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An Amazing story (Chapter one Part Five) English version

Part Five

     The following afternoon a taxi took me to the address of Paulo Silvera. He was living in the outskirts of Botafoco, past the long tunnel going out from the coast of Copacabana. Paulo’s house was the most bizarre building that I’d ever come across in the many places I had previously visited. It was built with recycled and leftover materials of different natures, marble tiles, bricks, timbers and even steel beams. They were bizarrely set together and bonded in a way that only the imagination of the artist would have dreamed of, and Paulo had created in the construction of it such a masterpiece of art. I was surprised by his fertile imagination and artistic conception. It really was a merit of his capacities in seeing things.

       I was welcomed as a friend inside the house. Again, I haven’t the words capable of describing my stupor of the way the building was conceived. Light entered at different angles across coloured glass, creating a mystic and unreal cathedral. I found myself inside a cabalistic place were an occult religion was idolised.

        In many ways I wasn’t wrong with my first impression. Paulo was living with a woman, but I wasn’t sure if they were married. I later came to know she was one of the Macamba priestesses. Her name was Isa Maranta. They were both from the same village lost in the immensity of the hinterland of Brazil.

       Isa offered me a fresh green coconut and she masterly chopped the top off it, inserted a straw and gave the drink to me. It was a sweet refreshing juice.

        It was an afternoon full of surprises and learning for me. During that afternoon I learned particularly about their religious beliefs, giving me more of an understanding of his artistic talents.

 Unexpectedly Isa offered to initiate me into their Macamba divination.

‘Come to the Ipanema Beach, further down from Copacabana on New Year’s Eve. We are celebrating that occasion with some offerings on the altar carved in the rocks. You must wear white clothes and take a white rose with you to throw in the ocean.’

 She extended her hand over my head, she closed her eyes and in a dialect that sounded African she said a prayer.

       ‘I have invoked our gods to protect you and to prepare you for your initiation into the Macamba. You are a privileged one. Very seldom is a European permitted to enter into our ceremonies. After that you will gain powers that normal people haven’t and you will see and feel things well before they happen. I’ll pray for you till that night comes.’ 

      At the touch of Isa’s hands I felt something like an electric shock entering me, and a shiver ran down my spine. It was only for a second, but from that moment, I had the sensation of being a different person. It was like somebody else had come to share some special events in my life.

      Later that afternoon I again admired those special paintings that my friend Paulo had reserved for the connoisseurs. I selected the three best, which he gave to me at a bargain price. The women painted in them were in their own way beautiful, with so much grace and elegance in their flirtatious movements passing in front of the canvas in a parade of poetic nudity.

      I told my hosts that I would see them again, with pleasure, at Ipanema Beach on New Years Eve. I felt that, on that special occasion of my initiation, many more revelations would be waiting for me.

                                                                 *     *     *

     On three consecutive mornings after my visit to Butafogo, a curious vision appeared in front of me while I was going for a stroll and a swim in Ipanema. It could have been coincidental, although I liked to believe it was because of the powers that my priestess said had transfer to me.

     After my morning swim in the ocean while I lay on my towel on the beach, I could see, in front of me, the corpse of a tall blonde woman washed up by the ocean waves near me. Her body was spongy and incredibly white and her blue eyes were open and followed my movements. The first time I saw this apparition I thought it was Clare’s body.  

      But how the hell could it possibly be her? Was it a real body? Was it a trick of my over- active imagination? Over ten thousand miles separated us, and this was also a different ocean. This was the Atlantic, not the Pacific. The two oceans are on opposite sides of the Americas. Then with relief, I found that the corpse was an apparition, only visible to me. In fact, soon after, I saw a young boy running and stepping where the body was. It was evident that nobody or nothing was there, otherwise other people around could see it. The vision was just a clear illusion to me and a few minutes later nothing was left on the beach and no marks visible on the wet sand, washed by the tide.

       Was it a premonition, a warning that something had happened? I was sure I would come to know. Before, I had always been skeptical of the power of the occult.

      Could there possibly be something wrong with my metabolism, upsetting my normal functions, or was it because of an extraordinary power in me? If these visions persisted, I had to investigate and find the reason for them.

When I phoned Clare the next day, I was told that she wasn’t available because of an accident and her best friend was in a coma at the hospital. Her friend was driving her car which had rolled down an embankment and was badly damaged. But was Clare in the car and was she hurt? They wouldn’t give me a straight answer. When I phoned again later, I was told there was nothing wrong with Clare. I misinterpreted the information and thought that she wasn’t in the car at all. Talking to her I felt something was wrong. It was like talking to a stranger. She had difficulties in concentrating and she was deeply shocked. She told me something that she would never had said before. She had lost all hope for happiness in her life. Why?

She completely ignored my questions when I asked about that accident and ignored my sympathy. She certainly wasn’t missing me. At that moment I was the least important person in her life. Maybe she was worrying about her male friend.

      Thinking back of the vision on the beach, I believe that the message I received when I imagined I saw Claire’s body on Ipanema Beach, was that her love for me was completely dead. Her love now belonged to someone else.

       But the strangest thing, is, that I never found out that, at the time of the accident, if Clare was in the car. I still have my doubts.

*     *      *


  Since the early evening, Ipanema Beach had been crowded with white garbed Cariocas. A cool breeze was coming from the ocean, blowing fine particles of sand. Fireworks burst along the strip of beach, cascading in golden and silvery sparks from the buildings surrounding the area. The samba music was deafening as it poured through the loud speakers.
    An amphitheatre had been created at the centre of the beach where there was a circle of meticios women wearing laced white gowns and minuscule bras. Their faces glowed in the candlelight and they wore plumed hats, a symbol of the Yalorixa the Macamba priestesses. They looked like they were in a trance, possibly drugged with marijuana. Their eyes rolled up in their sockets, while their bodies twisted with the rhythm of the music. They danced, hips swaying, in a circle, and the crowd around shouted their approval. But where was the fetish that I had always read about? I couldn’t see any, only normal offerings. No goat intestines, decapitated roosters or other devilish things.
‘I’m going to get a better look.’ I told myself, getting closer to the circle of priestesses. I had completely forgotten the advice of many, who had warned me about not getting too involved with the cult. I don’t know how long it took me to reach the inner circle. But I knew that I was part of the crowd, swaying with them in the rhythm beaten through the sand, by the tempo of the dancer’s feet. I was eagerly dancing with them and it seemed I knew the steps instinctively.
Then a woman and a man took my hands. Finally I had joined Isa and Paulo, and they lead me into the circle to dance and drink with the others. They made me repeat unknown words, making gestures and touching me.
Then they handed me over to three beautiful women to be prepared for the final initiation into their cult. They were dancing, drinking and showing me all their eroticism. They invited me to dance while they were discarding the few tiny pieces of their bikinis. I felt that I had been hypnotized by them and I followed their request. I thought later that it was an absurd necessity being paraded around by those women in that sort of poetic nudity.
‘You must dance with us.’ They kept repeating, while they were caressing me with their bodies in the rush of the sambas.
‘Relax, below this equatorial line is not a sin dance nude.’ Sonya, one of my dancers told me.
 She smiled invitingly to me while she took my hands, and positioned them over her solid bottom. She floated toward me, and rode the top of my thigh, like t is not a sin to dance nude it was a fire pole, and in the delirium of  the music pressed her body hard against mine, staying there for a long time, until a cry erupted from her throat and I found myself inundated by her wetness.
 Isa and Paulo returned to get me again. ‘It’s time now.’ Isa told me, and taking my hand she directed me toward a larger group congregated at the centre of the ritual place. They were humming a hypnotic melody and swaying from side to side with their eyes closed. They faced an altar, and my companions gently pushed me into the circle and we melted with the acolytes. A sea of impassive and inscrutable people closed behind me as I entered the altar ground, and there was no escape.
 Suddenly I felt hostility from the ones surrounding me. I wasn’t one of them, I was the only white man there, and immediately fear overcame my excitement. I was completely in the power of those frantic people and I had to accept the consequences of my rashness. I should have listened to other people’s advice.
The altar was in front of me, massive with intricate carvings of skulls and human bones, yellowed by time. Lit candles reflected a pale golden penumbra, and I was expecting a bloody sacrifice to follow soon. At that moment my knees buckled, showing the panic in me. I bravely collected my energies to turn and run, but the circle of people was tight and unbreakable.
 An imposing old priestess with gold beads moved to the altar and with the help of two younger Macamba Yalorixas, started a complicated mass concluding in a communion with everyone drinking from the same stained cup. The believers raised a hand to their eyes before taking the chalice to sip from it. I was pushed over by Isa and made to kneel in front of the priestess, who considered me an unworthy being. I lowered my eyes into the cup ready to take communion. In the cup I saw reflected a vision of me fighting for my life into a battered boat in the middle of a cyclone. The ship sank while men and women struggled to survive … Then the vision was over. I was again myself, purified by the communion and allowed to live after my previous sins. The priestesses around kissed me, inviting me to join their circle, where drinks were constantly offered to me.
Then the head-priestess seized my hand. She slid a sacrificial knife across my forefinger, and let my blood drip into the communal chalice. Blood of others was mixed with mine, and when the cup was full it was offered to those present to drink. It wasn’t unpleasant, but was musky and thick, with a fruity flavoured taste. That drink was intoxicating, and it was like I was in someone else’s body. There were flames all around, and in them I could see Clare next to me. It seemed that the two of us were etched onto a large mirror. The portion in which Clare was reflected burned rapidly, but the other half representing me did not burn. The fire only licked my image without harming my figure.   Soon it was all over, and daylight dissolved the obscurity of the night. I had been left in a   stupor after drinking from the cup and I was uncomfortably nude on Ipanema Beach, but I wasn’t alone. Other men and women were nude like me and hadn’t roused from their night of stupor. I was properly awake and I was surprisingly calm. I knew that my future had a new turn and Clare was moving out of my life. I had to wait and see. More than likely on my return to Australia she would ask for a divorce, a much simpler and better solution for both of us.
*     *     *

 What Juanita told me was true. Separation had created in my memories a better

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