Absurd Harmony in Rocinha

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I just was sitting up on the roof gazing around at the beautiful sights and taking in the incredible variation of different sounds. Not a moment of quiet, but that did not mean that it felt unpeaceful. Starting with my head, tilted back on the hinges of my neck, staring at the night mixing in with the twilight, sponging the wisps of Tennessee shaped clouds a soft lavender, and the warmness of the temperature hugging me comfortably, allowing me a simple t shirt and shorts. The stars get to twinkling on the lower rim of the great sky, and brings my gaze down to the top of the most massive slab of rock imaginable, a rock that is shaped like a whales back- long, and huge and gently arched. With trees and greenery lining the top and coming down the sides a little, the rock juts up from the face of the hillside, too sheer for houses to be carved onto it, with many different colorings beautifying it. Moving my eyes downward, the top tier of houses begin and don't stop for as long as you can look. The number of dwellings, wood, stone and metal constructed, houses perched one on top of another on the entire hillside, from top to bottom and then over the hill bottom to top, is unbelievable. Each with little lights twinkling, illuminating scenes of a matronly looking lady doing laundry in a short jean skirt, another putting a pair of shoes on the windowless windowsill, dogs growling and prowling around on a tarp-covered porch and the squealing of a little girl bouncing on a trampoline.

The sounds filling the air are barking and a blaring soccer game on television, accompanied by blaring curses by the viewers, music from all sides but suddenly one speaker is turned up louder than the rest, and the area echoes with reverberating beats of bass and funk. Just as ceaseless as the barking dogs is the incessant beeping and rumbling of the motorcycle taxis, whose drivers wear fluorescent yellow, striped vests and, along with their general swarm-like nature, make them not dissimilar to a buzzing beehive. Sporadically rising above the already buzzing din is the sound of loud bursts of fireworks, ringing out like gunshots and sometimes ringing out alongside gunshots. The warmness of the weather despite the winter season allows for people and animals to be out all through the day and night walking and sitting and being in the streets.

The favored dress includes shorts and bathing suits and flip flops, with shirts being optional. Despite the white blaring sun, people do not really wear sunglasses, and sewage flows in an open aqueduct-looking stream below the level of the street, with little three or four foot wide bridges spanning the gap of maybe six feet for people to cross from the street to the little alleys. Stores line each side of the street, called Rua Valão, selling chicken both raw and roasted, açai smoothies, phones, foods, coxinha and other fried goods and a host of other good smelling things, yet I am hesitant to taste due to the proximity to the open sewage that the foods are being sold in. From the solid but seemingly teetering towers of houses perched one on top of another comes the steady dripping of A/C fluids, water and other plumbing. The streets are flooded with people at most times, so the motor-taxis jam and jerk and move their way through, slaloming in and out of the people and the construction and the dogs and trucks and busses. But sitting up on the roof with only the faintest wafts of sewage, the sparkling houses lying beneath the brilliantly massive rock, which sits proudly upon the mountain under the wide wide sky, everything appears beautiful. And the cacophony of voices, machines, televisions, animals and vehicles all blend together in a sort of absurd harmony.