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August is the windy month, and the winds call for bicudas and arraias, or airplanes and kites, in the sky. Acupe is currently covered with children on the docks, the square, in streets and backyards with their eyes turned to the sky and their hands waving deftly, like a maestro conducting his orchestra.

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The bicudas are made from the pages of old notebooks or textbooks, sending old concepts and school lessons into the air. It doesn’t need sticks or glue, and its weightlessness is shaped by the skills of the children’s fingers.

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The arraias are made from the stems of the leaves of coconut or dendê palms, with tissue paper glued to the sticks forming a rectangle 4 inches wide and 12 inches long. Making the arraia is easy, the hardest part is making the “key” – a knot to connect the line to the tail.

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The tails are made from threads pulled from jute sacks, a job that requires patience and persistence.

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The sticks, paper, glue and tail can be found by the kids one way or another, but the line… ah, the line. The line is hard to find, you have to buy it. You need a lot of line, you have to keep it safe, and you can’t lose it to an adversary.

And there are lots of adversaries in this fierce battle. If you catch one, you take not just the arraia but also its line. So using cerol (layering ground glass on the line with glue), or “spicing the line” as they call it, is essential for giving the game some excitement.

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Once this list of materials has been assembled the boys all gather, and I do mean boys, armed with their toys, in battles as ancient as they are contemporary.

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Independent of age, what really counts for playing is being there.

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Those who don’t have an arraia remain alert to catch one that’s been cut. If you don’t catch one, you can even convince your friend, using a cookie, to let you have a turn.

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Text and photos: Renata Meirelles

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