Sunday, March 26, 2017

Size Matters: From 100st Rio to 11th St D.C.

3 years ago 

In the courts at the entrance of Pavao... 
Outside of the first place I used to live in the favela 
On the way home after post training food at Bil's <3

Some weird shit happened Saturday night at the place I was living in the Cantagalo favela which led me to the decision to find a new place to call home. As soon as fucking possible. I had been in the favela for about 4 months and in Brazil for about 7 months, but it would be the first time that I had ventured to live on my own.

The main vein of Galo

One of the friendly favela residents introduced to me to a guy that sat on a couch surrounded by a rampant pack of children. She introduced him by one name and he gave me another. It was shady as hell, but whatever, I need a place to live and he had a room for rent. A day later I called him up, met him on a corner, and replaced the wad of cash in my sports bra with the keys to my freedom.

The place was a piece of shit, tiny as hell, and had a wall that was perpetually damp.

Daily Occurrences. 
Corner boys are friendly, familiar 
faces. Cops not so much. 

On the bright side, it came with an armed doorman
(I’m being facetious. I mean there was a dealer outside). 

I didn’t realize until a couple of months later that it was located in one of the most dangerous parts of my side of the neighborhood. A place called the Gaza Strip. I probably should'a gathered as much after hearing a crackhead get nearly stoned to death in front of my door.

The room was tiny as hell. There was only enough space for fridge, a sink, my two plastic drawer sets, and then there was a small area for me to throw down a mattress to sleep at night. During the day, I had to throw the mattress up against the wall. It was that tiny.

But the room had a small balcony attached to it which was hands down the best part. I’d sit out there after training looking at the ocean and talking to the lookout. He had really good stories. He told me about how my house used to be nothing but a shack made out of wood, that my landlord, who had just recently been released from prison, had built up on his own. He told me about how my house, located at the top of 26 flights of stairs was one of the main entrances to the favelas. Crackhead and cops would ascend the stairs in search of the boys with backpacks at the tops and apparently, my new landlord was known for having some crazy shootouts with the police.

When I moved back to D.C. I found myself in a similar predicament (I minus the guns and drugs). I found myself needing a place to live, and since I didn’t have a car, my options were limited to the city. I had a choice between two small rooms or moving back to Philly to my father’s house (which was not really an option!). One of the rooms was located right across from the perfect parking lot for interrogating and murdering someone… so yeah, that mean I was pretty much left with only one viable option.

Luckily it worked out and here I am. I managed to find the perfect living situation… and then the perfect job.

On the perfect living situation

If I finesse it, there’s kind of enough space for me to lay on my floor in between the door to the hallway and the door to the balcony. It’s that tiny.
I’m reluctant to let people into my personal life, let alone my personal space and the one time I did, they were….

They were curious.

Curious to know why, If I now had a job, would I not look for a better living situation. Americans love to supersize everything.

But riddle me this?

Why the hell would I increase my expense by $300 for more space at home if I wake up at 5:30 in the morning and go to the gym, train, sleep on a crash pad, then go to work to teach till 9 P.M.?

I’m never home, so the fact that my room is smaller than a jail cell is really irrelevant, expect when it comes to acquiring a lot of useless shit… then it becomes highly relevant because I don’t have any space for all that nonsense.

I mean I could TOTALLY spend 300 dollars more money every month on rent so I could have a bigger room but I would prefer to spend 25 bucks on a bus ticket to NY and go lay down in the Bronx or spend 500 on a ticket to the west coast so I could visit Cali, Colorado, and Oregon.

Moral of the story: Perfection is Relative & Size only Matters in Some Situations (to some people). 

This was my first front yard in the favela. 
The Entrance to Pavao or the Left side of the hood

Favela Tour Fridays with the Connection Rio Guests.
Proceeds from the tour went to helping fund miscellaneous projects
at the Project. I'd take them around to Terere's house and show them 
where kids from the project play soccer. 

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