Sunday, September 28, 2008
Top Five Things To Do In Salvador, Bahia
2. Viewing the Eight Orixa Sculptures on Lake Torroro.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
As I writer, I 've developed an ear for language. I love to soak in speech cadences and the rhythms of different dialects. Although I've heard lots of Portuguese crooned from my tons of Brazilian, Cape Verdean and a few Portuguese Cd's, I wasn't ready for what I heard in Brazil. I felt like I was pushed into this world that lured me in with familiar Latin words and then shut me down with crazy interpretations. I pride myself on grasping enough of a culture so that I can blend in fairly quickly. Brazilians embraced me first as a Rio Carioca and then as a Salvador Baiana but I felt like a fake as soon as I opened my mouth. My brain couldn't process the sounds of the words and my mouth couldn't spit them out. Nothing made sense to me and I felt mentally crippled more than a few times. It might be a cliche but one thing about Brazilians is that they are genuinely warm and free-spirited. Even though my speech sounded like a clunky blend of grammar school Spanish topped with bad Eastern European inflections, I never felt patronized or ridiculed. The locals communicated though smiles, through gestures and through gifts.
And so, the one word that I mastered in Portuguese was obrigada, which means thank you. It was the one word that I found myself having to use the most often because Brazilians are generous, open-hearted people. I kept having to say obrigada for another decadent dish a waiter would bring without my asking. Obrigada to Aparacida, the Yansa priestess who pressed her precious candomble beads into my hands as a gift after she invited me to a private St. Joan candomble ceremony. After repeating it so many times, I even got fancy with it, tossing out brigada like the locals. Brazil itself offers much to say brigada for, like the graffiti that tells more stories than any guide, the surreal Salvador coastline or the lush splash of parrot flowers (what we call poinsettias only more fabulous) that line the south coast. Brazil showed me that there are many ways to communicate and many ways to be thankful.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
A Tiny Piece of Carnaval
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Washing The Steps With Miracles
Sunday, September 14, 2008
1. The nominated is allowed to put this picture on their blogs.
2. Link to the person that hearted you.
3. Nominate at least 7 people and link to them.
4. Leave a message on those people's blogs to make them aware that they've been nominated.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
As I bustled past street vendors selling coconut candy bars and the sleek, shiny-haired, hotties that fill Rio streets, I realized that I missed something. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly. When I neared the the orgy of beauty called Copacabana Beach, observing the languid motions of skimpily-clad cariocas strolling in the sand, it hit me. There was supposed to be a samba soundtrack to all of these scenes! How can you have a true Brazilian experience without samba as the backdrop? I needed to hear some live Brazilian rhythms!
It happened to be a Sunday when I made my proclamation and my guide Da'vid didn't look too confident about it. It seems that most musicians take Sundays off in Rio. There I was, in the party capitol of the universe and it stops on Sunday? It didn't make much sense to me so we headed to the famous bohemian district of Lapa. Overflowing with street hustlers and artists of all stripes, Lapa does not close down. Built in the 18th century and marked by two towering arches, Lapa is part of old Rio. Punctuated by crumbling, deserted mansions and dimly lit, dodgy looking streets, Lapa feels like something out of the Brazilian drug war movie, "City Of God," which it probably is. It is the only place that I visited in Brazil that prompted me to remember the high crime rate.
I got over it, though. Lapa looks iffy but I never witnessed anything other than beaming friendliness while I was there. We found a tiny, closet-sized bar called Acaso Bar, which literally translates to random bar. Bursting with laughing, dancing people, all the patrons sing and play instruments along with the musicians. Red, gold and orange walls frame scuffed cherry wood tables filled with Skol beer bottles. Dav`id and I order bacalau or salt fish balls and the zesty, local Skol beer, while we absorb the festivities.
Three or four men gather in a circle and play samba classics with guitars and percussion. I can't tell exactly who was in the band and who's not because every single person in the bar shakes a tambourine, bangs on a pot or jingles bells. The crowd belts along with tunes that were created to encourage hip and derriere shimmying. Four women dance enthusiastically. Because they are Brazilian, they are gorgeous; with long, lustrous hair and sinewy bodies. I can't tell if they are in the band either.
After two sweaty sets, a band member comes over and introduces the group. It's called Coisas Nossas or literally translated, aromatic string. He hands me a wisp of sweetly perfumed string with a tiny safety pin to remember them. In street carnivals, the line of people dancing samba is called a string. Curly-haired and charming, he is the grandson of one of Brazil's most significant Samba composers, Cartola. As we are surrounded by everyday Brazilians singing and dancing, I'm sure it's just the way Cartola would have wanted samba to be experienced.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Tasty Cultural Connections
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Fly Obama Mamas
Blending fierce African flavor with sophisticated French flair, Les Nubians personify global style. Crooning their signature mix of soaring harmonies, jazz melodies and African beats, the sister duo appeared at Chicago's African Festival of the Arts over Labor Day weekend. I covered the sizzling show and was struck by just how well they reflect the connections between Africa and the Western world. Slinking out in curve-skimming halter dresses inlaid with African print fabric at the top and embellished with beads and cowrie shells, Celia rocked a curly 'fro and Helene an afro puff. They sang in French and shimmied their hips in traditional African dance. They rapped in English and announced the African concept for audience participation: "You can't shake it with your brain. You shake it with your yaunch. That means your ass. The original Africanology is very simple. If you don't dance, we don't dance!" Les Nubians connected it all together when they explained their hit "Demain" from their debut album. "Demain means tomorrow in French," said Helene. "There are so many things we are foreseeing for tomorrow, like, the new president of the United Sates! The whole world is watching you! They used to mark time with before Christ, after Christ. Now it will be before Obama, after Obama! " Giving a nod to the ultimate symbol joining Africa and the West, Les Nubians repped Obama in true fly girl style.
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