Brazil is a country known for its football, the Amazon forest and of course being one of the world’s biggest coffee producers. But I wish to bring to your attention the other unknown about the South American nation.
I will call it the great, fabulous, heaven sent Brazilian carnival. Maybe I can’t get a perfect name for this world class carnival where the old and young alike mingle.
In 1972 while I was working for one of the international tabloids, don’t ask me which one it is, I also doubled as a marriage counsellor.
More often than not, I found myself in between the punches of several couples who were seeking my council on how to stabilize their ‘marriage’
Back then, I was a middle-aged professional that everybody ‘looked up to’. Women and men always gave me evenings out as they narrated their ordeals.
I found myself in places that I thought were unrivalled in terms of public partying and dances given the times that we lived. I liked them a lot and attended several times but given my status in society, I preferred low profile places that played the Beatles music and Tina Turner though these were generally boring.
At the close of that decade, I had to give up my counselling job to concentrate on the more demanding reporting (yes, for the tabloid).
At the same period the war between the communist and socialist blocs was at its highest and I was assigned to Brazil to assess the magnitude of the cold war.
Touch down time at Rio de Janeiro International Airport was 3:00 pm. Straight away; I headed to my hotel that was overseeing the coastal waters.
Loreta, the waitress to my room, checked me in quickly. She was tall, slender and chocolate white. I don’t know if that colour exists but she was neither white nor black not even a hybrid of Obama type.
‘Hurro’ for hullo, trying her broken English but she was better than most Brazilians who spoke lots of Spanish.
“My name is Loreta I will be at your service. Any drinks?”
I strongly believe in love at first sight. Surely speaking, that is what it was “oh sure I will drink a beer” I replied with beer instincts because I was dazzled by the beauty and she noticed it because she caught me stealing glances at her several times.
She realized I was a foreigner and not familiar with the South American alcohol. So, she made a good choice for me, a light beer. I came to share many such beers with her for the rest of my two months stay.
For the rest of that afternoon, I spent it with Loretta who told me every thing about Brazil from the people and their passion for soccer. She told me about her family and how she grew up under the guardianship of her single mother in the slums of St. Paolo.
My second day was less hectic because I would start work on Monday so I had to move out to acclimatize. Since by coincidence it happened to be Loreta’s day off, I requested for her company.
It was very early in January and it was approaching the famous carnival. She told me everything about the carnival and I was thrilled.
I had to move from the hotel where she worked to deep into the capital where the Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro was to address a two day conference. I believe she had fallen head over heels because she drove a hundred kilometres every afternoon after work to see me.
One of such evenings when she was free, I convinced her to sleepover at my hotel room. Don’t ask me about the nocturnal activities. You have always known that I am a sharpshooter, I don’t miss my targets.
The long awaited celebrations came, the carnival that involves street partying, circus and eating the Brazilian dishes which I did not enjoy much. During this period, everybody is excited and Loreta was so caring that I was contemplating about prolonging my stay.
Three weeks into the carnival, that was in mid February my work had come to an end and one week later the great masterpiece ended. On my way to the airport, Loreta sobbing uncontrollably supposedly because of my departure, she broke the spine breaking news.
“Dear Alex, I am pregnant.”
In that era we did not have mobile phones or emails but I had to return home. Unfortunately, I never got another opportunity to go back to that side of the world.
I might be having a son or a daughter in Brazil. What haunts me is whether he or she knows me. I did not leave a picture. Does he or she know the circumstances she was conceived?
Ladies and gentlemen should I go back to look for my own crop or leave everything? But where would I start from? I don’t have Loreta’s contacts either. Maybe, I will pick up the courage and just go back to that part of Brazil one day.