The beat – A party everyday – Razor’s edge. (Map this!)
The beat is loud and thick, it reverberates in my chest. All around us are bodies gyrating, dancing to a drunken singer with a voice made rough and gravelly by cigarette smoke and bad living. The favela hums with excitement and taxis crawl forward through dense million man march crowds at a speed where the needle is glued to zero. They are the spillover from the Samba school because they don’t want to pay to dance or can’t pay to dance and they dance to the music echoing from the Samba school as it mixes with home-made frog amplifiers and decibel drag racer wanna be Volkswagens. Inside the Samba school gravel guy screams over the pulsing crowd bathed with complexion unflattering neon light and lonely neglected Caiprinhas stand diluted with ice cubes. This is Rio where the meter of life is pegged to eleven.
There is a party everyday, every single day. There is music, debate, pinga and a constant stream of artists, relatives, neighbors and unidentified hangers on. Santa Theresa is a tightly knit community and everybody knows everybody and everybody is somebody and nobody is excluded. At least nobody worth mentioning. The party keeps going past our bedtime but no worry there is another tomorrow and magically there will be beer, Caipirinhas, and pinga. On this merry-go-round you can get on and off as many times as you like. This is Rio where everyone eats all the candied crab apples all at once and gulps them down with Caipirinhas.
It is the razor’s edge, life honed to perfection and infinitely worth living. Everywhere there is the happiness of wild abandon, a frenzy of life to be lived NOW, for in the shadows lurks the reaper. A stilletto, an aging revolver, or an automatic weapon can stand in for the scythe. For most the blow will never fall but it quickens the pace and warms the blood. There is nothing like the threat of death to realize the value of life, a life not worth risking is a life not worth living. The Samba drum beats are the ticking of the clock thumping you in the chest like CPR, bringing you back to life. Don’t waste your time, live, dance, and have Caipirinhas.
Rio has the most dramatic geography of any city I have visited and it is very close to dethroning Rome as the most interesting. South American in every sense it is not a European wanna be like San Francisco, or Toronto. A Hell-Bound train, it is time to stop the clock.