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Second Dispatches from Ambassador to Brazil, Earth


Last week Granta launched the Online Edition of The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists with the first dispatches from the newly appointed Ambassador to Brazil, back to his home planet, by Juan Pablo Villalobos. Here are his latest dispatches, in which he goes to a bar or boteco and discovers the truth about Lionel Messi. The third dispatches will be published next week on Monday 5 November and the fourth and final dispatches on Monday 12 November.


Sorry for not writing in the past days, guys, but I was really busy queuing. I needed a cellphone, a couple of tanks (shirts, I mean) and a deodorant (our sweat glands are acting bizarre in Earth’s atmosphere), so I spent some days standing in queues, getting little papers with information on them, delivering the little papers to other locations and, most important of all, getting stamps! Forget about football: queuing and stamping are Brazil’s national sports!

But I am not complaining. Queuing is a nice and effective way of getting to know people. Zé Mané told me about a couple that met in a bank queue, kissed for the first time in a bakery queue, decided to get married in a supermarket queue and broke up in a town-hall office queue.

The problem with my queues was that everybody was passionately talking about Carmina, Max, Tufão and lots of Brazilian-humans I haven’t heard about. I asked for Zé Mané’s help.

– They are talking about nine o’clock soup opera, he said.

– OK, please give me a summary.

– I can’t, I do not watch it.

– Why? It seems like all do.

– It is rubbish . . .

Guys, I have a surprise for you: Zé Mané is an intellectual!

But then, when I was standing in the fourth perfumery queue to deliver a little stamped paper to finally get my deodorant, I discovered that there was another guy who did not know anything about the nine o’clock soup opera either and we started a very lively conversation.

– I tried to watch it, he said, but I couldn’t, they cry out loud a lot and they speak very fast. I didn’t understand, I am a foreigner, you know?

– Me too! I am Welsh!

– You are kidding! I am Scottish!

Scottish!!! Bloody hell . . . A Double Bastard Plutonian!!!

I looked at his pupils. I looked at his hair. I activated the species detector: he was a Double Bastard Plutonian.

– Actually I want to talk with you in private, he said. Give your helper the day off, I will take you later to your hotel.

– But first I really need that deodorant.

We were in a huge shopping centre, so we went to the food court when we queued at the Casa do Pão de Queijo and bought roughly two hundred little cheese breads.

– I know what you think about us – the Double Bastard Plutonian said, while eating cheese bread desperately. But we have here a very big opportunity if we work together. We have to leave the past in the past and look forward . . .

– OK . . . and . . .

– You must know that we control all the hydroelectric projects in the Amazon, lots of money, all our technology involved there, but that is a joke compared with this, which, if you listen closely, is the most important project for Brazil today.

– Ok . . . and it is . . .

– Do you know Lionel Messi?

– Aha – I was looking at the Wikipedia (an infinite source of earthling information) on my new cellphone: ‘Lionel Messi (born 24 June 1987) is an Argentine football player. He plays for Barcelona and Argentina’s national team.’

– Well, obviously he is not human. Everybody knows that. The fact is . . . that he is . . . Other-human!

Oh my – untranslatable –! The best football player of the Planet Earth is an Other-human!

In brief, the most important project for Brazil is to get a weapon to deactivate Lionel Messi in 2014.

– This is ridiculous – the Double Bastard Plutonian continued, you have to accept it, that our Enormous and Glorious Planet needs to close a deal with such an insignificant planet. And you should know that we have the alternative of simply stealing your technology. Think about it.

– I will talk to my superiors.

– OK. You will hear from me in the next days.

– Hey, what is your name?

– Call me Nathraichean. And you?

– I am Llwybyr. Hey, don’t go! (The cheese bread was gone). Will you drive me to my hotel?

– Are you kidding? Get a taxi.

Guys, have we ever tested our Other-human-neutralizer outside our beloved Planet? I remember that we experienced some troubles during the Other-human Campaign. Please, get back to me in the most unreadable code you can imagine.

New news soon.

PS.1 As the taxi man noticed I was not Brazilian-human, the bill was like thousands of reals. Send more money! Urgent!
PS.2 Dear Automatic Translator: is it possible not to translate this dispatch? It could jeopardize the success of our mission.
Automatic translator’s response: No.


Oi meninos malucos!!! Como vai!!??

Finally I am in Rio! Yesterday I left Germany, sorry, I mean Brasilia and got on a plane with Zé Mané and Nathraichean. Yeah, don’t be surprised, we travelled together to Rio because of our Other-human-neutralizer business. We will have important meetings here. But that will be tomorrow, I think, or the day after tomorrow, I don’t know and I don’t care! I am now at a boteco drinking extremely-dangerous-cold beer and cachaça, listening a roda de samba and watching all the people around dancing while I am writing this dispatch! Did you know Rio de Janeiro is still beautiful!? Add that to our Cool Things to See on Earth Manual! With bold letters!

To drink beer in a boteco is really interesting. You get a freezing 600 mIlILITRE bottle to share with your friends in tiny glasses of the size of a sip. It’s like a shot of beer! And magically your glass is always full of extremely-dangerous-cold beer! Everyone is happy because no one knows what he drank! Only the waiter! We should import this method to our -untranslatable-!

Have I told you Zé Mané is really cool!? I looooove Zé Mané! I just doubled his salary! He deserves it! I asked him to show me the spirit of Brazil, and he said:

– Let’s go to a boteco.

– What is a boteco?

– It’s a bar.

– I know bars, Zé, we have pubs in Wales, you know?

–Pubs? Are you kidding? The boteco is like a gigantic seashell. All the Brazilian voices pass through it.

– Very nice, Zé, you are a poet!

– It’s from Nelson Rodrigues.

I told you! Zé Mané is an intellectual! Wait a minute, I have to order drinks.

I am back, galera! Have I told you Rio de Janeiro is still beautiful!? Here you go a very big top secret: I fell in love*! (Do not tell my -untranslatable-!) I met her twenty minutes ago. She One was leafy! She One was lush! I was about to talk to her in my lovely Portuguese with irresistible Welsh accent, but then She One went to the bathroom and I met her. She Two was enigmatic! She Two was like a tropical fruit! She Two was like an old sad song! I got close to her, smelt the fragrance of her hair, looked at her big and broken nose, opened my mouth to say ‘Hi, I love you’, when a Brazilian-male kissed her. She Two broke my heart! Life on Earth is terrible! Mating strategies are totally old-fashioned! They are based on social skills! Can you believe that!? No one told me!

But I didn’t have to kill myself: She One was coming back from the bathroom with all her leafy things!

– Hi, young lady, may I . . .

– Hey, what are you doing? Zé interrupted me. No one loves the same woman twice.

– Zé, you are a genius!

– That’s from Machado de Assis.

Have I told you Rio de Janeiro is still beautiful!? Listen to the song!

Live and not be ashamed to be happy / Sing and sing and sing / The beauty of being a life-long learner / I know that life should be better and will be / But that does not stop me to repeat / It is beautiful, it is beautiful and it is beautiful!

Then something very strange happened: my bowels began to slide smoothly provoking me into a shiver. My skin tightened. My eyes stared nowhere. Time stopped. I thought I was about to have a human emotion! Zé stared at me and found out that I was on the verge of something.

– Now you understand, meu.

– What?

– Eternity is the state of things now.

– Yeah.

– Clarice Lispector.

He hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.

– Or do you prefer Drummond? Eternal is all that lasts a split second, but with such intensity, that is petrified, and no force rescues ever.

– Yeah. Or maybe I am drunk.

I have to disconnect. New news soon.

PS. Have I told you Rio de Janeiro is still beautiful!?

*The actual word is untranslatable, as the concept of love doesn’t exist outside Earth, but in order to keep the meaning of the text we’re following Earth patterns when it comes to reproduction of the species.

Next Monday we will publish more dispatches from the alien ambassador to Brazil, by Juan Pablo Villalobos.

The print edition of The Best of Young Brazilian Novelists will be available from 8 November. You can pre-order here or subscribe to receive it before it reaches bookshops.

Down the Rabbit Hole by Juan Pablo Villalobos is published by And Other Stories.

Photo by Shelia Tostes.

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