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  • Writer's pictureMiguel Villalobos

The Pits at Chupa Chupa

Originally Published 19 June 2012

A marshy hollow near downtown Recife is gingerly called “Chupa-chupa” (sucky-sucky) by the crack addicts who find refuge there. Another nearby gathering hole for the chemically dependent is called “Bucetão” (Big Cunt). The names still spark a good laugh among the addicts, who were, in any case, just making humor of their reality when the names were invented. Every woman with a makeshift crack pipe has sex for money to fill it, and a number of the young men do, too. Condoms, trash, human feces, and blackened aluminum cans litter the muddy ground. This is home to those who have surrendered to the drug.

Alice started sniffing glue when she was seven years old, soon after she ran away from her abusive father and took to the streets. A year later she was back at home with her alcoholic mother, but kept up the habit. By thirteen she was smoking crack. Today, at twenty-six, she has one 3-year old daughter living in a municipal children’s home, and a 4-month old fetus in her womb. She lives on the streets and in the marsh. She charges $10 Reais (approx.. $4USD) for head, and $20 for coitus. She doesn’t remember how many times she’s been beaten and raped.

Beatrice once had a German boyfriend who bought her nice clothes and paid for fancy hotels by the beach, but she lost it all to her addiction. She more recently lost her sister, who died of tuberculosis one humid morning in the marsh, where others recently lost their lives to bullets or stones. She also prostitutes herself to support her habit, but she is more selective with her clientele. Last weekend she injured her arms and legs while fleeing from a man who attempted to force her down.

Cassandra has a smile as pretty and tragic as 2pac. Ahh…it is that she looks just like 2pac…kind of…but as a 29-year old woman prematurely aged to fifty like rugged peasantry. Six years after the birth of her daughter, who also lives in a municipal care center, she carries with her at all times a photograph taken at the angel’s baptism. In the photograph her eyes are glossy and red. “I was so high,” she laughs of sad and sigh. Today her belly is full and round again, but she does not think she is pregnant. She has not had a period in years.

Cassandra used to carry a small plastic crucifix with her for protection. Today she gave it to me, and I gave her mine.

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