I allowed myself a little outing to observe how much Brasilia has stopped to deal with this global epidemic.
I discovered there the realities of the moment, a capital full of contrasts, which represents its country well.
Then at the end of the day, some news made me regret somehow having taken the risk of going out.
It’s 7 a.m. I expect to see no one and cross a ghost town. With a few pedal strokes, I arrive at the “Eixão”, the main axis which crosses the whole city and which in normal times is reserved for pedestrians and cyclists on Sundays. But there already, I find cars there.
It’s still the rainy season and everything is very green. I marvel at petrol stations, very numerous here, which are surrounded by abundant greenery.
Perfect contrast between a natural jungle and an asphalt and concrete jungle.
I’m heading to the bus station, probably the place I prefer here, because it’s the only place where there is a real mix of people. Human effervescence that I appreciate so much, because it is this diversity, this cultural richness that drives me. I arrive and notice that the buses are running, they go fast and are noisy.
Despite everything, the atmosphere is calm. People are distant and silent. Well disciplined, they line up to get on the buses. Cleaning staff are on hand to disinfect all contact areas on the buses.
There are these street vendors, who represent a large part of Brazil. Unauthorized and undeclared workers living in poverty.
And there are those who have no home. Those who have nowhere to confine themselves. They are very numerous too.
I go down to the metro station where many of them sleep, some of them in bad shape.
A security guard asks me where I am going, I tell him that I am wandering around.
He said to me “This is the worst place in Brasilia”.
This one does not have the same point of view as me.
Shortly after, I noticed a particularly intriguing character.
He is carrying a bag using a very large staff.
I approach discreetly to capture an interesting image.
From there someone shouts to draw his attention to me.
He turns around, looks at me very aggressively.
Not worried, I get closer.
He expresses his anger in extreme words.
I try to calm him down and he attempts to hit me with his staff.
I walk away and forgive him because I understand a little bit the context in which Brazilians live.
As much as this country has the warmest people, there is a cult of hatred and terror here, which descends from the very hard history of this country.
Colonialism and slavery which is still deeply felt and which until the most recent events is popularized and banalized through manipulation and corruption.
A people with one of the greatest inequalities in the world and the most divided there is.
Then I noticed people making noise.
They shout and cry. They seem to be praying.
The worship of religion is also very present here.
Another source of corruption, division and manipulation
My path leads me to the banking sector.
My eye gets lost in the very blue sky, famous from Brasilia, the reflections of light on these big buildings and the mirror effects of the puddles from the rain that fell earlier.
A man passes by on a longboard (skate).
I say “It’s a great day to ride!”
He stops and we spend more than 2 hours chatting, without seeing the time pass.
Surely he needed to talk as much as I needed to.
Ricardo, 50 years old from São Paulo.
Handyman with many life experiences. Passionate about extreme sports.
Following an accident, he came to settle an administrative situation here.
He doesn’t have enough money to rent a room and ends up on the street.
He goes to get food at the “Seitor Comercial Sul” where many charities come to provide support.
Most of the time, religious associations that do an incredible job.
This place has the highest concentration of homeless people, largely addicted to crack.
One of the worst drugs that is wreaking havoc.
A whole people of victims, of a society which marginalized them.
That does not accept that humans have limits.
We lose our way a bit, from a world with so many demands, we take refuge in alcohol.
Then it’s the chasm that surrounds us.
We evolve in a world of individualism, ego and competition where we lose the roots of what makes us human and we forget that everything is linked.
Humans, animals and nature. And that for our good, we depend on the good of the other. Of all this balance.
Today the situation reminds us of how fragile this system is and does not anticipate anything.
This pandemic will be followed by an unprecedented global economic crisis and climate collapse.
And it is, as always, the weakest who will suffer the most.
But this time, the difference is that we will all suffer.
And we Westerners, our generation has never experienced this kind of problem: a pandemic, which calls into question the capacity for survival, which makes us fear of contracting a fatal disease and limits our access to our basic needs.
It’s hard to identify with what’s “different” from us, far from us.
Our navel, the tip of our nose.
This virus shows us that we are not that different and not that far apart.
Later in the day, I see a video of Camille (@graine_de_possible), an environmental activist.
Her father, a strong, long-distance runner, is currently hospitalized on a drip with respiratory assistance because he contracted the coronavirus.
It could be my father, it could be someone close to me, it could be me.
Finally I am touched and I understand the seriousness of the thing.
I think of all those who suffer from the disease directly or indirectly.
People who were already in critical condition and who are even more so today.
Those who are dying of hunger, those who are crammed into refugee camps.
Death, which we always try to control, that we do everything so that it is far from our consciousness, it comes close to us and we will have to get used to it.
We can rejoice in the positive effect on nature that results from the cessation of our activities.
We can tell ourselves that finally the people will realize the importance of resilience and that we will all come together to live better together and shape the societies of tomorrow.
Or on the contrary through misery, we will walk on each other.
Leave our future to the present governments of many countries of the world.
Who will surely impose ultra-liberal, anti-democratic and anti-social measures.
Abandon any ecological ambition, in the name of reviving the economy with a reinforcement of fossil fuels and support for multinationals
Brasilia will celebrate its 60th anniversary at the end of this month.
A big party is planned.
For those who have a roof over their heads, this celebration will take place in the couches during the peak of the virus.
For others, even if a lot of solidarity is put in place by citizens, associations and the government.
There is no measure yet to shelter the homeless.
I made the choice to stay here because I love this city, its people and I have a lot of hope that we will transform this place.
Maybe I will regret it.
Right now we are all facing a very uncertain future.
More than ever we will have to show mental strength and real intelligence.