"Brazil 2001" story # 12

Juazeiro do Norte, Ceara           May 7, 2001

"We live and learn, and then, sometimes, it's best to walk away." - Guns N' Roses (Locomotive)
     I begin with this quote, because 1. I expected a lot more from my most-recent trip then to just learn some stupid lesson, and 2. Guns N' Roses kicks ass.

My lesson gained its origin after I viewed the dinosaur tracks in Souza and returned to Luciana's house to relax. This new visit to Fortaleza coincided with the last two days of the city's "Festa de Moda" (Fashion-Fest), which was where the action would take place.
     The event, held at Shopping Mall Maraponga, was a bit exclusive; to be invited, one needed to make a large clothing purchase at a featured store. Even though I wear new clothes as often as a slug wears salt, I expected to get in.
     My mission to finagle some tickets was as easy as pie - apple pie, that is. By simply saying, "Sou americano," I was shown through the doors.
     The shopping mall's halls were filled with clothing store "compradores" (buyers) checking out exhibits on moon-boots, sombreros, mumus, sweatpants, vests for your pet schnauzer, thermal underwear, and suit-coats that squirt water out of their flowers. For all I know, at least, that's what the exhibits showed; I didn't check them out. I was there to hit on the models. Although, the moon-boots would've been pretty cool.
     The real excitement came in a packed, darkened showroom. I took a front-row seat. At seven o'clock, the runway lit up. Madonna's "Open Your Heart" played, and the first model showed.
     She was a tall, pale girl with long, curly hair. She stood in a purple tanktop, a thin, white skirt with a slit, and cowboy boots. She began a surprisingly violent walk, swinging her hip out in front of her slowly and abruptly shooting her foot down with an emphatic stomp. Then, the right leg. Again, the left. It was like an electrolysis zap to my heart, each furious step the small girl took. It was the best walk I'd ever seen.
     A minute later, the top model of the Brazilian Northeast appeared. Her name was Suyane - half-Brazilian Indian, half-black. I'd seen her all over town in advertisements, but, in person, she was one of the most mesmerizing things I'd ever seen.
     She was tall, of course, with skin like a mocha blizzard. Black hair cascaded down her back, clouding out at the bottom. From her chest up, she had on tight, shiny black, with long ribbons reaching for the ground. Beneath her ribs, a long, concave gap stretched to the tiny jean-shorts she wore. Athletic thighs were revealed, and she modelled in black sneakers. There was power in her body.
     And her face. Her pouty lips were overwhelming, and thin eyes resembled a concentrating cat's. It seemed she'd just as soon have you for dinner as look at you. She stalked down the runway, and all were her prey.
     I wouldn't have minded being her victim, but she was soon replaced by others on the runway. The traditional models were light-skinned, with bundles of hair tied over their heads like witches, and with make-up caked on. There were all types, though, including a young-looking caramel girl with a particularly cute face that reminded me of a pug-dog.
     Some walked with limbs in perfect synchronization; others walked with arms way behind their backs. Once, two girls came out together, one in a blue army-looking uniform and the other in purple. Others wore white-ribbon dresses, brown office-wear, or green elf clothes.
     My favorite girl began the final show. The Doors played, and the stage lit. Suyane strutted out and posed, hip resting confidently to the side. She was like a tiger. She was big, and all trembled before her. I whimpered.
     She had on tight, light blue jeans and a shell-like top, with beads covering only her chest. Ooh, she was hot. I would've done anything she told me to. Even eat cuscus.
     At the finale, Suyane wore a white outfit with black, tiger-like stripes. It conformed to her grand body, showing how much of her there was and how great it all was. She was the queen.
     The show ended. Most people left, but I waited. A weird-looking lady stood next to me and admiringly mouthed, "Suyane," as if she was saying the password into heaven. I figured she must've been some crazed fanatic trying to catch a glimpse of her heroine. I decided I'd better keep my distance from such a wacko, so I smiled nervously and moved away.
     Just then, Suyane emerged from the back. Immediately, she went to hug and kiss the weird lady.
     Curses!!! That could've been my "in!"
     Suyane moved about the room, posing for photos with friends. I approached the weird lady again and asked what town Suyane came from.
     "Juazeiro do Norte," she said. "Minha cidade." (My city.) But, she scurried away. It was too late to make friends.
     Soon, Suyane left. I lingered outside her dressing room and worked on my dinosaur poem, hoping she'd inquire as to what I was doing and I could woo her with my sensitive side.
     Alas, it wasn't to be, though. Suyane burst from the dressing room and raced past my spot on the sofa. A model next to me asked her when she planned to leave Fortaleza.
     "Amanha." (Tomorrow.) For a tiger, Suyane's voice was sweet.
     "Tem trabalhar, eh?" the model said. (You have to work?)
     Suyane nodded and sped off. She'd left me without even an encounter.
     I lingered long enough to work out a hillarious rhyme involving "walk" and "pet rock" for my poem. Ha, ha. I slapped my knee and took off.
     My timing couldn't have been better. Walking through the near-empty mall, I found myself directly behind Suyane and family. She looked back briefly. Respecting the talk her family was having, I didn't try to engage her.
     The family turned to the carpark, and I watched. To my great delight, she turned and gave me a look. Her round face, smooth as ice cream, peered at me with a triange, open eye, slightly perked to view me. The look was icy, as if I were walking down a dark alley. I hoped the alley was nice.
     Unfortunately, this look was all I got from Suyane. But, looks say a lot. I took this look to say, "I want you so bad, you blue-eyed, American, caveman stud. As quickly as possible, go five-hundred-and-fifty kilometers out of your way and meet me in my hometown." It also could've been saying, "Who is this wacko who keeps following me?" I don't know; I have a hard enough time understanding Brazilians when they actually speak.
     So, the following day, I returned with a "translator" for the night: Luciana.
     "... E voce, JoAnna, será minha ajudadora brasileira em moda, e voce, Ana Carla, será minha guia." (And you, JoAnna, will be my Brazilian fashion assistant, and you, Ana Carla, will be my guide.) I assigned job titles to Luciana's friends as we rode there. Being Brazilians, they were going to have a tough time getting in unless we had a sneaky plan.
     "E cuando voces andam," I explained, "precisam andar com narizes em cima." (And when you walk, you have to hold your noses high.) We needed to look like important, snobbish compradores if we were all going to get in. The girls giggled, but they wouldn't go along with it when I said they had to all walk with their arms around my side, as escorts.
     The Maraponga door-man escorted us quickly into the mall anyway, recognizing me as his old yank pal. The door-man to the fashion show, however, was quite unwelcoming. We were pushed to the side; this was going to take some real cunning.
     There are two rules to getting your way in Portuguese-speaking Brazil. The first rule is to speak bad Spanish. "Nosotros llegamos ahora," I babbled. "Puedo entrar?" This confuses the Brazilians, gets them off-balance, and convinces them that, by being stupid enough to not even know which language is spoken there, you must be an important foreigner.
     He wasn't buying it.
     The second rule is to be persistent. "Nosotros LLE-GAMOS!" I said, as if this meant something to him.
     He put up one finger. I could enter.
     This was no good. I proceeded to walk past the door-man. "Nosotros necessi-TAMOS entrar!"
     "Tres mais," my translator said, keeping the peace. The door-man shrugged and reluctantly let the other three in.
     As it turned out upon entering, it was a great deal of work for nothing. The show was ending when we got in; instead of seeing Suyane, we only watched a fashion show for juveniles. It was kind of cute, though; one little girl tripped when she came out, but she smiled, shook it off, and "pressed on!" down the runway, doing me proud.
     The closest we came to seeing Suyane was helping ourselves to some giant posters of her off the wall.
     So, if you've been paying attention and you're smart, you know what this necessitated. I had to obey Suyane's wishes. I'd been summoned ... to Juazeiro do Norte, a religious interior town, where Suyane's and my love could take root and blossom.
     Getting to Juazeiro took ten hours by bus. In contrast, after I arrived, it only took two hours to learn she no longer lived there. She'd moved to the South (duh?) to model.
     Boy, I was upset! Our relationship was already upon bad times. I couldn't believe she'd given me that look when she didn't mean it!
     Perhaps, just perhaps, going to Juazeiro wasn't one of my smartest moves.
     But, you can bet, two days later, when I get off the bus in Rio de Janeiro and find my supermodel, I was going to let her hear about it!
     Just kidding. Instead of Rio, I went to check out Juazeiro's other attraction, the world's fourth-largest statue.
     It was 75-feet tall, of Padre Cicero, a late miracle-working Juazeirino, and thousands of Brazilians come to this small town every year to see it.
     By "working miracles," I mean to say he turned the communion host into blood several times as priest. Personally, I wouldn't consider it a miracle until he turned it into something more useful, like Suyane or at least a car I could drive back to Fortaleza in. But, I guess those items lack symbolism.
     I looked waaay up at the white structure. Padre Cicero, a calm, middle-aged guy, held a hat in one hand and a cane in the other. Woo ... hoo. That sure made the trip worthwhile!
     The rest of my two days in Juazeiro were spent doing research. Chiefly, where was Suyane? And, was it possible to find ice cream in this rugged interior?
     By speaking with several of Suyane's colleagues, I narrowed her location down to the following: Rio, Sao Paulo, Fortaleza, nearby Barbalha, New York, Milan, or Mars.
     And thus, it all goes to prove ... something. I don't know.
     I promised a lesson, so here it goes, given with my sensitive side (don't expect too much):

And the lesson of this story, 'tis the same as the last.
So, don't leave yet! lest you want to fast.
Models may like to stay thin, it seems.
But, you never can tell, so guard your ice cream!

later, Modern Oddyseus

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