Sunday, June 22, 2008

Brazilian horse power

Brazilians have a love affair with new cars. The roads are filled with them. Of course there are lots of older cars – but clean, new cars with tinted windows are as common as coconut palms at the beach.

And so it is especially jarring to see juxtaposed to all the modern cars the occasional horse and wagon. Typically a junk man (often with son) and sometimes a freight hauler. These guys clop along through the traffic taking care of business.

The horse thing is not uncommon in the country, for sure, but I’m talking here about horses grazing on grassy medians in urban Rio (population 6+ million) or competing for road space in Niterói (population 650,000).

When we went to Belo Horizontes (population 2.5 million) for Carlos’ birthday a friend dropping off a huge cooking pot for the feijoada arrived on horseback. Here’s a shot of the horse and cart ‘parked’ in the front of the yard during the party.

The strangest horse story to date happened one early morning while I sat in my wooden rocker reading before Luiz woke up. I heard the unmistakable clip clop of horse hooves getting louder outside our window. Now, we live in a very urban neighborhood. The streets are lined with 20 story condominiums. The sound was very bizarre.

I got up to investigate and looked down to see two unattended horses walking calmly down the middle of the street. No human in sight. The horses just made their way down the street. The few vehicles on the road at that hour slowed to carefully drive around them.

Every day is an adventure…

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