I love this country.
I experienced two very different sides of it these past six days, and I’ve got to say that Brazil is tremendous.
We docked in Salvador, Bahia, which is one of the regions with the most Afrobrazilian influence. I had a field lab for my Language and Anthropology class on the first day, and it was wonderful. We had a class on the Candomble religion that is very prevalent in this region which takes Yoruba beliefs and blends them in with a touch of Catholicism and native mysticism to create a beautiful mythology that exemplifies what it is to be Brazilian. There is a room at the African Cultural Museum in Bahia that is covered with the most beautiful artwork-huge carved wooden plaques each showing one Orixa (deity) with its corresponding animal symbol. They were so creatively made… It’s probably one of my favorite pieces of art/sculpture I’ve seen on this voyage.
We had a fantastic dance class with a woman who gave us movement that had significance to the worship of the Orixas. It was nice to be in a dance studio again! I’m already excited for ballet in January!
The next day I went off on my Amazonian adventure. We took a deathly overnight flight to Manaus and then a series of other transportation to get to our lodge in the Amazon. Are you ready? We did plane-plane-bus-boat-bus-boat, and we made it.
The next day we woke up at 5am to catch the sunrise over the river and the birds waking up.
Then we went for a 3 hour jungle walk where our guides showed us the amazing resourcefulness of the local people who have figured out how to use every plant available to them. We saw poisonous frogs, a huge-ass tarantula, and no snakes. Holla.
Then we went out again on boats to do Piranha fishing! Of course we did catch-and-release, but I still got freaked out that the hooks would sometimes go through their eyes… I didn’t really catch one. But it’s ok! I petted a piranha that our guide caught! They showed us that piranhas can chew through bamboo stalks and our fingers wouldn’t be hard at all. Then we spotted some pink dolphins swimmin’ away. And then our brave guide caught a baby cayman with his bare hands. I held it! It was crazy and I’m super proud of myself.
For all of you that know me… I am a city person. I love nature, but I am very aware of how inept I would be in a survival situation.
This trip made me gasp in awe at the true force of the rainforest. It is incredible how much water moves through this one area of the planet daily, and we were there during dry season! The entire time we were in the jungle out guide would keep pointing to the taller water lines, where the river reaches during high season. They were usually 20 feet above our heads.
This trip made me recognize that I have the ability to do more nature. I can not only survive but thrive, and even enjoy it! I want to do more of this stuff. It’s decided.
After getting back to Salvador (boat-bus-boat-bus-plane-plane-plane-plane-bus-ship) I had a fantastic day of exploring the Pelourinho, the historic area at the top of town. They have this crazy-looking elevator thing that helps you getup to the shelf where the city is perched for only a nickel! And even though it was a Sunday afternoon something amazing happened. We stumbled in to the Afro-punk festival of Salvador, which was like a small-scale Camden market with Afrobrazilian flair!
There was a concert stage, dancing, street food, and many a craft to be bought. I had a blast and made a few friends and had a mango mojito.
I’m really glad I visited the amazon on this trip. I know I’ll make it out to Rio de Janeiro someday, but this experience was truly unique.
Ok, I’m calling it. Favorite country! (Not counting Spain, where I shall live one day.)