Wednesday, 8 April 2009

São Paulo

Here is the great São Paulo: building, after building, cement, more buildings, people, more people, too indifferent, running, in between the buildings, in between the cars, always running. I run also, not knowing why, without ever stopping. I see people, all over, from all over. I run and reach the park, where I finally breathe. I look the buildings reflected in the water and realize I don’t belong here... Instead I decide to move on, friends await for me, here and further away, still in São Paulo, but in the state’s countryside, on my way to Argentina that awaits for me as well. I stop for a while, to feel like home, then I move on. The road is calling for me again and I must go once more...

Presidente Prudente, Brazil, March 2009

"Olha que coisa mais linda..."

I sit here in the bus terminal, waiting. It is time to finally leave Rio de Janeiro, after three intense weeks... It is tough to leave this city behind... Very much! It is very difficult to leave behind friends, intense memories, so much joy, strong and varied emotions. It is very difficult to leave behind Carnival ‘blocos’ (blocks), samba circles, joyful ‘botecos’ (pubs), endless parties, unique landscapes, nature, beach, the city and its huge mess, countless smiles. Maybe it is complicated to leave the Redeemer’s arms because I feel home here... Or maybe just because the city’s charm is really huge, exciting, unique. But for now it is time to move on. Leave Rio to come back some day, maybe in a very short term, maybe only in the wings of dream and 'saudade'. But the desire to come back lives inside me, in a very intense way...

Once uppon a time in the ‘bloco’...

Noise. In crescendo, as the crowd gathers. From time to time a threat of samba in the warm up of a tambourine, cuíca or bass-drum, slowly, without any sort of rush. The hubbub keeps growing as everyone gets happier and happier. A rabbit arrives accompained by the bearded Snow-White. The seven dwarfs didn’t come, or maybe they’re just lost in the crowd. Further away a group of ballet dancers is finishing, or maybe starting, to practice their silly choreography. A Gnome and a Smurf join in, as well as many more... Meanwhile a manly female-nurse helps those in need while a Arab runs after Uncle Sam throwing his show at him. When the music finally starts the crowd is already a compact mass of people, a sort of zoo of which not only animals are a part of. At the first chords joy arrives and this block painted by Dalí starts to move, dancing and jumping tirelessly, singing in unison old musics that are part of my childhood’s Carnivals in Loulé. Here people also look at ZéZé’s wig and Chiquita also dresses in a banana peel, most probably after insisting that 'cachaça' is water, ending up as the catwalk’s only star. But there are also new rhythms, many new only to me. Suddenly a group of misses shows up to wave with their hairy arms at this mass of very warm people. To refresh them a occasional outflow of water is thrown out the window, while cold beer refreshes them on the inside. Looking at this mess of clothing and colour one feels like looking for Wally. Ah! There he is! Is he a she? I decide to rub my eyes and focus, so that I’m sure it is really Wally. Nope, the heat is not taking me to a desert of mirages. I do seem him right there... Well, instead of staring I decide to fix the mini-skirt, the ears and bow in my head and continue looking for Mickey once more, or maybe just for a can of beer, as the heat is strong and the ‘bloco’ doesn’t stop...

Foto: Erika Tambke

"Brilha Portela...
...das trevas renasce o amor..." Two hours passed by and here I am, seated, still awake, still hearing this samba, indifferent to the immense tiredness I’m feeling, unable to sleep. The 4 days without stopping, from Carnival block to Carnival block, with too little sleep and too much tiredness, can’t outweigh the emotion that keeps me awake. I was dancing samba in the World’s biggest stage for only 30 minutes but I did feel like a star, glowing very up in the sky. Maybe just because I was parading with a school with the same name as mine, repeated and sung to exhaustion during those 30 minutes that felt like 5. When I entered the avenue my name echoed loudly, sung in the hearts of the many that cheered with the vibrant and intense drumbeat, the allegories dancing in the feet of Rio’s most beautiful people, with the different wings like mine that danced running or ran dancing. I can only remember entering the avenue and seeing an immense light, smiles, people waving in the middle of the contagious joy that came down the stands. As the sound echoed I gained wings, starting to fly over the sambodromo, forgetting about who I was, feeling free like a falling star or a comet crossing the skies. The Portela shined up high, I didn’t shine as much as she did, but for those few moments I was also a start going down the avenue.

Foto: Erika Tambke

Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, Março 2009

Monday, 6 April 2009


I woke up sweating, soaked wet. My mouth is dry and my body feels numb. I can hardly feel anything from my waist down. My swollen legs are a reflection of too many hours semi-seated while heading South down this endless road. Destination this time: Carnival. The bus is asleep, snoring deeply, probably inebriated by the opaque stench that fills at least the back of the bus, where I sit. The loud motor roar, coming from underneath my seat, is not loud enough to suffocate the snore this half-person sitting next to me produces. Coiled like a baby, this XXS sized person has been sleeping for hours, lying down comfortably where I can hardly sit. A mix of hatred and desire to be as little as him invades my soul. The impetus of waking him up, out of pure evilness, does not flow into action and the intent to throw him out the window stumbles on the inexistence of the smallest of windows, through where he would certainly fit. Instead I decide to drink some water and lay on top the other buttock. There must certainly be a more comfortable position to lay down... There you go! Now I only have to ignore this awful odor and this sort of soup that soaks my clothes so I can relax and let my tiredness take me to Morpheus arms. I imagine myself as a sailor on Cabral’s carrack, the one that for the first time arrived to the port I just left a few hours ago, assured that what awaits for me at my destination compensates the discomfort of the journey. At least in the carrack I sail now the the scurvy exists only in the putrid stench and rats sleep coiled, snoring like babies...

BR101 somewhere between Porto Seguro and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, February 2009

Wednesday, 1 April 2009


My plate, crammed with an abundant Moqueca, started to tremble. Just slightly in the beginning. Then increasing in intensity, at the pace the vibration that comes down the street penetrates the restaurant’s windows, walls and floor. My heart also starts to beat faster, following the rhythm that starts to take me over at the pace this earthquake’s intensity is magnified by the drums’ frenetic beat. I’m almost deaf. My untamed heart decides to leave my chest, flying around at its own will, following the beat that invaded him. The earthquake is no longer on the outside, it is now inside me. I can hear nothing but the Olodum, which makes me fly above my own self. I’m not sitting at the table anymore and the Moqueca is just a colorful dot hardly seen down there, in one of Salvador’s streets I fly over in the wings of this ‘alien’ beat. I fly away, looking at the blue sky reflected in this bay’s waters, the very same bay that embraces this city. I see streets crowded with color, baianas on street-corners selling acarajé, frantic capoeira circles, loads of people filling-up the Pelourinho. I can see boats arriving, an old slave boat coming from Africa, way too crowded with slaves. They seem lost, secluded from themselves, from their roots, with their eyes filled with fear and anger at the same time. They are taken to a market, chained to the walls, beaten, sold, their muscles stressed to inhuman limits... But they resist, they prevail, they have Africa inside their hearts, the strength and the will to survive, the rhythm that gives them life, which gives life to this city as well, to this country, today as always. The very same rhythm that now makes this earthquake alive, which I experience side by side with this Moqueca plate. The plate looks at me impassively while it gets colder, indifferent to this rhythm, the rhythm of which Salvador is made of. The drumbeats slowly fade away without ever leaving the room. Looks like the Olodum passed by but decided to stay inside me for ever.

Salvador, Brazil, February 2009