Travel notesIssue 03 | February 2009

Bigbi in Brazil

by Julian Zabalbeascoa

The fruit at Bigbi – fluorescent pomelos and papayas, avocados as big as watermelons, and coconuts that splinter open with three thwacks of a machete – is stacked along four shelves on the rear display. Bigbi’s specialty, the thing that sets them apart from every other fruit stand in Rio, are the twenty-eight flavors of fruit smoothies offered on their menu.

My friends and I decide one night that we will drink all twenty-eight smoothies after returning from the Sambadrome, where some of the most colorful and glorious displays of flesh and paper-mâché are on parade.

We do this so the tired men working the graveyard shift will have a story to tell. We do this because fruit is good for us. We do this for no viable reason at all. Take your pick.

When we get to Bigbi, the man who takes our order doesn’t understand what we want. He calls over another man, in Portuguese.

Which of the twenty-eight do you want?

All of them.

All of them?

They’ve never heard this before, so they call over another man, and we repeat this conversation. Their confusion excites us.

With a broad sweep of our hand over the menu, we say, Yes, all of them. The deep purple of the acai—we want it. Mango the same brilliant yellow we would give the sun in our crayon drawings in elementary school—we want it. The guava pulsing with so much color you’d think it was plugged into an outlet—we want it. We want it all, lined up in glasses along the sticky counter.

They begin making our smoothies and start laughing—amongst themselves, with us, and with anybody else who comes up just then to stand under the neon lights in the humid, Brazilian night to place an order.

About the author

Julian Zabalbeascoa recently earned his MFA through the University of New Orleans. He has ran with the bulls in Pamplona, ran from an irate homeowner through Venice’s labyrinthine streets, from the authorities through some Mayan ruins in Mexico, from the heavy footsteps of a jaguar in the jungles of Argentina, from some pushy prostitutes off Ko San Road in Bangkok, and most recently to catch his bus in Tel Aviv. He has an upcoming publication in Thema.

Read our current issue:


Two poems by Anne Babson
Vignette, Townhouse, 9 a.m. by Troy Cunio
Night Becomes Day Over the West by Megan Foley
Yukon River Aurora by D. B. Goman
Two Poems by David Havird
Cretan Love Letter by Emily Linstrom
Holland by Rick Mullin
Fear in Kenya by Kristina Pfleegor
The Lounge Lizard by Ed Shacklee
Two Poems by Sarah J. Sloat
Night Flight by Vicki Stannard
Koinonia Farms by Alina Stefanescu
Thessaloniki, Four a.m. by Anastasia Vassos
Imaginary Oceans by Jason Warren
Two Poems by F. J. Williams

Postcard prose

It’s Salty by Kelly Hill

Travel notes

Anchorage in the Great Land by Karen Benning
The Value of Small Money by Megan Hallinan
Screensaver by Sandra Larson
Thirty Cents by Tommy McAree
Gokarna by Kate McCahill
Going Places by Rachel Miller-Howard
Susanville CA: Notes From The Road by Susan Volchok