Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rio De Janeiro, Oh but you are so beautiful!

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The view looking out from Santa Teresa towards the water

The view looking out from Santa Theresa towards the water

Rio DeJaneiro is a shockingly gorgeous city.  It sprawls across huge rainforest covered mountains, punctuated by towering rock edifices on the edge of crystal blue beaches.  The people are as beautiful as all the songs and stories say.  And the vibe is festive, relaxed, friendly, fun-loving, musical.

I had the great fortune of spending my first few days in Rio in one of the city’s most picturesque neighborhoods, Santa Theresa.  This neighborhood winds up a forested mountain on twisted cobblestone streets lined with vine entangled colonial houses.  For many years yellow street cars have been the favored form of transport.  On sunny afternoons, beautiful people line the sidewalks drinking

Sunday afternoon streetcorner in Santa Theresa

Sunday afternoon streetcorner in Santa Theresa

bear, chatting, and listening to music.  The view from my friend Andrew’s apartment looked out at a tree-covered valley and a hill on the otherside with the ocean off in the distance.  Every night, before I went to sleep, I would look out at the twinkling lights spread across the hillside, and feel like I was part of something bigger.

My favorite moment in Santa Teresa occurred when I was wandering through the neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon and stumbled across a live samba band playing to a small neighborhood street party.  One of my favorite things about Brazil is the intergenerational

Recycled art on the hillside

Recycled art on the hillside

partying – everyone from babies to grannies loves to get down here – and this street party embodied it.  Here’s a video, that, while a bit sloppy (I was dancing while I shot it), gives you a feel.

 

 

 

 

A day in the old city to say goodbye to Salvador!

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At the famous Lacerda lift, which connects the “Cidade Alta,” or high city, with the “cidade baixa” or low city by the docks.

At the famous Lacerda lift, which connects the “Cidade Alta,” or high city, with the “cidade baixa” or low city by the docks.

One of my last days in Salvador I went to the older part of town, the incredibly beautiful  and historic Pelhourinho, and spent magic hour walking down cobble stone streets amidst pastel painted beautifully restored colonial houses.  I wandered in and out of art galleries and enjoyed the stunning views from the high city down to the water front.

As I was heading back towards evening, I heard the exhilarating sound of drumming– the super danceable and funky Bahian Samba Reggae style.  I rushed to follow the sound, and found not one, but quite a few drum batucada’s marching down different streets, starting up their rehearsals.   I was hurrying to follow one around the corner when I stumbled on something better – a drum batucada comprised entirely of

The picturesque Pelourinho

The picturesque Pelourinho

teenagers and children, nearly all of them girls.

I felt like I had discovered my greatest dream spread out before me – girls, uninhibited, confident, proud, fierce, strong, dancing down the sidewalk joyously, creating a big powerful contagiously grooving sound.  Nearly everyone walking down the street stopped to watch in admiration or dance. many of them dancing.  .  The girls were smiling at each other and showing off on the dance steps, with the younger girls working hard to keep up with the more experienced older ones.  In the front, the bright qeyes of the little ones were glued on their conductor, also a woman, who was playing them the cues for their parts.

The young drummers of Associação Educativa e Cultural Didá

The young drummers of Associação Educativa e Cultural Didá

My favorite part was when the conductor called upon members of the band one by one to play their solos.  She would point with her drum stick to a band member, then when the break in the music came – they would play their own little riff. One particularly energetic little girl kept jumping up and down, “me, me, me” she kept saying to the conductor, till finally it was her turn, and she executed her part perfectly.  Upon realizing her success she broke into a thrilled smile that could have lit up the whole state of Bahia.  The little ones went one by one, literally trembling with glee once they completed their parts.

As a girl drummer who has always operated in a very

Taking turns soloing

Taking turns soloing

male-dominated world, I was just so happy that other little girls in Salvador could grow up seeing this awesome girls batucada and know, without questioning or doubting or having to prove anyone wrong, that they could make their own powerful music and get a street full of people dancing.

Also during my day in the Pelourinho, I stumbled across a really cool drop in center, working with folks who are living on the street in this part of Salvador.  I met a young woman named Sheila who gave me a tour, during which I learned that she was a rapper too! Before I left, she shared some rhymes with me and we took this shot.

Also during my day in the Pelourinho, I stumbled across a really cool drop in center, working with folks who are living on the street in this part of Salvador. I met a young woman named Sheila who gave me a tour, during which I learned that she was a rapper too! Before I left, she shared some rhymes with me and we took this shot.

My first day surfing in Salvador, I made a friend Tharcisio, who was also a rapper.  He introduced me to his hip hop crew (which includes many amazing pop and lockers), and we all met up at the end of my busy day in Pelhourinho to attend a show.

My first day surfing in Salvador, I made a friend Tharcisio, who was also a rapper. He introduced me to his crew (which includes many amazing pop and lockers), and we all met up at the end of my busy day in Pelhourinho to attend a show.

Father and son hip hop duo!

Father and son hip hop duo!

Candomblé

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After the Condomblé ceremony.

After the Condomblé ceremony.

Bahia is the part of Brazil where Afro-Brazilian culture is strongest. The Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé arose here and is still vibrant in everyday life. Candumblé is based on the worship of Orixás, or deities, mostly of the Yoruba tradition.  While living in Salvador, I often heard references to Iamanjá, the orixá of the sea, and it was nice to think of her every time I went surfing.

I had a very special opportunity to go to a Candomblé ceremony with friends from our neighborhood in Candeal.  During the ceremony, led by a Mãe de Santo, everyone sang songs for the different orixás and the Mãe de Santo became possessed with the spirits of each one. I couldn’t take pictures during the ceremony, but afterwards I was able to snap some shots of the beautiful room in which the ceremony was held, with the orixás painted on the walls.

Iemanjá, the orixá of the sea, portrayed in the gate of the Modern Art Museum in Salvador

Iemanjá, the orixá of the sea, portrayed in the gate of the Modern Art Museum in Salvador

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At the Museu Afro-Brasileiro in Salvador, I was able to see a magnificent set of wood panels of all the orixás carved by the artist Carybé, who spent most of his life in Bahia.

The beaches of Salvador

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Farol da Barra beach - Tiny waves, awesome people, beautiful lighthouse at the very end.

Farol da Barra beach – Tiny waves, awesome people, beautiful lighthouse at the very end.

In every new place I go, I have to figure out how to get to the beach.  My first day surfing in Salvador I hauled my board unto the very bouncy and rackety bus to end up at Farol da Barra, a gorgeous beach at the tip of the city, with a historic lighthouse at one end.

This was an urban beach, very different than the beaches of Floripa, which are often surrounded by mountains and sand dunes.   I also realized how spoilt I’d gotten in Floripa.  The beaches of Salvador, while beautiful, do not boast the best or biggest waves on your average day.  But I am learning about Brazilian beach culture, which is how the rest of non-surfing Brazilians enjoy their coastline — lounging by their umbrellas, eating fried fish and any of the assorted delicacies brought over by the passing vendors, and drinking fresh coconut water while working on their tans.  I’ve been trying it out and its not bad at all.

Jardim da Alah beach at sunset

Jardim da Alah beach, from the water, in late afternoon

Later I found what would be my favorite surfing beach, Jardim da Alah.  I met an awesome vendor of coconut water named Fabinho, who works on the sidewalk by the beach and kindly watched my stuff (a major issue when on a solo surf adventure).  After my session, I learned that he was a friend of many local surfers who all left their stuff with him and hung out afterwards drinking coconut water.  He taught me how to use a PVC pipe to pump out water, guerilla style, from a municipal source on the edge of the beach, so I could get a freshwater shower before I got back on the bus.  Thanks Fabinho!

Happy 2013!! With love from Salvador and Rio de Janeiro

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Happy New Year everyone!  I hope 2013 brings great things and much joy in the outdoors for everyone.  I have just landed in Rio De Janeiro, a city so beautiful it will make your head spin.  Already there are many adventures in the making here.  But first — over the holidays I finally had a chance to sort through some of my pictures and videos from Salvador, so I am going to post these first while I work on getting my feet on the ground here in Rio.

In Salvador, I stayed with an amazing host family – set up by my incredibly generous Californian-gone-Brazilian friend, Colin.  My little balcony overlooked a busy little square full of children playing and adults chatting at all hours of the day.  Nearly every night at the kitchen table, I played music with Colin on violin, my host brother Zinho on guitar, and me on pandeiro/raps/singing.  Perfecto!

Here I am with my host family overlooking Salvador's beautifully restored art museum right on the water.  From left to right, our friend Adriana, Colin, Mainha, Zinho, and me!

Here I am with my host family overlooking Salvador’s beautifully restored art museum right on the water. From left to right, our friend Adriana, Colin, Mainha, Zinho, and me!

The Modern Art Museum of Salvador, with its spectacularly sculpted entry gate.

The Modern Art Museum of Salvador, with its spectacularly sculpted entry gate.

A village in the sky!

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I loved my first hike in Chapada Diamantina so much that I decided to do another with another AMAZING guide, Marquinhos, who shares my love of rock climbing (I met him while exploring some boulders on a waterfall outside of Lencois).   I didn’t quite understand where we were going, so I was thrilled when after two days on the trail, we hiked right into the remote village of Igatu, on top of a mountain.

We started in the little town of Andarai, which is similar to Lencois, except it has much fewer tourists. Like most of the towns in Chapada Diamantina, it used to be a center for diamond mining and trading.

A church on the edge of the river that runs through Andarai

A perfect little waterfall in the hills of Andarai

Feeling awesome in the canyon of the Paraguacu River

We spent a couple hours walking across gorgeous smooth river rocks in shades of rose and tan

The valley is full of amazing hidden shelters, once used by diamond miners. We set up camp in this one, and I enjoyed the canyon view with my breakfast tea.

We climbed a steep ramp out of the canyon to reach this view!

While crossing the table top of the mountain, Marquinhos spotted these “potatoes of the mountain” growing wild in a stream. They are a bit like jicama, and made for a tasty and crunchy salad with our dinner.

I could hardly believe it, when I spotted these soccer goal posts. I thought we were miles from civlization, but we had hiked right into a little remote village on top of a mountain. Here is their soccer field.

The village is surrounded by ruins of old stone houses from the diamond mining years.

The famous church of São Sebastão in Igatu, like most of the houses in the village, is made from beautiful rose-colored rock.

The Byzantine style cemetary of the church of São Sebastão

The “California Waterfall” in the Vale de California, heading back down the mountain

The Vale da California is a rock climbers paradise, with tons of bolted routes and bouldering possibilities. We ran into some climbers from Switzerland and England on our way down.

Go climber grrrrls!

Marquinhos, who is an incredibly talented climber, demonstrates some of the possibilities offered by the visually stunning conglomerate, made from thousands of smooth round, fist-sized rocks of rose and turquoise quartz cemented together in sedimentary rock.

We hiked down along gorgeous water carved rocks, speckled with perfect pools for swimming and relaxing. We drank our water straight from the river the whole time!