It’s four o’clock in the morning, the cab is racing through the night, on exceptionally empty and quiet streets. We are on our way to Mesquita, a suburb far out there. Monica lives there, we want to accompany her going to work. She has to get up by night to arrive in the city center on time – and she’s not the only one:
Throughout the car window we can see the first commuters hurrying in the darkness.
When we leave the house with Monica about one hour later it’s still dark, but already less empty and quiet. Busses are thundering by, crowds are flocking to the station, everybody is in a rush. Only the people waiting in a queue in front of the hospital have plenty of time. Before their turn it will be hours and even then they don’t receive a treatment, but only an appointment.
This early daily life is probably similarly dull in every of Rio’s countless suburbs. I’m admiring Monica for her stamina just as all the others squeeze themselves into overcrowded busses and trains – often for ridiculously low wages. Only now I realize how many people in this “wonderful city” we’re marvelling at have got a hard daily life which is both quite unspectacular. A life which is mainly stuck in traffic or happening at a desk or sink. A life which is neither close to the bright aura of Copacabana nor to the impressive scenery of the favelas stacked up the hills.
That’s what I really enjoyed working for contaRio – we all kept on being open to all the new sides of the city. This way we also found people and stories which at first seemed to be inconspicuous, but on closer examination had the greatest meaning.
Laura Koppenhöfer, 33, radio jornalist and anchorwoman, Südwestrundfunk, Baden-Baden