Getting Older

I am not settling into this phase of life very easily. I am a homebody, but I don't want to be, I am a party girl that doesn't party, I am a social person with anti-social behavior, and I am a traveling spirit trapped in my house. This doesn't bode well. I am crediting these changes to age. I am at a point when I do not want to go out and party all night, but I feel like I should want to, and then I feel guilty for not going out. I have been creating a mental list of "you know you are getting old when...

staying out drinking in the street with people you don't know doesn't sound like fun.

you have no idea what the latest band is and do not care

you will not travel anywhere to see a show or do anything to get backstage

you stand at the back of the crowd

note: some friends came over and interrupted the writing of this post; we stayed up until 4:30 in the morning. I might have to rethink my list a little.



I have been thinking a lot about peace lately. The plea for peace in the daily chaos, peace in the middle east, peace in Iraq, peace studies, peace linguistics, paz em 2008, peace in numerous global conflicts, and peace in the Brazilian favelas.

Who benefits from peace? Equally important, who benefits from conflict?

It never occurred to me to question the idea of peace as part of the status quo until a woman in my human rights class at the UFPE brought it up. We were discussing peace education and a project that was instituted at one of the public schools here in Recife. Everyone was praising the project and inevitably, the discussion turned to the previous day's headlines of violence, assaults, general terror, and mayhem. You could smell the fear being generated within the room. I have written about the fear circles before, and this was no different. It is always someone is a situation of privilege talking about being terrorized.

As the conversation built on what we do with violence in the schools, violent children, and educating in this setting, she said something to the effect of, "And just exactly who are we asking to be peaceful? The students who have nothing? Who are marginalized? Who are victims of our society? How can we ask them just to accept the situation and be peaceful about it? PEACE FOR WHOM?"

I had never thought to stop and question the very idea of "peace" and whom it benefits in an unequal and unjust society.

Peace means telling these people to accept their situation and through their submission and non-confrontational practice, they will find peace. Acceptance or submission is the price of peace. These kids are coming from the violence of their daily lives, the fight just to get through the day, the symbolic violence against them in the media, the physical violence of the police, and we ask them to be peaceful. Peace fits the status quo. Peace does not rock the boat. Peace does not change the system.

Their fight is disrupting our peace. Their agitation against the system makes the middle class' lives a little less comfortable.

I had already written a draft of this post when I read a comment on my friend's blog about the riots in Mozambique over a bus fare increase. This fare increase would literally have left the majority of the population working only to pay for taking the bus to work with nothing left over. The comment someone wrote about the protest was to the affect of "why can't they just be organized and peaceful?" Something about that idea just made me uncomfortable. I obviously believe in non-violence from my privileged perspective, but can I demand the same of people in an obviously less privileged situation that literally determines if they can feed their families? Do I have a right to project my "peace" upon the people the system is marginalizing?

We are taught the non-violence is the solution to conflict and through non-violent action, we can change things. I am starting to become a little more doubtful. In a system that is inherently violent how do people make changes? I know the standard answers education, unity, etc., etc., but what is really changing?

I still believe in a world without violence, I just wonder who sacrifices for that peace.


Carnival Cold...again

I spoke too soon. On Saturday night I started to feel the sore throat and brushed it off as screaming, drinking, and partying too much, but on Monday it became all too clear that yet again, I got the Carnival cold at the beginning of Carnival. I can't quite understand it. I could explain the first two years of the Carnival Cold because I had been in the US during January and could blame the difference in temperature, new germs, etc. This year I have no excuse except that I am allergic to Carnival. Yes, this could also be a very intense allergy attack. It feels like allergies, like Juniper allergies in New Mexico at their very worst. The force of the sneezing actually shakes my body and resembles something out of the Exorcist.

I have often said that I am allergic to Recife, and this just proves the point. While traveling the last month along the coast, I was fine, no problems, and as soon as I get back to Recife the allergies come and I feel horrible. My allergies have been getting worse since I got here; I think that it could be the super chlorinated water that makes your eyes burn in the shower, the air pollution, the dust that seems to coat every surface with fine black powder, or just general city living.

There is also the option of psychosomatically induced sickness to Carnival, but who would do that to themselves? This has been listed as an option, but I am going to overrule it.

So, I have been sitting in the hammock reading Love in the Time of Cholera (again), drinking coffee, and generally enjoying the complete silence of normal city noises. It is almost eerie how quiet it is. The entire city outside of the Carnival areas is shut down; I haven't even heard a car pass by in the past few hours. If you don't like Carnival (a surprisingly big population), you go to the beach or the country, and if you do like Carnival you are in the folia day and night when not sleeping so the rest of the city is a ghost town. It is like being on a retreat from the chaos in the middle of it all. I have said before how my house is a little oasis in the madness--full of birds and flowers with a great hammock on the porch, and now it really is, complete with the silence of the city sleeping.


Carnaval 2008

Carnaval Multicultural

Recife/Olinda has one of the best carnival parties in the country for being the "Carnaval de Todos." In Rio, you only get to samba with enough money to buy a costume or a ticket and Salvador is equally exclusive because you have to buy a shirt ($$$) in order to parade with the Trio Electricos, but in Recife everyone heads to the street dressed in crazy costumes or everyday clothes to brincar (play) carnival.

Carnival in Recife is also amazing because of the diversity of music you will hear. In Rio and São Paulo samba is the thing, and in Salvador it is all Axe, but Recife has such a diverse variety of music there is no way that I can list it all. Recife is currently celebrating 100 years of Frevo and it is by far the most common music you will hear during Carnival. The word Frevo comes from "ferver" which means to boil. I can only describe it as a frenetic clown dance with leaps and squats all done with a tiny umbrella and a giant smile on your face. I took a couple of frevo dance classes, but I couldn't hack it. It is too much bouncing around for me and my bad ankle.

The streets are also filled with the rhythms of Maracatu, Caboclinhos, Coco, Afroxe, Samba, Electronic music, Mangue Bit (or Beat), Hip hop, Rock, etc. On Friday night, we went down to Marco Zero to see Silvério Pessoa with Manu Chao, Paulo Miklos and Fernando Anitelli do Teatro Mágico. It was a great show and an amazing opportunity to see Mano Chao. I had never seen him live and we were right up front during the show. I have been trying to find out if he was going to have a show other than the Marco Zero appearance, but I had no luck, and then I met him and asked.

On Saturday we were in Olinda and our bloco, Eu Acho é Pouco, stopped for one of its breaks and he walked right by me. I looked at Sam and said, "Is that Mano Chao?" Sam confirmed and I ran after him tapping him on the shoulder saying "licença, licença, você é Mano Chao?" and he stopped, confirmed that we was in fact Mano Chao, and I asked him about more shows in Recife (negative) and told him I really enjoyed the show the night before. He said that he would probably be back at the end of the year (damn) and then I quit bothering him. Wow.

That alone was enough to make the night great, but we ran into lots of friends, danced and had a great time. So far, Carnival is going well...and I am not sick. This is the first Carnival that I haven't had the Carnival cold. Carnival cold is really common due to the excessive abuse of alcohol, lack of sleep, and lots of tourists bringing new germs, everyone gets Carnival cold on Wednesday, except me, I get it before and during Carnival. So being healthy this year helps a lot too! I have been dosing vitamin C for the past week in preparation.

Off to Recife Antigo for more Carnival!