First night in Brazil

Thinking of that dramatic first night I must go further back in time to 1967 when I had a boyfriend from Blackpool called Ken Booth. He had given up being a professional footballer in the days before the superstars and spent his time driving me around in an old Silver Cloud Rolls Royce. Ken loved old cars and so did I. We even drove to Leek, Staffordshire to meet Bunty Scott Moncrief and view his fabulous collection of Rolls-Royces including the famous yellow one hired out for the well known movie entitled 'The yellow Rolls Royce'.  Ken also drove some Rolls to Milan for Tony FeBland of Blackpool who imported Capodimonte porcelain into the UK. Thus Ken had social connections in Milan so when I hitched to the sprawling ugly metropolis and stayed in a nunnery no less, I was introduced to the attractive blond bouncy curvaceous Marisa Mastropasqua.

I only stayed for one eventful week with Marisa driving me here and there. I even introduced her to the Brera museum! She lived in a small ordinary apartment at a time when it was odd that a single young woman would live alone. I only met her uncle. She never spoke about her family if she had one. All she said was she was studying Russian and did modelling work. She even gave me a large studio black and white professional photo of herself. I can still see her smiling face looking over her shoulder frozen in time on the screen of my mind. 

A couple of years passed with a few Xmas and Easter 'auguri' cards. Then one day I got a phone call that she was at the Hilton, London with her fiancé and wanted me to meet the man of her dreams. I was going to be invited to the wedding in Milan who knows when.  Her looks had changed. She had short hair brown. Gone were the flowing dyed blond curly locks. She wore a simple black cocktail dress with classic gold jewellery. This was another sophisticated woman I did not know. 

I told her I felt compelled to go to Brazil after falling in love with the Portuguese language and the Bossa Nova of Jobim. I had joined the snobbish Anglo Brazilian Society for contacts, had opened a BOLSA account and was going to Portuguese classes at the Casa do Brazil under the auspices of the Brazilian Embassy in Lancaster Gate close to my Bayswater flat. It was then she told me, Franco, her first cousin, was a sports journalist in Sao Paolo. 

I flew in from London to spend one night there, dumping one of my two large suitcases at the British Embassy before speeding off to Iguassu to see the waterfalls, Asuncion, capital of Paraguay and the final destination BA, before returning for two weeks to stay with a Brazilian family. It had been formally arranged by letter via the Society in London. They lived in luxury in the wealthy suburbs with a manicured garden and servants far from cardboard city and street children, like Pixote, in crime ridden downtown Sao Paolo. 

I had got a ten per cent Aerolineas Argentinas open return ticket, having worked for Global Tours for two years. The fare in 1970 was £450 to the furthest point, BA with all my stop overs based on the air mileage. Today, in 2016, it is more or less the same fare return without the stopovers in Brazil and Paraguay! 

So armed with Franco's phone number I discovered at the British Embassy that there were more phones than phone lines and the helpful secretary could not get me a hotel even for one night. This was the era prior to when the only guide, apart from upmarket Fodor, was Frommer's South America guide on $5 a day for the savvy traveller. In desperation I called Franco. My saviour. After all I was his cousin's good friend. She had written to him introducing me and he had written back in perfect English welcoming me and even offering to put me up! The Embassy was on the verge of closing for lunch and could only help housing my big case until I returned. 

Franco and I had lunch and I knew instantly he was a bore but I needed a bed. With hindsight, I should have asked him to find me a bed for the night in a hotel. He drove me back to his Lair.  A concrete tower block in the downtown area of the city. I observed there was a man at a desk in the foyer. Franco took me up in the lift to a minuscule male abode without any taste. A bloke pad. It was autumn and chilly so he put the heating on.  He promised to send a telegram that I had arrived safely to my father's wealthy self made best friend who supplied all the lingerie to Marks and  Spencer's - 'Uncle Phil'. 

Franco put me to bed and carefully wrapped me a blanket. It was chilly in the pad with concrete walls like a prison cell. He went back to the office and promised to be back in time for dinner. Alone, I glanced at his night table and picked up a beautiful hardback Italian full colour book of couples dressed as harlequins entwined in Kama Sutra positions some of which were totally unknown to me! What a beautiful book! I can still recall the stunning colour photographs, if not the positions, forty five years on! 

I fell asleep to be woken by a frustrated Latin lover with a takeaway spaghetti Bolognese. He had noticed the book had been studied and wanted to discuss the positions. That was the last thing on my mind. I just wanted to go to sleep as I was already in a night dress and he had brought a camp bed as promised. It was bed time. 

I remember he sat on the bed facing away from me and I said he could leave the light on if he wanted to read. It was 22.00 I recall. He said nothing, holding the book in his hands, flicking through the pages obviously getting turned on. 

"Aren't you going to let me in?" Said he hesitantly. 

Had I heard him correctly? 

"Are you crazy? No". I retorted indigently. 

"But you're Marisa's friend and you know what she is". 

Oh my God. The realisation that in all the years I had known her, I had not thought of her as a prostitute. 

"Well? Either you let me in or you can leave here and now. Make up your mind". 

I was horrified and scared. He didn't move. He just spoke like a dummy. 

I started to whimper and cry but he was not falling for that trick. Then I howled and went hysterical making a loud noise. He got worried telling me to be quiet because of the neighbours. I howled like a wolf even louder. An hour like this went by. Me crying and howling and he sitting with his erotic bible. I was exhausted with the theatrical performance. 

I got up, very unsteady and he made a gesture to touch me as I walked past to he bathroom to get dressed but more likely to stop me from falling because I was in panic mode and being a frustrated opportunist, he could not cope with the situation. I got dressed in the dimly lit bathroom and, still sitting on the bed, he watched me slide my big case along the cold tiled floor to the door and exit. 

Somehow I got into the lift and down to the foyer collapsing hysterically on the floor. In a garbled melange of Latin languages I tried to tell the concierge, who was probably from the North East, that I needed a bed for the remainder of the night. 

Just then a group of young Brazilians came in laughing and became very concerned seeing me hunched up on the floor. They spoke English and one of the girls said I could share her bed despite having a wooden door under the mattress because she had a bad back. Did I mind? Was she kidding after my psychological ordeal? 

A Brazilian would never have treated you like that they proclaimed. Then Franco showed his face peeping down the well of the stairs. I pointed to him saying 'There he is'. They all shouted how disgraceful his behaviour had been. Shame on him. He was a marked man. He cowered like a frightened animal and fled back to his miserable cell. 

The group then took me out to a local night club and plied me with whisky tots. We all had a great night full of gaiety and laughter.  I got no sleep and left on a plane with their help to Iguassu the next morning. 

It was a night to remember and I recall it vividly in detail forty five years later. 

Written in bed in Brighton while in recovery from a spine operation on 20/5/16