We had a massive storm in Rio on Tuesday night. I was leaving work in Barra and had just got on my bus when the first fat drops of rain started to fall. Within minutes the rain was coming down in torrents and the thunder and lightning started soon after.
The windows on the bus steamed up and the rain was so strong that it was like someone was spraying the outside of the bus with a hose. As the bus hurtled along the precipitous Avenida Niemeyer I thought that perhaps it was a good thing that I couldn’t see out of the windows.
The bus came down the hill into Leblon and then followed the beach into Ipanema. Every time the bus doors opened to let passengers off, I saw some new scene of watery mayhem - people cowering on the beach under a buckling gazebo or wading through flood-water and sheltering under wind-smashed umbrellas.
Then I made my fatal error.
My normal route home involves getting off the bus and onto the metro, but that night in all the rain and confusion I got off the bus way too early. I found myself in the middle of a massive thunderstorm with 10 blocks to walk. Oops.
It wasn’t all bad though. I actually quite like a little walk in the rain sometimes. Did you see Rachel’s recent post? There is definitely something rather satisfying about a big storm and as the temperature was still a pleasant 25°C, I wasn’t too downhearted.
I set off on my walk, keeping the worst of the rain off with my trusty umbrella and trying to avoid getting splashed by the passing buses. When waiting for the lights to change at pedestrian crossings I would step back and shelter under some overhanging shop fronts.
During one of these stops I found myself standing next to a popcorn seller. The guy still had some popcorn left in his cart but looked like he had given up and was on his way home. As we waited for the lights to change, 3 street kids appeared, shivering in their raggedy t-shirts and shorts.
Call me sentimental if you like, but what happened next was really touching. The boys held out their cupped hands and the humble popcorn seller filled them with popcorn. The boys thanked him and munched away gratefully. It sometimes seems like all you hear about street kids is that they’re dangerous and addicted to drugs – it’s important to remember that they are children who need help. Of course, working out how to help them isn’t so easy – they need a lot more than popcorn…
The lights changed and the street kids, the popcorn seller and I went off in different directions. When I got to the next crossing I saw this:
I walked on and finally saw the metro station. I had just one final road to cross but it was completely flooded. I walked up the street to see if I could find a way across. Here’s what I found:
Faced with that, I headed back the way I had come and managed to find a way across without getting my feet wet. When I finally arrived home I found that the power was out, but like my unplanned stroll through rainy Copacabana, it had an unexpected upside. Mrs Eat Rio and I ended up eating by candlelight which was rather a nice end to my interesting journey home!