Saturday, October 24, 2009


In between all the heavy work which we were subjected to in the workshops :) Ayse and I would periodically take off, call up a couple of motorbike taxis and spin off into the village of Japaratinga which is right on the beach. Our first stop was invariably the internet cafĂ© in the centre of the small town after which we would walk down to “Mama Pereira’s” , a replica of the beachside shacks you find in Goa. Even the waiters in jeans and T-shirts, resembled those in Goa, laidback but friendly.

What I loved was the beer, which everywhere was served chilled. To keep it cold the bottle or beer can itself is stuck into a kind of thermos flask flask which keeps it chilled almost to the end. Mama Pereira’s was good fun to hang out in, it was casual, frequented by dozens of people during the day, yet not overcrowded, and every now and then a vendour or fisherman would walk through, flaunting his wares. You have little boys cycling down the beach side road, flogging everything from ice cream to locally manufactured CD’s, their little tin containers fitted with stereos blaring out samba music.

While Ayse and I were chilling one afternoon with a glass of beer, this peanut seller strolled through the restaurant, little plastic bags of peanuts strung up along a bamboo pole. I stopped him to take a photograph. He nodded but asked me to wait. Then he fished around for a few seconds in his pocket and whipped out a pair of sunglasses which he stuck on his nose with a flourish. Now, he indicated, he was ready to be photographed.

The one big jolt I got in Brazil was that nobody but nobody seems to speak anything but Portuguese. One in a hundred maybe can get by with a smattering of English otherwise it is mostly sign language. The menu at Mama Pereira’s is entirely in Portuguese but by and by we picked up some of the essential terms. Abrigado means thank you. (If a woman says it, it’s Abrigada), Fish is Peixe (pronounced “peshe”), beer (the first thing I learned from Rupert at Mama Pereira’s), is Cerveja, cheese is queijo. Then I saw a word on the menu which I thought couldn’t possibly be what I thought it was – batata. In fact, like it does in Marathi, it means potato!

On the east coast of Brazil the sun rises so early in the morning that we were mostly up and about by five o'clock. By six thirty several of us would have gathered in the garden where we had our meals, waiting desperately for our morning coffee and by seven the multi course breakfast would start to appear in bits and pieces, at Willi’s resort where the group was staying during the workshop.

The sun also sets early in these parts. By three in the afternoon it begins to get cool. This is when, if we were at Mama Pereira’s, we would get onto the beach because it was no longer very hot. It is by and large a clean, quiet and pretty beach. By five the sun starts to set and by six it is pitch dark. During the workshop days dinner would be served by six and by seven it looked like there was nothing to do but go to bed. The first few days I was zapped, just not used to this kind of routine. Then things settled down and by the time Ariela, Thomas and others arrived, we would just hang out, order ourselves a Caipirinha (white rum based drink with sugar and lemon – very nice!) and chat till late. Sometimes Thomas or Paul or someone would get out their guitars and entertain us. At some point I will write about the workshops. (Four in the space of about twelve days!) Maybe when I’ve sorted out the pictures I got from Silvia, the Brazilian woman who attended the sessions. She is an anthropologist and film maker and one of the few people I met who spoke English fluently, mainly because she had spent three and a half years in Winnipeg doing her PhD in social anthropology.

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