.

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