I was planning to go to Pedra do Sal last Monday, as I usually do when I am in Rio. It is a historical and religious site in the neighborhood of Saude and was originally a Quilombo village. Also known as “Little Africa,” Pedra do Sal has been hosting amazing sambistas. Street food everywhere, cheap beer and pretty diverse crowd.
My Mom lives in the main street of a neighborhood called Barreto. It was a huge farm back in the day, and towards the end of the eighteen century, a bunch of industries started popping up there. By nineteen-seventies, with the economic crises, they were forced to close the door, and the neighborhood is becoming, slowly, a strictly residential area. It is an interesting mix of old villages with new condos, bringing together lower and mid tiers of a middle class. Throughout this process, new favelas were born, and with them, drug dealers.
As it turns out, I ended up not going to my traditional Samba last Monday. My Mom got home around 6 pm saying everything was closed, including the bakery, which sells more alcohol than bread, and they never close. Not a single soul was walking around. And minutes after, my mom’s cell phone started ringing with WhatsApp’s messages from her friends, saying the drug lords demanded the stores to close earlier, given the death of one or their partner in crime.
I called 190, asking the police if they knew about anything, and if it was safe to go outside; they said I was the first person to call that night from the area, and they would verify. Minutes later, a Sargent called me back, asking more details, recommending to stay at home, and so I did. I shared my story with some friends that live in the area, and they laughed about how crazy I was to call the police.
No one seemed worried about any of this, including my Mom. Life moved on.