Tuesday, April 5, 2011

high speed blogging

I've thought of many blog titles & ideas, and yet, none of them get blogged because there's no time! we're winding down here and things are gettin' gettin' gettin' kinda hectic.

so many odd thoughts:
  • today i did some conversions, figured out that gas here costs $6.50/gallon

  • it was 95 degrees today, and has been all week

  • that i swim 2 miles a week, its paradise... i'm going to miss the sound of the cicadas around sunset time, and looking at huge beautiful mango trees when i come up for air.
  • people here have a culture of asking zaya to give them what she has in her hand. it teaches the culture of sharing. I love it.
  • i rented a car (our contract was up for the car we bought with eder's brother.) the car i rented, from the local place , had so many bumps, bruises and broken things they don't even bother to write it all down. Including no seatbelts in the back seat. So we had to wedge zaya's carseat in by reclining the passenger seat in the front. real safe. luckily, mid-day, i got a call from the rental place asking me to bring the car back so they could do something with it. they gave me, in return (get this) a brand new car. not just a new car, a car that had only 400 kilometers on it and was filled with that new car smell. and then they proceeded to tell me 10 times not to put a dent or a scratch on it, and that if any accident happened, to call the owner on his cell and tell the cops to wait and that i have to call my "cousin" to come because the insurance policy is in his name... pri-tee sketchy.
  • Jaca, Dende, Acai, Guarana: all delicious fruits of the earth here in brazil. i like the names. i like the taste. i like the culture. that was suppose to be a blog in itself complete with photos. oh well

  • misericordia, deus é mais!”- these are the very funny religious expressions that they say with so much emphasis, so much passion. it means "mercy" and "god is more". it's often yelled out by eder's aunt as we clean the house together, in the context of "CAHHHRLY! GOD IS MORE! LOOK AT ALL THIS DUST!!!!!!"

  • Carnaval - was suppose to be another blog too. was fun. lots of partying all over the country. we skipped out of salvador and went to a beachside town about 6 hours south of salvador - Itacare. we went with eder's cousin tais and her man danilo, and eder's brother evandro and his girl clessia (who i'm really starting to dig, great sister-in-law). we all camped at a nice campground along a beach. good times. eder, me and evandro did the thing where you what the heck is it called, get strapped into something and go swinging suspended by the rope over the ocean. was cool.

  • while mom and pete were here, we spent 5 nights in Boipeba, an awesome beautiful little island also along the south coast of bahia. was one of my favorite bahia spots so far, simple, the locals very chill, not overwhelmed by tourists. met a wonderful french woman who lives in barcelona with her daughter who is half argentine. Mari is her name, her 4-year-old daughter Luan. Sea and Moon, mother and daughter traveling together for 2 1/2 months! we met back up in Salvador on their way out and i wished them off to europe after their bahia adventure. we had so much in common, i hope one day to get to barcelona and visit! i hope they come to nyc. Will attach a photo of us

  • gordinha… mais e gostosa," which means, roughly, "she's a little fat, but she's delicious" - these are the lyrics to a very popular "pagode" song (pagode is a horrible music genre from the northeast of brazil... hard to describe so i'll just hyperlink you to a youtube video)

  • speaking of music. there's also a song here where the chorus is: “ooo nao, quero nao, posso nao, mi mulher nao me deixa nao quero nao posso nao.” which means, "oh no, i don't want to, i can't, my woman won't let me nope, I don't want to, i can't." the video is quite funny

  • while we're on the subject of Pagode music, one of the most famous singers in that genre is this big muscular guy. the state of Bahia's government was able to contract him to advertise condoms (right around carnaval there's quite a comprehensive condom awareness campaign to try and slow the surge in babies born every year 9 months later). Anyway, so there he is, with his braces, his tight shirt holding in his bursting muscles, with this ridiculously big dorky smile holding a condom and the words "camizinha e bom bom bom" (which are a play on words from his famous song)... which means "condoms are good good good." I try to imagine Jay-Z or Nas posing similarly on the back of a NYC bus.
  • They even distributed free condoms at the toll booth on the expressway once we paid our toll!

  • while walking 15 minutes to the local bulk grocery store (owned by "Walmart Brazil" company, more on that later), I realized the irony that in Brazil, especially Salvador's periphery, there are so many more pedestrians than anywhere in the U.S. (except NYC i guess), and yet, there's rarely a sidewalk to walk on. You just have to wind your way around parked cars, pay phones in the middle of the "sidewalk", bumps and holes and cracks where there are "sidewalks," puddles, people standing, etc... making walking down the road quite a labor-intensive task. Whereas, in the U.S., where there are so many beautiful pristine sidewalks, yet we lack pedestrians to use them!

  • Here's a good one: Eder's cousin, who he's not that close to, had a wedding recently. We had already gone to the wedding "shower" 5 months ago, which was the event where you give the gift to the couple (not at the wedding). (on the invitation to the shower it says: "...And don't forget the present!") The shower was co-ed, food, no dancing, no drinking - the couple and their families are Evangelical. So, leading up to the wedding, Eder's mom, aunt, cousin kept saying how fancy these Evangelical weddings are, and I better have good clothes. I used the cute christmas dress for zaya my mom had bought her. phew! Went out and got an appropriate dress for me with my mother-in-law and last minute found some affordable pumps at a mall... ok, so i was all ready, even a pedicure and a manicure. there wasn't going to be a reception - they couldn't afford it and what's the point if there's no dancing and drinking anyway? So we get to the church and as usual the bride shows up an hour and a half late, everyone waiting around. So when she finally gets there the folks in the wedding start lining up to walk down the isle and before i know it, me and eder are being summoned. I brought zaya with us but then was scolded and told to give her to eder's mom! so that's when i realize Eder and I are IN THE WEDDING. before i know it, we are slowly walking down the isle after the bride's mom and the witnesses and there's even a special song that comes on for me and eder. whooooooooaaaaaa. Later everyone said "carly, raquel told you you were in it". i guess that one was lost in translation.Here's a photo of us at the wedding

  • there's a barber shop here called, in English: "Black look." (pronounced "Blackee Lookee"). I keep meaning to take a photo of it before i leave.

  • There's a culture here, when acquaintances and neighbors walk by each other or see each other and say "go work!" I think its rooted in the racism and discrimination of the rest of Brazil towards this region of the country that Baiano's are lazy and don't like to work." So internalized is this very (untrue) stereotype, this internalized inferiority, that now when they see each other they make fun of each other about not working... even though they work so hard

  • I'm sort of glad zaya spent her 1st year here, cuz the way Eder's mom yells at her cousins who are 5 and 6 years old would not have been nearly as an enjoyable experience.

  • finally, 2 days ago eder and i arrived after a long day out in the street (conducting a very successful graffiti tour with a group of Americans (mostly wives of guys who work at the Ford plant outside of Salvador). we were dismayed, stunned, saddened and angry when we stepped out on our back balcony and heard and saw a huge back hoe digging and tearing up the natural lush beautiful vegetation that covers the part of the left side of the valley behind our house (the right side is all houses). I couldn't understand what the point was to tear it all out, didn't even know what the factory was that owned that piece of land, so I walked up to the main road and was able to find the factory behind the big walls that keep them anonymous (these are precisely the walls that eder and other graffiti artists make beautiful for the community). Probably because of my light skin, and because of my accent that gave me away as a foreigner, I was allowed inside the factory area, and then I was brought to the person who was probably the civil engineer or architect, who sort of nervously said that they had all the environmental permits necessary if I wanted to see them. But I pressed, "how could you take down all those trees and bushes on the eve of the rainy season when this very area experienced devastating land slides last year when the rains came? The vegetation is the only thing holding the land in place! Even if you plant trees again, they won't take root in time?" The sort of worried and defensive engineer explained that they are going to put in a big concrete wall to hold the earth. He explained that they were extending the big concrete building to make a "Todo Dia" grocery store, wouldn't that be so good for the community?" It would be, if it weren't OWNED BY WALMART!! Ugh!!! the talons of the eagle reaches even the corners of the world in our beloved little 20,000-resident neighborhood on the edge of Salvador, and will most likely displace the little grocery store we shop at, the little fish and meat markets, the bakery, the little candy store, all the littles will soon be gone as Walmart moves in. I walked home, head down, feeling defeated, depressed.

  • not sure if it made U.S. news, but a couple of days ago there was a shooting in a high school in Rio - a young guy went in and opened fire in a classroom, killing 11 students. Everyone kept saying to me, "oh, did you hear what happened in Rio? It's like what happens in your country." that kind of stuff never happens here. interesting that's their perception of the U.S.

Here's something I wrote from an attempt at a blog about a month ago that i never did get out:

Since I can’t seem to get my head around what the heck to write for the introduction of this graffiti book, I’ll blog instead! Doesn’t that make sense? It’s been so long since I blogged for real, so I deserve it. You all deserve it. The clock is ticking, the countdown has begun: less than 2 months til we return to the U.S. to make our home in upstate NY. I have been starting to go on websites to find job postings, working on my resume, applying for what looks like an amazing position as a human rights researcher in Brazil with Human Rights Watch. Most of the job descriptions make me feel slightly nauseous, at the combined thoughts of going back to the grind, leaving my sweet Zaya somewhere else 5 days a week, facing the music that the luxury of a Fulbright and being a student is over for real, and coming to terms with the realization we’re leaving brazil for real. So many people from home write and say “why are you coming home to this country of Tea-Partiers taking over?” “Isn’t Brazil such an amazing place to raise a child?” etc. etc. I probably would also ask a friend the same question, so I am asking myself - why am I moving home? We are sticking to the plan, no matter how hard though. I want Zaya to also be around my family for awhile. I want to continue my career and profession. I want to not have to scrape by on barely anything like we have been, with dwindling savings, few prospects for work. I want to chill with my friends, and drink good beer and have my parents around to help with Zaya. But ohhhhh I’m going to miss it here. I write you from a slow beachside fisherman’s town - Arembepe - where my mom and Pete rented a gorgeous house in front of the ocean for us to hang for their last week in Brazil (they came Feb 22nd and then went and traveled to Recife, Pantanal, and Iguassu Falls before returning to Bahia). The ocean is an incredible turquoise with high tide waves making bubbly white lines. Bees, birds, ants, lizards, crabs and fish hang with us, enjoying the heat and humidity, salt-water breeze. Zaya and I took an afternoon walk yesterday down the beach and watched the sun setting, the waxing gibbous of the moon above (“Zaya, where’s the moon? Cade a lua?” and she looks up). There were two little boys swimming in a pool made by the rocks and barrier reef, splashing around for hours, Zaya loved watching them....

Photo Journal:

graffiti event the other day

visiting the house of a wealthy brazilian artist ...
... loving the colors of the salad she made.... some pretty intense advertising of a musical group using women's bodies so provocatively (look at the standard of beauty here in brazil... big think legs and butts!

this advertisement is next to the to the other... next to the image of the woman with the heart it reads "Between Men and Women, only the heart can beat strong." a domestic violence Public Service Announcement. That campaign ad, and one against dengue fever, can be seen on many buses around town. My sister-in-law was out at a concert last night where she saw two different men beating their girlfriends right out in public... and 2 nights ago the Pae Santo (Father Saint) of the condomble terreiro below our house was drunkenly yelling at a woman (his wife? girlfriend? daughter?) for over an hour calling her a slut, whore, disgrace. I think the DV campaign is very needed down here...

coming up, next blog:

things i don't think they should do with zaya
things they think i shouldn't do with zaya

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