Yikes- I've been watching the fur fly on the Rio Gringa blog over her latest post, in which she had the audacity to compare corruption and the rule of law in Brazil to that in the United States...
... And I just wanted to recount something I just witnessed. I was crossing what is one of the worst pedestrian intersections in the city- the light in front of the Center Lapa mall. This spot is evil- huge masses of people who tend to surge across the street whether the light is red or not. Cars charging through, with frustrated drivers that have probably spent too long in stop and go traffic already. I hate it, and usually try to jaywalk some thirty yards up or down from the light if I can because it's such a mess.
Now imagine trying to cross that same intersection, except you are blind.
Stepping back onto the sidewalk, having just successfully navigated said hated intersection, I saw three blind guys just about to set out across it. I am always amazed at how the blind get around in this city- there are so many random obstacles, as well as random pedestrians, just about everywhere. So here were these three guys, holding on to each other's shoulders, not tapping with their canes (no room for that) but more wielding them in front of themselves, to fend off chest-level interlopers.
Suddenly, a guy, probably in his sixties, jumped off a bus that was stopped at the light. I am sure he didn't know any of the three pedestrians. But he gently took the lead guy by the hand and guided them across the street before the light turned green. In a second they were gone, lost in the crowd.
End Feel Good Moment. I helped an elderly guy across the street in New York one time- one time. And I was so proud of myself that I remember it to this day. But I think if you talk to anyone who's lived here in Brazil for any length of time, at least those of us who circulate amongst the Povão (Brazil's underprivelidged), you will find stories like this are legion. I may rant and rave as I butt my head against this culture, I may get torn up inside by the poverty and the brutality, but when I see a complete stranger treat another with such selflessness, almost like they were family, it makes it all better. At least for a little while.