Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Something New Around Every Corner

I have fallen regrettably behind in my blogs. A lot has happened but if you want to hear all of my stories you´ll have to take me out for beer when I get back because I don´t have time to share everything right now.
We left Curitiba and returned to Sao Paulo. The friends we stayed with, Silvia and her daughters Carina, Patricia and Veronica, took us out all around the city. Art museums, parks, historical museums. It´s no surprise that a city the size of Sao Paulo has so much to see. There´s nothing that´s really grand on an international scale, such as the Tower of London or the Eiffel Tower, but definitely enough to pass some enjoyable days. Probably the most unforgettable thing though wasn´t one of the museums or parks. On a Friday night we headed out to the Praça da Sé with members of Patricia´s college and career group. There they handed out food to many of the homeless living in the area. They also talked and prayed with the people there. It was sad to see so many people living on the fringes. In Calgary, there´s places to go but here in Brazil there is very little to help people get out of the trap of poverty.
I started writing a blog the other day but it wasn´t going anywhere so I deleted it. I was trying to explain how hard it is to see the inequality of life here. I get a little bit angry when I see the corruption here, and of course I see very little of how much there actually is. I have a renewed appreciation for life in Canada.
After spending a while in Sao Paulo we headed north to the city of Salvador where we are currently. Salvador was formerly a major slave centre and this is reflected in the culture which shows very strong African influence. Salvador is city where music can be heard around every corner. Tonight while walking around the city we passed countless musicians and groups playing in the streets or on small stages. Probably my favourite group was the one that passed us while we were eating dinner. It consisted of four of some of the smallest, skinnest, frailest old men that I´ve seen in a while. One played the accordian, another a drum, the third the triangle and the final and frailest collected money. Their costumes consisted of leather hats and the man collecting the money had a toy pistol in his belt and a wooden rifle that doubled as a cane most of the time.
They played down the street from us and then started walking up the road to where we were eating. Being a "wealthy" tourist in a poor city I had been urged to part with my money all day, for the weakest of reasons. Finally I found some people who were actually doing something, weren´t up in my face demanding money, and furthermore I feel that people of that age ought not to have to work. I didn´t have any small change on me but Louis had two bills, 1 Real and another of 2 Reals. A Real is worth a little more than 50 cents Canadian. As they walked up the street they stopped playing. I didn´t want to give them money for nothing but they had been playing earlier. As I tried to think of what to give they passed by. I called back to the rifleman/money collecter and handed him 1 Real. He accepted it gratefully and then called back to the band to come back and play for us.
Reluctantly, we hadn´t given much, the band came back and started to play. I was thinking to give the other 2 Reals but then inexpicable the rifleman ran off, with surprising speed. We wondered where he had gone, I suggested he ran off with the money. A little while later he returned and the band had headed back down the street and since he never came back we never gave any more money. Down the street though we heard a blast from his rifle leaving us to speculate he used our money to buy a cap for his rifle. I hadn´t my camera with me but I hope that I will see them again and be able to get a picture.
The other great band was made up only of drums played by young guys with long dreads. They made a huge racket but the rhythm was so infectious that even I had the urge to dance. So many more stories to tell, and I´m not so happy with the way this blog has turned out but I´m tired now so I´m going to wrap things up. Soon I´ll be leaving the city to enjoy a hike in the Brazilian forest.