Our home was small and modest. It was on the lower level of
this old multi leveled place, an old manor of sorts, something
the family had lived in for generations.
The Grandfather had had it built a long long time ago, and I’m
sure at one time it was quite grand. But it had fallen into disrepair,
and had this very sad aura about it.
Alcir was born here, and his mother and father still lived on the
upstairs level, although I never saw them.
He was disabled, in a wheelchair, and the only time I saw Her was
one day during my first visit…
I was sunning out on the deck of stone slabs, Not naked I might
add, and she came out on her upstairs veranda and yelled down
at me in Portuguese.
“nao fala Portuguese”, I responded, using one of my favorite
phrases while I was in Rio…
“Tu sabes bla bla bla…” You Know what I mean!
I got That much… I didn’t know the specifics, but I certainly got
the gist… she neither liked nor approved of me, or my presence,
at that place. Certainly she had no desire to See me, reminding
her of Alcir and his lifestyle.
I knew there had been other women, many other women, and
she had no idea who I was, or of our history and plans.
That one encounter was enough to not only chase me inside,
from the only sunny area… it also made clear her energies and
angry demeanor. She was full of hate for him, and he for her…
I sometimes referred to the house as a Karmic Layer Cake.
And she was the Dark Cloud Frosting dripping over the whole
And this incident of course led to a giant screaming fight between
Alcir and his Mother…. oh goodie.
Our front room was maybe 12×12, and also served as the
bedroom, the bed being made each evening from the cushions
of the couch. The floor was concrete, with wooden tiles over
that were loose and shifting, creating concrete dust everywhere.
He threw a small rug over the worst part. There were ornate
wrought iron bars over the one window, the wall 3 feet away
being the only view.
Attached to this room was a sort of hallway that led to the
shower (cold only), and held the small cabinet where he hung
all his clothes. That in turn was side by side to an equally small
kitchen, with sink and small table. It was likely 12×4, just wide
enough for me to lay down my yoga mat, (between one wall
and the sink) when I wanted to do my practice, and get away
from the tv, which was on all the time.
He frequently reminded me that that was a great way to learn
As I would do my yoga, he sometimes came through, stepping
over me, on his way to the shared kitchen.
Leading out of our kitchen was an amazing old tiled outdoor hall,
very narrow and with stairs leading up to another level outdoors,
where we hung our laundry. I actually liked this area a lot,
up above. Sky and quiet.
The walls, tiles and stairs were all a seascapes of rust and
breaking down paint and chipping finishes, creating
something that an artist might try to replicate in faux finishes.
If you went straight, instead of upstairs, there was the laundry
room, with concrete floor which was always cool in those
sweltering summer months, and the cooking kitchen for us
and for Maria.
A four burner stove, pots and pans of the most ancient aluminum
and worn metals, and a sink with cold water, were it’s accessories.
Maria was called Aunt, although she was not actually related to
the family. She had been companion to Grandma since she was
a very young woman, and was just part of the family.
Now she was alone, and her routine was her life.
There were doors here, one to the outside veranda, and one
to Maria’s. She had a nice little flat, with several rooms, two
bedrooms, a full kitchen, and lots of food. I think Food and
the Doctors were her life.
Then there was the front Veranda. My space. No one used it,
and the curtained french doors leading to Maria’s were behind
me as I sat, watching the streets, and the people as they traveled
up and down the easy hillside, to the market, to the favellas behind
us, and to little homes that had been there seemingly forever.
The island was built up as Suburbs to mainland Rio, with winding
streets that held the most rundown places covered in graffiti, and
the most lovely landscaped and freshly painted abodes, side by side.
This Veranda was pretty much mine, and the many times I had
to get away from Alcir, or the tv, or the incredible clostraphobic
atmosphere, I came here and looked at that incredible sky,
for it was an island, and weather came and went with great
haste……wind, the people running up the hill to home, then the
giant drops…warm tropical rain and often wild and crashing
thunder, which I loved.
And then the sun would come out, and the island steamed clean.
Alcir and Maria thought I was crazy…. but for me it was thrilling,
invigorating, and Life, in that strange out of time world that both
Maria and Alcir lived in.
During those days, I called him “Dead Man Walking”, for much of
the time his presence was hard to find, fleeting between utter
depression, and the exhilaration he found with drink and powders.