águas de março

I have been waiting months to access the funds in my Banco Brasil account. It’s a small amount. After three months without transactions the bank requires a face-to-face with the account holder in order to re-activate access. Or that’s the best sense I can make of what I find myself doing on Monday morning. I knew it would be a long wait, so I brought a book.

I’m not sure why I have an account with Banco Brasil rather than one of the private options. There might have been a reason other than remembering how to open a Banco Brasil account from the time before. There was a reason once upon a time, a bureaucratic one I seem to remember. Something a gringo would do, either rule or logic.

An hour passed. I pondered what I knew would be the feedback if I questioned the wait. It would suggest that the banks policy is to allow elderly and those with special needs to advance the line with priority. I would agree in principle. Yet, without great exaggeration I could deduce that my total bank time would veer towards three hours if I did not intervene. It’s funny how one knows they have the agency to intervene. A useful awareness. I was reminded of a note by the Egyptian artist, Hassan Khan reflecting on a bank experience in Cairo after the revolution, and which circulated on social media. An elite tried to pass line as per before the revolution. The regular folks didn’t allow it to happen. That was new.

An old man got stuck in the combo metal detector-revolving door. He had left something metal in his pocket. It went on for minutes. After he managed to exit, he protested loudly to the open room and the guards in particular. It looked like he was caged while he was stuck. He was humiliated somehow. I talked myself down from acting on the heightened emotions I was feeling over the vignette. I was not the only one considering this move I could tell.

An hour and a half passed. I began to stand in front of the attendant’s desk reading my book in silent protest. I could see his computer screen, and my position advancing and then reverting when clients with priority status would arrive.

I lost my cool at an hour and a half. The attendant directed me to the manager named Danilo who quickly resolved my issue. I was out in just under two hours.

The morning was gone. I grabbed some salgados at Floresta — the old standing-room only cafe at the base of Copan — and ate at my desk. There was a new banana cake. Uninterrupted. Dusted with cinnamon. The wife of one of the baristas makes the pastries. Headed out to Tarcisio’s bar (a.k.a. the Lanchonete.org) on Rua Paim for afternoon meetings, yet the ‘Águas de Março’ have begun early. The mouth of the Niemeyer arcade, where Floresta sits, is a nice place to experience the downpour pounding the pavement. To have its smell. And, there is time for cake.

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