People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
“`What goes around comes around.” The hostel where I am staying is two blocks from the governor, Sergio Cabral’s, house. It’s a three story glass house
on a corner directly across from the beach in Lablon, the suburb next to Ipanima. Wednesday night the ground floor windows were broken by folks protesting his corrupt politics.
Policia in full riot gear blocked the streets going north and south in order to confine marching angry protestors to the main east / west street and the street that runs along the beach directly in front of his house. To hear Brazilians talk, it seems that just about everyone but the wealthy are disgusted with him.
As the crowd passed our hostel
the protestors were peaceable: a few in a party mood. A woman who lives in a favela spied me and began a weird verbal exchange-the kind I probably invoke with my limited language skills here.
” No. California.”
“Ah. I know Cheecaago. I know you United States.”
“Not all of them. Only some.”
“You fala Inglas?”
Finally she had me dancing in the street and posing.
She was with a man and maybe a very pretty girl-maybe her daughter.
When she found out it was against the rules of the hostel to buy her a beer they left.
I walked to the beach and to where the protesters had gathered: to listen, observe, and learn.
The avenue along the beach was quiet. A woman did yoga, dogs were being walked, skaters and bicycles went by.
A few minutes later, while walking home I heard, Bang! Bang! Bang!Then the smell of tear gas stung my eyes, my nose. Fires burning photos of the governor were lighting up the next block. We could hear glass breaking, ambulances screaming down the street. Our street. Suddenly it was quiet. I went to bed. The noise started again. I put the window down.
I took my hearing aids out of my ears and fell asleep.
In the morning I walked among the carnage. Broken glass littered the street. A clothing store on the corner was completely open-I’m pretty sure looted.
Now it is covered with black boards that have slogans painted on them. Most of the banks along the main street had been vandalized. The young, professional Brazilian woman I walked with said, “the governor is probably in Cancun on the beach. He doesn’t give a shit.”
At the governors’ men were measuring to replace the glass. Policia guarded the street. She was right about him being gone. He is still gone.