Youngsters were the majority of the more than 100 thousand attendees of the fifth World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. Coming from all parts of the world, they colored the riverbank of Guaíba River with ideas of a more fair and generous world, free of Coca-Cola (forbidden soda in the Forum territory). For many it was a big ideological celebration; for others, it was much more than that.
The foreign girl entered my cab with an address written on a piece of paper. Feeling uncomfortable with the heat, she explained speaking an understandable blend of Spanish and Portuguese that she came from Spain and needed to find a person at that address – a lost street in the suburb, in the back of Vila Pinto, which I found with the help of the city Street Guide.
Arriving there, a woman waited for her at the exit of an alley. There was a long and tearful hug. Besides the humble clothes and the damaged hair, the girl from the slum looked a lot like my European passenger. Actually, they were sisters.
In the first edition of the Forum, the sisters, militants of a Spanish socialist party, worked together with a poor community in Vila Pinto, in the state capital. One of them fell in love with a local boy, leader of a rap group. The Forum ended, but the love did not. Months later, she was back in Brazil to embrace a difficult life with her Brazilian boyfriend.
Four years later, in the back seat of my taxi, they caught up while we went ahead: family, Spain, friends, and especially, the different vision each one had now of socialism.
At least, that’s what I understood of the conversation they had while I drove them to the Central Prison, where the foreigner would visit her brother-in-law.