Snapshot – Vendors at Ipanema beach

A ginger-haired vendor passes. He is covered from head to toe in white cloth. On his head is a straw hat – a colonial relic – under which sits a wider green one. He looks absurd. I wonder about his ancestry: Irish? Scottish? Perhaps his great grandfather, a young dreamer bored of the grey estates of Glasgow, signed up to crew a ship bound for the Americas, and found himself here, on this very beach, when the fancy apartments were just palm trees bearing coconuts and every-coloured parrots. He saw the light, jumped ship and stayed, then founded an army of little ginger chaps to wonder the streets and remind him of Scotland.

Another vendor walks past with a useless foot. It vibrates like rubber as it flops against the sand. Those carrying lemonade carry it in cylindrical silver tubs, the ice rattles as they pass. Up above a propeller drones, mixing with the foaming sea and the cries of the vendors. It’s a plane chugging a banner through the perfect blue sky advertising a type of cachaça – sugar cane rum, the key ingredient in the Caipirinha. A few clouds congeal amongst the peaks. An ageing man stands and his belly bursts out over his shorts and comfortably lolls about. He strokes it pensively.

Ipanema street vendors

February 2012

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