one fine day

It was shaping up to be One of Those Days.

The neighbor’s dog begins barking earlier than usual—7:00 a.m., instead of 7:30 or 8:00. (I have never actually seen this dog, which is locked in a yard behind my apartment building, but based on its bark—shrill and ceaseless, a beating metronome—it’s one of those tiny, yappy things.)

Portuguese tutor Adriana calls to say that we were not going to have our 9 o’clock class at the Fenearte, as planned, because, as it turns out, the Feira doesn’t open until 2 o’clock. Lunchtime reveals that the magical acai na tigela shop is closed, for who knows how long, as the university is officially on winter break. It is pouring rain, which I can handle, but it is also gusting wind, which my umbrella cannot handle. It rattles and then gives up and crumples in despair, and I arrive to Portuguese class similarly crumpled and wet. Profe Miranda is distracted and I am stranded, waiting for him to finish a phone call or assign homework to students who are learning English.

It’s still pouring, but I am feeling stubborn, so I take the onibus directly from class to the Feira Nacional de Artesanato; the biggest artisan fair in Latin America is in the convention center this week only. I get on the correct bus (small accomplishment) but the bus is full and the windows are closed and covered in fog, and I somehow miss my stop, which I realize only when I end up in downtown Olinda (larger failure). I get off and pay another three reais to take the same bus in the opposite direction. After two lovely and dry hours wandering among beautiful art and bright things to purchase, it is time to go home. I ask a man directing cars where the closest onibus stop is, and he points me down a muddy road. It doesn’t seem right, but he nods again, and there is a sign there that says, Exit, so I’ll see where it goes. It’s soon clear that the Exit sign is meant for cars, not pedestrians. I arrive to the exit, and ask the fellow there where the onibus stop is. It’s there, he says, gesturing across a dark and busy street. But, it’s very dangerous, he says, looking me up and down. Very dangerous. Better to wait here.

“Wait here” is not a realistic solution—I cannot see which buses are passing, and cars are rolling past, knocking me with cold splashes, and I am standing ankle deep in mud and grass. Waiting at the bus stop is also not a realistic solution. It is dark, scarcely populated, and this man has now said perigoso twelve times.

But then, one of the cars leaving the fair stops, a window rolls down, and a young dude sticks his head out. “Where are you going?”

“Recife?” I ask.

“Right,” he says. “Where?”

“Cidade Universitaria.”

The woman in the passenger seat says something to the effect of “Girlfriend, get in the car. It’s dangerous here.”

And so, I am saved by this lovely young pair. We sit in rush-hour traffic and they ask me lots of questions and I chatter in Portuguese, and I ask them lots of questions—the fellow lived in Aspen for six months and fazia esnowboarding—and an hour and a half later, when they drop me off at Praca Derby to catch my onibus home, I’ve made myself two new friends. I arrive home, and it is bright and dry, and Josie has made couscous and scrambled eggs and Viola has made pineapple cake, and I take a shower and everyone watches a movie, and actually, it is a fine day after all.


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