5. Free

The bed is no bed as I know it, it is hard as wood. The room is worn and old, with dirty cream walls, weird blue paintwork and ceiling, one bare lightbulb, and dusty wooden slatted floors. Besides me, this bed and my few bags, the room contains nothing but an ancient, bulky fridge, which buzzes constantly. I’m not confident to keep much in it, just basics in sealed containers and some bottled water. The room has two doors: one to the corridor and one through to my next door roommate’s. So she must pass through my room to get to hers, and only hers has a window overlooking the street below. A welcome breeze comes in, if this adjoining door is open, which it often is, as she doesn’t spend much time here. Who would? It is also the noisiest street you can imagine. Sunday to Wednesday there is the usual passing hubbub, but on Thursdays, it explodes. Live music pulsing from bars and on the street, crowds, food and drinks sellers, hotdogs, caipifruta, salty corn on the cob.  It goes all night and into morning. Samba, reggae, choro, forró.

Outside in the hall, before you get to the narrow, musty stairway down and out the front door, a ceramic Jesus leans, his blue eyes following me accusingly.

This place is scruffy and scraggy and by far the worst room I’ve ever stayed in. I can’t stop smiling. I sleep late, shower and climb colourful tiled Escadaria Selarón to Santa Teresa, soaking in its views, people, sunshine and life.


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