Thursday, April 28, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

house number

today a guy came by asking if this is house number "14" "Puro"? (pure?)
he then offered, jovial, enthusiastically, and with great confidence, to put up our house number on the house (I think it's sort of written barely legible on the wall downstairs). He said, "it's so important to have clearly marked numbers on the house. I will make it really nice, beautiful, so that everyone can see. Only 10 reais. (approx $6 dollars). You sure? sure? what about upstairs? they don't have a number! put a number there! 10 reais. You don't have to pay it today, I'll come back." Maria continued to negate the offer. And then he moved on.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A great day...

On a Monday morning, waking up, a bit bummed that the long Easter family-filled tons of food weekend had come to an end. Decided to see if my friend Niousha, who is living in Salvador for a couple of months, was up for going to the beach? Why not, I mean, it's Monday morning afterall, and what better thing for an unemployed broke person living in Salvador to do but hit up the beach. Niousha happily agreed to the idea, and I got Zaya all ready to go (i've become a pro at packing up the beach essentials quite quickly). Two buses, two hours and what felt like an entire tour of the city later, I descent, carsick, in front of beautiful barra beach. Fortunately, Zaya had slept (nursing) on my chest the whole bus ride, so when she woke up and met Niousha and saw the water, she was a bundle of joy. We nestled under an umbrella (U.S. $2 to rent) and set out our kangas and ordered 2 coconut waters which come in the coconut of course.

Niousha took Zaya out to the water and though a bit nervous, she (Zaya, not Niousha) didn't scream or cry and sort of was willing to entertain the idea of the sea. That particular beach is nice because it's cut off by barrier reefs so the waves are very small.

A bit later one of the women working on the beach let Niousha know that the fishermen had arrived with the fresh (still alive!) fish and she bought 4 small red-snappers - i think.
We brought them home and Niousha proceeded to whip up a delicious fish dish cooked in onions, red, yellow and green peppers, olive oil, coconut milk and probably some special spices that made it take SO GOOD.
Almost as good as the simple green beans with garlic and potatoes with fresh rosemary. Did I forget to mention that the apt her and her man "Mo" are renting is right on the ocean, so you walk in and there's a floor to ceiling window in the front that is opened up and gives the impression that you'd step right out into the ocean!

We ate, we were merry. Zaya even fell asleep right as we were about to eat (that never seems to work out so well). After lunch we danced salsa (wow! it's been years) and drank ginger tea. Zaya was having so much fun discovering all the fun things at her eye level, moving her hips to salsa, and staring out at the ocean in the front and the beautiful green out back where she watched the birds flying around and kept saying "eh!" "eh!" The sunset was spectacular.

Niousha accompanied us to the bus stop and first we stopped to buy some groceries at the fancy expensive store, and the guy offered us generous samples of the Grano Padano Parmesan cheese i live for these days. Then (after a 45 min wait, a bit of a bummer) me and zaya got on a packed bus and where people kept bending over backwards to help this nutty mom with a baby nursing on her front and 3 bags of groceries and a beach bag dangling from my shoulders. We relaxed on the 45 minute ride home and were so wiped out but so happy when we arrived.

ahhh, there is so much i'll miss about living here.


Zaya's new friend from down the street, Iara...
Iara's uncle making acaraje on good friday

another outdoor bath, with warm water

miss curious

eating lunch on saturday, out at Eder's parent's "country home." (gotta love the sitting-on-the-floor culture)
Saturday again, eder, zaya, tia luiza and the dog, ralphie (pronounced "halfie")

they look so cute together
Easter Sunday

Friday, April 15, 2011

theory of departure

never underestimate the truth of the theory that goes something like this: when people love each other, it's really hard to leave each other. so, what happens, most often unconsciously, is that tensions and fights increase leading up to the day of departure, sort of as a way of easing the ensuing pain. it makes sense. it just really sucks when it happens. just when you most want to be enjoying the last moments together, there's all these stupid conflicts that occur.

tia rita, camille and pedro's mom, is all pissed off at me for something i said, i think it didn't translate well... "you're worse than your kids!" when she came in yelling my name and i had just gotten zaya to sleep after several attempts, so i was annoyed at the abrasive interruption, and now suffer from my knee-jerk annoyed reaction. But the bigger issue is that naturally, our loved ones here, will start putting a distance between us and them, mostly unconsciously, but it will happen.

other tid-bits... so upset about this stupid walmart-owned local grocery store they are building up the hill. they took down so much natural vegetation. i stare down at the houses that are all squished together below where they are building, and fret with the daily down pore, they are going to get washed out. this guy came to visit our house and commented that he didn't know what keeps more landslides from happening... he thinks it's 50% concrete walls, and 50% intense praying to god. when the rains started this season i happen to be listening to a radio show and the host started talking about rainy season, and the fear it causes so many people to live with, how people will lose sleep, that they should all start praying, that each rain that comes, and passes, we should be grateful if the land doesn't take the houses down. lots of fear. it was a year ago today that the rains took out the land below our house.

speaking of the area below our house, i'm really so tired of hearing all these kids shrieking and crying and yelling in pain from being beaten. it's daily and it's horrible... horrible horrible torturing of children.

we have been busy organizing a graffiti event in our neighborhood for this sunday (now it's a week later, i'm getting ready to post this, takes me forever to finish writing!). it's something eder and i had wanted to do before we leave, to renovate the big wall that artists had painted 4 years ago on one of our trips to brazil... it's a huge long wall, and badly in need of repair. so, that's what we're doing, inviting over 20 graffiti artists to come and do a piece. the central theme is "LOVE." The event almost didn't happen, because we couldn't get funding to buy the base paint from anyone! (our Rochester fundraiser was originally going to go towards this, but we have decided to use that money for the first round of publishing our book instead). So we tried to get money from various sources, nothing. just when i was about to pay for it out of the little i have left in savings, I went to the bus depot that the wall surrounds, and was able to get "in" the door to get to the right people and they enthusiastically gave 100% support - paying for the base paint, the rollers, and the food for the artists! Now, it seems obvious that they should, least they can do when they have these huge walls protecting their property and leaving the neighborhood looking ugly and isolated. However, 3 years ago, Marcelo and Eder persisted and persisted trying to get their support for the event, to pay just for base paint (not even the spray) and were given a "NO" after several attempts. this year, the same thing, Marcelo and Eder spending hours on 2 different days waiting to talk to someone who might approve it, and nothing. Then I show up, less than a week before the planned event, and I get through the door, I get to the guy who actually reads the proposal and brings it to the VP and she invites me "upstairs" and there I go, and she is all excited to support the event, "what do we need? only that much food? no, you should have more, " etc.. etc.. so, there it is! we have an event! and wow, does white, northamerican gringa privilege work wonders in these cases? i'll attach a before and after photo for your enjoyment. and here's a video some folks made with a whole bunch of photos of the event...

ok, and, as promised, here's a little list:

things that I do (re: zaya) that they think is crazy:
- feed her food from the day before (i.e., anything leftover)
- breastfeeding past age 1
- spin her around or lift her up and all around

things they do that i think is crazy:
- putting fragile things within her reach and insisting that she just has to learn "no" (what ends up happening is that i hear the word "no" over and over and over and over again whenever she is downstairs. it drives me nuts! i have to just rest assured that the good outweighs the bad. )
- give her endless amounts of candy or cookies like it's a good thing!

(i'll have to make this a list in progress. i'm drawing a blank for the other things that i had wanted to put down.)

walking to the store today, in a matter of 2 minutes I saw two dads sitting with their babies all cuddled up in their arms, just chillin. it was really beautiful. I think men here have so much more freedom to show their love to babies, children. In the streets, in stores, everywhere, there are men getting all googooey and gagaey with zaya. it's adorable.

yesterday (of course, as always, this blog is being written over several days) we organized an extremely successful graffiti event (pix at bottom). It was quite a day, filled with excitement and challenges. in the end, a beautiful wall was created by over 20 of Salvador's most talented artists. I think that it speaks to Eder's investment and dedication revitalizing the graffiti scene here, that so many of them came out to one event, and put so much time, energy and their own resources into painting the wall. The center of Salvador, filled with tourists and the wealthy, have nothing like it. And you could see the pride, happiness, and gratitude of the local residents as it was being done. People honking and thumbs flying up all over the place.

i've been filming a lot of zaya, this age (turns one in 3 days) is so much fun!!! she does something new and different every day. today and yesterday she started to "wipe her hands" clean, but really, she doesn't wipe them together, she wipes them on her tummy! she's been blowing kisses, but kisses the back of her hand and blows it out. And she calls everyone with the brazilian way of calling a dog, rubbing your thumb over your four fingers hand stretched outwards. she is saying "ma-ma-ma ma" and "da-da-da da"... her first words. in my attempt to capture every waking moment on video here, i have tons. so here's a couple I uploaded to Youtube:video of zaya and here's another one

that's it for this blog. going to post.