Mosquito bite count: (unchanged)
-Hands: 4 / Arms: 5 / Shoulders: 4 / Chest: 1 / Head: 8 / Neck: 2
-Back: 0 / Legs: 0
Sunburn incident count: 1 (completely healed, now peeling)
I can say with absolute confidence that Brazil is not a tourist destination for the germ phobic or those with constant hand-washing OCD. While this may be less applicable for areas such as Rio de Janeiro (which more caters to English-speaking gringos Americano), the non-TP accepting toilets, Kafka-esque public washrooms, and prevalence of winged bloodsuckers and creepy crawlies will have the OCD types substituting hand sanitizer with bleach.
Batizado day in Olinda had us training with both Mestre Eclilson (it was also his birthday today) and Mestre Derli. For this location, we ended up in a public theatre auditorium which was in a bit of a state of disrepair. We ended up cleaning up the floor with our feet, hands, and uniforms, which further cements how much I really don’t want to complain when the academy back home gets messy. The unfortunate bathroom facilities are even worse, causing one of our group to develop a sudden case of shy bladder until more suitable facilities can be located. In his words, "I took one look at the toilet, and my penis said NOOOOOOOOO!"
It may be more of a function of the weather and inadequate ventilation rather than our level of exertion, as I was dripping with sweat after and during classes. I was able to stave off dehydration with a litre of Guarana soda and 1.5 litres of water, made possible with the really cheap supermercado that was up the street. I was about ready to stock up for home, given that 1.5 litres of water is about 50% more expensive in Porto (1,29 R$ at the Olinda supermercado vs. 2 R$ in Porto), but they were shut down early, as were all the other businesses except for restaurants.
Lunch took place at a local restaurant that promised both Brazilian and Chinese cuisine. Having spent many a dollar at the restaurants in Richmond, I know what real Chinese food is supposed to be like, so my expectations were extremely low. Given that I was hungry, it was still adequate, although I would avoid a place like this if it was back home.
Batizado was a little more long and tedious this time around in comparison to the Batizado in Palmares. Many major landmarks were achieved however. Kayla received her first belt and apelido (“Jaguar”), while Contra Mestre Gordo and Professore Pit Bull were promoted to their next ranks (Mestre and Conra Mestre, respectively). We also made a few interesting contacts and a few friends.
The ceremony dragged on long enough that a small group of us had to head out to find a snack (preferably ice cream), but we ended up getting caught up in a drum parade. We still haven’t found out what the special occasion is, but it would explain why half of the businesses are shuttered. It may be for the Brazilian equivalent of the Day of the Dead, but I don’t see any decorations to that effect.
Overall, this Batizado is a disappointment compared to the one in Palmares, not only given the horrifying bathroom facilities and dirty floors, but the level of disorganization. Apparently, the original venue was changed at the last minute due to the group being bumped in favour of another. Supposedly, Brazil is a candidate for being an economic superpower. I don’t know if I want them in charge.
We end up at a pizza place for dinner and spend 10 R$, while Mestre’s extended family brings in birthday cake for Mestre. Para bens pra vocé, Mestre Eclilson. Before we leave, I take a photo of the locally produced liquid zero-calorie sweetener. The photo on the package has a provocative image of a woman drinking coffee while a man holds her from behind. The name of the product is “Assugrin.” I am so buying a bottle to take home when I get the chance.
With this being the month of December, businesses are gearing up for Christmas, although it’s easy for me to forget that, given that it’s summery weather here. Coming from Canada, I tend to associate Christmas with cold weather, the North Pole, snow, winter wonderland, and Bing Crosby (“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas”). I feel really, really bad for the local Brazilians that are tasked with dressing up like Padre Noel, given that they didn’t adapt the non-secular Christmas icon for warm weather (i.e.: Santa Claus still dresses up in the thick, fleecy, and furry Santa suit even in the sun).
The van ride home is uneventful as half of us are asleep through it. I’m crashing early tonight too. Next up: Berimbau workshop.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Mosquito bite count: (unchanged)