Sampa Diary: Beto’s Via Crucis

El Baño del Papa: My wife and I finally manage to steal a few hours to hunt through a second-hand bookstore or two and go see a current movie in (an egregiously overpriced São Paulo cinema — the one near the Sujinho and the bar where Juvenal the waiter once held court — with substandard projection and sound quality and torture-chamber seating.)

In this case, “The Pope’s Bathroom,” a Uruguayan product (with some help from Brazil’s Ancine because it is set partially on the other side of the Brasil-Uruguayan border, having to do with petty bicycle smugglers).

You know what it reminded me strongly of? The Gods Must Be Crazy. A wholly sympathetic, even Chaplinesque, hero who, though utterly clueless and at the mercy of forces he does not comprehend, persists heroically in an absurd quest.


Es el año 1988 y el Papa Juan Pablo II visitará Melo. Se calcula que 50.000 personas asistirán a verlo. Los pobladores más humildes creen que vendiéndole comida y bebida a esa multitud se harán casi ricos. Beto, un contrabandista en bicicleta, decide en cambio construir un excusado en el frente de su casa y alquilar el servicio. Para lograr su objetivo debe atravesar una serie de dificultades tragicómicas. Finalmente, sólo unos 8.000 fieles concurren. Nadie vende nada y únicamente una anciana hace uso del retrete. El sueño de Beto se hace trizas pero a lo largo de la historia su hija ha llegado a comprenderlo mejor. Quizás incluso a quererlo.

It’s 1988 and Pope John Paul II is going to visit Melo [a small border town in Uruguay]. …

Poor Beto desperately running through the main square of the town with a porcelain commode on his shoulders, like Christ carrying the cross.

Unforgettably funny and poignant.


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