Albert Kaufman
Team Member
Group Study Exchange Program
Brasil 2000 Districts 5030 (Seattle) and 4050 (NE Brasil)
April 2000

Pictures of the team and our trip can be found at http://www.rotary5030.org/gse/Brazil%202000.htm

Also, I should have many more pictures of our trip up at my personal site shortly: http://www.scn.org/neighbors/beacon/Seattle/index.htm

Trip report this is a report that was sent to many Rotarians and friends during my trip to Brasil.  I hope you enjoy it.  If you have any questions about the GSE program or about Brasil, please feel free to contact me via e-mail.


Friday, March 31st, 2000

  Oi,

Greetings from Brasil.  It took me a while to find
this cyber (sans cafe) place, and I only have a few
moments.

So, wow!  What a place! 
Rio de Janiero. This is my
first full day and I spent most of it wandering around
in Jardim Botanico!  Beautiful, tropical, luscious,
dreamy.  The rest of my team decided to head off to
take the cable car to Corcovado, the famous hill with
the Jesus over it - protecting the City.  I just
couldn't get enough of the gardens.  They are huge and
after 4 hours I still hadn't seen everything.

What I did see.  Incredibly huge palm trees lining
lanes.  Huge strands of bamboo.  Various sizes.  An
orchideria. Sweet smelling orchids of various colors
and sizes.  A house of bromiliads.

Check out the garden's website at

http://www.jbrj.gov.br/

Anyway, it was an incredible place and I may even go
back tomorrow.

Our hotel is at Copacabana which is right down the
beach from Ipanema.  Beautiful beaches, coconuts for 1
Reis - about 70 cents.  Great walkways.  Went swimming
a bunch yesterday and burned a lot.  Today, had a
quick swim in the AM and when I'm done with this I'll
head to the hotel for more swimming.

Dinner outside last night was lovely.  Music, markets
along the beach.  My understanding is that an apt. on
the beach would be about 300 Reis, depending on the
season.

Water is lovely and warm.

Air is about 90 degrees all day long and very very
humid.  For those of you who've been to Sumneytown in
August, it's just before the thunderstorm.

Hasn't rained though.

So, enough for now.  Hope you're well. 

Natal, Joao Pessoa and Recife yet to go!

I can't wait.

Much love,

Alberto

=====

April 5th, 2000, Joao Pessoa

Oi!

Greetings from down south.  What an amazing time Im
having.  Where to start.  Its hot.  Not right now as
Im sitting in an air-conditioned room, but generally,
all day long its sunny and hot.

I could list everything.  I could just write about
impressions.  Impressions wins.

Nice things.  Dinner last night with my host family.
Chatting in English and Portuguese - my Ptg. gets
better every day, especially when I venture out on my
own.  When were in a group, we all speak English
together of course, but when I wander, I get into all
sorts of situations and have to speak Ptg. which is
excellent. 

My host family.  Dad mines bentonite, son helps out.
Two daughters are living in the States right now,
studying.  The house is beautiful.  3-4 servants.
Someone just to cook which I cant get used to.  I
keep thanking her, which noone else does. 

The city music store today.  Small but filled with
Brazilian instruments.  Took me forever to find it.
Might buy a pandero and/or cavilcinho, but probably
will wait until Recife or Salvador.

Today we visited two industrial plants.  A huge
graphic design and printing shop.  Like the size of
3-4 football fields.  Nice paintings on the wall, and
the head of the place toured us around.  The workers
are treated well and seem to enjoy working there.  The
man was very kind to us and served us an incredible
lunch.  Fruits, little sandwiches, cafezinho (little
coffees which are very strong and come at all times of
the day) juices, more fruits, cakes, you get the idea.

The second place was a coffee and snacks factory.
Cafe do Braz Brasil.  Big urns of coffee being
roasted.  Reminded me of when I lived in Hoboken near
the Maxwell House factory.  Its funny, when Ive
traveled in the past, many things reminded me of
others and of course its happening here, too.  But,
the comparisons are not as easy and things are really
different here.  Hard to explain.  So, of course we
drank more coffee after that trip.  Had to don white
coats and netted hats for that tour. 

We have a digital camera with us and hopefully my next
report will include a photo or two.  They are not
large files, in fact thats a problem were still
figuring out.  Why are the files 10k.  Dont answer
that, well figure it out :)

Yesterday we visited the Antarctica Beer factory.  Got
to drink beer from the bottom of a large dispenser.  I
think it had over a hundred thousand liters of beer in
there.  Very fresh.  fresh beer is strong and half a
glass (OK, I had a whole one) made me tipsy.  Or was
it the heat?  Or the humidity. 

Tonight we watched the sunset by the Paraiba river
after a short visit to a local fort.  The Dutch
fighting the Portuguese, guess who won in the end?  I
got to jam with a great musician there.  Hes a guitar
teacher and he like others is really into jazzy, moody
music of the 70s, which I can follow along with and
play lead, but the chords are always challenging.  Im
getting the idea of what these folks are into, though.

The other night I got to play with a famous local
musician at a club.  It was a beautiful scene.  We
were at a table, and I had my guitar.  The guy had
been singing for a while, and I asked him if I could
come up and play lead.  He invited me up and a
eventually, after some jamming together (thank god, my
guitar has a pic-up), we all started swapping songs.
The neat thing about it was that it was raining and we
were on a stage separated from the others by many
chairs which were out in the rain.  So, we couldnt
see the audience that well.  We had a great time for a
couple of hours and then I rejoined Georgina who
waited for me to finish.  Then I played some more
songs.  I hope to go back as all of the musicians who
I was playing with were top-notch and I believe they
are there all week.

Did I mention sunset on the Paraiba River this
evening?  That was pretty amazing.  They play Bolero
at all of the cafes by this river and its a beautiful
scene. 

Tomorrow we visit a cachaca plant at 10am.  Thats the
very strong liquer thats in the popular drink here
called caiparina.  Limes and cachaca.  Our crew has
had a fair bit of these.  Theres so much more to
tell.

Its great to speak the language and I continue to
learn.  The colors, the beaches, the food, the music,
the house, Im a bit overwhelmed by it all right now.


If you have any questions, please write them down as I
have limited e-mail access right now.  Sorry this
isnt more personal.  But for some perhaps it is too
personal.

Thats all for now.

Ate logo from Brasil.

Alberto

=====

April 8th, 2000

Hello again,

Well, the last 24 hours hours have been incredible.  I
can go home now :)  Im just going to spend a couple
minutes doing it temporally, otherwise, Id spill out
onto the floor in a collection of impressions and
images and thoughts and you get the picture.

We boarded a landrover and drove to the port where we
crossed to the other side.  Our driver is a very nice
man who organizes and drives for adventure tours.
Eco-challenge was one he mentioned, another was the
Alfi race in Brasil.  Anyway, the man knows his
machine and impressed us all with how it can climb
hills and wade across wide pools of water.  My 84
Toyota Corolla would have gotten stuck immediately in
a sugar cane field.

We drove and listened to great music.  Note, to those
who said dont bother bringing CDs with you to Brasil,
it has been well worth it.  As you know, I love to
turn people on to great music, and its a hobby of
mine to collect it and share.  Well, our driver was
very appreciative and I think the team is enjoying the
tunes as well.  Nothing like doing 40 miles an hour
through sugar cane fields as the sun is setting and
listenin to Sheryl Crows latest.  He also had some
great music - one was a cd by Deja Van.  Ive written
down the name, but that will have to wait.

So, there was riding and an interesting
church/fortress with an incredible view of Joao Pessoa
and another old church in the middle of nowhere with
this incredible tree growing through it - hopefully
pictures will follow soon.  I took many.  Sandy
beaches with palm trees stretching for miles, wind
passing through our hair as we rode on top of the
Landrover, fishing villages, houses built of palm
leaves, scrawny dogs, scrawny chickens.  It was
beautiful.  Some more highlights were our swim in the
ocean.  The waves here arent big enough to surf, but
are great for dancing and bobbing, so we do a lot of
that :)

Later in the day we visited a preserve for Manatees.
The people there do outreach to the local community
and also help the remaining manatees survive.  We took
a canoe ride to visit some manatees which are about to
be released back to nature.  This was as the day was
ending and we were pretty sandy and covered with salt,
but still Im glad we made the visit. 

Brian can you pass this on to Bill?  Thanks.  btw, I
hope the Earthnight 2000 at the Bitter End is going
well.

Ohhhhhh, I feel so good.  OK, so then, after returning
a shower, a quick trip to the beach for a limonade and
some sopa de mariscos (soup of the shellfish) I got
picked up and taken to our next rotary meeting.  Weve
been to 4 this week, and this one was small and
intimate. Our presentation which lasts about 25
minutes (slide presentation with speeches in Ptg.)
went well and afterwards the rest of the group went to
a dinner by the sea.  I had been invited to a wedding
reception by my family, so I decided to go with the
permission of the club president.

Well, the black shoes finally came in handy.  For
dancing.  The bride and groom.  No, the food.  No, the
music.  It was an incredible event.  Probably the
richest people in town, nicely catered, everyone
decked out to the nines and the drinks, hours de
ouvres and food and dessert was all lovely.  I sat
with my family and some of their friends and had a
great time practicing my portuguese, explaining
judaism, complementing everything and finally dancing
the night away.  I notice that people dance Forro
exactly as they do in the USA = stumbling around, some
know the steps, others dont so I fit right in. 

We got home at 3 which was the latest night Ive had
so far. 

This morning I had a massage for about an hour which
was lovely, walked down the beach (1/2 hour) and now
Im here in the air-conditioned internet store. 

The beach is lightly sprinkled with people.  Its
Saturday, but its also Fall.  Which means its about
90 and humid outside.  I wouldnt do well here in
Summer!

I have never seen a more active beach, though.  People
are playing all sorts of games, of course soccer
(football here), the game where you smash a small ball
back and forth (we called it kadima), 2 on 2
volleyball, and just building sand castles and dancin
in the waves.  There are many children as I think
theyve had a baby boom recently.

And people are not in a hurry, and they are nice to
one another and smile and give the national signal to
each other and me which is thumbs up.  Its quite
amazing and nice to be in a place where people have
figured out how to treat one another well.  And
generally seem to be enjoying themselves.

Which is not to say that this is true for everyone.
There are definitely poor people here.  And Im sure
life is not as good for them.  The people in the
fishing villages yesterday for instance, are living on
another planet, one much closer to nature for sure,
but still not what the people in this city are
experiencing.  I also want to talk about racism, but
Im still trying to figure out something intelligent
to say.  Im feeling mixed up about it - like I know
its there, but its so different from racism in the
USA that its really hard to explain or understand. 

I want to say more about the food, music, air, etc.,
but I also want to head back to the beach and eat
something.  Ive been trying a lot of the fruit here
and its all been delicious.

I love the colors here.

Hope things are good at your end of the world.

Ciao,

Alberto

=====

April 9, 2000  Natal

Good evening.  I have arrived at my next family's home
in Natal, Brasil. 

First last night.  I was invited to a party for about
200 people not far from where I was living.  These
people are all people who come from a town about 8
hours away from Joao Pessoa and they have a party
every year - a reunion.  This was a more casual affair
than the wedding and was at an open air place by the
beach.  It had rained very hard during the day, so the
air was clear.

The menu featured whisky, rum and vodka and cerveja.
The band had been brought in from Recife which around
here is a big deal.  And they were a big deal!  Really
big group - 5 female singers and about 16 male
players.  Brass, guitars, etc. drummers.  Quite a big
sound.  The music they played was a mix of Beatles in
Ptg., boleros, salsa, merengue, and FORRO.  This time
the people knew what to do with Forro.  They really
got into it.  There was also some samba and big lines
formed, chains which moved around the room.

Just a moment to spell out the current scene.  A nice
breeze is coming in across the pool.  No, perhaps it's
raining.  Yes, it's starting to pour.  I have an
incredible african collection cd in the cpu which I'll
turn up now if you don't mind.  Great. Well, mom and
dad are pretty amazing. What a great match.  Mom is
into spirituality and all sorts of transformative
things, like dances of universal peace.  They sit out
under an awning and hold court.  dad writes about
financial issues and is definitely a great guy.  we've
been talking for hours about art, music, and
spirituality.  my ptg. is improving.  For lunch we
went to a mall and that was a pretty interesting
experience.  sort of like our malls but with more
kids, more clothes, and definitely one happening
place.  then we came back here and well, it's been a
long day and we'll probably just sit by the pool and
listen to music and talk.  they were really interested
when i showed them hotbar.com and I've been
customizing their computer a little with their
permission.  adding favorites to the browser, changing
the screen resolution, etc.

The party lasted until who knows when.  There was this
interesting part, where older women, matchmakers, were
trying to set up their daughters, friends, etc. with
eligible gents.  like myself.  so, i was set up with
this woman and we danced.  and I also danced with some
members of the crew, johanna and georgi were in
attendance.  eventually, date #1, sorry her name is
hard to pronounce, something like elania, asked if i
would like to take a seat on a bench away from things
and we did and talked into the night until i realized
it was really really late and went home.  A fun night.
 I like dancing and don't ever remember my shirt
getting so wet before.

Today I had to pack like a madman before saying a
quick goodbye to my family - salvio, graciella and
alleshandro who were amazing hosts.  their house could
take a day or two to write about.  really beautiful.
ok, enough from my end things, we've switched to the
afro brasilian cd and now it's time for a different
view of things.

I like Natal already, and my hosts are recommending
that after my Rotary exchange program I travel to
Salvador.  So, seems like that's where things are
pointing, which is good cause it sounds like an
incredible place.

Boa noite,

Alberto

=====

April 10, 2000 Natal

Luiz Melodia
Acustico ao vivo

Nice live albumn

Hi folks,

Another nice day. 
Visited the widest tree in the
world.  A giant spreading cashew tree.  Over 100 years
old and just huge and wild.  Also, we had a nice lunch
care of my parents and the parents of Georgina and
Johanna.

Then, a quiet afternoon by the pool, reading RC
literature and swimming.  It was nice to just relax a
little and think over all I have seen over the past
couple days. At some point it would be nice to write
some postcards, do some laundry and unpack, but it's
such a hassle packing again, that I think I'll just
leave everything I can until we get to our next
destination, Campina Grande.

Tomorrow my family has me most of the day and I think
we'll be visiting a museum, possibly heading to the
mall again to buy some tickets for the whole team for
later in the week.  I think we're going to see a Forro
show and another musical evening is also planned.
Lots to do and see.  We saw some amazing beaches today
- the pictures from that trip should be coming soon
and they are spectacular.  Also, we watched dolphins
swim today.

It's about midnight and these folks are up and
drinking cafezinho.  The above album, which is very
nice, btw, is playing loud and clear and I just dipped
in the pool.  Dad has a seminar tomorrow that he's
teaching and Mom runs a couple businesses downtown, or
at least rents the space for the restaurant and
insurance buildings.  We had lunch in the restaurant.
People here are kind of into the huge salad bar thing
which suits me fine. It's different than the korean
groceries in NYC, but not too much.

Rotary meeting tonight and for once they were asking
for a song.  The one time I didn't bring my guitar.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot, I finally made the
acquaintance of my first activist - that I know of.
He's a lawyer and a really interesting guy.  Speaks
english well which also helps.  He also works on
websites and we've had a great time connecting today.
His name is Harrison and the tour he gave us today was
filled with information about some of the places where
he's been working to stop this or that development.
We also talked a bit about the population problem this
world has and it was just great to meet him.  I hope
we'll get a chance to spend more time together later
this week.

Enough for now.  Here are some more pix from the
cachaca plantation.  Also, there will be another batch
or two from the following day. 

Alberto

PS - I will now try sending a webpage instead of 3
photos, lets see if this works.

Doesn't seem like it's gonna.  So, I'll probably just
send them again after this xperiment. 

=====

April 12, 2000 Another sunny day in Natal

Greetings,

Here are the photos I promised recently.  Cachaca
plantation (sugar cane), us drinking cachaca and then
following will be some pictures of another day.

The pictures are - after 7 shots of cachaca, Johanna,
and Lee. 

Recently, I went to a museum with my mother.  Rocks of
the mines of the area, big mining state, and also a
huge exhibit of bones and skeletons and oil drilling.

Also, that set me up for our visit to a local
university later in the day where I saw many different
schools.  The most interesting were the school of
dentistry and the school for surgeons where I saw my
first cadavers in a while and then many body parts
lying around in various states in various rooms.

Ugh!

We had a lovely dinner last night at the home of
Luciano Alves da Nobrega - Deuse who is the past
governor of this district.  He offered me some cachaca
which is 70 years old and we ate and drank and were
merry.  It was the first time I got to play music for
the team the way I usually do - song after song.
Also, the brazilians contributed their songs as well
and we ended with some stories.  I told my first story
in portuguese (with the help of Irene Aquino) and what
a struggle it was!

Today we head to the dunes with beach buggies.  I hope
to overcome a little cold I have due to not sleeping
well for a couple of nights.  The dog population here
is something like todos santos and I have been
dreaming of how to kill them all!

Hope all's well on your end of things.

Alberto

 

April 16, 2000 Campina Gran


Well, it's grey and overcast and so I MUST be in
Seattle, right? 

No, we're in Campina Grande.  Just spent this morning
at the feira - the kick-butt market that happens on
every Saturday.  those who are expecting presents
Stateside, I just bought them today.

There were live chickens and then, suddenly, dead
chickens.  Colorful fruits, music in the air and lots
of leather goods.  The market seemed to go on forever
and we walked on and on and then headed in another
direction.  Bill was off to visit his host family's
farm, Johanna and Georgi eventually went off with my
father to shop at the Mall and Lee and I decided to
stay at the market.  Well, I'm so glad we did.  It was
just excellent.  High points had to be seeing the
chicken being killed - I don't think they follow the
rules of kashrut down here - being offered marijuana
for the first time in Brazil by this guy who sold me a
couple of necklaces. 

Drinking cervejas in the middle of the marketplace and
being the main attraction for people and talking with
people as they walked by and - it was just wonderful.

I bought souvenirs, but the main present I bought is
probably going to go with me on the Jewish holiday,
Yom Kippur.  This is the Jewish day of atonement and
on this day, for a couple days - we blow a ram's horn
- called the shofar.  Anyway, I bought a Campina
Grande version of the shofar and wait'll ya hear it.
It's quite incredible looking and once I get it
blessed by a rabbi...

Tonight we may return to the bar we went to last night
which featured a wonderful guitarist doing all
Brazilian songs - great jazz and lots of favorites
that the crowd knew.  Also, there may be some Forro in
our futures.

Here are some pictures from when I arrived at the
house in Campina Grande.

Enjoy,

Alberto

PS - note to Lisa.  OK, put me with the large group
for Burning Man
PSS - note to Ben, I'm trying
PSSS - Note to Dan - attachment is a good thing
PSSSS- sounds like a good trip,
PSSSSS - Note to self, go for a walk

 - next day

Last night was delicious - dad and I sat on the porch,
surrounded by garden, while it rained and he
serenaded me with beautiful songs on the guitar.  He
said he hadn't played for a year, but his chops are
still incredible.  Beautiful jazzy melodies, classical
- reminiscent of Sumneytown.

Off to traditional dance show.
 
=====

April 17, 2000 Campina Grande

Well, today is going well.  I'm like a human
pin-cushion at night, though.  Many mosquitoes are
finding their way to me and I look like I have the
measles.

Today we visited the university, a rock museum there,
lots of gems and minerals.  Also, a school of music
and art, and one of music and computers.  Also, there
was a visit to a meteorology lab where we saw photos
and computer simulations of the rainfall here.
Campina Grande needs rain.

People are so friendly here. 

Dad just walked in and said "mehlhorando fico bom"
very well, thanks.  which reminds me of one of the
sayings he taught me - when asked how you are - one
can respond

melhor do que ontem, pelior do que a manha

better than yesterday but not as good as tomorrow :)

I like that sentiment.

Some more pictures of the dunes follow and one of Bill
giving the big thumbs up at the dunes.  "This is the
national symbol of Brasil.

the next photos will be of Campina Grande and then I'm
off to lunch.

 

April 17, 2000 Campina Grande  

Hi there,

Here are a couple more photos from Campina Grande.

After a wonderful, delicious lunch here at the house -
filet is about 4 Reis a kilo - that's about a dollar a
pound or perhaps less.  1 dollar = 1.80 Reis.  So,
meat is inexpensive and the best cuts are served.
Spaghetti, french fries, juices - umba (a small yellow
fruit) and manga (mango), yummy pineapple desert with
cream sauce and - a small salad with corn and peppers
and lettuce and olives,

and then a siesta

we visited a agricultural collective where they do
research on how to grow cotton better.  Peanuts and
some other crops are their domain as well.  Turns out
Brasil has not jumped onto the genetic engineering
bandwagon just yet and they emphasized how they are
trying to control insects and other problems using
organic solutions.  I was impressed and enjoyed the
tour.

Tonight we have a big meeting with the rotarians in
town.  A couple clubs and media will be there to
capture the event.

It's been raining lightly since about 2pm and my
siesta was spent mostly on the porch listening to the
rain, watching the garden (I swear there are some
hummingbirds out there) and reading the Jan/Feb. issue
of Mother Jones featuring an interesting article about
Agent Orange and the effects on Viet Nam. 

We closed a medical waste incinerator in my
neighborhood in Seattle and this article points out
how little is being done for the Vietnamese vets -
they receive about $7 a month to help them out while
US vets receive about $1700.  So, got me thinking about
the vietnamese people who live in Beacon Hill and
whether or not they have access to treatment at our VA
hospital.  Something new to work on when I return.

On to the pictures and a little cafezinho.

Albert in market
Lee in market
meat market

Next stop is Caruaru tomorrow morning at 8am.

After 3 days there we will head to Recife for our
final 9 days as a team.

Alberto

=====

April 19, 2000 Caruaru  

Greetings from Caruaru, THE Capitol of Forro. 

If you haven't received mail from me before, I am
sending out periodic reports of my trip to Brasil and
these sometimes include pictures.  For some people the
pictures are too much to download, and so I'm not
sending these notices to them, generally.  Anyway, if
you'd like to receive reports from this trip, please
write me back.  Otherwise, this is a one time thingy.

Yesterday we arrived in Caruaru and it was a nice day.
 The rest of the gang headed to a school for the
disabled, our group leader, Lee got to plant a tree
and there were some other vocational visits as well.
In the evening we had a rotary meeting, gave our
presentation, had a fine meal and were treated to a
presentation of dance and music by a group called the
Piphany Pricessa - something like that.  They are a
very famous group of pipers and drummers playing
traditional drum and fife music for various occasions.
 I also got up and sang The Power and Glory which is a
wonderful song we used to sing at camp by Phil Ochs.
Also, lucky for me the band leader gave me a fife as a
present and we played music for an hour or so after
the meeting was over.

The family I'm staying with is partly jewish, which is
my first connection with a Jewish person in Brasil.
My mom has all sorts of stories to tell and is very
alive and well.  She is an architect and her office is
next to our house.  Also, there are two daughters and
we all made bracelets together last night and continue
to make them during the day as well.  I picked up many
beads at a yardsale in Seattle before I left and just
now we are starting to make bracelets and I'm handing
them out to people during the day.

Today was a great day.  We started with a breakfast of
fruits and juice, coffee and buttered bread.  Sounds
simple, but was really lovely.

Afterwards, we took off for the museum of Forro.
There were other exhibits, but I mostly spent my time
looking through the Forro exhibit.  It was mainly a
honor to Domingoes and his contemporaries.  Many great
photos, instruments, clothing, tour dates, records,
and Forro blaring in the back and foreground.  There
was also a special room devoted just to Elba, a famous
local singer. 

This is the capitol of Forro.  There is no doubt in my
mind.  Campina Grande also lays this claim, but I
think in one day, I really heard more Forro than in
the rest of my life combined!   Every restaurant,
every persons' house, the museum and through a great
market that we visited - everywhere people are playing
Forro.  It's like Reggae in Jamaica.

Anyway, the museum was great and I picked up some
postcards and a magazine about their great festival of
San Joao which takes place during the whole month of
June.

I could talk all day about the museum.  It was
fascinating. 

Later on we visited an artisan village which was a
tribute to a great clay artist Vitalino, and we
visited his house and saw many clay arts which are
done in his style.  Also, we visited another house of
Galdino, another famous clay artist.  After touring
the artist village we had a nice lunch at a local
restaurant, Lengo Tango and then we were off to the
big crafts market.

Also, people told us before we arrived that the big
problem here is lack of rain.  The moment we arrived
yesterday, it poured like crazy and two times today it
has rained hard for more than a half hour, so people
are thinking that we have brought the rain which is
nice.

The craft market was full of crafts and many tourists.
 The rain made things pretty interesting as not all of
the stalls are prepared for such an event and I found
myself wading in my Tevas through the market, stopping
to watch the rain at times.  Who would have thought
I'd miss this aspect of Seattle?

About the town.  I think about 300,000 inhabitants,
perhaps less.  Mom suggests that about 10% are
starving and another 30% are very very poor.  This is
the poorest place we've been and it's pretty obvious
that this is the case.

No matter where you go, you're bound to pass a
favela.  And our hosts are very interested in trying
to help out.  And they do.  Mom funnels money from a
Canadian charity to individual families and Dad is
busy helping to support a school for the handicapped.

After the market we went back to one of our
hosts'apartments.  It's a $400,000 place, with two
floors, 360 degree view and swimming pool on the roof.
 It was a great place to watch the sunset, and get an
overview of the town.  Also, it's a full moon tonight
so we watched the moon come up which was lovely.  He's
got a churascurria (and a chain of supermarkets) and
so we drank cold drinks and ate fresh meat which had
been cooked in the living room.

I enjoyed the breezes and hanging out by myself a
little bit and contemplating my life.  I'm trying to
think about what to do next with myself when I get
back to Seattle and my best thinking to date is to ask
people I know and then also to do some research this
summer about career choices.  I think I'm leaning
towards something where I can be my own boss, but
teaching also seems attractive.  I think I need to
figure this one out myself, but I'm also open to
suggestions.

So, Brasil.  It's just about passover and tomorrow
night for the first seder I'll be attending a passion
play with 4000 people.  After a day in the country.
The day after that we head to Recife for the end of
our tour as a rotary exchange group.  9 days in Recife
and I'm looking forward to that time very much.

After that my plan is to head to Salvador.  Do not
pass go, do not collect $200.  Everything I've been
hearing about the place tells me that it's for me.
So, that's my current plan.  Another plan I've been
mulling over is to catch a bus to Petrolinas.  Noone
recommends this and people would probably think I was
crazy to head there, but we stopped there for a pit
stop on the flight from Rio to Sao Paulo to Petrolinas
to Recife to Joao Pessoa to begin our trip and the
place looks interesting.  Perhaps another time.

I'm feeling inspired this evening and could write for
a while, but I think it's time to make a bracelet with
the girls.

Good night.  Hope things are well where you are.

Alberto

=====

April 23, 2000 Recife

Saude!

No final da proxima semana estare chegando em
Salvador.  Eu quiero encontrar pessoas ou familias que
sao conhecides de voces.  Se voces tiverem endereco o
telephone favor me informar. 
Abracoes!

Greetings from Recife.  Well, a lot has gone on since
I last wrote to my growing list of companieros, but I
will try to cover some of it.

The photos start with Campina Grande and some
experiences I have already written about.  So, first I
will send these photos with a little explanation.
Then, I will try to catch up with myself using the
photos.

Pronto - well, now it turns out that the only photos I
have right now are from our afternoons in Campina
Grande, so the photos will only be a few.

A great Forro/fife band which played for us, featuring
the zabumba, and some of our relatives in Campina
Grande.

====

April 23, 2000 Recife  

Saude!

So, That's it for the photos for today.

After we left Campina Grande, we went to Caruaru.
There Bill and I stayed together with our host family,
Mom, Dad (Rosa and Haroldo Bernardino) and their two
young daughters.  We had a lot of fun together -
singing, making bracelets and enjoying each others'
company.  Mom is Jewish and so is raising her
daughters  Jewish which is a real challenge in Caruaru
where there is no Jewish community.

Oh, there is so much to tell.  But right now it is so
hot here in Recife that I am having a hard time
thinking.  Also, I do not remember where I left off
last time.  Did I mention the Forro museum in Caruaru?
 Simply amazing?  I think I have already written about
that, so I will go on.

The day after the Forro museum, we went to a nearby
town (after a quick trip to an Antarctica distributor
and a tour of the facility) Fazenda Nova and there
spent the day awaiting the big passion play that
evening.  The play takes place in Nova Jerusalem which
is right outside of Fazenda Nova (new farm).  We were
hosted by Ivaldo Brasileiro V. Filho who's family owns
the distributorship and who has a house which he uses
during the week of Semanta Santa so he can go visit
the passion play many times.  I think he had been
there about 5 times by the time we arrived. 

There were crafts and typical fair items for sale up
and down the main street - hot dogs, pizza, cotton
candy, cheese on a stick which was roasted on a fire,
and it was hot hot hot outside.  About 95 degrees
fahrenheit and no breeze.  At least there was no
humidity.  also, much music was in the air.

When we arrived in Fazenda Nova after a 45 minute
drive from Caruaru (the Capitol of Forro) we had a
lunch and then drove to the place where the passion
play takes place.  It is a huge area which has been
hosting the passion play for the past 33 years.  The
50th anniversary of the play is this year, but I guess
it took place somewhere else for the first 17 years.
It is held in an area which holds about 15,000 people,
- there are about 9 different "stages" and 100 actors
and 500 extras take part in the 2-hour long
production.  So, the area is huge.  I should have
pictures of it right now, but will send when I get
them.

So, we walked the grounds which feature these
incredible stages with natural palm trees and cacti
and a backdrop of mountains with lots of green
vegetation.  I later learned that it is hardly ever
green here and that it is very desert like, but that
the rain we experienced had brought the green.  The
clouds were also very grey and dark and changing
rapidly so it was even more impressive that evening as
the sun was setting and the play beginning.

Johanna and I got a chance to walk the fairway and
look at the crafts and sit and drink guarana while the
others crashed due to the heat.

Later, we walked to the play which was incredible.
The thousands of people moving from stage to stage was
a little scary, but we moved slowly and stayed a bit
away from the action.  There are speakers all over the
place and the music and words of the actors is heard
no matter where you are standing.  Just the fact that
10,000 people could be moved from place was
impressive.

Then, the moon rose and I watched as players from a
previous scene stole away into the night in a
different direction from the crowds.  It was spooky
and fascinating at the same time.  The play is the
story of Jesus and I don't know it very well but my
catholic raised teammates were more familiar.
Costumes, horses, smoke, fire, special effects,
lasers, all were used well and the play just kept on
coming.  I could write for a while about this event,
but I must move on as the beach is calling.

We are in Recife now and I am having a hard time
remembering back a few days.  So, I will write about
Recife and my day yesterday.

Right now we have a couple days free and are staying
in a small hotel near the beach in Boa Viagem.

Our first night, Helson and Fortuna who own the hotel
we are staying in (Hotel do Mar), took us out to a
restaurant on a street in old Recife (Recife Antiga).
The restaurant itself wasn't spectacular, but the
street scene was interesting.  A very old street,
which used to be the street of the Jews back in the
1600s and which is now being continuously refurbished,
street performers, bands all over the place, and we
were seated next to the oldest synagogue of the
Americas which is currently closed for renovations.
It was a lovely evening.

Yesterday we got up, ate breakfast, had a team meeting
about our group dynamics and logistics for the rest of
the trip and then I took off for Olinda on my own.

One of the things that I love about traveling alone is
that I am not afraid to go into doors marked "do not
enter".  Even if there is not a sign, perhaps you know
what I mean.  Anyway, Olinda is incredible and full of
marvelous churches.  In one convent I found myself
wandering here and there and eventually found my way
into a private room where the priest probably relaxes
and makes himself up.  The room was completely built
of the wood "jacaranda" and was incredible deep maroon
in color.  Also, there was a beautiful garden out the
back.

The churches are filled with incredible tile
paintings, ceiling paintings and incredible views of
Recife and the coastline for miles in all directions.
The water here is aquamarine and it's incredibly hot
and sunny so walking through the ancient streets of
this town took me all day.  I could have stayed into
the evening as I was really enjoying just wandering
the cobblestone streets, stopping in doorways, talking
to people, entering museums (my favorite was one
dedicated to carnival with huge puppets - I hope to
get pictures of that one). 

I had lunch at a lovely place in a garden and met
Johnny who's a blues musician who splits his time
between Brasil and the U.S. making music along the
way.  It was great to meet you, Johnny and I hope we
get to play sometime in Brasil!  Jam on!

So, last night I checked out the beach again - the
views down the beach are incredible, great scenery and
lovely light as the sun sets. 

Last night (500 years anniversary of Brasil was
yesterday!) we were taken out to dinner at a nice
hotel nearby and I ate the best steak I've eaten in my
life.  It was just incredible.  Afterwards we drove to
the same district in old Recife we were in the night
before, but this time things were really rocking.

There was an incredible band - playing a mix of Forro,
frevo, samba and love songs which is well known here
in Recife.  I dance and shook to their music for about
an hour and then a batucada band marched down the
street followed by carnival - people in costume,
dancing, call and response music, for about 45
minutes, very chaotic and then they continued on their
way through the streets.  It was very lively and
exciting.  Colorful costumes, smiling faces, driving
drummers, cowbells, much percussion.

Now, it is just hot and the middle of the day and I
think it's time for the beach.  Palm trees, sun sun
sun sun sun and more sun.  It's hard to be outside in
this heat.

Our group portion of this trip is winding down and we
are one week away from splitting up.  I am looking
forward to traveling on my own some and also look
forward to this week being shown Recife and the
surroundings.  It is an incredible place and our hosts
have already been gracious and wonderful in showing us
around.

More to follow.  On another day.  Hopefully, I'll
remember more and share more details. Like how the
various controversies here are playing out, the smell
of the very polluted rivers here, garbage on the
beach, some of the not so nice stuff, but for now,
it's all being washed away by the sweat pouring down
my chest and I'm inside a pretty cool room on the
second floor of Helson's apartment overlooking the
beach.  The aquamarine color of the water, the reef
protecting us from sharks and the small waves looking
like they are in slow motion.

I think the other day I finally arrived in Brasil.  It
took me about 3 weeks, but that's not unusual.  Now,
the US feels very far away and I'm glad to finally be
here.

ciao for now.

Alberto

 

April 27, 2000 Recife

Well, Ive been sick for 3 days and so dont have much
to report.  Sounds like the rest of the group is
really enjoying this city, but for myself, Ive been
lying in bed and not enjoying an intense fever.  I
think it finally broke, but Im still feeling pretty
weak so decided to rest one more day before venturing
out into the real world again.

My host family has been very welcoming and
understanding.

Alberto

 

April 29, 2000 Recife Last official day of the GSE Program  

Well,

I finally felt well enough to venture out with the
group yesterday and Im glad I did as it was our last
time together until the cruise in mid May aboard the
Princess Dawn.

We visited an interesting older neighborhood, a very
old church and then a museum dedicated to the history
of Pernambuco which was full of artifacts which you
could pick up and touch.  I found the shackles and
various devices used to keep slaves in place pretty
frightening and attracting at the same time.  Plus,
there were costumes for all of the candomble godesses,
old carts, musical instruments, and lots of history. 

We had lunch at our last Rotary meeting where we had
to give a presentation and I think its very safe to
say were all pleased with how our presentations went
and that we DONT HAVE TO DO THEM ANYMORE!!!  Ive
never had to give the same speech over and over, but
theres something funny about it and we all have
little jokes about each others speeches by now.

After lunch we visited Olinda briefly and got to see
three churches and the incredible views from the top
of the hill.  I was sorry we only spent a short time
in Olinda but also really needed to head home before
the evening activities began.

After a big nap, I finally called the area leader, and
asked him how I was getting to the evening meeting.
It turned out that there was a communication problem
and that each host family was responsible for this.
News to my host family!!  So, arriving about an hour
later than I thought we should have, I was still only
the second person there.  Georgi and I waited another
half hour and then Lee showed up.  Bill and Johanna
never made it. 

The final meeting was a gift exchange and also a
chance for us to thank Rotary and all of the fine
people weve met on the way.  Georgi, Lee and I all
gave short speeches and it was a very heartfelt time.
This was also the first time that I got to meet 3 of
the team members of the team who will travel from
Brasil to Seattle in the beginning of May.  There are
three women from Recife, Emidio from Joao Pessoa the
leader of the team, and one man from Natal who I met
briefly while there.

We received plaques, a Forro band played, drinks were
served, the accordian played, words were spoken, jokes
were shared, goodbyes were said. 

Afterwards I accompanied the GSE Brasil women to old
Recife with Georgi where we wandered the busy street
of the Jews and ended up at a corner cafe for some
cardappio and chopp.  cerveza my friends.

Anyway, its time to pack, head to the beach, do
something to get some energy back in this carcass of
mine.

I may write some more from Salvador and or Maceio, but
if not, thanks for listening and I hope things are
good on your end.

Ate logo,

Alberto

PS. 
For more pictures, the GSE website should have
them all once we are back, plus Ill probably put a
site together in late may and invite you all to have a
look.  No more pictures for now, the digital camera
and its owner is off to Belem tomorrow!  Bon voyage, Lee.

=====

May 2, 2000 Salvador

Well, I decided to accept some warm hospitality from
Julianna (one of the women heading to Seattle with the
Brazilian GSE team) and stayed in Recife an extra day.

I'm glad I did as she took me to her family's farm
about 1.5 hours from Recife on Sunday which was really
interesting.  Plus, I got to meet some of her friends
and we spent a couple times together eating in
restaurants and visiting the beach.  Also, we went to
a great club on Saturday night called the crepe palace
which was basically a big, one-floor house). They just
kept letting more and more people into this place
which was already packed when we arrived. 

I had another one of those experiences at this club
which was just wonderful.  Everyone, men women, all
ages, knew the words to most of the songs being sung,
and it was just delightful to be dancing in this
crowded place with everyone singing along.  The
performers were a guitarist and a drummer and that's
it and they played for hour after hour.

I'm in an internet cafe next to the hotel I'm staying
in Barra, Salvador.  I took a night bus last night
and arrived at about 7:30Am here in sunny Salvador.
The air conditioning in the bus broke down pretty much
right away and so we had to stop on the outskirts of
town for repairs.  Which didn't really happen, so we
changed busses.  I was ok with the broken air
conditioning, but once we switched busses, I saw what
people had been grouching about.  Anyway, actually
slept on the bus and here I am after an hour long ride
from the bus station and a quick tour of some cheap
hotels.

It's good to be here on my own, but is also scaring
me. This place is definitely not for beginners and I'm
very very very glad I have some portuguese.  If I
didn't it would be close to impossible to get around.

So, it's a beautiful day and I think I'll wander some.
 There's also an island across from this shoreline
which looks interesting and every day at 8 a boat will
take you there for 35 Reis.

The hotel is 25 Reis a night and with a bus I can be
downtown or in the old city pretty directly, I think.

Hope things are well on your end.  Positive thoughts
and vibrations accepted at this point.  Traveling
alone can get pretty weird and I've already been
feeling the effects for a couple days now.

More as I see it.

Alberto

=====

May 4, 2000 Salvador  

boa tarje,

well, its day 3 here in Salvador. 

Its a muggy, grey and big cloud day here in Barra,
Salvador.  and im sitting at the local guarana stand
having what i thought would be a small tangarine
juice, but has turned into something large, brown, icy
and frothy.  its pretty tasty though and i think it
has guarana powder in it.

breakfast at the hotel porto de barra is a slice of
watermelon, cafe com leite and slices of french bread
and cheese. 

a woman in the store just warned me about people
getting too friendly and about getting assasinated??
meanwhile, the drink that hasnt spilled on me is
working some kind of magic and im feeling more ready
for the day by the minute.

later in pelourinho... a rainstorm found me deep in a
music store playing congas backing up a guy on guitar.
 when the storm stopped i switched to guitar to play
some improvisation (lead).  eventually, i played a
song of my own improvising lyrics about the store, the
rain and salvadorian history.  nooone understood me
but they enjoyed the rock/blues groove i was playing
and i threw in enough portuguese to keep them smiling.
 then we exchanged a few more tunes including
claptons tears from heaven.

the music.  brazil really cares about music - probably
more than any other country in the world.  everywhere
you go theres music and its generally very good.
interesting, jazzy, cheesy, but the singers sound so
sweet.  its fun being in a country devoted to music,
makes me feel appreciated and welcome.  i know ive
written about this before but its still surprising
every time i notice the love for music here.
brasilian music first and foremost.

the architecture here is stunning, lots of high
ceilings, big old heavy wooden doors painted dark
green, many archways and arched windows.

children walking the streets selling umbrellas,
cashews, bracelets.

on anything thats not freshly painted a grungy, dark
fungus grows.

im on rua inacio accilste at the albergue das
larangeiras which is also a youth hostel.

i met a couple young us women this am.  which was
refreshing as i havent found a lot of people to talk
to or hang out with here in salvador.  one is here for
months, teaching english for 10 Reis an hour about $6
an hour.  which here is a decent wage.  her friend
came to study brazilian dance but has been
disappointed  cause the classes are simple and geared
to the tourists.  they gave me some tips.  one of
which is this place im writing from - shopping Lapa.
4 Reis for an hour of internet which is about half my
usual price at the place near the hotel in Barra.

the large plastic garbage cans being rolled down the
street, cobblestones, make a beat like a batchukada,
then theres birimbaus and people playing panderos in
many doorways which gives this area of salvador a very
musical feel.

dress - women all over this country are dressed in
simple skirts or dresses, men in shorts and t-shirts,
more dressy if going to work - jeans and a button down
shirt do it.

sitting in jorge amados house - seeing photos of him
with every famous literary or musical figure of the
60s to the 90s makes me wonder.  how did he meet all
those peple and who was the photographer?  in another
room are the dust jackets of every armado book in
every language arranged by country.  the table cloths
have many poems on them and men with 6 thermoses of
coffee and huge stacks of cups walk the streets
hawking cafe and nudging along the pidgeon population.

I enjoy a cafezinho and watch life in the square.

were listening to julian andage whos singing songs
which could be from the 50s or yesterday.

if i lived here id sell peanuts and cashews in the
pidgeon streets confronting tourists without care and
hoping theyd spend their money on me and id ask them
whats your name? in portuguese and id tell them
where they were from and be happy and smiling unless
they didnt buy in which case id hold out my hand for
an offering but only for a second before moving on.

so, thats all the fun for today.  seems theres a big
computer virus out there.  hope you didnt get it.
the one last year around april ruined all of my files
and viruses aint nothing fun to recover from in any
form.

i think tomorrow i will head back to recife on the
night bus, but i said that to myself this morning.
this place grows on you and im not even trying all
that hard.

much love,

alberto

=====

May 3, 2000 Salvador  

Howdy,

Please excuse the mistakes, this keyboard is a
challenge.

May 3rd, 2000.  Im sitting on an ancient street.
Wow/!  /the pen and paper attracted over a guy who
sells little samba puppets and we got to talking.
Eventually, two guys walked by with calvicinho and
pandero. 
(pagode style cavilcinho).  and ended up
playing a really charged song for us.  Like the
pandero was just completely over the top and it was
hard to hear myself think. 

my eyes were busy blinking open and shut to the music.
 now, theyre gone and I can describe the scene a
little.

im in a particular part of pelorinhou which is the
original, colonial part of /salvador.  dates back to
the 1600s, maybe earlier than that.  this was slave
central at that point and there are a lot of black
people here.  descendents of slaves. 

i saw the 1st church of blacks today, plus a bunch of
other old churches.  and they look old. 

museum of bahia, cobble-stoned streets and old houses
which have been refurbished and painted in pastels.
people walking and driving and some tourists, but i
wouldnt say a lot.

the 2 hamburgers and 2 drinks (goyaba and caju) have
my stomach a little upset, but its all I felt like
eating for lunch.

writing was joes idea as a way to try to get a handle
on what Im seeing.  i was in a church before, looking
out the window and i just couldnt put the scene i was
seeing into any particular box.  its just different
than anything ive ever seen before.  so, i just
looked at it.  im somewhere so foreign right now it
just doesnt register.  so, ill walk on.

later on that day i made it back to Barra neighborhood
only to find my friends the musicians on the beach
playng their tunes.  so, i joined them for a couple
hours as the sun went down and i even tried my hand at
calvilcinho and pandero to their amusement.

after a shower and a quick check of the e-mail i will
head to the mall for a movie and some dinner.  last
night saw erin brockovitch which i liked a lot.  makes
me feel some hope for the environmental justice issues
we work on back in seattle.

shopping Barra is huge - 7 stories and full of stuff,
but not as many people as in recife.

thats all for today.  hope things are good on your
end.

i plan on heading back to pelourinho again tomorrow
for more wandering and perhaps buying some t-shirts or
other unneeded stuff.

over and out,

Alberto

ps - thanks to those of you who wrote with
encouragement, ideas for traveling alone and sympathy,
i really appreciate it.  its a little lonely out
here right now.


=====

May 9, 2000 Recife

Well, Ive been here for a couple of days now.  Got
back from Salvador on Saturday morning and have been
having a pretty good time until now. 

Recife is hot hot hot - 34 degrees today and
yesterday.

Thus far I've hung out with Helson and Fortuna and
their family a bunch.  Went to a birthday party for
one of their family friends which was probably the
poorest house I've been in except for the
fisherpeoples' outside of Natal.  The party was nice
and the big delicacy was chicken hearts.

Also, I've spent some time just walking in Boa Viagem
and it's been lovely.  Watching people play 2 on 2
volley ball and especially enjoying the version which
people don't use their hands - that looks incredibly
challenging and people get pretty sweaty playing it.

I also watched a football game on TV with all of the
men in Helson's clan.  The local best team hadn't lost
to the second best team in 5 years, but this time they
did 2-1 and it was quite an upset.  Nautico is the
team that won, I believe.

Yesterday I ventured out to a nearby beach about an
hour away called Porto de Galinhos (port of the
roosters) and that was quite an adventure.  It's a bus
ride to the airport, then a combi or car ride to the
beach with the mode of transportation trying to pick
up riders every 5 minutes along the way.  When I got
to Porto do Galinhas, it was incredibly hot and sunny
and I just looked for some shade and then watched the
waves and all of the small boats which were busy
taking people out to the reefs for swimming. 

I had a nice day at the beach.  I'm busy reading the
last of my periodicals - Rythem Magazine and my RC
literature - Present Time.  Now, I need to find some
more stuff to read for the rest of the 6 days that
I'll be here in town.

Music wise.  I heard some great live music the other
night at a club which Monica (Helson's daughter) and
David (his son) took me to.  Got to hear my favorite
songs of the moment and everybody was shaking their
booty until we left around 2am.  Felt good to get out
and dance.

Also, at Porto do Galinhas there was an excellent
pick-up Forro band on the beach which was doing a
great job of making up verses as they went along.  I
love that style of music making. 

Today I headed into the city center and it is really
interesting to be here.  I walked around a huge
shopping area, enjoyed many churches along the way and
all of the old architecture of the downtown area.  The
area Recife Antiga is best known for its old
buildings, but the rest of downtown Recife is pretty
remarkable as well.

Anyone who knows me knows I like to eat at salad bars,
and I've yet to mention it but these are all over the
place down here.  I had a great lunch of salads, roast
beef and fruits for about 5 Reis. 

Now I am in Recife Antiga at a place where the
internet is free.  It's the Malakoff tower and I spent
some time looking at some photography exhibits of the
Amazon and other art exhibits in the tower.  Thank god
the whole place is air-conditioned, cause it would be
really challenging to sit hear otherwise.

I have a new thought in my head which is for the
Seattleites amongst you.  How about this:

A new citizens' initiative: golfcourses to gardens

I think all it takes is 18,000 signatures of
Seattlites to put an initiative on the ballot.  Here's
my initiative.

Since the City is densifying - we turn all municipal
golfcourses back into open space including all
facilities such as clubhouses, pitch and putts,
driving ranges, etc. 

Just a thought I've been developing in my free time.

So, that's about it for today.  I should write more -
the palm-strewn beaches yesterday, the lovely steak
dinner the other night, the spray of the ocean and the
wonderful days spent leisurely roaming this City.

Future plans are to revisit Olinda, possibly hit
another beach 50K away, spend my birthday on Thursday
doing something fun with the various people I know
here and perhaps spend some time at Recife Shopping,
picking up some CDs and seeing some movies.

I like this life.

Greetings from Recife,

Alberto

=====

May 10, 2000 Recife  

Yes, I finally figured it out yesterday.  The place to
really catch all the action is the neighborhood hot
dog stand.  On the way back from Shopping Recife, I
stopped for a cochorro quente (hot dog).  Here they
come sliced in half, with some sloppy joe type meat
and sauce and then your choice of corn, potato sticks,
peas, salsa, and then mustard, ketchup and/or
mayonaise.  Then, you sit down on a little chair
(you're not supposed to take food for a walk in Brasil
unless it's ice cream) and are poured a guarana
(soda).  All this for one Reis.

Then, the fun begins, because there are inevitably
another 4 or 5 hot dog or hamburger places right by
you with their lights jingling in the wind, and people
coming off work sit right down next to you and the
chatter, and insults and stuff all hits at once and
doesn't stop till you get up to catch the bus home.

One other thing I thought I'd mention cause I probably
haven't is how many guards there are here.  Everywhere
you go, you are guarded, Im not sure against what,
but there are military police, local police, beach
police, many wearing bullet-proof vests.  Mostly
walking around in pairs.  The biggest crew of these
police I saw was in Salvador in the Pelourinho
section, but they're all over the place and it gives
one an odd feeling of well, being guarded all the
time. 

What else is new.  Well, today I finally started
feeling sad that I'll be leaving.  I have about 4 days
till I board that plane for Rio/Miami/Seattle and I
just don't want to go.  I keep thinking of ideas of
what I would do if I stayed longer - teach RC to the
local psychiatric hospital, teach English, keep
visiting my favorite beach spot.  But, anyway, yes, I
do have to leave Boa Viagem in 4 days and of course
that's making me sad.

This morning was wonderful.  It looked like rain, so I
decided to hit the beach before the downpour.  Once I
got there, (it's about a 5 minute walk from the lovely
Hotel Do Mar), I sat in a chair with an umbrella and
watched as the sky turned from dark blue to grey to
great god almighty, it started to pour.  So, I decided
to jog a bit and then dove into the water.  There is
nothing like swimming in the ocean while it's pouring.
 Nothing like it. 

Then, I headed back to the chair, all my stuff was
soaked and I just sat there and got rained on and
enjoyed watching the green water and everybody
hovering under the umbrellas which didn't provide much
protection at all.  It was just a fine way to spend
the morning.

Enough for now.  Hope all is well on your end.

I bought a Harper's Magazine for 13.90 Reis which is
basically almost the subscription price for the year,
but I couldn't resist - there's an excellent looking
article in there about the protests in Seattle which I
took part in, so I had to get it.  Georgi, I should be
done with it by the time I see you on Monday.  btw,
where are you?

Greetings all,

Alberto

 

May 12, 2000 Recife  

Olah,

Como vai?  Tudo bem?  Tudo bem!

Yesterday, my birthday was really sweet.  Ive settled
into a routine here - wake up, eat breakfast, read
Present Time (RC journal - http://www.rc.org ), take a
shower, put on suntan lotion - head to the beach.

Different yesterday was that Helson and Fortuna hosted
me for lunch at their apartment and also gave me a new
CD which we listened to.  We had a great lunch of
fish, steak, spaghetti, capiroshkas and salad.
Afterwards I did e-mail for a while catching up with
the airport noise issue on Beacon Hill and other
politics that are happening on the home front while
Ive been gone.  Turns out that SOV (Save our valley)
http://www.saveourvalley.org ) has filed a federal
lawsuit against Soundtransit which is an interesting
development.  And lots of other stuff has been going
on.

Then, I think I headed back to the beach for a while
and the most beautiful sunset Ive seen since I hit
the shores of Brasil.  It was one of those sunsets
that just went on and on forever.  First of all you
can see into the distance looking East for hundreds of
miles, OK - exaggeration patrol - perhaps 50 miles.
The clouds turned blue then grey, there was this
incredible orange streak heading towards the west
which contrasted with the intense blue sky and all of
this with the backdrop of waves crashing nearby,
pigeons and other birds scooting around and kids
playing football nearby.

Then, instead of treating myself to a really nice
dinner, I had a hamburger and fries instead... which
made me feel a little sick so I headed home. 

Eventually, Catherine and her cousin stopped by around
10:30 and we headed to Recife Antiga for a night of
song.  Theres a big festival going on downtown for
the next couple nights - songs of the Sereste - old
songs that everyone knows the words to.  Anyway, the
old part of town is filled with people and carts
selling fruit drinks any way you like them.

It was a fun night and I got back around 1:30am. 

Today has been more of the same and Im remembering
just how nice it can be to spend time at the beach.
Youd think one would never forget this, but most of
the time Ive been here Ive felt this pressure to
investigate downtown or to return to Olinda, etc.
Now, Im resigned to spend as much time as possible
looking at those clouds and sitting quietly and
watching the scenery.

The waves today were great and finally the no
surfingsigns made sense.  I got to body surf for the
first time since Ipanema, in Rio which felt great.  So
many smiling people in the water with me as well -
welcoming the waves.

Tonight I hook up with Catherine, her cousin, Enrique
and some other friends and we will hit Olinda by night
which should be lovely.

Its also Shabbas and Im thinking about that for the
first time in a long time.  I look forward to lighting
some candles and saying prayers when I get back to
Seattle.  I perhaps could have made more of an effort
to introduce myself to the Jewish community here, but
oh well. 

I did introduce myself to a guy with a Jewish star on
last night, but he was kind of drunk and I dont think
he understood my words.  That happens sometimes - I
think Im speaking clearly and the other person just
has no idea of what Im saying.  Other times, people
are totally impressed with my Portuguese.  So it goes.

Well, thats enough for now.  Im sitting in a
bookstore in Recife Shopping writing to you surrounded
by books and shoppers and listening to some great
samba.

God, theres just so much going through my mind

Where is Planned Parenthood down here?

Why does it seem sometimes that drivers try to speed
up and change lanes in order to score points by
scaring me?

When do they turn the heat down in this town?

Ive been in a real experimental mood as far as food
goes and Ive just been trying all sorts of new
delicacies.  I figure I only have a couple of days -
now is the time to try the really weird looking stuff!

This may be the last dispatch from Brasil, but one
never knows.

Hope things are going well on your end.

Ate logo,

Alberto