Saturday, February 13, 2010

Brazil 2010 - Land of opportunity and irony

Brazil is a funny place. The trees are like our houseplants, except they are 50 feet tall. The sun is relentless and the heat is unforgiving at times. The shade is scant where the locals and the visitors hide out. People are friendly here and they want to learn English, so any opportunity to speak or hear English is welcomed. The young people are like young people everywhere. Those who have the opportunities and the support flourish, those who do not, do not.

While we are here, the kids have gone back to school as we are about to enter the fall here in Brazil. School lists are handed out and the school shops are busy. Backpacks with Hanna Montanna and Sponge Bob are hot ticket items. People have been busily buying their kids clothes and supplies to get ready to attend another year.

However, education is not manditory, or so it seems. One little boy that I met here is about 6 and his father cannot afford the school supplies. So he is not attending school this year. It is strange. I asked with the school list looks like and nobody seems to know what is on it. It would probably cost about $200 Reals, I guess, to get this little boy into school. That is about $125 Canadian.

So why not help, you might be thinking. Before coming to Marica, we received a list of school supplies to bring for another family with two 4-year old girls. We brought our share of the supplies to help the kids get into school this year. And our hosts kicked in for the uniform.

By Canadian standards, this would not be acceptable - that a child should not go to school because parents could not afford it. I do not know why this little boy is not on someone`s help list. Maybe his father will not accept it. This is the future of Brazil, someone said. If this little boy cannot get an education, he will have no future and another generation of have nots will continue to live in the hills and on the streets.

Brazilian standsrds are interesting. One young family that we know here live in a house on the side of a hill. It is a cement house with cement floor. There are no windows, but they have shutters to close at night. They also have a car, cell phones and a satellite dish, which makes them middle class. They make about $750 Reals a month - that is about $500 Canadian.

Despite the definition of middle class, Brazil really is the land of the haves and the have nots. There is industry growing here, and as I said previously, there is money here. The cars are new and the toys are plentiful. New businesses are popping up. Properties are on the incline out here in sleepy Marica. You can buy a 3 bedroom house on the Atantic ocean for $490,000 Reals (that is about $300 Canadian). It has a pool, grass and is beautiful inside wiht full double doors on the side of the house facing the ocean. Sweet deal, you might say. You also need to have a cook and a property keeper that will cost you $480 Real a month (or 300 Canadian) - a small price to pay to keep the property value up and safe.

The city of Rio is busting at the seams with over 9 million people living there. There again, money talks and the great divide between the haves and the have nots is obvious. There is a crack down on crime here. On the evening news, they parade those whom they arrest. There is more of a presence here in policing that what I recall seeing last year.

Marica is apparently on a growth curve too, as it is a place where people with money can invest, and yes, even hide out from the crime of the bigger cities. Properties have doubled for those who can afford it. And for the people who live on the side of the hill, I wonder if they ever get off the hill into the haves. I wonder if they can make the journey from the have nots to the haves with out a little help from their friends.

1 comment:

Windnsnow said...

It is ironic that the trip from not-having to having is a downhill journey.

It is the opposite in other parts of the world, think California, Westmount, Quebec. There people pay the premium to live "above" the riffraff.