emborra

Imbassai

Imbassai

‘borra ! is often used in salvador when it is time to go. you can hear families yelling to their children on the beach, ‘Borra !! or bus drivers calling out to their passengers, Borra !! Borra !! it is the equivalent of Let’s Go! in the states or Vamos in spanish-speaking countries. it also means leaving. well, i don’t wanna go home yet but it’s about that time !

Praia do Flamengo

Praia do Flamengo

my last two weeks in bahia flew by…first, my bank account was hi-jacked and i was forced to freeze my ATM card (although this failed to happen so all of my checking funds were stolen with the exception of $23 USD). i managed to borrow money and give thanks for new and old friends — more specifically damali, mom, davey g, sinclair, and dar! then my bag took 5 days to arrive but i finally got them and all of my records were in one piece. yay!

Casa in Itapua

Casa in Itapua

Sinclair e Melissia (lovers of Brasil too)

Sinclair e Melissia (lovers of Brasil too)

my last week at OPA was super fun as you can see below! my housemates are magnificent people all around! so alive and fun and interesting! angela is the most animated one … she is always telling crazy stories and making funny faces in the process. she is the only vegan in the house, she is a yoga teacher, an artist, and the co-founder of OPA along with isabela who i have introduced you to in a previous blog post.

Angela (a beautiful spirit and character)

Angela (a beautiful spirit and character)

Isabela e Lala

Isabela e Lala

Bela, Angela e Elana at OPA

Bela, Angela e Elana at OPA

i believe i have shared photos and stories about my individual time with the other OPA residents. i am surely going to miss them ! the day before leaving salvador, i spent the night dancing with them for elana’s 30th birthday gathering. a very chilled vibe punctuated by beer, cake, lots of laughter, dancing, and candles !

what a fun evening !

what a fun evening !

Angela e bolo (cake) for Elana's birthday

Angela e bolo (cake) for Elana's birthday

my last week in brasil, i hung out with dar, sinclair and melissia in a gorgeous house in Itapua. dar finally made it to salvador after spending a long, cold winter in the states. within days of his arrival, he grew younger and redder in his complexion. he is a very good friend and an excellent travel buddy — i almost extended my trip so that we could bus it way north for more beach adventure but NYC is calling me and i am all ears 🙂

Dar chillin' at OPA

Dar chillin' at OPA

for the 2nd time, i went to see veronica, william and their beautiful daughter, xade. i asked dar to come along because they are good people and land is plentiful there. it was a lovely 2 days…super hot yet very relaxing. this was the day i begin to feel major saudade for brasil and i had not boarded my flight yet!

Vero, William e Xade

Vero, William e Xade

Horses roam free in Itaparica

Horses roam free in Itaparica

Xade, William, Veronica e Dar

Xade, William, Veronica e Dar

Beautiful flower in Itaparica

Beautiful flower in Itaparica

Window in Veronica and Williams' place

Window in Veronica and Williams' place

i walk with eternal gratefulness — is that a word? i am truly happy and thankful. i feel alive, liberated and whole. my goal is to carry this energy back to new york so that i experience life and love in new ways ! i NEED to work to my full potential because 1) i am a human being with talents, all of my senses, and unlimited opportunities 2) i am growing older and the ideas just keep coming 3) contributing to the greater public and helping others makes all the difference to me

oh so i met a woman named damali (thanks to sam) at the rodoviaria for a 2 day trip to imbassai – so lovely !!!

damali_mada

Damali is in the center and that is Madalena to the right

i  want to go back there when i return for a longer stay … next time i will choose a room with a fan or mosquito net though.

Imbassai (where the river meets the ocean)

Imbassai (where the river meets the ocean)

Imbassai in the morning

Imbassai in the morning

i am in love with life again and it feels great ! traveling has always been a cure-all for my spirit ! i am so glad that brasil is on this planet !

Sunset in Itaparica (that's Lala)

Sunset in Itaparica (that's Lala)

lately, people have asked how can you do this – travel for 3 months?

my focus for the last ten years has been seeing the world…i don’t have a car, i don’t have cable tv, my shoe and bag collection is sparse, my laptop is 6 years old, plus as of december 2008, i am debt-free — with the exception of one student loan 🙂 i am hoping that the obama administration will misplace the records of all student loan debts and we will truly be a free nation ! my ancestors contributed a great deal to this country, the least the US govt could do is pay for my bogus education.

also, i do not have a family just yet but that would never keep me from traveling 🙂 being single makes planning a tad bit easier though. 🙂 🙂

Rio Imbassai

Rio Imbassai

Lala in Imbassai (self-portrait)

Lala in Imbassai (self-portrait)

i will be back Salvador ! and hopefully, i will stay 4 months next time.

happy spring!

Lala was here ! (Praia do Flamengo)

Lala was here ! (Praia do Flamengo)

with love and good energy,
Lala the sun chaser

bun-da

it is one thirty three in the morning on February 26th. I had made an attempt to go to bed relatively early since another beach adventure is in store for tomorrow morning. At this time, there are two people in the room above me having sex (fazer sexo). at first i thought it was raining outside but i am clear now. someone is getting laid and this makes me smile.

since we are on the subject of getting ass (bun-da). i’ll throw in a few ass photos just to make sure you are being totally present. brazil is the place where ass is plentiful – all shades, shapes, and sizes. in salvador, leave your body hangups at the door and shake that bun-da !

How do you feel about your bunda?

How do you feel about your bunda?

Shake that bunda ! Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Shake that bunda ! Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Random ass shot at Porto do Barra

Random ass shot at Porto do Barra

this place reminds me of my college days – waiting for the bathroom, being awoken by passionate conversations of last night’s party, friends and lovers in and out of the house everyday…i am glad to be having this experience; it has strengthened my patience. in America, many of us our spoiled. we have electricity, water, too much food stuff, and amenities stacked on top of amenities. this is mine and that is yours. we have the luxury of having a bicycle for each family member or a bedroom AND an office space all under one roof. i am living with 5 other people but some days, there are 10 or more in the house. i would not have it any other way; it beats sitting in my studio apartment alone in Barra any day. i am learning to relax again – to walk barefoot in the kitchen, to ignore the hundreds of ants on the dining room table, to be at peace with the four types of music playing simultaneously while i read, and etc.

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

the sign reads: “Obama is black but the house continues to be white.

yesterday was the day after carnival and it is as if it never happened. as of 2pm the city was back to business as usual and the evidence of the many parties and debauchery had vanished by morning. it is remarkable. just two days ago, I was walking on top of trash (lixo) in the streets; now, the following morning, there was very little to be found. this morning, on my way to the bus stop, i watched as large pickup trucks hauled port-o-potties, ten at a time, out of the city. I thought to myself ‘I would hate to be the one to clean those after carnival every year’. even the boxes (camarote) where the “VIP” persons sit safely tucked away from the carnival madness (pipoca and blocos) had been dismantled on most of avenida sete de setembro.

no longer will i bore you with words of carnival, you can see for yourself. i managed to make some photos and there are more where these came from…monday (day 5) was a total blast until a group of men dressed like women nearly crushed me and my camera…carnival is not for the faint at heart (fraco). and tuesday (the last day) i decided to leave the camera at home (em casa).

Filhos de Gandhy

Filhos de Gandhy

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

Viviane e amigas

Viviane e amigas

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia on our way to Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia on our way to Campo Grande

Camarote (like bleachers) - Campo Grande

Camarote (like bleachers) - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

Carnaval 2009 - Garcia

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

Carnaval 2009 - Campo Grande

The day after Carnaval in Limpo's shop

The day after Carnaval in Limpo's shop

He is either sad or exhausted from riding this horse for 5 days

He is either sad or exhausted from riding this horse for 5 days

sending mega rays of sunshine your way…lots of love and happiness.

thank you for thinking of me and Brasil !!!

preguicoso

i thought i had blogged this but NO….it is feb 22nd now but i wrote this a few days ago…just came in the house from day 4 of carnival and was unsuccessful at holding my liquor tonight…tomorrow is another day! giving thanks.

_____________________________________

today, feb 20th, i can’t seem to gather myself so i can get dressed and start my day. there are many photos i want to show you so i will be brief with my words — sort of a catching up. i spent 2-3 hours last night on avenida sete de septembro in campo grande for carnaval. the first day is referred to as a “light day” so i decided to go out to see if i could handle the mob. it was not so bad but i was not feeling it. perhaps if i had drank a six-pack before leaving the house, i would have been more hyped but this was not the case. not sure if i am going to participate in day two of carnaval unless i can find a VIP ticket.. i just may stay home with the fellas and relax.

hardly anyone carries a camera or anything of value during carnaval so i doubt i will have any photos to share. in a few days, i will be heading to the “island” aka Itaparica to visit a new friend and her family. thanks Vaughn for the introduction.

so below are photos from this past week or so…first, a few images from my visit with the incredible artist, Maria Adair, at her home. i took many more images; however, i want to respect her space and privacy…her home is a work of art!

we had lunch at this table - the chairs are handpainted by Maria

we had lunch at this table - the chairs are handpainted by Maria

one of the living spaces - Maria's painting on wall

one of the living spaces - Maria's painting on wal

Maria and her younger sister - she makes art on her house windows

Maria and her younger sister - she makes art on her house windows

Maria is on the right. her sister (the middle one) on the left.

one of the bathrooms in Maria's home

one of the bathrooms in Maria's home

most of the paintings, art work and furniture have been created by Maria. she is now 71 years old.

i am going to visit with her again next week, post Carnival.

and remember Jorge, the healer who gives massages and prepares macrobiotic meals daily. well, here he is…i think i may go have dinner at his place again tonight. his food does me body GOOD!

Senor Jorge

Senor Jorge

Jorge has a gallery space - this is where i eat lunch

Jorge has a gallery space - this is where i eat lunch

senor jorge heads a project called the multi-color cow project. i have not seen it, but there is an infamous book titled, the Black Cow…or something like this. Jorge works with an organization, CECUP, that aims to eradicate discrimination in schools. since 80% of the people in brasil are of african descent, the issue of race, or rather discrimination, has more to do with the actual color of your skin — and, economics most certainly plays an enormous part. there is no “one-drop of blood rule” here; this would mean that many of the “white” Brazilians would be automatically transferred to the “black” box.

The Multi-Color Cow Projecto

The Multi-Color Cow Projecto

and lastly, Sunday was a chilled day. i hung out with ujuama, a housemate, most of the afternoon. a friend of his was visiting from Cali so we had lunch at Restaurante Ramma in Pelo – a vegetarian-like per kilo spot. then we went home to relax and larica came over us so we went for a walk through my neighborhood in search of some treats. that is when we came across these women selling small goodies from their house window. she makes the BEST pound cake i have ever eaten — sorry aunt lorraine — and it costs R$0.30 per slice. with conversion from reais to dollars, one could say that this cake cost me nada.

The cake ladies

The cake ladies

we walked around the neighborhood a little, munching on cake (bolo) and cheese sandwiches. photos of the hood and ujuam are below. enjoy the rest of your day !!! LOVE YOU!!!

Carlos Ujuama

Carlos Ujuama

igreja no santo antonio

igreja no santo antonio

Na Rua

Na Rua

Ujuama and vendor

Ujuama and vendor

cobble"hobble"stone

cobble"hobble"stone

oh, and on my way to the shop today, i noticed many people and reporters crowded around one man,
Senor Gilberto Gil.

Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil

Gilberto Gil

paz!

pleasant surprises

Yellow & blue house down the road

Yellow & blue house down the road

at this very moment, i am feeling ultra blessed and happy to be alive! what was supposed to be a beach day, turned into “many pleasant surprises day”. well, first of all, i arrived at the salon in my old hood to have a bikini wax at 9:30 this morning. the first pleasant surprise being that it did not hurt nearly as much as the many other times i have paid to have someone torture me. AND, i paid a whopping R$16 or $7 USD for a full bikini wax which is unheard of in the states. another pleasant surprise.

last night, i had decided that i would go to the beach today (praia do flamengo) but when i woke this morning, the skies were grey and the threat of rain was hovering above. this is typical, it usually passes by 11am so i thought nothing of it. now, seven hours later, the sky is grey-ish white and the air is damp from several massive downpours. however, it has been another glorious day.

since my plans to go to the beach were canceled, i took an onibus back to Pelo, and at the last minute, i jumped off and made a detour to a record shop i had noticed the other day. big trouble ! they had vinyl for sale – buy 3 for R$5 – plus a shelf full of albums that were either R$1 or R$2 each. i asked the woman working if i could listen to a record by Simone. at first, she said that the player was not working…we need a new needle, she said (in Portuguese, of course).

Simone

Simone

after i piled over 20 records on the shelf next to me, she and her daughter began to tinker with the player since i was clearly not playing games. the rain began to fall harder and we sat and listened to every album we had handpicked. i spent a little over an hour and R$60 in that record shop. i purchased some of the great romantic singers’ music along with some obscure indigenous albums. the entire walk home, i could not stop smiling !

the street where i live towards santo antonio

the street where i live towards santo antonio

although hunger was knocking on my belly, i needed to go home before finding a lunch spot. my cellular battery was dead and i was carrying two bags of LPs plus my mini-backpack (mochila). almost everyone was home when i arrived — remember i live with 5 other people whose names are: angela, isabela, ‘juama, cristiano and elana. the only one who is away at present is angela. just as i approached my floor, the doorbell rang, and since i did not recognize the guy, i left it for ‘juama to handle. he lives on the ground floor and i live on the second floor which is the first floor in brazil.

Isabela smiling

Isabela smiling

it was a friend of cristano’s, a well-known percussionist who has traveled all over the world playing with jimmy cliff, for one, plus many others.

Gabi in Axego restaurant

Gabi in Axego restaurant

i was hanging around until my phone charged a bit when cristiano said the magic word, ‘fume?’. i love to smoke right before i eat so i said, ‘sim!‘.

Cristiano & Gabi em casa

Cristiano & Gabi em casa

Cristiano & Gabi

Cristiano & Gabi

we smoked then walked toward the center of Pelo for lunch which was yummy. we shared two orders of empadão de peixe which came with rice, beans, and a beet/cilantro salad. bahians seem to put cilantro in almost every dish.

the guys treated me to lunch which was yet another pleasant surprise.

Cristiano at Axego Restaurant where we had lunch

Cristiano at Axego restaurant where we had lunch

did i mentioned that cristiano and gabi are super popular so it took one hour to arrive to Axego restaurant which would have normally taken 15 minutes. i also met an american man from indianoplis who has been living in salvador for over 15 years. we stopped by his record shop on the way home. he collects all types of brazilian music so you know i was excited. cool guy.

born Randy but he goes by another name here

born Randy but he goes by another name here

all in all the day has been pleasantly marvelous despite the lack of sun. there is one disturbing memory of my day though, i saw a man sitting on the sidewalk in Campo Grande eating from a bag of raw meat. (sorry no photos of this scene.) i cannot get that image out of my head. i am sure he has the worse tummy ache now.

if i stand on my back porch this is what i see

if i stand on my back porch this is what i see

it has been nice to stay close to home today and just go where the wind takes me. tonight is the usual many festas in Pelo – it is Tuesday, february 17, 2009.

the street where i live towards Pelo (a noite)

the street where i live towards Pelo (a noite)

i am smiling and i hope you are too !

a week in review

View from my new home in santo antonio

View from my new home in santo antonio

hey there fam ! it has been over one week since i moved my things to the neighborhood called santo antonio. my first 3 days were not-so-hot but as soon as i felt better, i took a bus trip to another place called santo antonio — two hours from centro historico. i arrived late afternoon on wednesday to Praia de Diogo and walked 1km to the poussada of my housemate’s friend, Pousada de Donna Lelé. that’s her below:

Donna Lele

Donna Lele

the closer i got to her place, i could feel the texture of the sand change from coarse and tan to fine and white. before arriving to these large sand dunes (cruza as dunes), it is necessary to cross a river. i did not hear my housemate say anything about a NEW bridge so we took the old bridge which was crazy and dangerous and i am glad to have made it across. there was a man bathing by the river who helped. by the time, i reached the top of the sand dunes, i was soaked in sweat but smiling the whole time because I LOVE SAND !

Sand dune

Sand dune

it took some time to find Donna Lele but i made it ! the one thing that most people forget when looking at beautiful photos of tropical places is that there are always many insects or animals present — flies, mosquitoes, lizards, dragonflies, chickens, dogs, ants of all sizes, butterflies, donkeys — to name a few. these small creatures have little impact on me overall UNLESS i am hungry, tired, and hot — which was the case on this day !!! the overnight stay in Praia de Diogo was filled with miniature nightmares of animals eating my eyeballs, crawling down my back, snacking on left over crumbs from my early evening cookie binge, biting me in my private places…it was almost too much until i finally collapsed from sheer exhaustion.

The beach at Santo Antonio

The beach at Santo Antonio

the next day made up for the hellish sleep or lack thereof. i awoke to a gorgeous morning and a large breakfast (large for bahia) of eggs, bread, melon, papaya, fresh mango juice, and coffee. i was already wearing my daily uniform, a bikini, so i grabbed my tanga or wrap and headed to the beach — a 5 minute walk.

Lala on the beach of Santo Antonio

Lala on the beach of Santo Antonio

it was an extremely hot day ! nothing to eventful to report…i waded in the river for some time, then took a capoeira class at 11am on the beach then a samba class at 12:30pm. the work out called for a major swim in the ocean and a ice cream cone that cost R$7 – crazy expensive b/c many well-to-do travelers frequent this beach. afterwards, i hopped, skipped and jumped to this man’s house for a ice cold beer.

Man who sells beer near the beach

Man who sells beer near the beach

Yummy moqueca at this restaurante !

Yummy moqueca at this restaurante !

They all begin to look the same but they feel different!

They all begin to look the same but they feel different!

Santo Antonio in the late afternoon

Santo Antonio in the late afternoon

KalaLea loves the beach !

KalaLea loves the beach !

returned to salvador on thursday late evening and friday was the day of healing and healthy food at senor jorge’s house plus the fire scare.

saturday, i had plans to visit a friend of my mother’s friend who lives not so far from Barra where i was staying previously. this was the second time she had invited me to lunch at her home so i could not miss our date this time around. after a 30 minute walk to Praca de Se, a short bus trip then an even shorter taxi ride, i made it to her magnificent home.

take note: the addresses in salvador make absolutely no sense. for example, there are 2 house next door to each other: one house has the number 37 and the address of the house next to it is 412….crazy. however, most often the guys chillin’ on the block can point you in the right direction if they have lived there long enough. it is rare to approach a Brazilian person who will admit that they do not know how to arrive to a particular destination. they will be really creative and seem extremely confident in their instructions, but do not fall for it ! use your intuition – it will be a lot quicker !

so i arrived at maria’s house and i think i did not close my mouth the entire time. GORGEOUS !!!!

i immediately thought of falling ill so that i can stay the night and wake up in this refreshingly beautiful and unique home. or maybe if i break my ankle, she will feel bad and allow me to live here for the remainder of my stay. i am so happy i brought my camera ! as you will see, maria is an artist – very well traveled and connected in bahia and around the world. she made her first painting at the age of fifteen then married and had five children so the painting stopped. however, when she found time again, she was on fire !!!

i think this post is too long…so i will create a new one with photos from my visit with maria. stay tuned…love you much, think about you often, and so happy you are in my life !!!

KalaLea

fogo (fire)

Fazer xixi

Fazer xixi

since i do not really have photos to support this blog post, i will share my day in a schedule format:
7:30 de manha
wake up (accordar)

8:00 am
have breakfast with housemate and discuss the book i am reading called, The World is Flat.
9:00 am
prepare and stretch for danca class

9:30 am
begin danca class – dance ! dance ! dance !
** i nearly died but thoroughly enjoyed it

10:30 am

take a quick shower (tombar banho)

11 am
arrive at Senor Jorge’s house for a health consultation
**Senor Jorge is a healer (maybe in his early 60s) who is known for curing himself of stomach (estômago) cancer many years ago

***he lives in Pelo — fairly close to where i am living currently
a quiet, gentle yet direct man – he recommends i stop eating cheese, sugar, and meat – he is right on!
i have totally abandoned my healthy vegetarian diet here
12 pm
Senor Jorge gave me a full body massage
**first he used his feet – beginning with my head and neck then working his way down
after a half hour foot massage (with HIS foot), he used his hands, tiger balm and some massage oil
he massaged nearly every square inch of my body, at first i was slightly embarrassed but it only took minutes for me to fully relax and go with the flow

1 pm
take another shower at Senor Jorge’s place
**he told me take a shower but please do not discard the water in the 6 buckets/pails sitting in the shower stall – these are used in the household. ***if only we all could be so eco-friendly and conscious

1:30 pm
have a macrobiotic lunch at Senor Jorge’s place
MENU: brown rice with wheat germ and flax seeds, carrots, stewed onions, baked bananas, collard greens prepared with a small amount of tofu, seasoned tempeh, and steamed cauliflower
DELICIOSO !
2:30 pm
leave Senor Jorge’s place and go for a walk through Salvador

3:10 pm
return home to wash clothes and take a little nap (cochilo)

4:50 pm

smell and see smoke (fumaca)

4:56 pm
realize our property (where i am staying) is on fire — not the house but the yard out back

**the scheduled danca class below me is in a panic, the teacher has not arrived
and the house is very close to being on fire

5 to 6 pm
everyone works together to extinguish the brush fire on the ground floor
**i am responsible for filling buckets (baldes) with water via a hose
the fire department never arrives — they were telephoned at least 7 times and said they were coming

after pouring nearly 40 buckets of water on the fire (two at a time), the fire dies down
we are all relieved and exhausted !

6 to 7 pm
make a skype call
**skype is most certainly the greatest invention since, well, the telephone

7:30 pm
have a lonesome dinner at Cafe Alequimi (Falafel sandwich minus the bread por favor with extra salad)
**i am choosing to stay close to the house since my housemate experienced an attempted mugging last night and i am tired from dance class this morning and yesterday on the beach in Praia de Diogo

8 pm
listen to a Samba band around the corner from my spot (on the stairs where Geronimo plays)

9:30 pm
come home after a mini-walk on Rua de Marttos
**start the process of washing my clothes again

10 pm
enjoy some trees with my housemate and look at photos (get the munchies)

10:30 pm
chat with another housemate, the one who put out the fire and was in charge during the mini crisis
**cristiano saved the afternoon for sure, then he had to hop on the onibus for class

12 am
sitting down to write to you – i hope to go to bed soon
**i can still smell smoke in the main living space
**i am well, blessed and feeling strong

AND i am super pschyed because i had my first comfortable conversation in portuguese. i was telling elana (my housemate) a story about a past experience in West Africa and i was able to be funny too !
what a great feeling – still have a LOOONG ways to go though until i am fluent !!!

ONE LAST THING:

not too long ago, renauto asked me why i came to brasil.
well, i tell everyone that i am allergic to cold weather and since it is cold in NYC right now, i decided to spend the winter in Salvador to learn the language, sun bathe, do some writing, and then i blurted out….
and basically, because i want to live my life to the fullest especially because i am a human being and not a piece of broccoli or a tree. (i said this in English)
HYPOTHETICALLY SPEAKING:

if the doctor tells my family that i am going to be a vegetable and will need life support, then i would prefer they pull the plug. if i am not comfortable being a turnip in the event of an accident, then why would i willingly sit by and let the world twirl around me and not give it a good spin !
i feel that everything is within reach, that’s all ! so reach high and wide until your face hurts from smiling too hard and until you have made a difference in the life or lives of some people other than yourself 🙂
red flower

red flower

have a wonderful weekend !
super grande beijos
Lala Kala Lulu

the people in the [old] neighborhood

Art e Lixo no Rio Vermelho

Art e Lixo no Rio Vermelho

with economies in a tailspin, we must not forget how we got here in the first place. in my opinion, we lost sight of our neighbors while jumping on the industrial then global bandwagon. what is the point of internet, facebook, skype if you can’t even connect with your neighbor next door? well, it felt good to have lived in a neighborhood where people greet one another in apartment buildings and storefronts alike. bom dia! tudo bem ? (good morning? how are you?)

Barra may be full of tourists but it has not abandoned the traditional ways of maintaining that community spirit.

Me and Alex

Me and Alex

for example…

at first i thought to myself, why are there 2 people working on the onibus? it did not make sense at first, but then i think it was daniela who said that many people would lose their jobs if they automated the bus fare system and that sucks for our [Brasil] economy. on most buses, there is the bus driver in the front and the fare taker in the back. when taking the bus, you jump on the back where the man is sitting behind a cash box taking R$2.20 from every passenger. i have seen some people with magnetic cards…students and perhaps city workers…but most pay with cash. and, if you need to transfer to another bus to complete your destination, then you must pay another R$2.20. there are no transfers or weekly bus passes.

there is an awareness here that if you don’t support your people, your neighbors, your community, your country…who will? of course, there is another side to this behaviour but we will discuss that later.

what i love the most about Salvador is there are small businesses everywhere. there is the fruit seller, the key man, the fish shop, the farmacia (pharmacy), the hot dog stand, the dudes who sell coco gelado or sugarcane juice, and let’s not forget the aunties who vend traditional bahian food dishes. no walmarts, dunkin’ donuts, or starbucks. just people working with people selling to people in order to feed themselves and their families.

Elisabeth and co-worker

Elisabeth and co-worker

One of the men who sells grilled cheese on the beach

One of the men who sells grilled cheese on the beach

have we allowed large corporations to hijack our livelihoods in the name of technology and convenience?

i suppose so. however, i don’t think it is too late to reclaim our communities.

Jose - the beach pusherman

Jose - the beach pusherman

make no mistake, i am all for innovation — even convenience — but there must be a balance. i am not comfortable relying solely on a corporation to provide all of my basic needs, although it is essentially how i have been able to make this journey to Brazil. big business in small doses works for me. my goal is to live a more self-sustainable existence. where i am living now, OPA, is one step in that direction.

going off on a tangent…

these are the faces of the many helpful people who work/hang in Barra and have answered my many questions, such as:

where is the shoe repair? (a onde e …sapateria?)
where can i get copies of keys made? (a onde eu posse copia … chaves?)
how can i add credit to my cellular telephone? (eu precisia adjuntar os creditos … a minha cellular?)
what time do you close? (o que horas voce fechada?)

the text in italics is not perfect portuguese but it is basically how i speak to get my point across…

Internet Cafe workers

Internet Cafe workers

The shoe repair man

The shoe repair man

Leandro - one of my old doormen

Leandro - one of my old doormen

did you know that brasil is one of only four major countries who is NOT operating at a deficit?

overall, the economy is booming, and the gap between the haves and the have nothings is growing narrower. although nearly 40% of salvadorians are being paid by the government not to work (at least that is what one of the restauranteers told me), the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in seven years…6.8%. Read more if you care to: Associated Press article, Januaryy 22, 2009.

Renauto - lives in Pelo

Renauto - lives in Pelo

i have a feeling my new hood is not as friendly, but nonetheless, it is my home for the next month. i am among the living and the walking dead who traverse the cobblestone streets of Pelo in search of loose change, food, souvenirs, drugs, live music, or simply companionship.

Limpo's artwork can be found in Barra too

Limpo's artwork can be found in Barra too

sending light, warmth and loads of sunshine !

big hug and mucho love !

Lala

scrub your pussy on the floor

Not sure of these guys names but their cute huh?

Not sure of these guys names

that’s right…without knowing it one day during Bonfim, i was singing this very phrase loudly in the streets of Salvador…well, i was actually singing, Rala a cheka no chão ! when translated it reads the very title of this blog. it is the latest dance and the hottest tune as far as i am concerned — at least in this genre of music. that day, daniela stopped me and said, ‘Kalalea, do you know what you are singing girl?‘ of course, i did not.

not long after this day, we had a samba dance on the beach then it turned into a scrubbing festival…mostly dudes were kickin’ it…they do NOT scrub their thingys (pintos) on the floor, but they sure can dance and it is quite normal for two men to dance together in salvador.

Straight men dance together all the time

Straight men dance together all the time

Lots of coordinating going on here

Lots of coordinating going on here

many of the samba/hippy hoppy songs carry double meanings. for example, there is Madeira! which means wood or Chupar Chupar! which is the verb that means to suck. what i dig the most about these songs is combination of samba beat with a real raw-ness to it . the first time i heard Rala a cheka no chão on the beach, i could not stop dancing in my beach chair. i asked everyone on the beach, ‘who sings this song?‘. nobody knew. however, in the course of a day in the neighborhood of Barra or anywhere close by, one can hear this song blasting from apartment windows or the trunks of cars several times.
it has been a few weeks since i first heard the song and i still have not a clue as to who sings this…one of the alains told me something that sounded like bready stuy but i doubt that is it. now that i know the meaning, i get into the song even more because, the lyrics are so wild to me. i think someone should produce an english version in brooklyn. i know it would top the charts. it’s just plain ´ole raunchy! i will bring the DVD home for all to see.

These ladies didn't dance much but they are super cute huh?

These ladies didn't dance much but they are super cute huh?

and, if the right girl is in close proximity and a bunch of dudes begin to shout one of these songs, the girl(s) will jump up and move their bodies like strippers on pay day. i did not know butt (bundo) cheeks could move in four parts – two parts, yes, but four….oh my goodness.

Scrubbing the floor dance

Scrubbing the floor dance

some portraits of the regular fellas who frequent Porto do Barra beach.

Alain - ALWAYS the man of the hour

Alain - ALWAYS the man of the hour

Alain's buddy #1

Alain's buddy #1

Alain's buddy #2

Alain's buddy #2

Porto do Barra beach during the day!

Porto do Barra beach during the day!

The 2 Alains - real estate fresco player and international lover (from right to left)

The 2 Alains - real estate fresco player and international lover (from right to left)

speaking of chekas (pussy/vagina), i have been visited by the bloody bitchy step sister so i will not be scrubbing it on the floor or anywhere else. sorry for the graphic. just laying low on my way to the beach. tomoorow morning (friday/feb 6), i will be moving into a totally different hood, santo antonio.

what will i do without the beach at my finger tips?

African Shea Butter

African Shea Butter

my mom keeps reminding me to use sunscreen, the only thing i need is shea butter – it is all purpose baby ! i have not burned once since using it. i also use a tiny bit in my hair for protection and conditioning. and the fish like it too 🙂

hope you are smiling and dancing in your own special way!

love to you and sunshine !

We danced into the early evening

We danced into the early evening

 

 

 

 

happy birthday larry ! i love you super duper looper much !

 

Itacaré e legal

São Jose beach - Itacaré

São Jose Beach in Itacaré

the other night i came home to shower since we had been at the beach all day (what’s new). earlier in the day i had hand washed a few garments since i packed ultra light for my one week visit to Itacaré — a small town approximately 10 hours south of salvador via bus. yes, i took the bus for 10 hours on monday night so i could spend some brazil time with a friend who has a gorgeous home here but also lives in new york city.

if anyone worries about me being here alone, no need to worry about that. HOWEVER, i need ALL the prayer i can get when it comes to travelling by bus — onibus or otherwise. do not – and i repeat – do not get caught in the street when a bus is coming in your direction. you will be killed on the spot. in bahia (maybe all of brazil), vehicles rule – no question. my trip to the rodoviario or bus station was thrilling to say the least. i would consider riding the bus the equivalent to a roller coaster ride. there is just one thing, you are not in an amusement park, this is for real. the entire 45 minute trip was down right scary as they say in the US south.

when training bus drivers in bahia, the rules must be:
– anything goes
– drive as fast as you wish
– stop if you feel like it
– barely slow down when retrieving passengers, and
– hit ANYTHING that comes in your way – or at least attempt to hit anything !

and surprisingly, i have not seen one bus accident since my arrival.  i am still alive and that is what matters!

Painting from an art show we attended

Painting from an art show we attended

so it has been nearly a week since i arrived to my friends’ place (Rosalie, Christophe and Vincent) and as you will see in the photographs, i have been blessed once again. a place very different from the beaches of salvador, Itacaré contains one main road (Pituba) and several — perhaps hundreds — of beaches. it is a tiny yet bustling town full of die-hard surfers from every nationality, wandering spirits, and local residents who want a simple life and LOVE the beach. oh, and this is the place for reggae enthusiasts and mixed couples for sure, very different from salvador.

Eliana and me

Eliana and me

oh i lost track of my thoughts, so the other night i searched the clothesline in the yard and was struck by what the night sky had to offer. brilliance. pure brilliance. so many stars and it was as if i could grab each one and place them gently in my pocketbook (another southern word for purse). unable to move, i thought to myself: you do not know anything KalaLea, that is the only thing you know for sure. here i stood in the midst of a mini-forest (there is a lot of land around the property), and earlier, i had spent the entire day in the ocean with all sorts of life forms. i am a small itty bitty part of this grandiose universe. in this moment, i found myself awestruck by what hovered above my head — another place full of mystery.

Lakes at São Jose beach

Lakes at São Jose beach

in new york city, i miss seeing the stars. i am aware of their presence but it is rare to see them shine their bright lights in the city. so for the remainder of my stay, i will walk with my head in the sky and trust that a bus will not hit me 🙂

Amelie (my little emu)

Amelie (my little emu)

i could call this a real family vacation since my friends have a three and a half year old daughter, Amelie, i call her my little emu (pequeno ema). she is larger than life and is convinced that she will be able to fly one day. and then there is pedro, an actor and comedian for sure. amelie and pedro are first cousins. pedro and his mother are visiting from são paolo for the month. the two paler guys are my french buddies who, like myself, have fallen in love with brazil. christophe came to brazil for work over 15 years ago and has not left since. rosalie and christophe have been married for fourteen years – something like that.

Amelie's cousin - Pedro
Amelie’s cousin – Pedro

we have been together — in the car, at the beach, at the kilo spot, on the deck — just chillin’. my portuguese is all fucked up now since i have been listening to french most of the time with some portuguese words sprinkled in between the Alors, Mais Ouis, and Doncs.

São Jose beach in Itacaré

São Jose beach in Itacaré

Like my new hat? Just kidding.

Like my new hat? Just kidding.

The deck of my friend's house

The deck of my friend's house

Rosalie, Christophe e Eliana

Rosalie, Christophe e Eliana

A day at the beach with the kiddies

A day at the beach with the kiddies

so as i previously mentioned, pedro is a total ham and super dramatic ! on the way to itacare, their plane experienced some major turbulence and everyone was panicked. it’s a scary thing if/when it happens and different people have totally different reactions. pedro began to scream, ‘Nos vamos morrer!’, which means We are going to die! pedro is hilarious and a ball of energy. his mother said that she had to keep herself from cracking up while explaining to him the severity of his words. he retracted and begin to yell, ‘Nos nao vamos morrer!’.  We are NOT going to die!

i see that it is growing warmer in New York…that’s terrific. wishing you well and i look forward to chatting with you soon!

Life is grand !

Life is grand !

one last thing, my brain has been going all week and for those of you, who do not wish to spend anymore cold winters in the States and would prefer to be on the beach, then i have a plan. i will share this in one of the following posts.

Eliana needs a good waxin'

Eliana needs a good waxin'

beijosãos (that means big kisses)

Dinner (jantar) with the Santos familla

Helio (Daniela´s pai) e Daniela

Helio (Daniela´s pai) e Daniela

 i am a little behind in my blogging but wanted to post a few images from nearly 2 weeks ago. above is daniela and her dad (pai). an extended family i feel and i know that we will be in each other’s lives for years to come.

below is a photo of me and a good friend of daniela’s who is also nicknamed Lala. i think this was taken before dinner.

Me and Lala

Me and Lala

livingroom

Daniela´s livingroom

 while daniela prepared din din, we sipped on beer, wine and cocktails prepared by senor helio who is quite the bartender. senor helio is a scholarly man who adores daniela – you can tell 🙂 That’s Lala, Isabel, and Lala’s hubby.

dinner is served. this is a traditional dish from Portugal using Bacalhau fish, eggs, olives, etc and served with rice.

bacalhau1

Bacalhau (cold water fish similar to codfish)

and then dessert … failed to write down the name of this but it is standard in Bahia.

Dessert (forget the name)
Dessert (forget the name)
remember daniela and i walked for miles on this day. i could not believe she had the energy to prepare dinner. by the time dessert was laid out in front of us, i was ready to go to bed. i followed the conversations as best i could. as the clock approached midnight, i was fading and could no longer think in Brazilian Portuguese. however, that night i had my first dream in Portuguese. i was speaking in my usual cavewoman speak — Eu… Comida… Agorra — but the other woman in my dream was interviewing me in fluent Portuguese.
the next day, i met Suzanna on the beach. she is a friend of Alain, my real estate agent dude. she tutors beginner level Portuguese too! a bright spirit, you will see hear more about her soon!
Suzanna plays Fresco Ball

Suzanna plays Fresco Ball

love, peace and everything bright!

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