These pictures are old, (it’s been too rainy to have visited the fair recently, but I always wanted to get around to posting them.) These were taken one gloriously hot day when I wore a big hat and carried a large straw basket, just like you should do when you go to the fair.
The big fair is on Sundays. Everyday throughout the week there are little satellite fairs all over the city. And then on Sundays they all come together to form one endlessly long, double-rowed banquet for the eyes and tummy and imagination. A banquet that knocks on the door of your heart and asks nostalgia (saudades) to come out and take a stroll along the river.
Oh that river, that strange brown river that flows in triumphantly from the sparkling green hills around the city and then seems to slow down and hang its muddy head in shame as it chugs along past the train tracks and through the forgotten, industrial landscape that lines the valley in this, the lowest part of the city. The part with the glorious past of textile manufacturing where you can still find some beautiful old buildings that have now been converted into tire shops and Pentecostal churches, tile factories, and food distribution centers - where in the mornings you can see armies of pushcart popsicle vendors file out in formation with full carts on their way to conquer the city.
And it is here on Sundays that the fair takes over and winds its way for a mile or so along both banks (the official food fair on one side, and the very strange, very surreal junk fair on the other – I’ll have to get back to you on that one.) And it is here you can find a bounty so ripe in form and color that you get giddy and a little drunk on the possibilities and end up buying four different varieties of bananas and more pineapples and sour sop and papaya than you could possibly eat.
There are piles of cassava.
You can get juice squeezed fresh out of sugar cane.
And pumpkins and watermelons.
Tomatoes and pineapple.
Jaboticaba by the bucketful (remember those?)