Monday, December 30, 2013

Adventures in Brazil, Day 3

I was up all night again. I do not recommend doing this. It is very tiring, but I lost an article last night. I saved instead of saved as and lost it. The restore temporary files was not working when I retired at 5 a.m. Salvador time. I am going to bed today.
There is a concert down the street in one of the many plazas. I went out a bit earlier to catch Iya Iye, an all women drum troop. The troubadour in mask carried an umbrella--white of course and was doing the second line moves--you know I was in the zone--New Orleans in Salvador (smile).
It was another busy day, but this time I ate twice (smile). Missed breakfast, but the sister had mercy on me this once and gave me a couple of bananas. We walked down to the elevator which was free again--we then went to the Mercado and bought tickets for the tour bus which left almost an hour later.
Silvana whom had been running around a lot earlier than me, had a chance to finish her fish which she'd bought the afternoon before. As usual I read while she ate. Capoeira youth were performing on a stage nearby. One kid walked up a wall and flipped. It was impressive. Their style wasn't Angola, but it was good.
The bus was really cool. Silvana and I didn't sit together as we both wanted windows. I kept realizing today one a number of occasions why I travel alone, but Silvana has something I need, linguistic access.

There is a sister on now who can really blow-she is really good. If I didn't have to get dressed all over again and walk alone down the hill to the concert, I might go to see her. Just a thought.
The tour was very commercial. The first stop was to a sponsor, an ice cream shop and there was a stop at a shrine and hospital established by a nun. No one spoke more than a few words of English, but there was a brochure in English and the signs were in English and translated into other languages.
We could have skipped this though and spent more time at the Orisha Lake and Cathedral Bonfim. I almost missed the bus back there (smile). They were looking for me.

The Lake reminded me of Lake Merritt but a bit larger--it was in the 'hood so one would have to take a guy with muscles along, especially if you wanted to carry a camera. The favela started just across the street.
There was a larger than life sized nativity scene--funny how none of these Nativity scenes are a Black Nativity. There were the usual suspects plus Santa and a cow. It was cute, but the bus drove so fast, by the time I knew this was the famous lake with the black gods sculpted larger than life, I'd missed a few.
However, this is the kind of moment one needs to walk by--then it gets better. Just up the street, there are these lovely nude voluptuous black goddesses carved in metal.

We followed the sea around Salvador to areas of the town we didn't get to the day before. I saw many of the museums I want to visit tomorrow, if I get my papers written.

There is another really cool singer on now--the concert is bumping. I feel good, doing my work to this soundtrack. He has a Bob Marley kind of groove going. . . but NOT. Folks are singing along.

Back to today. So we pass the famous lighthouse, but don't stop and then we are told the tour is over and to get off. Never mind we weren't alerted when we passed our stop, the one we'd asked to be announced. My friend Pauline lives in Salvador, her husband Jacques teaches African History at one of the universities here. The plan was to call her to see if she can come have a bite with us.

We find a nice man at a newsstand who calls Pauline and then lets us wait there for her to call him. She lived nearby and when she calls she is literally across the street. I recognize her immediately. She is my friend Kaidi's mom. I've known her as long as I've known Kaidi and that is over 25 years.

It's nice to see an American when one is abroad. Travel is the great nationalizing experience.

Wow here comes a tribute to Marley--sounds just like him. Redemption Song, Sounds of Freedom--"Emancipate oneself from mental slavery.  . .  How long will they kill our prophets while we stand and look--of course everyone sings along.

This is the first song I understand (smile). The Brazilians like black American music as well. They have been playing such songs like in the states on the American Count Down shows. The singer is breaking it down. One thing about these artists is the bands they bring--really tight live ensembles. Top notch all of them.

More English. . . just a teaser. I can't follow it anymore. Must be Portuguese.

The Bomfin Church was kind of a let down, since I'd been expecting a lot (smile). Very white from the statues to the frescoes in the lobby which are in blue and white marble. Inside there are golden highlights--I am not sure if it is all gold. Outside there are babaloas who have the special leaves I'd read about which they sprinkled in special water and shake it over people's heads as they pray. I don't see any black people getting blessed, just a white couple.

At first we thought the church was closed, but I kept walking around and I saw people coming out and I went in.
I thought about Silvana and hoped she'd found the open door. There is a gift shop where one can buy books and holy water. I didn't buy anything, but it was nice seeing people so happy.

Outside there were lots of colored ribbons, wishes for blessings. I raced back to the bus and we were on our way. I'd had to throw a bit of a fit--I call it "going American" or "first world nation." What it means is I press my privilege button and expect certain treatment and will not back down.

This white couple took my seat and when I told them I wanted it back, they wouldn't move. I got a bit loud and well after the next stop they didn't sit there again.  White people don't know where to put me when I open my mouth and they cannot understand a word, but understand exactly what I want.

I am an American woman who is free. Hum, what is that?

Yes, these people were Europeans, not passing for white people. We dropped lots of them at hotels along the beach we drove along for most of the last hour.

All I could think as I saw this huge shopping mall and the stadium the Brazilian government is building for the World Cup was globalization. I hoped that Afro Brazilians got work. The corporation that built this stadium built the Staple Center in Los Angeles, which means they could import employees from wherever they like, especially with Obama sponsoring the Common Sense Immigration Bill a model of policy Brazil might be forced accept regarding international contracts.

Silvana, works for the Staple Center in LA and when she applied for the position 13 years ago she wasn't even a citizen, could barely speak English, yet her 14-15 American friends didn't get nary a position.

As we drove along the Atlantic Ocean the area looked like Oakland's Rockridge or Lakeshore, definitely not Fruitvale or San Antonio. The shops were not Brazilian culturally. One could pick up the town and sit it anywhere in the West--this is how void of identity it was.

Why is it seen as an achievement to be a mini America? It was so Yuppie. If the folks were black, the melanin was so diluted one couldn't see the ancestry easily. But culture is about more than melanin. Pigment is an identifiable element, but culture is an attitude and an obligation.

Iya lye is on now (smile).

We owe it to our ancestors to call them to mind in everything we do. If someone had poured libations before breaking ground on the developments, the look and shape might have been a bit different.

There are housing projects going up as well. Lot of them. In Addis they call them condos. In San Francisco, LA and New Orleans, even Chicago, they are called housing projects and their removal is called gentrification.

Affordable most of the time, the new housing that replaces the old is more expensive and inadequate in quantity.

Just the way a few contractors get all the bids locally, there is something happening globally. I saw it in Africa--the awful condos in Addis; the new roads in Madagascar (thanks to China), a new convention center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (thanks to China). Then there are all these highrises going up here.

Who owns the contract?

I found out today that the US is making other countries spy on their citizens via cell phone monitoring, the way the US monitors us. When Pauline told me this is why is why it is hard to get a cell phone, I was alarmed.

How can we tell other sovereign nations how to handle their security? Was I talking about Brazil? Am I still talking about Brazil?

Well my battery is critical --oh, my friend Hassaun sent me a message from Oakland. Cool (smile).
With Pauline we went to a kilo restaurant, which is in her neighborhood. There is a symphony hall, a theatre, 3-4 museums, one which has an exhibit featuring the jewelry of enslaved Africans. I didn't know enslaved Africans wore jewelry--why am I not surprised though?

Even when oppressed we still create.

I am going to bed. We took a taxi to the hostel and then I called myself walking to the concert and followed the women drummers and got lost.

I looked up and there was Silvana. I don't know if she knew I was lost, but it was nice seeing her face and the hostel just beyond.

I like this deejay. The tune before this one was Congolese. The music is really nice. My roommates are here now. I have taken over the room, the one plug has my technology plugged in and my camera. My phone is charged. Bugs are attacking. Time to renew the bug repellent and call it quits.


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