Visitors and a Witness

Today ends a string of visitors, and tomorrow I will go back to a more tranquil Brazilian life here in Niteroi. Katie was here for three weeks and we fit quite a bit in, but managed to keep it decently low key so she could get a chance to see what my life is like over here. We fit in a few more churrascos before she left, along with a quick trip to Teresopolis, a game at Maracanã, a trip to Porcão (churrascaria) and a good bye lunch with all her new friends.

Katie enjoyed the National Park…
…I enjoyed the pool at her friend's massive house outside the park.

The same day that Katie left, Bijal and Kavita, some friends of my sister arrived. They were only here for two days, but we managed to fit in Pão de Açucar, Ipanema, Copacabana, Fortaleza de Santa Cruz, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and another game at Maracanã. Whew!
The Fort was amazing… the treatment of prisoners during war time was atrocious. They were put in prisons without light and air holes the size of straws… some prison cells were to small to stand, and after moving them to progressively smaller cells, they were hanged, but instead of the normal Hollywood version, were made to stand on a small pedestal in the sun until they fell off and hung themselves.

I've managed to set up regular voluntary work at the daycare in the favela near Rodrigo's house, so now that normal life will resume, I'm anxious to start there again. The kids are beautiful.

Unfortunately, last night, I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing a mugging right outside my friends' building. We were leaving at about 10pm to get some pizza down the street, and I heard a women shriek across the street. Three men were around her and I saw one pick up her cell phone and the others grabbed some shopping bags she was carrying. I must not quite be Brazilian yet, because my instincts caused me to turn toward her, while my friends took the opportunity to run. I took a step and was promptly yelled at by my friends, so I turned and caught up with them. We hurried into the pizza place and watched the men run off. I felt terribly bad for not helping, but everyone convinced me that there was nothing to be done… we weren't the only ones to witness the crime, and I guess everyone realizes it's just safer to leave the stuff and take off. I didn't see any guns, but in all probability they had a few. The lady mugged was not physically hurt in any way, she just lost some belongings. Sadly, it is almost certain the men live in the favela where I work (it's very close by). I've been there 4 times now, and I can almost understand their desperation. If there were not other honest hardworking people living in the same conditions, I could almost sympathize with them.

Here's a photo from the doorstep of my friends building. The lady was mugged near the white pole.

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