Rio De Janeiro

 

We left our hotel in Rio De Janeiro early in the morning, and crowded into a taxi to speed off to Ipanema. Passing nearby Cinelandia square, we were slowed down by typical traffic congestion, everyone bucking to drive past everyone else. As we sat still in crazy traffic, we looked over to see a bus stalled behind a taxi. Abruptly the taxi driver rounded the corner of the front of the bus and into our view. He kicked violently at the bus, breaking the lights. Then he walked a few cars away, stood for a few seconds, then walked angrily to the back of the bus, where another taxi had stopped. The taxi driver in this taxi got out and walked over to the first taxi driver. They spoke for a few moments, and then the first taxi driver walked back to the bus and kicked at the back lights, shattering the plastic and bulbs over the pavement. Then he ran up to the front of the bus, jumped up and pounded his fist into the side mirror. Then, as if in slow motion, we saw red coating the hand of the taxi driver. Lazily he stumbled back in our direction. His hand was soaked with blood. Slowly, like melted chocolate, blood dripped in thick globs from between his fingers. We watched in meditational awe, as blood ran down the length of his forearm. His wrist was a scratched up chaos of torn skin and thick, rich dark red blood. It rose to the surface and spread all over his palm and fingers and arm in waves. Rhythmically, ounces of thick dark reddish-brown liquid surged along the edge of his arm, and poured from his elbow.

"Medico, medico!" B. shouted from the window. Our taxi driver joined in, yelling out for the other driver to get to a doctor immediately. The bleeding driver stumbled around between our taxi and the bus. The other taxi driver berated the bus driver.

Our bus driver was writing down information about the bus and the taxi in front of the bus. "The bus hits the taxi," our driver was telling us, "and what happens is that the taxi driver gets charged with the accident. Then, there's no way to get the bus company to pay for fixing any problems with the taxi. The money for fixing the taxi comes out of the taxi driver's own pocket. So what does he do? He tries to mess up the bus as retaliation. He can't get money from the bus driver or company, so he makes the bus driver have to pay for problems with the bus. But acting like that, that's crazy. That's not good."

As we rounded the bus, the taxi driver had pulled off his shirt and draped it over his arm.

"That guy's going to die," B. told us authoritatively. "If he doesn't get to the hospital immediately, he's not going to make it."

A minute later and the bus was sparing for position with our taxi, almost causing another accident.

The irony of this incident is that we were on our way to meet Oscar Niemeyer. In the middle of his office he has this easel with a huge sketch of a huge sculpture he did. It's a giant bleeding hand.

- Forestter Cobalt