Monday, April 18, 2016

Contagious Brazil (with Jodie)

My big cousin Jodie was one of my inspirations growing up. Her daughter pointed out to us this morning that she is older, but I am taller. Yes, it is true, we don't always have visual signs of what makes people up. Jodes showed me you could taste everything. She was a machine on the hockey field, involved in charity work, creative in the Art room and when she left school and headed to Brazil she showed how a passion for people can allow you to lean into their languages. I love a story she told of how she had started thinking and dreaming in Portuguese. On landing back home in South Africa, in a panic, she told a blank faced air hostess she had left her jersey on the plane... in Portuguese. After her young host brother had lovingly labelled every object in the home, and patiently spent time with her, she soaked in the words till she was able to have deep meaningful discussions about geopolitics with her host father. Jodie makes me believe bridges to beautiful worlds are possible.

Jodes and I hitting the road

Contagious Brazil 
by Jodie Sacco

Brazil is the most colourful place I have ever been to. The reason I say colourful is because of the people, not necessarily the landscape. Vibrant. Exuberant. It is part of their culture. They have a love for life. They do things to celebrate life in various ways, and Carnival is the perfect example of that. The best part of Brazil for me was a place in the North East which was the birthplace of Carnival. Carnival for the people in Baia lasts for an entire month, not just for a few days on the strip like the Sambadrome in Rio. 

Fans of colour visiting (during Movember) the hospital where my brothers worked

Baia is just an explosion of these colours I referred to. You have a lot of darker skinned people who have descended from the slave trade during the Portuguese rule, but also by virtue of the fact that it is on a beach. Everyone is in the sun all the time. They are just very chilled, laid-back people. Even their Portuguese accent is a lot more laid back. The spirit filters through every part of their daily lives. Through the people of Baia. You have women who wear big white dresses and walk around with fruit baskets. They are vendors with an explosion of colourful fruit. The craziest, most foreign fruit you have ever seen in your life. Everything is an intense magenta, the brightest of yellow bananas. Papaya, Coconuts, Pineapples. A lot of Rastafarians as well. An incredible rhythm of music. A lot of drumming. It seems like there are street festivals wherever you go. The people are super, super, super, laid back. 

That is an example of a really fun city in Brazil, but it is such a contrast to when you travel to the capital. Everyone automatically assumes it is Sao Paulo, which it used to be, but now it is Brasilia. Brasilia is this perfectly planned city that has won city planning awards. It is so modern, and such a stark contrast to the north east coast where Baia and Fortaleza are. But at the same time, it is so colourful. You have all these beautiful stained glass windows, and massive monumental buildings that house Parliament and things like that. The sky always seems super blue. The sand super white. Then there are these people with incredible personalities. It is a contagious country to travel through because their love for life catches on very quickly.

The National Congress of Brazil - Brasilia (Oscar Niemeyer)

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