Tag Archives: Brazil

imageimageDuring the summer of 2013 I traveled the Atlantic coast of Brazil. I began in Rio the same time that Papa the Pope was there, and during the manifestation: when the protests of the working class hit the streets.

Protestors in Rio

Protestors in Rio

On the way to Itaunas, they blocked the bridge in Santa Maria which forced those of us on the bus to meet each other and  I was  in Salvador when they blocked the streets. In Porto Seguro I met a few of the Paxatos Indians, who were almost extinguished by the greedy cattlemen who wanted their land. I sympathized with the protestors. Greed is taking over my country too; the rich are refusing to pay their share and forgetting that the chain is only as strong as the weakest link.   Still, In spite of all the protesting and frustrations in Brazil, the people were warm, helpful and very friendly; in spite of corporate greed and over development what remains of the forest and beaches is stunning and lush. I have friends there image, and I’m looking forward to returning.

Friends.

Friends.

 

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vibrant colors, time consuming, lovely vibrant colors, time consuming, lovely

Impending storm.  Stunning.

Impending storm. Stunning.

Pataxo-batalla
My guide book said that aside from standing on the beach where the Portuguese first landed in Brazil there was not much to do in Porto Seguro except  hang out at Passarela do Alcool, better known as Alcohol Boardwalk, They were wrong.

Grant at That Hostel in Itaunas suggested I stay at Residential das Araras. In my usual manner, I took the wrong bus and ended up along the main coast highway. I stopped at a nice hotel and asked directions. Three woman in the lobby conferred. One of them wearing a wrinkle free linen dress looked at me over glasses

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perched low on her nose, as if  I  were for sale. It’s the moment when grandma rover meets grandma high-end consumer.  “Nice glasses.” I complemented her. She smiled. “Thank you.” and proceeded to tell me where she bought them, and other details about their style. One of them called the hostel. Paul said he would come on his bike to meet me. I misunderstood the communication. There was no excuse this time as Paul is American. We speak the same language.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

He finally found me wandering along the side of the highway. As we walked to his hostel he told me he was a Moonie. Now, I knew there were endangered cultures  in the area, but I didn’t consider the members of the Unification Church; I had the Pataxos in mind.

Actually, the Unification Church was declared by Moon to be defunct and the so-called cult is now known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU), in my mind, a title difficult to argue with. Nevertheless, once a Moonie, always a Moonie I think, at pataxo womenleast based on my study of one.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Paul and his lovely, Brazilian wife whom he married along with 1,998 other couples in Madison Square Garden in l982, have two boys and two girls.The oldest girl is studying in South Korea and serving as a FFWPU missionary. The rest live at home. They could not have been friendlier or more accommodating.

The time I was there I was the only guest. Paul and I spent hours discussing life. One of his daughters had a series of seizures after her immunization shots as a baby and is now autistic,  We talked of special needs and the unwieldy System in the US that serves them. We talked marriage, death, and politics. We talked about  the indigenous Pataxos people who lived only a short walk away in a small part of the 10% that is left of the vast Atlantic rain forest. We talked about the greedy corporate people who want them extinguished-have wanted them gone almost since Vasco de Gama set foot on the continent.pataxo child

I looked up the history of these gentle folks. They have been systematically purged by white ranchers and miners, with the backing of the country of Brazil for decades. When they proved impossible to murder easily their water was poisoned, traps were set to maim and kill them, and small-pox infected clothes given to them. All for fat corporate purses.

On Sunday he took me there. Paul’s feisty Labrador dog ran ahead of us as we walked through the rain forest that is now mostly second growth, but at least it’s thriving for the time being. The first sight we came to as we walked through the gate that defined the Pataxos land was of a woman and children washing clothes in a clear creek. We all smiled, said hello, and kept to our business. A few minutes later, walking up the hill to the small village, we met a member of the community, on his way down in a truck, a long straight tree about 10″ in diameter dragging out of the bed. Paul introduced me in Portuguese. The man was  apparently an elder or tribal chief, but dressed in everyday clothes no different from what we wear. A few hundred feet further we came upon the village. Only 32 families live there now. They must divide up the community in order to survive. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A few dogs barked in the distance and we could hear children playing, but we didn’t see them. The huts, similar to palapas in Mexico, had palm frond roofs, and stone walls. No nails were used. The Joists were held together with intricate knotted vines. Everything was simple and clean. We looked at the nursery where they keep indigenous plants: for medicine and so they can reforest with flora that belongs there, and the hut of the shaman/ medicine man. The school, on vacation at the time, had posters on the walls, and words written in what I assumed was the Pataxos language the same as you would see in any school. I thought of the old Quaker tune. ‘Tis a gift to be simple.’OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve never understood how money can be more important than people’s lives, but my travels have convinced me otherwise. We’ve, and it’s been white people, my race if not me personally, that have systematically destroyed countless cultures, environments including our own, and its inhabitants for personal wealth.  If anyone fancies himself immune to this ruinous madness be aware, you are not.

When we left the village Paul took me to see the clay mounds.Undulating in the light they seemed to breathe. The sheer loveliness of them, and their significance for the Pataxos silenced me as  meditation does.These people don’t use harmful chemical compounds for all of their painting, including their bodies during festival days,  they use the natural ocher, magenta, blue, and red dyes in the clay. There’s a balancing act going on in Brazil and sitting on the heavy end of the see-saw are big-assed men weighing it down with  their money bags.  None of us are secure from the rampaging greed that is taking over our globe. It’s just that the folks who can’t defend themselves are always the first to go.

Paul believes in peace, harmony and grace. He translates for small tours to the  Pataxos village and explains their fragile existence to those who come to the Residential das Araras. I am passing it on to you.pataxos young man

The town of Porto Seguro has a good opportunity to get more space in the guide book than a  short paragraph that says to continue on after a night of debauchery on the alcohol boardwalk.

Note: the photos of the people were taken from public images taken during the UN Rio+environmental summit. I felt it would have been too invasive to have taken photos of them during their daily lives.-r

Third time is the charm.

Donkey cart on dunes.

Donkey cart on dunes.

 

So far I have lost three drafts, several photos, and have activated three themes on Word Press. I knew when I read a review that it was a site for A type brains it was not for me. Not ever close. I’m pretty sure I don’t have an A side to my brain. But, Blogger had let me down. Of the two other sites recommended on  PC Mag, one is already closed, the other I signed  up for took my  password and welcomed me, by name as if it knew me personally, to the site. First, though, before it let me in I had to go to my email and sign in with my new ‘handle’ and password. I did that. I was refused entrance. Apparently the info didn’t match. Within two minutes! Four days later I am still trying to post a blog on Word Press. It may be that I am not smart enough or, as my friend, Abby says, way too old, which in the world of technology is over twelve.

 

Paula, Grant, Peanut, Butter & Jelly at That Hostel (in the dog tent)

Paula, Grant, Peanut, Butter & Jelly at That Hostel (in the dog tent)

I left Rio in August after the manifestation protestors had been shunted off to jail, and Papa, had given his speech in a clearing that, rumor has it, over 100 old growth trees had been cut down specifically so he would have a safe place to expound his dogma. And then the rains came. image

I headed north along the Atlantic coast by bus. I traveled everywhere by bus. Brazil has big comfy Mercedes busses with working toilets. I found that buying a ticket, and finding the bus  was easy even w/o speaking Portuguese; but I do speak a bit of Spanish which usually made conversation  easier. 

Hanging out by the side of the road while the protesters block the bridge.

Hanging out by the side of the road while the protesters block the bridge.

 

On the way to Itaunas we encountered more protesters blocking the bridge we needed to cross. We got off the bus and hung out. I met Sebastian, from Argentina and Isabella, from Austria, who were staying at the same hostel I was-or would be when we got there and others who spoke some English. In Santa Maria a man who was undoubtedly in his cups boarded the bus and sat beside me. Disgruntled when I couldn’t carry on a conversation with him, he began to sing. Soft and low and on key he sang as if he were singing a lullaby to a baby. Big baby that I am, I fell asleep.  

Itanuas

Itaunas, Espirto Santo Ruby on the beach. Itaunis I’ve spent 7 days here.Unfortunately Google won’t post my photos. It’s too bad because the place is gorgeous. I leave today for Porto Seguro, about half way between here and Salvador. The owners of That Hostel in Itaunas, Grant and Paula have been gracious and generous.

Grant, Paula, with Peanut, Butter, & Jelly at That Hostel

Grant, Paula, with Peanut, Butter, & Jelly at That Hostel

He is an American-she a Brazilian, both travelers with an understanding of the frustrations and immense rewards. I could get lost here on the East Coast of Brazil on the southern border of the state of Bahia, in this dusty, rural town with no paved roads and exceptionally friendly folks. Thick vegetation begins at the deck and stretches to the horizon, broken only by the lovely Rio Itaunas that snakes through it. A short walk away are the dunes: shifting and changing minute by minute, fringed by the Atlantic Ocean.

Ruby on the beach.

Ruby on the beach.

Last night, led by our gracious hosts, Grant and Paula, we trooped to the dunes to lie under the stars. I wished my friend, Dave Boulden, had been there to guide us through the brightly lit, wondrous ceiling of the Southern Hemisphere. The dunes now cover the entire original town because the founders removed the trees and diverted the river.

A dip in the river.

A dip in the river.

It took a few decades, but still, if you have a 30 year mortgage and the house disappears before it is paid for you would, with good reason, be pissed. If that isn’t a lesson in what will happen when you mess with Mother Nature I can’t imagine what else might wake us up. On my first walk on the beach I found a perfect small, fragile sand dollar, not bigger than a quarter.It didn’t last long in my pocket, but I had the sense to take its picture. image I noted the absence of gulls, tankers, off-shore platforms along the coast. Noone I asked seems to know why there aren’t any. The water here is warm, as are the hearts of the Brazilians I’ve met. Sebastian, from Argentina and Isabella from Austria, my roommates in the 4 bed dorm, told me yesterday that the night before I woke them with an apparent bad dream. I was struggling with someone. “ Who are you!?. What do you want?! Help me!! Isabella said she was alarmed and thought maybe I needed help just then, but decided it was a struggle with my dream weavers.

Travelers at That Hostel.

Travelers at That Hostel.

They’ve gone. Last night there was not sign of them. Good riddance I say. Itaunas has so many birds. Flocks of parrots have flown past, canaries are plentiful as are colorful finches, and the beautiful red and black Corrupiao with some white on its wings.image Vultures rest in the trees as do a smaller, green parrot. Troops of marmosets apparently visit when the red goiaba tree that hangs over the deck has fruit.

Humility Up Close and Personal in Rio de Janeiro

A few weeks ago I drove across the U.S. from my lovely daughter, Anna’s, in South Carolina to visit with my friends in Cali before flying to Brazil. The trip was long, and hot, and only marginally interesting.

I’ve done that trip countless times since the l960s when I drove my then fiance’s TR4A from Atlanta, GA to San Diego,CA. It seems I was just a child then. Really. Could barely reach the petals, and had as much sense as a prairie hen.

On long desert stretches I improvised cruise control by wedging my umbrella between the gas and the seat. Still, I’m not quite as jaded as Loretta Lynn who allegedly said she’d seen so many sunsets she no longer opened the drapes on the bus windows.

In Cali I visited with many of my friends. Margaret, my Mini Cooper, and I arrived at the Bouldins tired and dusty. It was as close to home as a homeless woman gets; filled with affection, love, and music by Highline. I love my Tehachapi friends-men and women: the Naked Lesbians-none of whom are lesbians that I know of. Go figure. 

Then to Sherry’s in Lake Isabella. 106 fuckin degrees of dry heat that sucked the life out of me-the last remaining juice from my ageing body. I could hear it evaporating …wooshhhh. During a road trip (again across the whole country) six years ago Sherry and I discovered we shared a birthday month, year, and name!, Cheryl Ann, that we both changed a bit for different reasons, and we both gave birth to our daughters at home. Immediate sisters we were. And more music. The spunky Out of the Blue band is always a down home treat where ever you happen to live. 

And then to the Maggarts in Venice-to my old neighborhood.  Brandon, irrasible, sweet Brandon who growls and grumps, but would share the shirt off his back, writes, surrounded by his talented and handsome off-spring. Read his book, Papa’s Footprint for a merry romp through broadway during the good ole days.

I finished my ebook, Irish Mongrel Child while at Brandons. Yesterday I proofed the cover. It should be ready to download within a few days. Fulfilled, grateful for my friends, my health and my love of being alive I headed to Cecil’s. 

 Cecil-the Masseur, who I never see enough of. He is another kind-hearted man who shares what he has and is repayed with love. He is the reason I can travel as I do. I’m his Buddy-as in buddy passes on URL. He started it. About 23 years ago he gave me a ‘one way pass to anywhere UAL flies’  for Christmas. Two  passports later I am in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil because the planes to Sao Paulo were full.

I’m sitting at at a bar in the Z.BRA hostel drinking a Bohemia beer, listening to Brazilian music, writing my blog and looking for tutoring jobs. The people who work here shared their delicious lunch with me:
sausages fried with onions, black beans, rice and salad. Hallelujah.

Yesterday I toured the Recina favela.


If there is any thing in this world that is capable of stripping ego and pretention from oneself it must be this mindboggling mass of humanity stacked on top of one another on the face of the mountain like so many colorful leggos dressed for carnival.

The van full of folks from Ireland, England, Australia, Mexico and me, the USA, were dropped off with our guide. After explaining that the 300K inhabitants of this favela had, up until 2010 been ruled pretty much by serious gun toting drug lords, but now they were gone because one day 700 Brazilian policia stormed the place, killed the bad guys, and are still there, so it is safe now. I didn’t see them. I saw a few police cars at the entrance and exit. Far less than 700. 

With a certain amount of trepidation, we followed our guide single file up a path

of crooked, uneven concrete littered with occasional dog shit and other flotsom and jetsome, to a building where we climbed up some equally perilous steps to an artist’s home and studio.

 Ahh! Wow! Omg! were the utterances as we stood humble before the million dollar view-our backs to abject poverty. 

Up there, the realizitation that these stacked houses were a community of families, businesses-of schools, nurseries, bakeries, trademen-of hair dressers, barbers, carpenders…everything the same as mine and yours, hit me. It’s just way more difficult to traverse and with your immediate family living on top of you or sharing a wall, it’s definitly up close and personal.

 The favela was vibrant with life;  people coming and going, graffiti art-creative and non, a neat preschool like any other, anyplace, tender, tired moms hauling groceries on one  hip- baby on the other. Water rushed through an open concrete drain twisting and turning downward, smiling animated kids anxious to make a few coins danced to the drumming of two boys beating harmomiously on a plastic paint pail and a dented metal gas can, artist’s studio, good and mediocre art, but art, colorful and telling, dogs, cats, chickens, spaces where houses slid off the mountain, and more. Much more.

Under a thick canopy of an astoundingly intricate electrical wire

maze we made our way to a bakery where I bought a delicious piece of passion fruit cake.

How must it feel to have tourists come by your neighborhood, peering into your lives? To be famously poor? I mentiond to the young woman standing next to me that I thought it reminded me of parts of Mexico. She was Mexican, and not a little offended. I need to learn to keep my opinions to myself.