First off, I’d like to thank my mom and dad for making the very long trip down to Brazil to see me. Sinto saudades de vocês! I’d also like to thank two of my favorite Brazilians, Mauro and Carolina, for helping us with the language and showing us around. The trip would have been very different without you.
Rio is perhaps the most beautiful place I have ever been. The view from the train on the way up Corcovado mountain rivals any that I have seen, including the Grand Canyon. Although I usually find tourist attractions tiring and a bit overhyped, these views were definitely worth it. It helped to have a guide to drive us around, because the city is extremely spread out. My dad pointed something out about the city that I thought was very interesting. The favelas, or slums, of Rio, are mostly built on the hillsides, which makes them always visible to the people walking the beach or the more Urban areas. In most of the cities I’ve been to, the poorer neighborhoods are tucked away, in parts of town that you don’t normally need to drive through to get somewhere, which makes it easier to forget about the extreme poverty that still exists in every major city. In Rio, juxtaposition of these two worlds is always visible, which is perhaps more beneficial, so that nobody ever forgets about there fellow man living in the labyrinth of alleyways and sardine-can-style housing that are the favelas.
On another note, if anyone is wondering which beach is better, Copacabana or Ipanema, I would have to say Ipanema. There is a large rock out crop on a small peninsula that you can sit on and feel the spray from the waves, which is pretty incredible. Unfortunately, my phone died that day and I have no pictures to post.
Again, the music here is incredible. I have seen a lot of shows by now, and I was glad my parents got to come with me to a bossa nova club in Rio. The musicians are very amiable and approachable, which I feel is quite rare is the larger cities in the US. I’m lucky enough to have a weekly gig now with João and Samara at a small coffee shop in Barão Geraldo. We play a good mix of jazz, samba, and bossa nova, which gives me a great opportunity to continue learning new tunes.
In São Paulo, we spent a fair amount of time in Ibirapuera park, which is very much like central park. It has several lakes with fish and swans and one with a very intricate fountain. We had a great guide, Carolina, who is relatively new to the city, but her language skills more than make up for that. São Paulo remains, my favorite city in the world as of yet.
I guess since I’m getting a sizable amount of money from the government to be here, I should talk a little about the University. My favorite class at the moment is percussion, which is less of a class, and more of lesson in all the noises you can make with your hands. We basically just get into a circle with myself, the other three Americans, and our instructor and clap and belly smack our way towards a better understanding of samba (we actually did start using instruments last time, but if I’m to be truthful, I prefer body percussion). Every day is different. I’m taking twelve credit hours, but most of the time I’m at school, I’m either talking to other musicians, meeting people for impromptu samba/jazz jams, or wondering amongst the vast sea of food tents that spring up around the Bandejão around lunch time.
Anyway, I’m pretty tired and this Caipirinha has my name on it. Until next time…