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Brazilian Woman Overcomes Pandemic Crisis by Selling Flowers in Rio de Janeiro's Streets

Brazilian Woman Overcomes Pandemic Crisis by Selling Flowers in Rio de Janeiro's Streets

Wednesday, 21 October, 2020 - 06:45
Valcineia Machado, also known as Roberta, organizes her flowers on her car which she transformed to a mobile flower shop. (Photo: Reuters)

Deprived of income because of the coronavirus pandemic, Roberta Machado wanders in the streets of Copacabana, in Rio de Janeiro, to sell flowers in her beetle car transformed into a mobile garden.

"My house has always looked like a florist's shop, with lots of flowers and plants everywhere," the 51-year-old Brazilian told AFP. "I had to find a way to make a living, so I chose to do a thing that I love and bought this car," she added while proudly pointing to her green Volkswagen Beetle made in 1969, her year of birth.

From the passenger compartment to the engine cover, including the trunk and the roof, the entire vehicle is covered with orchids, roses, sunflowers, daisies, and other flowers ready to be sold to residents in the neighborhood.

It is like a true festival of scents and colors, which brightens the streets of the district and lures the passers-by.

Roberta Machado's Beetle is most of the time parked on Nossa Senhora Avenue, the central artery in Copacabana, but it also roams the streets for home deliveries.

Like millions of Brazilians, Roberta Machado's life has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic. A month ago, she was working in a completely different industry, in room rental for tourists. She was also a partner in a wig rental business that had to close.

Her mobile flower shop is named "Lia, beautiful flower," in tribute to her mother Lia, who died in July.

Every morning, Roberta spends over an hour carefully storing the bouquets and flowerpots she bought from the wholesale market on her beetle. She takes care of every detail to satisfy her clients.

Leila Autran, who works in a travel agency, often buys flowers from Roberta to offer them to her family's older people confined in Rio, one of the cities most affected in Brazil by the coronavirus. "Roberta has managed to overcome this challenging situation by turning it into an amazing opportunity," said this regular customer.

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