On the Road, the Unexpected

By Raphael Scire

Where: 222 Road - Itapajé - Ceará - Brazil

By 222 road, a small village of mud houses, painted in red, caught the attention of the crew that was passing by. Margarida is about to leave home; by her side, her daughter Rafaela. As the crew approaches, Margarida´s son comes up, curious about the people that were around.

On the walls of her house, it was possible to read Flamengo; Rafael´s, her eldest son, favourite soccer team. The youngest boy, Ronaldo, supports Palmeiras and both constantly fight when it comes down to soccer, according to their mother.

Meanwhile, by the next door, Maria comes up in a quiet pace. The old lady is 84 years old and completely healthy. Although she suffers with heart problems, her vision and hearing are clear. After some time, João, Maria´s husband, approaches the door, that serves like a window as well, once it is half divided, so they can observe the movement of cars on the road. According to the couple, truck drivers often stop by the village and make some donations.

Surprisingly happy, unique and so naive, Margarida and her sister-in-law kind of unsettled us when they invited the crew for a coffee or tea. We accepted the invitation.

The living room is decorated only with a rack and a television - sattelite dishes are somehow strange for those who see the small and humble houses. There are no beds, only hammocks hung on the walls, that are painted in different colors, matching one another.

In the kitchen, an almost empty locker, with an oil can and a pack of cookies. Besides that, only few glasses and other kitchenwares. All of them empty. A fridge and a gas stove complete the list of the family´s belongings. The cleaning of the house, despite the bitterness of the wilderness and the dust that comes from the road, is impressive.

Basically all the land on the road is ocuppied by relatives of the family. Beside Margarida´s house, her sister-in-law and two kids live there - the boy is eleven and the girl, Franciene, eighteen. 46 families live nearby, more than a thousand people, according to Joseane. She reports that there are families with eleven, twelve kids. We ask if her daughter has kids already. She laughs and says no, because the girl “is calm”. We can´t help laughing. After a while, Franciene is invited to meet the visitors. She appears dressing a simple nightdress, but likewise all the women we met that day, she has colored nails and well treated hair.

- Say something, provokes her mother.

- I am saying, replies the girl, pretty shy.

Water is a crucial point for them. Maria does not blame anyone for the lack of rain - it´s been more than eight months the locals haven´t seen any drop fall from the sky. Maria believes that when God wants, He will send them some water. While it doesn´t happen, they do whatever they can in order to survive. In the backyard, water comes from a well that belongs to a local farmer. But they can´t do that much with it, that serves only to clean the house and take a shower. Drinking is out of the question.

Margarida tells us that when they are short in money and there isn´t a dime to buy potable water, they drink the salty water from the backyard. She takes a mug, sinks it in a bucket where she stores the water, takes a sip but spits it soon after.

- When I drink this water, I run to the bush, jokes Joseane, whose husband is a fisherman, but she has no more information about his job. She only knows that he fishes around a dam. And that´s all.

Worried about time and our final destiny, we say goodbye, but Margarida kindly says:

- Right now? But it is so good!

We leave the house wishing we could spend the whole day with those special people.

Some miles away from there, 222 Road is blocked. Locals from São Luiz do Curu city interdict the lanes in a riot against the City Hall. They claim the water has been charged religiously every single month, but when they open the faucet, they see no drops. They ask for an immediate solution for the problem. In the meantime, the fire burns in the middle of the caatinga. Tires are burned.

We are in hurry to reach the airport, despite the fact that we had left the hotel in advance. As the road was blocked, we took a shortcut suggested by the locals. A dust road with no signs, trucks spreading dust everywhere, other vehicles as lost as us. At the GPS, the image of being in the middle of nowhere.

We stop by a small bar and its owner is curious about the movement on the road. We tell him about the riot and he laughs:

- Riots don´t help. If God doesn´t send water, it doesn´t come.

As Maria, the man doesn´t complain and evokes God to explain the drought.

But not all the appeals to God and all saints helped us arrive on time. The crew lost the flight. We sit at the airport, where we stayed for long hours, and decide to write this experience that made us all think about our values, kindness, simplicity and what really matters in life.

Without meaning, Maria and her family taught us a great lesson.

This amazing experience happened while Tru3 Lab crew (Lygia Barbosa da Silva, Raphael Scire, Gilson Campos and Flavio Guedes) was travelling for a Samsung shooting, in the Northeast of Brazil.