We're naked. For years, well-meaning visitors have been telling us that we`d have a better view of the bay if we cut back the three beautiful poinciana trees that rise up from the little green area below our terrace that sits between us and the beach. But we love our poincianas (known here as flamboyants) and, when we did cut them back last week, it was absolutely not done on a selfish whim, merely to improve our view. We cut them back because these normally gorgeous trees didn't flower well last year or this year. They were getting sick. We thought that a careful but drastic pruning would give them a new lease on life. We thought it would help them grow better.
Angelo, the tree guy
I don`t know about tree surgery anywhere else in the world, but if you just merrily lop off branches here in Brazil you make yourself liable to some heavy fines. Lucky for us, then, that poinciana trees are not native to Brazil. In the authorization our muscular, good-looking tree surgeon Angelo got from city hall, they are identified as an "exotic" foreign species and we were at liberty to do with them whatever we wanted to, as long as we promised to do it safely. No site inspection by the environmental people. Nothing. At 8:45 in the morning, Angelo climbed up into the branches with his motor saw. By three in the afternoon, we had that open, cleaner view that so many people had wished on us. But now we were totally exposed. There was no more shade on the terrace. There were no more birds flitting from branch to branch. We hadn't made things more beautiful. We had made things ugly, awful. But we had no choice. We had to do it.
In a way it was amazing that Angelo was willing to prune our trees just a day before the start of carnaval weekend, because Angelo had other things on his mind. Angelo beats the huge surdo drum in the bateria (percussion section) of a neighborhood carnaval group, Cocotas de Tucuns, based in Tucuns, a beach on the Búzios periphery. Easy to figure out where he got all those muscles. Anyway, as he sliced and diced our trees, he spoke so passionately about his carnaval group, he was so eager to have us come to their pre-carnaval rehearsal, that it was hard for us not to accept the invitation. I didn't really think it was how I wanted to spend last Friday night, but off we went to Tucuns and — even though it was really late for me (their first downbeat started around midnight), and even though traffic was pretty bad, and even though I'm famous for not liking crowds — Mark and I haven't had that good a time in ages! This was carnaval at its best and at its roots, all locals and families and children coming out to enjoy the festivities. And though it was loud and driving and the beats reverberated in our bodies, and I had to take aspirin when I got home, I'm up for a repeat visit next year. Angelo says our trees will have grown some new, beautiful, flowering branches by then.