A Travellerspoint blog

April 2010

Brazil

Cracks with the force of the 1000 whips (thats a good thing)

all seasons in one day 35 °F
View A Backpack, A Bicycle, And a Bonderman Grant to Travel the World on dericvito's travel map.


Traveling on the a trip like this is like going out every night of the week, every week of the month, for eight months. It means often not knowing where you will spend the night when you wake up. Needless to say that can get tiresome. So it was with great relief that I was picked up from the airport when I arrived in Sao Paulo by the father. Not my father unfortunately, but Father Ordean, a friend I met in Trinidad several years ago who was debating whether or not to move forward with his ordination as a priest.

Ordean is not your average priest, or not what I think of at least. He lifts weights, spikes his hair, enjoys going out for a beer. He even talks some trash. My time in Sao Paulo was spent shadowing Ordean. I can tell you its not a bad life He lives in a big house provided by the church, with internet and a woman who comes and cooks for him (and me) everyday. And it was just the bit of luxury I needed after running around in Senegal. From a professional perspective it was also intriguing to be a part of his life as he´s as much a community organizer as a religious leader, gathering and motivating the leadership in nine different small communities. Sunday´s are an day as the only thing open are bars and churchs. The Evangelical churchs sometimes have services in front of giant televisions. Ordean would give me shout outs at his mass.

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I planned on coming to Brazil towards the end of my trip because I thought it would be a comfortable place to land after a taxing seven months. However, for some reason I was hesitant about going to a place I had been before. So arriving in arriving in Rio de Janeiro there was just one thing on my mind; music. It was good fortune that I landed in a hostel with two musicians who enjoyed fiddling the afternoons away. The owner sung love ballads while strumming delicately. And Luca, an Italian, played Brazilian popular classics as he does professionally back home. Luca quickly became a good friend, taking me to house parties in the artsy and historic hill neighborhood of Santa Teresa as well as music and dancing events around the city.

I landed a few days before the World Urban Forum, an event organized by the UN drawing 20,000 professionals and experts in urban issues from around the globe, a perfect opportunity to jump back into the fray of my field of study. Coincidence? I think so. But these days I cannot be sure. So my schedule for the first week in Rio was 9am-6pm at the forum and the World Urban Social Forum next door, organized by local activists, and pretty much 8am-3am with Luca somewhere listening and dancing to Samba, Forró, Choro, or Brasilian Funk.

I was also able to visit with a few old and new friends, but not all, and when it was time to leave I was definitely not ready to go. I became almost emotional at the thought of it and was consumed by Saudade. Rio de Janeiro is the most beautiful and enjoyable city I´ve been to, though not without its perils. I have more than one friend who has fled the city after being robbed in their home or kidnapped from their car and every resident has a story of getting mugged. Crime and fear of crime is something that has been present in every city since Maputo, Mozambique. In the first few days in a new place it can consume you, but after a while it is just a part of life.

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Salvador has a reputation for crime as well, though less organized then Rio. Indeed is a bit rougher around the edges which is both a good and a bad thing. It is a city rich in culture, which has been well exploited by tourism entrepreneurs. Still you can´t beat the tasty acaraje with spice sandwiches on the street and Tuesday nights which fill the historic center with music for the public. After a couple days it was all a bit much, so I took off for the national park Chapada Diamantinha, a land of caves, pools and waterfalls.

It doesn´t seem to matter what I plan, my days on the bicycle are always filled with struggle and glory. This was the last place I planned to cycle extensively so I decided to push my bike to the limit. I crossed rivers with my bicycle on my shoulder, beneath my feet and on the front of a canoe and tore through sand, mud and rocky hillsides. I often arrived at my destination in the dark. I was really out on my own in the forest, sometimes I felt lost, but I was pretty confident I would make it out most of the time, until a tarantula (I think) crossed my path.

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At this point my trip is a Baum Kooken -sp?- (German layer-cake) of experiences. Which sometimes overwhelm me with their diversity and intensity. I´m currently back in Salvador, taking in the music, theater and food of the city. I hope spend the next few days on an island doing nothing before heading north to Fortaleza to visit old friends and then on to Colombia on my way home!

I got pretty lazy taking pictures in Brazil just because its familiar, but I´ll lean on Flickr for photos of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador to compensate for what´s lacking in the gallery.

Posted by dericvito 07:30 Archived in Brazil Tagged bicycle Comments (0)

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