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Creative Brazilians

Creative Brazilians
It's a regular feature of all championship finals. As soon as the world comes to visit, the best ideas come up. Original ones too. Because in one way or another, everyone wants a piece of the pie.

It's no different in Brazil. Not only can its footballers be very creative, so can the general population, particularly the disadvantaged, for whom this World Cup offers unique opportunities to improve their meager income.

The most creative individuals are active around the stadiums. Take two Brazilian real from your pocket, the equivalent of 60 euro cents, and you can send home a picture of yourself with the World Cup trophy.

OK, this particular trophy isn't the real one designed by Italian artist Silvio Gazzaniga. It's been cobbled together using papier-mâché and gold paint. But you can still strike a pose like Ronaldo, or have your picture taken with another "icon". Diego Maradona perhaps, who stands in front of the entrance to the Maracanã Stadium every day. In Lapa, the Bohemian neighborhood in the city center, I even encountered Pelé.

Well, they're actually look-a-likes, the main disappointment being that the Pelé impersonator looked even older than the Brazilian king of football himself. So hardly anyone wanted to have their picture taken with him.

The look-a-like of Fluffy (as Argentine superstar Maradona is affectionately known), was doing a lot better. He not only looked young and fit in his blue and white shirt and enormous black wig on his sweaty head, but he could actually do magic with a ball. Just like his great idol. But only if you put at least one Brazilian real in his tin. 

The really creative people, however, are just a bit further away from the stadium, on a bridge near the subway station. This is the spot where Rio de Janeiro's painters have swapped their canvases for the faces of enthusiastic supporters.

It's a bit like Montmartre in Paris, except this is near a football stadium. I had seen these artists before at this spot, but to be honest, I wasn't that interested in them. Until last week, when I found myself with some spare time.

To be honest, I'd never seen anything like it. This wasn't childish stuff, where they simply painted three small stripes on your cheeks in less than ten seconds. No, these Brazilian artists turn your face into a true work of art, including shading, lines and other images. They are mini masterpieces that even include their signature. And all for less than a few cents.

It takes time though, on average about 15 minutes. It's just a shame you can't walk around like that forever. It would even give Mona Lisa's face some competition.