I’ve had the urge to write for many days now, but so much has been happening that I don’t know where to begin. Therefore, to just release a little bit of this pent-up energy, I shall provide an overview of what I’ve done in the past few weeks.
In Brazil, there are a series of parties and events that take place during June and July (though may very well occur throughout the year, though may go by other names) called festas juninas and julinas. Each party has something unique about it that distinguish it from all the parties and occurs only once a year. Though I have only attended one of the three that I’ve heard about, I would say that they’re a great way to explore different neighborhoods in Rio and to get a taste of all that the city has to offer. The festa junina that I attended was “Portas Abertas (Open Doors)”, in which many of the artisans in Santa Teresa, a bairro full of beautiful colonial-style homes in bright, fantastic colors, opened their doors for all to come and witness the splendor of their laborious efforts at creating beautiful pieces of art. The highlights of this trip had to be the ride on the bondinho (think of the trolley cars in San Francisco, CA) which was not unlike that of a roller coaster at Six Flags and the roda (circle) of capoeira that we stumbled upon once we reached the top.
Last weekend, for me, was really a time to get out and explore Brazil the Brazilian way…and what better way could there have been to go to the Feira de São Cristovão? Nestled in what surely used to be and/or is a stadium of sorts, is a what seems to be a community of people from Northeastern Brazil, that spends its weekends serving typical Northeastern food and drink, and providing fun and entertainment for anyone that dares to enter its gates. Noted for its arid climate and lively culture, Northeastern Brazil is where a lot of people in lower class positions here in Rio de Janeiro (such as the doorman and nannies) call home, as this area is also one of elevated poverty and hardship. With that in mine, it was great to see these nordestinos and their aficionados let their hair down and dance forró, a regional dance that is similar to salsa but a lot more…jittery, very well into the late hours of the night. I left at four in the morning, when the party was still very much going on, because at seven I had to be at PUC for our field trip to Petrópolis. No worries though, because I’ll definitely be back to São Cristovão this weekend.
Going on absolutely no sleep at all, I braved the trip to Petrópolis, a small mountainside village where the royal Portuguese family would retreat from the oppressive heat and humidity of Rio de Janeiro during colonial times. In spite of the lovely architecture and well-manicured lawns, I found the town to be incredibly sleepy and boring. Unfortunately, visiting museums, churches, and monuments is not really my thing unless I have a personal interest in them. For the most part, I’m only interested in how they look on the outside and not usually the wealth or, in some cases, the dearth of information inside of them. Nevertheless, it was a fun time to chat with other students in the program and to get to know them better and, furthermore, to see more of this amazing country that I’ll be living in for the next twelve months.
One interesting place that we visited was a sort of festival that was a part of the nationwide effort to celebrate the 100th year anniversary since the arrival of Japanese immigrants here in Brazil. I’m all about recognition and pride, but I couldn’t help but to wonder how the actual Japanese felt about their culture being represented solely through animé characters, J-pop, and origami. Of the 300 residents of Japanese descent that live in Petrópolis, I can only recall seeing about five of them present at the festival. Oh well, it’s a start. Something is better than nothing at all.
Well, I think that this is going to be it for the moment. I’ll be sure to give another update by this weekend. Take care everyone!