Thursday, May 04, 2006

There are three types of browsing...

the kind where you're just killing time, the kind where you're scoping out what you'll eventually buy (or steal: shame on you!), and the kind where you run into any store as fast as possible so that you don't interrupt the urgent business of large men with larger guns that are marching down the street.

I was in the latter category last night.

Coming home from the internet cafe in Jacarezinho a little later than usual, I was in a hunger-induced state of inattention. It wasn't until after the guy gave me a funny look that I realized I was passing a little too close to him and his nicely polished machine gun. Oops. I gave an embarassed smile and stepped onto the sidewalk. Quickly. Noticing that he was not the only one sporting shiny metal objects in his hands, and that they were in a very public place, I decided to find a more secure place to be nosy. Like the drugstore.

After the group of them passed, I waited a few minutes and then went on my way. Usually, they're just "changing the guard" or something of the sort...but when I got to the train tracks, there are even more armed men and while they aren't stopping traffic, they're certainly noticable. So I ask someone what's going on and hear that they're going over to Manguinhos...

Someone finally gives the order to move out and zoom! away they go on their motorcycles and on foot, like they're in some sort of Olympic time trial...and I race home as well, to get back before anything happens.

I taped parts of the resulting shootout on my cellphone. Not pretty. But I'll let you listen to it when I come back in a week...but to disappoint those of you who find these stories less than comforting, I'm not planning on STAYING in the States. Just visiting!

Yesterday was so interesting. I got to examine and then hide a bag of fifty-cent marijuana that someone threw over the wall into the "school" where I work on Wednesdays (whether it's mostly marijuana or oregano is yet to be decided); I visited a woman who lives UNDER the underpass, in a surprisingly nice cement home with a tiled floor and a phone she found in the trash. The answering machine has messages on it, and she plugs it in from time to time to listen to them, since she doesn't actually have a line to use the phone. It's just for pretend...; and then there was this adrenaline-inducing evening...

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