Tuesday, January 29, 2008

beija-flor technical rehersal

Beija-Flor de Nilópolis were rehersing on Sunday evening at the Sambadrome and, following an evening with rivals Vila Isabel at their weekly pre-carnival party, we went to see Beija-Flor´s technical rehersal.

The Sambadrome was packed to capacity with groups of friends and families enjoying the show. They were singing, cheering and dancing on the terraces (and at least one of them was also eating icecream...this is becoming a habit - samba and icecream - genius!)

O Beija Flor..de-de da de de de da
O Carnaval...de-de da de de de da
O Beija Flor!

(We´re still singing in our sleep)

One of the lead dancers, dressed like a king, or a jester, lept and twisted, barely touching the ground. In the photo you can see the ´aunts´ as they´re called - older women belonging to the school who twirl on mass, a swirl of blue and white.

On the drive home (once we´d found the car...), we passed a group of friends dancing samba on the street corner. I love how people take turns to keep the energy levels high. The beat goes on. The dancers call on the crowd, and the crowd responds with louder cheers and faster steps.

Monday, January 28, 2008

party for all

We went back to the Feira de São Cristóvão on Friday for a great night of Forró music and dancing.

Forró is a style of dancing from north-eastern Brazil. You can read more about it here and check out youtube too.

It seems a very diverse type of dance. Basically a do-what-you-like, free-for all. Hence the name - from the portuguese for ´commotion,´ or in other versions, from the English, ´For all,´ meaning that the parties were open to local Brazilians as well as the English railroaders.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

st francis

Francis at the Cathedral in Rio.

Monday, January 21, 2008

three cheers for São Sebastião

The feast of São Sebastião at his cathedral in Rio last Sunday was a cheerful affair. Lots of red - priests and people alike, lots of incense, roses and other red flowers, and lots of applause. Hurrah for São Sebastião! the priest would call out, and we all clapped and cheered.

I wasn´t sure about applauding the violent death(s) of this bare-chested boy. But I was happy to cheer both him and us all on, when the priest called for us to be both fragile and bold, like our brother Sebastian so many years ago.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

party at the palace (well castle at least)

Thursday evening, Rafael, the hostel owner is chatting to me.
-Rachel, we´re having a party tomorrow. It´s for the samba band I play in.
-Ok, sounds good, I say.

Friday morning, more details emerge.
- There´ll be lots of people, and the music and dancing will go on all night.
- Ok!, I say

Friday evening, I get back from class late. There´s a suited and booted bouncer on the gate. I go up the stairs. José and Tomás are sitting outside looking exhausted. When I get inside I see why - all the furniture downstairs has disappeared, a temporary bar area has been set up with bowls of chopped pineapple, passionfruit and limes ready for making caipirinhas, and Carlos the DJ is setting up a massive sound system.
- Just how many people are coming? I ask
- Oh, about 200, they tell me.

The party was to launch this years T-shirt of the bloco Rafael plays for, called A Rocha de Gavea This was them last year at the bloco:

People began arriving, students from PUC-Rio, friends of the band, people from the neighbourhood. The music began, the dancing began, the singing began. And didn´t stop all night. Carnaval´s here!

Monday, January 14, 2008

block party

Not the group but what´s happening here in Rio every night, through the night.

Sunday evening, I stood on the terreza of my hostel chatting to the night manager José about his barrio of Santa Teresa, the best places to dance samba in Lapa, and these pre-carnival blocos, as a crowd gathered down in the street below us. The drum-beats were the loudest you´ll ever hear and they echoed up and down the hill. Through the trees we could see people from the barrio dancing faster, their feet spinning and whirling.

´Do you want to go down to join them?´ José asked.

But I´m waiting for Debs to arrive. Two weeks to Carnaval and I need to pace myself.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Catedral de Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro

We had a drive-by look at the Catedral de Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro on yesterday´s city tour. I remembered I had been there before some ten years ago, while sitting in another beautiful modern church at the bottom of the tramline to the statue of Cristo Redentor.

The new Cathedral was of course controversal when first built, designed to appeal to ´modern youth.´ I´m also unsure about the grain funnel concrete tower from the outside, but inside the light floods in bands of colour. I´m eager to have another look.

The church is dedicated to Saint Sebastian, an icon of gay love and the patron saint of Rio. It´s Sebastian´s feast day next Sunday so I´m planning to get to Cathedral for the celebrations.

Friday, January 11, 2008

things I´ve learnt in portugese class

1. I must not speak spanish.
2. ´Dirty foot´ bars along the beach serve the best sucos or juices.
3. Gender stereotyping (and other prejudices) are there below the surface in the most simple of conversations.
4. Brazil stretches accross about four time-zones. It´s huge.
5. PUC university security, catering and cleaning staff are gorgeously friendly and kind people.
6. Two out of my ten classmates have already been stopped and searched (with a view to a bribe) by the Rio police.
7. I must not speak spanish. ´Haquel! não fava espanhol!
8. 8.20 am is way too early for classes to begin.
9. O nome do blog é terra e estrela.
10. It´s great to be given the time and support to learn a new language.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

going to church with lucas

Where can I go to church? I asked Rodrigo at the door of my B&B. While he was thinking, he called out to a small boy walking down the road.
Lucas! Lucas! Are you going to church?
Lucas, in clean green top, new jeans and trainers, nodded.
Can you take this girl with you?
Lucas, with a 10 year old´s look of horror, nodded.

Lucas and I walked down the hill. Me chattering in spanguese, him getting more and more embarrassed as he passed his friends in the company of a gringa.

We got to the church - Igreja Universal. There is one of these shiny white and red buildings on every other block in Latin America. I´d never been brave enough to go inside though. But with Lucas solomenly holding the glass door open, we walked together up the steps. Inside was a huge conference hall with microphones, comfy chairs, stewards dressed in uniforms like air stewards, and lots of people.

You can sit anywhere, Lucas said (but please not with me and my friends!!) so I settled down next to a couple, and Lucas went on.

I gave thanks for the faith of the people gathered in Copacabana this morning. I gave thanks for their committment to live well, to be faithful people. I was glad of their singing and welcome. At one point a young girl came over and gave me a church newspaper that she had bought from the front to give away. It´s in my bag now, and whatever the theology within it, I am grateful for her generousity and care in giving me this gift.

We sang, we prayed - together, for others, for ourselves. We prayed outloud in a hum of voices, eyes closed and emotions bare for all to see. There was a sermon - from Mark 12 or 13 - at least that´s where the Bible´s around me were openned.

Of course, my understanding of church is different in many ways. I felt uneasy at the all male leadership and the corporate feel to the service. I questioned how many times the congreation were encouraged to give money - for CDs or Bibles, for a newsletter, and for their donations which were presented in gold string-tied purses. The money was placed on an open Bible, then placed in a sack. The givers walked on accross the stage to recieve a blessing with oil, and a card with a verse printed on it. I wondered about those who didn´t give. Where was their blessing?

But all in all, I was glad I went to church with Lucas. He, I think, was glad to shake my hand goodbye and run off home to play.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

her name is rio

bright yellow
soft pink
bright orange
soft red
lush green everywhere
as the bus winds through the mountains.

buy this
buy that
clean white lies
surrounded by plastic and poverty.

and tops off
waiting for the bus
sitting on the grass
on the roadside
talking with friends.

children making a home on the streets
under the flyovers
and in doorways.

bright t-shirts
on white sands.