Sunday, February 05, 2006

familiar faces & music


A lot has happened here since I last sat down to write. In the beginning of last week, I went into town for the first time on this trip. I walked through an unknown neighborhood with a guide to the bus stop which was my starting point. Last year I stayed in a hostel right in the middle of Pelourinho, so I wasn’t used to making this sort of effort to get to the beauty of the city.

The bus ride was long, and twisting through streets and neighborhoods I had never seen. The ride had a bumpy feeling to it, which always makes me tired like a baby in a cradle. Bouncing around with eyes drooping, reading signs is not only a good way of keeping me awake, but also an excellent way of familiarizing oneself with the language. I was lucky, because I didn’t really know where to get off, but I slowly starting seeing familiar sights from the year before. The ferry terminals and bank ATMs were appearing, so I knew I was almost at the foot of the giant elevator, which transports thousands of people between the lower city and higher city of Pelourinho everyday.

In the process of meeting a friend to see about a place to stay closer to the city for the next month or so, I saw a group of drummers playing in the middle of a square. I started walking their way, and suddenly recognized a boy I’d seen and sketched the year before. He recognized me too, as I pointed out that he was still selling those necklaces, and he said “sempre”… always….. He was selling the same necklaces with the same persistence as the year before, and it hit me that he’d been doing the same thing everyday since I left last January until now…. And will probably continue to do so until…..

One thing I’ve noticed from my travels here is that most people are constantly “working” something to carry on. From grandmas selling water and beer on the street, to little kids collecting cans, with women braiding hair and little boys selling hammocks in between. There is always something to collect or sell, and these people are constantly doing whatever to survive. Everyday, I see thousands of people in the streets selling food, drinks, candy, peanuts, fruits, vegetables, drugs, clothes, shoes, accessories, cigarettes and so much more… the list is endless.

Back to the music, which drew me to it… as it always does. The familiar rhythms of samba reggae were in the air, and I went to get a closer look after not finding my friend. As I got closer to the music, I noticed a man was walking straight toward me…..and that sudden realization of recognition came over me. It was Bryant…. a new friend from Brazil Camp I’d met last August. (1-2 week intensive Brazilian music and dance camp in the redwood forest…..paradise!!!!)… I’m sure someone has said that music brings people together, and this encounter was a perfect example. I hadn’t seen him since camp, and suddenly he was with me in the middle of Salvador, Bahia. He informed me that four other friends were here too, and this strange feeling of total comfort and familiarity came over me again…not only was I in Brazil, but near friends who share the same passions of music and dance, which put an ease to any nerves. It felt good to see them in this context.

With their presence, my access to the music scene was introduced and led to an opportunity to play for the festival of Iemenja…. I had partaken in the ceremony before in Santa Cruz, but in Brazil it’s a whole other party….

Playing my beloved instrument (the surdo) in brazil with thousands of people around me in their white and blues dancing & celebrating iemenja….

The euphoric feeling of sand between my toes as my feet marched down to the beach was something I will never forget…

There is a lot more I wanted to say at this point…..but I feel like I need to share my new experiences with the kids, and the sandwiches.

Possible update later …..


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