I haven’t had much time on my laptop to write blogs and I guess that’s a good thing since it means I’m staying busy here=]
Tuesday October 7th
The worldwide Augustana College experience
Another busy day to add to the books. Today we went to class, visited Morro de Providencia, and had reservations at two music venues in LAPA. In class we covered more about the hip-hop culture that is present in LAPA. After class we had time to get lunch before heading to the metro station to take the train in to Rio where we would meet with interns from Catalytic Communities (CatCom) and venture in to Morro de Providencia.
Morro de Providencia is a favela in Rio that was used for filming both versions of the film Black Orpheus. Now is probably a good time to discuss what exactly a favela is, since not everyone is familiar with the term. Before leaving for Brazil we spent a lot of time talking about the communities that we would encounter, and Rio is famous for its favelas that are positioned on the hillside. One aspect of favela life that we covered was the name that the media has made for the favelas. Favelas are often made out to be dirty, violent, drug riddled, and a marginal part of the population; described as shanty towns, slums, squatter communities, and ghettos. These descriptions bring with them connotations of squalor, illegality, and precariousness. However that is not the reality of many of Rio’s favelas. While Providencia was once described as one of the most violent favelas in the area, it has turned its reputation around with the help of non-profit organizations like CatCom and artists who desire to help these communities maintain themselves.
Yesterday was a pretty busy day. We started out with going to the Museo de Indio and looking at the exhibit that they currently have on the Ashinaka tribe. The exhibit contained many pictures of the indigenous people in their traditional clothes and with the traditional paint patterns on their faces. There were also examples of the different feathered headdresses that the tribe wears, with different colors and patterns representing different things. Finally there was a room that was dedicated to the clothing of the Ashinanka. I thought this was one of the best parts of the exhibit since before we came to Brazil we had spent 5 weeks weaving and now we were able to see the techniques that we learned put in to practice.
After the museum we came back to the hotel and had a little bit of time to get food before classes started at 1:30pm. Unfortunately, the day before I developed a migraine so I did not go to class yesterday so that I could have an opportunity to try and recuperate before going to the soccer game at Maracana. This meant that I was able to sleep for a few hours which helped me to feel much better.
Today we got to talk to a carnavalesco who is a 23 year veteran of the field. He works with all sorts of schools, from top tier schools such as Mangueira to local schools to parades in other parts of the country. His talk today was about how traditional folk art aspects of Brazilian life have been integrated into the parades that you can see around Brazil. Jose, the carnavalesco, did not speak fluent English so Araceli translated for him.
While Jose was speaking it was clear that he loved what he does. One question that we asked him was how an individual becomes a carnavalseco. He said there are various ways and his took an untraditional path to working with Carnival. Jose said that he has always loved Carnival and began following the parades at a young age. At the age of 20 he was able to participate in his first parade. Then he went to school to become an architect but during an economic downturn he was laid off from his firm. This is when his life took a turn. He was depressed about not having a job and couldn’t figure out where to go next. Then an old professor turned friend asked him what he loves and he said “Carnival!” They asked him if we would be interesting in working for a school and he replied, “How do I get a school to hire me? I can’t just walk up and knock on their door and say ‘Will you give me a job?’” The friend asked him what he would do if a school approached him to work for them and he said of course he would take the job then. Little did he know his friend had arranged for a school to take Jose on as a carnavalesco for that year’s parade. For six years Jose worked for free as a carnavalesco, making money with free-lance architect jobs, until one day he was hired by a top tier school!
Well we finally made it! After flight cancellations, gate changes, flight changes, and mechanical difficulties…we are in Rio! We arrived at the hotel and made our way to class to learn more about the Salguerio samba school. It is the oldest samba school in Brazil. Afterwards, we went to a buffet where we weighed our plates to see how much we had. I had a bunch of different foods on my plate to try and see more of what Brazil had to offer. There wasn’t anything on my plate that I didn’t enjoy! From quail eggs to fresh seafood to beans to fried bananas, it was all amazing. We then saw the Samba School where the bateria explained to us about leading the beat for the group during Carnival. His family had been involved in the samba school for generations. The bateria is like royalty there, this was seen when we found out the shirt he was wearing of Brooklyn’s Garnett was from Jay-Z. Then a few of us went to a local bar to destress after the long day of flying to get the national drink called a Caipirinha. It is made with cachaca (sugar cane hard liquor), sugar and fruit most commonly lime. With the language barrier, it was difficult to order things without pointing to the menu. Afterwards, my roommate Yessie and I went back to unpack and pass out for our first night in Rio. Our view from our window is Christ de Redeemer!
You may have noticed that it’s been a few day’s since my last post about our flight being cancelled. We have safely made it to Rio and are settling in comfortably. We have had a busy few days though, so here’s a recap of what has happened since the last post.
3 October 2014 – Travel
So we found out this morning that our flight from O’Hare to Dallas was cancelled. As Astin put it “that’s a downer”. So after a long couple of hours in O’Hare we had our flight rebooked to tomorrow. A few of us decided to stay in Chicago for the night, while others went home. New plan means being at the airport at 3:30am for our 7am flight. Flying to LA, then going to New York, and finally we can get on a flight to Rio. We’ll be in Rio Saturday morning!
I am currently in a hotel room with Marisa, Jadyn, and Hailey, as Jadyn and I are from out of state and Hailey and Marisa are from the Quad Cities so it didn’t make sense for any of us to leave the area. I do have some pictures of us at the airport though as we waited for information.
Sadly, the crazy weather of the Midwest won’t let us out! Our flights to Dallas and Rio were cancelled due to severe thunderstorms. Through all the Facebook posts and emails between our group we are awaiting new information from our teachers about when our new flight will be and how it will affect our itinerary.
One of the biggest questions that people have when traveling is what to pack. There are plenty of lists out there on suggestions of what to take on an international trip, but here is a list and pictures of what I am bringing to Brazil in my purse, my suitcase, and my carry-on bag.
In my purse: Read more…
THE DAY IS ALMOST HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We arrive at the airport at noon tomorrow for our flight to Dallas then to Rio! Yessenia, one of the other girls on the trip is coming over tonight, I doubt we will get any sleep in anticipation for this trip. Our bags are packed and we are ready to go. I can’t wait.
I will keep everyone updated every few days with all the exciting parts of our trip.