Her Juggling Feet

everybody's a nobody. and nobody's perfect.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

I want to remember

Life is life is life is life is life. We have been staying outside of Paraty, a coastal town between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in a community called a quilombo. It is Afro-Caribbean in its heritage--formed when enslaved Africans fled the city to begin new lives in more free, less oppressed regions. There are quilombos all over Brasil, and this one, Campinho, is over 300 years old. It was founded by three women, and after generations of babies, labor in the fields, song, religion, and more babies, it still exists today. There is a river that flows through their valley, banana trees, roosters crowing at all hours.

Yesterday the Caravan celebrated its 10 year anniversary. The morning commenced with this wonderful energy of song and appreciations and circles around the Masorca, the bus that has been with the Caravan the entire time, and almost everyone spoke. We have two gringos from the US that are making a documentary of the Caravan and they were there filming as well. Realized how sublimely blessed and how crazy it is that I am here, living in community with these people. More and more I am seeing the beauty of each person and loving what they give, the abilities that they have, their contributions.

The rest of the day was spent in Paraty, food shopping on foot with Heriberto and Juliano. It was hot and we drank beer and walked along the beach for a while as well. Paraty is lovely--tiny cobblestone streets, buildings painted white with bright trim, old colonial churches. When we returned to the quilombo, the community had us meet them in their small center. From one end of the room to the other, were three loooooong tables filled with cakes and sweets and juices and flowers and native plants. And there was drumming and dancing and my feet, bare against the dusty floor, flowers in my hair, a necklace woven out of plant fibers around my neck. I felt very indigenous, very powerful, very much in love with the beauty of the moment and the beauty of myself in this place.

Last Sunday the Caravan went on a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts, high into the hills of the Mata Antlantica to visit a small indigenous tribe, the Guarani. They extended an invitation to us to participate in a day of ritual sharing and sacred ceremony. We drove, first for an hour, and then began our ascent on foot, women in one line, men in the other, oldest leading first and descending by age. With 5 kilos of rice on my back, coca leaf under my tongue, we hiked for almost an hour and a half through little rivers, hills, forest and then we were greeted by one barefoot boy and then we see their village. six buildings made out of earthen brick. We were led into their community house where their elder spoke with us in a mixture of Portuguese and native tongue. He invited us to hike down into the valley and bathe in the waterfalls. There are lots of waterfalls in this region and this one was exceptionally beautiful with a pool to swim in and rocks to lie on and air-dry.

I helped make lunch under this awning of a kitchen with earthen floors and wooden gates and an open fire stove with the women cooking mandioca. The day ended with a circle, the making of an altar, song, and blessings. One of those i can´t believe i am here i need to pinch myself every 4 minutes just to remember not to take this for granted moments.

So...life is life is life is life is life.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Raindrops keep falling on my head

We have spent the last four days on an island off the Brasilian coast, working between two schools. It was quite the effort to fit our entourage of vehicles on a small ferry, which in reality has the capacity of carrying five or six cars. We made it, as we always seem to do, and with our usual chaotic flair.

The roads aren´t paved, just pressed with sand, and we were just a 10 minute walk to the beach. I fell asleep to the sound of murmuring waves.

Our work continues, with workshops in circus arts and theatre and such, though this week I opted to do more ´housework´, if you will. Which means lots of deep-cleaning the kitchen, organizing food, shopping, etc. I also did a day of childcare with Lucas, and it was really a pleasure. We tied string to his two plastic dumptrucks and took our little caravan to the beach. He is an amazing boy with so much creativity and insight. I really enjoy learning from him.

Our final day on the island, we took the Wipala, our rainbow-colored bus, for a ride on the beach. The weather was grey and the water choppy, but it made the colors all that more vivid. Most of the Caravan rode above, though I was happy to stay inside, having enough of high-risk adventure. We had a local guide to take us to a national reserve right off the shore--breathtaking. There is shoreline and all of sudden the earth rises up into steep green jagged mountains. We began hiking just as the rain began to fall, first in little pitter-patters, then harder pellets, and then the sky just opened up and out comes a drenching downpour. We walked in this for maybe 10 minutes before we high-tailed it back to the shelter of the Wipala.

Still, it was a walk in a rainforest, hence the name, I guess.