Finally in Salvador

I’ve been in Salvador for a week now. The apartment that we stayed in for the first week with the program was incredible! We were right on the beach and the apartment overlooked the beautiful blue green water on one side and the farol (light house) on the other. So many mornings we got up and just walked on the beach or laid down for a bit before we had lectures. Monday was free for us because of all souls day so we discovered the beauty of açai here. Getting açai with bananas and granola in a big bowl has become one of my favorite things to do now. In addition to the 24 hour juice places around the city and the beiju (tapioca), I now consume dumb amounts of açai.

Tuesdays in the Pelourinho are the big nights (terça-negra is what its called), but this tuesday was the exception. The director of Olodum (a bloco afro, the drumming ensemble you would know from Michael Jackson’s video “They don’t really care about us”) died the weekend before and was being buried that day, so Olodum and the other blocos and people didn’t really play that night. Or some of them did (as I found out later) and I just missed it. We did get to see them a bit during the burial procession and they were playing the MJ song. Oh well, next tuesday.

The week was pretty uneventful. I didn’t go out as much as I would’ve liked, mostly from waiting on an immobile and at times trifling group of people, but hopefully that will change in the coming weeks. I finally decided to assimilate to brazilian life and do the necessary tasks for dressing “appropriately” for the beach, and I bought the brazilian bikini. I’m one of the last people in our program to do so. Still not comfortable wearing it around people I know. I wonder if it’ll get worn once I return to the states (probably not I would say). Saturday I laid on the beach, went to an insanely huge mall, went to an island, watch the sunset in a boat, listened to jazz at night on the water, and then went to a bar.

When I really think about what I’m doing here and the kind of opportunities that I have right now, I really can’t complain. Although not ideal, it’s better than cold oberlin, and such a great experience. It just means I’ll have to come back to have the ideal situation.

I’m finally in the midst of my ISP (independent study project) and moved in with Mestra Janja’s sister. She’s really nice, but she lives in the boonies for real—I mean her house is really great, but she lives hella far away from EVERYTHING in salvador. I will be spending mad time in transit and mad money on cab fare so that I can go out at night and get home (since taking a bus sometimes isn’t an option at night) This morning was a struggle trying to get into the city for the first time, and it nearly had me in tears, but I found the Mestra and got a really good juice on the way with abacaxi, lima, and cereja.

I’m super excited after having sat down and talked with her—there’s a women’s conference next week (perfect for my research topic of women in capoeira), and Grupo Nzinga is dedicated not only to anti-racism but anti-sexism as well, and has a lot of capoeira and dance projects going on. I came during the perfect time —the month of black consciousness, and Nov. 20 is the day of black consciousness in brazil (the day that Zumbi dos Palmares was killed). President Lula will be in Salvador on that day and Grupo Nzinga will play with Ilê Aiyê for him, and he’ll be signing the day into a national holiday.

It’s going to be a busy 3 weeks, and even busier if I can find that pamphlet with all of the events and lectures going on in the next few weeks. Even if I don’t have much of a night life beyond rodas, who cares!