Português of the Week

comemoração - celebration

Friday, June 3, 2011

Jungle Windows

Behind the cement boxes and tangled electrical wires of Chapéu Mangueira lie the backwoods--an untampered forest whose trails are known only by the locals...and the occasional curious gringo.

Celine, a fond new friend, and I decided to make an adventure out of a sunny, classless weekday. On the way to the top of the favela we bumped into Melke. Melke was born in Chapéu Mangueira and makes a living hauling miscellaneous items up and down the stairs for other residents--a task which few can do more than twice a day. Melke offered to show us the trails as well as some hidden views. Just another glimpse of local hospitality in the community. 

Sometimes Rio de Janeiro makes me wonder if God is financially benefiting from postcard companies. The picturesque views and geographic wonders are beyond suspicious. Christ Redeemer. Sugarloaf. Pedra da Gavea. The list goes on. For an urban city, the natural beauty is unparalleled. After 10 months, landmarks such as Botafogo Bay and Copacabana Beach are things that I've seen a million times...they're things that a million people have seen a million times. But once Melke led us to the top of the hill, above all the stairs and through the trees, there was something different about these all-too-familiar views. I found myself gazing down at the city through small clearings of trees, hidden windows in the brush.

Imagine a person getting hired as the new docent at the Louvre in Paris. The job allows this person to see some of the world's best pieces of art every day. But after some time, the job would lose some of its glamor and the docent would start to take much the beauty for granted. Now imagine a maintenance worker at the museum offering a tour of the secret corridors inside the museum walls--intricate and known only by other maintenance workers. Through tiny holes in the wall, the docent peers at the Mona Lisa. At the Coronation of Napoleon. At Egyptian artifacts. The next week at work is refreshing. The art's beauty is renewed.  

The backwoods and jungle holes were truly a behind-the-scenes experience, abounding with spiders and all.

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