Sunday, September 12, 2010

Epic Weekend

This weekend was wonderful. One of those that makes me remember why I love being abroad and never want to go home. I spent Saturday morning painting the inside of the library where I am doing volunteer work. It was a great relaxing and community event with loud music and kids running in and between the stacks of books. That afternoon I went to my first official forro dance lesson. Forro is a type of Brazilian music very popular in Bahia. The lessons are given by university students and it was a very fun and relaxed group of people, not to mention I love forro music and dancing!
Here is a link for one of my favorite forro songs.

That night I went with my friend Danielle to a party run by a European exchange group and met a bunch of people from Spain, France, Czech Republic, Portugal, and Brazilians (of course). It was a great group of people and reminded me so much of my times in Rio!
Danielle and I
Sunday was the 9th Annual Gay Pride Parade of Bahia. I didn't stay long, as it began to rain, but what I saw was impressive. There were at least ten big buses turned into floats with music and people dancing on top. The crowd was relatively diverse with people of all different colors, orientations, levels of costume, and age. I felt like I was back in San Francisco!
9th Gay Parade of Bahia! Homophobia out of here!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Updating my blog is obviously not my top priority, so here are some highlights of the last few weeks to keep you all connected!

University is in full swing now here. It took some time, and frustration, to figure everything out but now I'm set! I am taking introductory Political Science, an anthropology class called Race, Class, and Gender in Bahia, Portuguese, and a capoeira class. Capoeira is a sort of martial arts dance, fight, art form typical to Brazil. It is a mixture of African slave influence in Brazil with the hierarchical presence of the Portuguese, representing the underground struggle in Brazil against slavery. I encourage you all to look up some videos of it online if you have no idea what I'm talking about. It's rather amazing! My class is interesting as well because we're doing history, culture, technique, and practice of capoeira so it's like part anthropology and part physical education. I love it! My professors are all great and the workload is manageable, considering it's all in Portuguese.

My host sister left for the states August 28th so now it's just my host mom Ana Helena, the maid Lucia who lives with us, and me. Lucia is an AMAZING cook and I'm going to try and bring some of her skill home with me! A couple weeks of Friday morning cooking lessons and I should at least be able to master something delicious!

My friend Dan, from southern California, is a great jazz musician so I have been going to some of his musical expositions around Salvador. He's played with Italians, Brazilians, and other Americans at bars, open air music halls, and art museums. It's been a wonderful connection to have and a great way to meet non-creepy Brazilians.

Last Thursday, September 2nd I went to a play with my anthropology professor and some other students at the slum closest to my house, Calabar. It's the same place I have been doing some volunteer work, but I haven't been there recently and never at night. It was put on by a theater student from my university here and was in a tiny house on the edge of the slum. It was a play by a famous Brazilian author called Dois Homens e uma Noite Suja (Two Men and a Dirty Night). It was quite powerful and overwhelming, telling the story of two extremely poor men in Brazil and their different reactions to poverty and desperation. It involved a loaded gun, physical fighting, and complete male nudity all within a tiny room about a foot in front of me. Wow.

September 7th is the national independence holiday of Brazil so I had a wonderful long weekend. I went to a city in the interior of the state of Bahia called Cruz das Almas. It's a small city where my host mom was born and raised her kids before moving to Salvador. I LOVED it! Small town, huge farmer's market with crazy produce, friendly people, safety, open spaces, trees, hills, gardens, grass, mud between my toes, animals, bird song. You get the picture. I promise you all that this living in a big city thing will not happen again for a very long time!! I am a child of the rain and trees and desperately need them in order to be happy. As many of you know, I got a tattoo right before leaving Rio de Janeiro of a basic Evergreen tree on my right ankle. I love it and now everywhere I go Washington and my childhood surrounded by nature comes along with me! People of the cities of the world have no idea what they're missing. We also went to Itaparica Island, which is in the bay across from Salvador, where my host family has a hosue. It was beautiful with deserted, white sand beaches and warm water!
Danielle and I
Lucia (my host family's live-in maid), me, and Lucia's daughter Stephanie
Danielle, Stephanie, and I

I'm thinking of everyone back home now and wishing you were all here with me! It rained here today, but you can tell that summer is on the way! I only have three more months in Brazil and I hope to make the most of it!
Love to you all,