Natalia de Cartney
The girl from Ipanema, she’s still there. So is Rio and the sun.
“This is just a little samba
Built upon a single note.
Other notes are bound to follow.”
A man plays with his guitar, hangs on to his nostalgia. Portuguese whisper to his voice. His
feet sit on the swirls of black and white tiles. You watch the palm trees and the sand.
A trail heads down to the beach, a polka dot journey around red parasols, ocean mist fading
the mountains into the sky.
Volley ball nets continue into the distance, bodies jump against the sun. Brazilian cut
bikinis cut curves in unexpected places. Beach bars run beers and coconuts.
“People speak so much, saying nothing at all.”
A man hugs his guitar. The girl walks on.
Under the white arches of a tramway, the ground is already swaying.
Drums make samba, feet move to a rhythm that has no steps. Bands wander, loop through
to the crowds, who follow the bands until they find another cause or direction.
Homemade bars emerge from the street, hand over drinks through a hole between bottles
and hanging fruit. Limes crushed in sugar drowned in cachaca, handed over in plastic cups
to end their life in street corners.
And in the other corner, a street grill is asking if the skewers of meat or chicken hearts should
be dipped in magical powders or sauces before being handed over.
She looks out of a window, the sound of Bossa Nova spilling out behind her, drawn to the
The side streets play their own tunes, colored by rastafa bracelets, reggae music and
a slightly mellow air.
You end up on the steps at the end of the road covered with painted tiles. Each rise is occupied,
steps filled by groups with voices and guitars. She sings, and for a moment the sound of the
crowd hushes. Then when the night slows, you look up to find the glowing man in the sky. He stands with both
arms open, and tells you where you are by where he’s facing.
You dodge the taxis and take the people’s vans on their illegal hourly routes. Bits of bodies
meeting each other, having not had any such plans. Someone’s mum is coming home from
her street kitchen, and in the seat behind there are musicians with guitars between their legs, one’s
dread locks spilling over onto their girlfriend. As the light comes and goes again from the
street lamps, it could be her again.
Your van, negotiating traffic lights, or rather ignoring, depending on the current domestic
mood of the driver.
You emerge on a sidewalk, still glowing heat, stumble to an apartment in a feeling that will stay
as Rio nostalgia, just waiting for a guitar.
“Though sadness lingers on
Soon happiness is gone”…
“Rio de Janeiro you’re still beautiful…”
|Natalia Cartney didn’t know Bossa Nova lyrics were so nostalgic until she spent two months
in Rio de Janeiro, and now feels she knows why.
Natalia is a writer and doctor with the dubious privilege of having drunk water from the Nile, Ganges and Amazon rivers. In her current project, she’s working alongside photographer Rodrigo Llauro in a collective called The Human Condition.