You can’t make this stuff up! I really did see this “cawboy” selling juice downtown. I am back no centro this morning on a quest for new music books and CDs. I fail in the first, but manage to snag a couple of the latter. And a bottle of cachaca to take home. Alas, they are out of my favorite Lua Nova (new moon) but do have Boazinho (a little good thing). The skies have been grey all day, and I get stuck in a downpour once again, walking home from the bus. It continues to rain off and on all day, but tonight is my last roda and I won’t miss it. I check with my friend L. and she says it’s on, so I head out. And the rain ends. It’s a good session and I get to play many of my favorites and a couple of tunes I have never played in a roda before. For one of them the guitarist is reading the chords upside down off my leadsheet! I linger, reluctant to leave as this will be my last playing session of the trip. But all good things must end, so I grab a taxi for home, still humming one of the delightful choro, the music that got me to this exotic city in the first place.
It’s Easter Sunday, and I am going for it today! I start with pancake breakfast at R’s with much of his extended family. He learned about pancakes while he was working in Boston, and here in Rio they are rare so they have become his speciality. Iziane said she thought Americans ate pancakes for breakfast every morning, at least they do in the movies! R’s run out of his self-imported maple syrup– nonexistent in Brazil– but there’s jam and some of the Brazilians opt for ham and cheese as a topping! Then it’s off to the Hippie Fair (sometimes delightfully written: “hype faere”) to look for some small presentes, and I manage to actually find some locally made, and avoid the ubiquitous tourist fridge magnets. The man on the right is serenading folks with his berimbaum. I decide against the delicious but digestively dangerous Bahian shrimp dumplings, but do get a slice of one of my favorite desserts– a tapioca cake topped with condensed milk and coconut. I head home with my goodies and in the evening, though tired, walk to a local roda. I am rewarded with good music, and the unexpected appearance of Eric, Mariana and Tomas (guitar, flute, and clarinet)– so I get to play with them one more time on my visit and say goodbye. A nice day and, although I have said it before and it hasn’t been true, I ave finished my course of antibiotics and feel I have really kicked it this time.
I feel in need of an outing today, and Iziane suggests I walk to Parque Lage, not too far away. It is an amazing place– an Italian villa built in the midst of grounds that mix European formal structure– towers, fountains, stone arches– with the lush vegetation of the Atlantic tropical forest. It also seems to be a very popular destination this holiday Saturday, and is full of families picnicking, couples strolling, photo shoots for flamenco dancers, pregnant beauties, teen musicians. But there are also paths leading away from the centers of activity, and it feels like heaven to get away from the traffic and noise of the big city and just hang out with the trees for awhile. It’s a lovely peaceful day.
Happy birthday to my sister today! She is celebrating with family, and I send her my best wishes over the internet instead of our traditional singing phone call. I spend the morning working on music, glad to have the muse back in my ear. And I have an unexpected celebration of my own today, as Iziane makes a delicious seafood risotto for us both for Good Friday dinner. As the result of a quirky series of events I was able to do her a good turn, and she is cooking as a thank-you. It is absolutely delicious, especially so since it is the first “real” meal I have eaten in a week. We dine mid-afternoon and share a bottle of vin verde, and as a result not much happens for the rest of the day but rest and reading. Delightful!
I am back to eating my morning papaya– hooray! This fruit is so beautiful and delicious, and the small ones never get to the US, so I indulge myself while I am in Brazil. I’m leaving in a week, and so am thinking about things to take home to my near and dear. I head out to Saaraa, the huge shopping area of stalls and stores just past downtown, hoping to score some discount Olympics swag. It’s cooler today, and the slight drizzle has ended by time I get off the metro, and the weather– plus the upcoming long Easter week-end– seems to have kept the crowds down. Not much left from the Olympics sadly, but I do find some T-shirts and a couple of little things. I don’t stay long, as I am still making my way along the road to recovery and want to keep progressing.
with bags of cash and no manners
they stormed into the hallowed halls
where truth once mattered crass outlaws
bent on stealing our souls banners
proclaimed decency defunct curs
with stone hearts swindled elections
stabbed innocent expectations
for life and liberty to death
now we fight back ‘til our last breath
to bar the future’s destruction
the first line is a quote from Laurence Ferlinghetti
Today’s one activity– I am trying not to overdo– is going to hear Marcilio’s quartet at rehearsal. Rain is threatening so I pack my umbrella, but it holds off until I arrive. These are four accomplished choro musicians who have decided to forego the pandeiro percussion and the 6- and 7-string guitars to create a bandolim quartet.Marcilio has had a bandolim-cello made and learned to play it just so he could do this. They are just starting out, but their high level of musicianship has already created a beautifully sounding ensemble, and Marcilio’s arrangements, as always, are spot on. I have a couple of coaching-type comments to make, since this format is one I have directed and performed in for many years. But mostly I just reaffirm that they are on the right path. It’s raining as we leave, and they are going on to another rehearsal, but offer me a ride partway home. Unfortunately when they drop me off the rain has turned to deluge and gutters become rivers and even with a taxi, by time I am home I am soaked. Iziane greets me at the door with mock disapproval, but I can quickly shower and change and contentedly spend a warm, dry evening at home.