What a morning. We left home just after 5am to head into town to Poupa Tempo, the govt offices where Tat was to renew her RG. It was drizzly, tiny droplets of rain floating and dancing, never really hitting the ground, landing gracefully and soaking everything they touched. In the light of the street lamps, the overhead wires looked as though they were beaded with diamonds. We were about to take a photo when the bus arrived. The bus was packed with steaming bodies... shouted conversations, the bus conductor playing with cell phone tunes, a girl singing along to some private tune on her mp3 player. We swayed and bumped along as light crept almost imperceptably into the sky.
The fresh air as we got off the bus was delightful. A group of elderly folk in white with perky white caps were doing some form of slow movement... not sure if it was Tai Chi. The walk to Poupa Tempo was uneventful. We chatted and laughed, glorying in the fresh, cool air. At Poupa Tempo, we got into the queue to get the number to be in the queue - yes, confusing. We wanted to take photos of their fascinating old/new light fittings. These things were huge, very antiquey with flourescent lightbulbs in them. Needing permission from the building admin, we decided against it. When Tat's turn finally came, we were somewhat dismayed to find that hers wasn't an ordinary case. She has to choose her nationality... and no one really knew what the next step was, but we could find out at a 'cartorio'. The cartorio's are basically clerical offices set up as middle men between the public and the government offices. Just another link in the chain... just another palm to cross. The cartorio was going to open in around 2 hours. Nothing else is open in the city before 9am - Brazilians aren't early birds.
We set out to wander around Sé. Sé is a mostly-paved semi-park fronting São Paulo's main cathedral. The Sé metro station runs below. Sé is in the heart of the city, it's center. All city measurements are taken from this point. We took a photo of a gorgeous rain sprinkled rose, then crossed over to another garden, where we took photos of some really interesting flowers. A little further along, I took photos of some shattered safety glass on a 'bridge' going over the pond. We caught sight of some fragile plants with dainty bell-like flowers. I took a few photos and handed the camera to Tat. As I handed the camera over, her cell phone rang. In that split second when we both looked down to the cell phone, a 'wind' blew past. We were robbed. I say, 'a wind', as the bridge was empty. It was a big bridge and wide... there was not a soul to be seen other than the two youths over head in another 'pond' taking their early morning bath. It took a second to register what had happened. Tat was on the ball. She dropped the umbrella she was carrying and gave chase... yelling for anyone to catch the thief. I think this guy could have given Road Runner a run for his money. I have never seen anyone run like that. They look in the wrong places for Olympic athletes. I followed as fast as I could, but I'm not exactly built for high speed chase. Two other men joined Tat in the chase. The cops and security guards we passed just looked on.
The chase got to where the area was very dicey. My hot-headed, impulsive daughter finally stopped, thankfully. There were two cops on the corner. One kept muttering about not being able to leave the car and the other said, "Don't worry! I'll get on my white horse and chase the scoundrel down!" Ok, not quite in those words. He ran off. I think he must have fallen somewhere. He was still dapper when he returned, but obviously hurting. He was totally bewitched by Tatiana. After radioing a bulletin to the other cops in the area, he very 'officially' took down Tat's details, interspersing his assurances about catching the criminal with "I wish I had eyes like yours" and "You're very pretty" (how does she do it... even when she looks a wreck, she attracts them!). I suggested she autograph a photo for him ; )
Around that time, Tat's two fellow-chasers came back. They lost the thief in the bus terminus. It was assumed that the thief got on one of the buses. What astounded us was that these two were homeless men and they were angry! We thanked them profusely for their efforts. They went off swearing that if they caught the thief, they would make him pay. We made our way, slowly, back up to the scene of the crime. There, we found one of the chasers talking to a woman, also homeless. She was ranting that thieves like that bring a slur on them, as they don't steal. When they spotted us, they went on about what they would do if they caught him. I guess they have their own justice system.
We left the area and headed to the bus to go home, a little heavier in heart than when we arrived. Tat's documents could wait for another day. The lesson? Not that we should be more careful when going into town. That is a given. That boy stole to get a pitance with which he could buy his next bottle of glue - or he stole to 'pay' an older person... a controller. He was skilled at his 'art', probably having done that since he was barely out of his mother's arms, if he spent any time in his mother's arms at all. Then there was the two homeless men who helped give chase. They had nothing to gain from helping, though on hindsight, I think there was a reward expected. I think, though, that they chased because they saw a crime committed on their 'turf'. Yes, we learnt a lot about humanity and our perceptions of people this morning. As for me, the material loss is not welcome, but when I watched my child running, and sometimes losing sight of her - it was a long distance - I feared something happening to her. I cannot begin to describe the relief when I finally met up with her again and could put my arms around her. Life is precious.