Sunday, December 20, 2009

Onde é o banheiro? Blog de Brasileiro, dia 6 (quinta-feira, decembro 10)

Mosquito bite count (unchanged since yesterday):
-Hands: 4 / Arms: 1 / Shoulders: 2 / Chest: 1 / Face: 6 / Neck: 2
-Back: 0 / Legs: 0

Sunburn incident count: 1 (previous sunburn almost completely healed with no noticeable tenderness on my shoulders)

Over breakfast, Other Vince and I were discussing Asian stereotypes and one of my goals to do a short film comedy with that theme. One scene would involve the Asian stereotype about being especially gifted with fixing computers. As luck would have it, the Pousada employees were having complaints about the way the computer was running, so Mestre asked if I could do something about it.

The lack of maintenance and care is extremely evident to my (not really) slanted Asian eyes as well as those of Other Vince. I start by removing the add-on toolbars and pop-up generators while Other Vince and I switch off tag-team style and start searching for legitimate software cleaners (AdAware, Spybot S&D). We then realize that no one has emptied the Internet Explorer cache or the Recycle Bin. Ever. Given that software is going to take longer to install and take effect than realized, we end up missing a significant chunk of Contra Mestre Parana’s class (tourism building).

As it is, a computer with this level of neglect becomes an all-day project to fix when the wireless internet is coming through a 3G connection. Our day starts looking like setting up a specific computer task (downloading program, running virus scan, etc.), letting it run, then going off to do something else (hang out at beach, eat, train Capoeira). As I write this (1:31AM local time), it’s running Defrag. We’ll check it first thing in the morning, and thus further reinforce the Asian stereotype.

To ensure that this does not happen again, we had Mestre act as translator while we attempted to advise the staff on ways to avoid picking up viruses, malware, and Trojan horses. I still suspect that someone will have to do this again same time next year.

Training today was relatively light-weight compared to yesterday (partly because we were fixing the computer rather than training the first class). An hour or two after lunch, we took the trip out to Instrutore Matraka’s academy in Recife where we did a class for music and maculele. I’m noticing that I’m still having issues with properly stringing up berimbau consistently (it’s been a month or two since I last did it) whereas the teachers get it right the first time. But, at least the heat makes the wood easier to bend.

Matraka’s class was followed by roda and mini-class taught by Professore Kiko. Kiko is quick and agile, and seems to have a smile that does not go away, and was described by members of my group as one of the happiest instructors we’ve had.

Overall, I’m enjoying the instruction we’re getting from the various teachers we have here. All of them have made an effort to make us feel welcome, have displayed a lot of patience, try to have fun with us and even take an interest in the things we like and pick up a little English. Instrutore Matraka, for all of his humour and jest (like jokingly threatening to throw my Rubik’s Cube across the room after being unable to solve it), is a very emotional guy, coming to tears when acknowledging Mestre coming all the way to visit the academy and students.

Stuff like this is why I get a little bothered when our resident adoptee gives attitude towards instructors and even Mestre. On this trip, I have witnessed two incidents where our resident adoptee has done exactly that. Those of us who have been here in Brazil for a shorter period of time are pretty put off by his behaviour, although the locals don’t seem to be bothered by it...although it’s pretty clear that he hasn’t gotten away with it.

Today’s incident involved the young charge swearing under his breath (but loud enough for Mestre to hear) and storming out after not being allowed to skip out on Instrutore Matraka’s class. As soon as he’s out of earshot, I go up to Mestre and say, “We’ll straighten him out.”

Mestre’s response was, “We’ll do it in the roda.” I was more thinking of a heart-to-heart talk myself, but obviously they do things differently here. Given that the young charge has been in Brazil for a few months already, he probably has a better idea of what’s going on than I do, although his attitude doesn’t always indicate that. I have seen him toss trash in the streets, which he dismissively justifies with, “someone else will pick it up.”

In a certain sense he’s right, although I’ve done my best to adopt a “leave the place nicer looking than when you leave” policy, where he says the way it’s done here, for everything you clean up, someone else will just leave a bigger mess. And in some respects, it is. It’s pretty rare when I can find a place to properly recycle bottles and cans (Kayla says, “It feels wrong!” Other Vince calls this cognitive dissonance).

Simply put, I don’t know how things work here and I sometimes feel like I’m better off not knowing. Capoeira is incredibly rife with politics and group dynamics change constantly.

And another comment on the major differences between training in Vancouver and training here. We are consistently violating fire safety codes everywhere we train (or at least we would be if they were worth enforcing) by filling rooms beyond capacity, but it goes to show that Capoeira can be done everywhere. And we HAVE been training Capoeira in some pretty random locations, some of which look fairly run down.

While I have had classes that felt much more intense back home, the perception may be based on the fact that it is harder to train in colder weather and we generally can’t train as often as we like due to various obligations (read: WORK). Either that, or the local instructors all know we are lightweights that need constant water breaks (“Não bebe agua!”).

Some of the skill and talent of most of the Capoeira students here is breathtaking and amazing. I’ve especially enjoyed games with one student (green/blue cordão) named Choque. He’s less than 5’ tall, looks small enough to throw Fastball Special style, and has a particularly twitchy style of play, but has energy and body control to spare. That, and he’s been picking up a few random words in English, which he’s been passing on to the other students. Unfortunately, the words they’re picking up aren’t the kind used in polite conversation.

The friendly and carefree attitude is a contrast to the rundown locations that we’ve been training, including where we had Professor Kiko’s roda. We would’ve totally violated fire safety regulations by being there, considering that the training space was less than that of a high school classroom. And the place looks old and poorly maintained. But, a fancy training facility is NOT a requisite for solid martial arts skill, and the skill I have seen is evidence of that.

Food report: breakfast and lunch at the Pousada, dinner (X-Tudo burger and acerola juice) was at a truck stop/gas station. We all stopped to eat and get gas. This proved to be some of the worst service I received so far as they managed to forget about me, so I ended up eating my burger on the bus because it came so late. The place was also a haven for mosquitoes, two of which I crushed.

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