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October 11, 2004


É legal, é legal… jogar capoeira e tocar birinbau (“It’s awesome, it’s awesome… to play capoeira and to play the birinbau“).  And how true this capoeira chorus is!!  I just had the most AWESOME weekend–it totally lifted my spirits and made me feel inspired, engaged, and excited to be here again!  I spent virtually the whole weekend with my capoeira group, a truly amazing set of people.  On Saturday we had a daylong capoeira workshop with our mestre (“master”), who led us in practicing capoeira rhythms on the birinbau (a very unique instrument that looks like a bow for an arrow) and capoeira movements.  We also had two rodas (the capoeira circle inside which two people “play” each other), one before lunch and one at the end of the day.  Afterwards, we trooped over to the city park and performed a roda at the park’s ampitheatre as part of a cultural festival being held on Saturday.  It was exciting to actually be part of a cultural event in Brasil rather than just watching one!

After our day of workshopping (is that a word?), we reunited at one of our group member’s homes for a late-night party to celebrate our day together.  We passed around caipirinhas (the Brazilian national drink made of cachaça–sugar cane alcohol–sugar, and lime juice) as we chatted and listened to music under the tree-branch supported tin roof of Luciano’s front porch.  At around 01:00 we sat down to a delicious dinner of nioque cooked in a red sauce, then shared a glorious-looking chocolate cake for dessert. 

On Sunday, we all met up again at a school in one of the poor neighborhoods outside of the city to have a roda with a bunch of elementary school kids in the vila (several of the kids had also participated in the workshop and performance with us the day before).  Together we enjoyed two more hours of music, song, and dance (indeed, capoeira looks a lot like a dance choreographed to look like a fight–or vice versa), with the kids laughing, playing, and singing along the whole time.  I “played” with a little boy at least half my size who giggled every time I cornered him, making him have to do a cartwheel to get out of the jam. 

After the roda ended, we distributed presents to all of the kids in celebration of Children’s Day, which is tomorrow.  Since Jean and Marta (our instructor and his girlfriend) had collected more donated toys than there were kids at the roda, we took the extras out into the street to hand out to other children in the neighborhood.  We stopped at a group of little girls playing next to a soccer field, and before we knew it kids were literally running down the hill above to receive gifts, too.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough toys for all of them, but they seemed satisfied by the opportunity to have their picture taken by a digital camera (mine).  I posted the picture as my profile pic so you can see us.

It felt so wonderful to spend my last two days with fun, compassionate, down-to-earth people who are doing such a great thing for the kids in Passo Dorneles, the neighborhood where we distributed the toys.  Several members of my group have a roda with the kids there every Sunday and invited me to keep coming back with them, which I definitely plan to do.  Finally, something meaningful and real, not just this theoretical/philosophical crap I’ve been doing in class (okay, so it’s not crap, but I’m getting pretty darn fed up with it–I’m ready for action).  Now I’ve finally met people who are actually doing something, not just talking about it.


From → Brazil, Uncategorized

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