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Brazil 2018: Salvador, Nov 15

Brazil 2018: Salvador, Nov 15  (Layla, Julie, Kiran)

Today was our last day in Brazil and we ate breakfast at the hotel and it had very good food. We had optional pool time afterwards at the hotel and mostly everyone went. The pool was on the roof of the hotel and had such an amazing view of the water and city. Then we packed up our stuff and before we left to go to the farewell lunch, we had journal time. We were given a few prompts to write about and one of the prompts was “What were our goals for the trip?” and it was interesting to hear everyone’s goals and how we all accomplished our goals in some way.

Before going to the airport, the group had a farewell party at Professor Javier Escudero's family home. We ate a traditional, home-cooked, Bahian lunch (fish, shrimp, vegetables, rice, pasta, and chicken). We talked with Javier and Patricia’s family, along with family friends and people who helped us on the trip. After we ate and had some down time, the group exchanged good-byes and stories of the trip. We shared our gratitude for each other and all the amazing work Javier and his family did for us. The party ended with a dance from Isabel (Javier’s niece, who accompanied us for most of the trip) and her friend. It was popular Brazilian dance with Brazilian music. After, some students did a dance in return to the song “Teamwork” by Mackenzie Ziegler. We gave our final hugs and left for the airport. It was the perfect ending to our last afternoon in Brazil.

This Brazil trip has been a wonderful experience all around. We visited tourist sites such as Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro; learned about African religion and its roots in Brazil including  candomble house on Itaparica; we learned about environmental changes in the diverse Brazilian ecosystems; we also interacted many age groups. Practicing wrestling, capoeira, and even math with young elementary school kids who live in a favela within Rio, singing and dancing with high school students in Salvador, Poetry with college students in Itaparica, and learning through presentations from multiple adults throughout our travels, all of these allowed us as outsiders to relate more to Brazilian culture. We also discovered besides the obvious differences we are not that much different than Brazilians, we could communicate with non English speakers using gestures, google translate and more. We all bonded with people we visited. One example of this was the capoeira students that we saw on Itaparica we played soccer and volleyball with. No one really spoke, we all just were laughing and having a great time, even with our incredibly different backgrounds. 

Brazil 2018: Praia do Forte Nov 14

Brazil 2018: Praia do Forte Nov 14  (Lucy Kelci Arden)

This morning we woke up a little later side at 9am and had another delicious breakfast at our hotel! Then we walked through the town and to the Tamar Project for turtles. We were given time to walk around and explore this beautiful outdoor aquarium. There were five main types of turtles that we saw that live along the coast of Praia do forte during parts of the year. They all varied in size and the patterns on their shell and were very graceful creatures. Some of the other animals we saw included sharks, fish, and sting rays. After observing all these animals we all hit the gift shop and bought  presents for our friends, family, and ourself!!!

After shopping in Praia do forte, we were on our way to Leuro de Freitas. Javier told us the ride would be around 50 minuets, probably due to traffic it was more like an hour and 40 mins. It was a fun ride for our bus, with leah, eliza, elijah, ollie, kelci (me), stephen, alec and rosey. We were all pretty tired for the first part of the ride until the end when Kim and Jensi played some jams for us. Then we finally arrived to our beautiful hotel and had a great dinner. Javier treated us with some cookies and some of us took a trip to mcdonald’s for a late night snack. Overall we had a really great last night, we’re all gonna miss the warm weather.

After lunch we traveled to the humpback whale institute. Isabelle who is a biologist from the institute gave us a presentation on the facts and habits of humpback whales. Fun fact: whales can hold their breath for 30 minutes. After, we took a group picture and suddenly our butts started to burn. We later realized that there were fireants in the benches we sat on. Don’t worry though, it only burned for a little while. Next we went shopping for twelve minutes. Then we got on the bus to go to Lauro De Freitas.

Brazil 2018: Praia do Forte Nov 13

Brazil 2018: Praia do Forte Nov 13  (Ines Celia Jess)

We started the morning by going to a fort that was built by the Portuguese colonizers in the 16th century. We explored the site, and tried to guess what the areas were used for. There were many arches throughout the structure, and even found the remnants of a dungeon. Once we talked about what we saw, we moved under a tree that was centuries old. This tree was an interesting natural part of history and could be connected to a orixa in the Candomblé religion.

After we learned about the fort, we travelled to a part of the Atlantic Forest, where we walked down a short path and picked up trash in order to fulfill our class motto of leaving areas we visit better than how we found them. We discovered that there were many plastic cups polluting the forest. We filled up eight trash bags from just a ten minute walk. Once we finished cleaning, we met a man who spent his life living in the forest. He recited a poem about the history of the land that is his home.

Next we planted three trees in the Atlantic Forest. We planted some Brazil wood, which is a tree that had been decreasing in population since people using the wood. Students were part of planting the tree, and we were taught how to properly plant the trees. After watering the trees, we headed to lunch at the house in the Forest that this man lived at. We had a nice lunch and even tried some fresh acerola fruit from the tree he was growing. We then finished the day with a trip to the beach.

Brazil 2018: Nov 12 Praia do Forte

Nov 12 Praia do Forte, Brazil  (Campbell, Rosey, Stephen)

We started out the day by visiting a local public high school in Praia do Forte. We interacted with the students through various songs and dances that we had previously prepared. The students at Praia do Forte opened the presentation with a solo song in english, that was sung beautiful by a young girl. They also sung Redemption Song by Bob Marley since they are focusing on Black Consciousness in their studies. After the song and dance presentation, they allowed us time to mingle with and get to know the students. This was a interesting experience because a majority of the students spoke no english, so we were forced to communicate through google translate. We then said goodbye and headed to lunch with eight of the high school students.

We ate lunch with the students and learned more about them and their lives in Brazil. We then walked to the beach down a very beautiful path with many shops lining it. We got to the beach and had an hour for free time. We taught some of the Brazil students a game we play called taps. They taught us a game that they play too. It was fun to share with each other what we do for fun. Once we got out of the water we dried off and walked down the beach cleaning up trash. We ended up with 6 bags of trash that we picked up off the beach. After we walked back through the beautiful path to our hotel.

Before dinner, we listened to a presenter speak on pollution in the water. It inspired many of us to find an idea for our Bio project. We then ate the local pizza which we all enjoyed. Fortunately, after dinner, we got free time to walk around and explore the town. Some of us went shopping and some got gelato. It was great to hang out with friends and have a relaxing end to the day.
Brazil 2018: Salvador Nov 10-11

Salvador, Brazil Nov 11-12, 2018 Emma, Carina, Sally

      Yesterday, November 10th, we spent the entire day sightseeing an old colonial part of Salvador called Pelourinho. The buildings are a representation of colonial Portuguese architecture. The majority of the older buildings are painted in light colorful colors. We first went around in four different groups with students from the local area learning about Pierre Verger and African influence in Brazilian culture. After, we got to spend some free time exploring the town and shopping at the local markets near the town plaza. We then visited the Church and Covent of Saint Francis, where we learned about the Franciscan influence on Salvador and how race was depicted in the religion. The church was inspired by Baroque architecture, with the inside of the church covered with numerous gold leaf carvings. This architecture left everyone in shock upon walking into the church.

      After dinner we went to see the Bale Folclorico da Bahia show. We saw a theatrical showcase of Afro-Brazilian culture through dances such as the traditional dance of the candomblé religion, capoeira, and samba. In the candomblé dance, the dancers dressed up as different African gods called orixas, which are representations of the African spiritual cosmology in candomblé.  The capoeira showcase was interesting to watch after having practiced it ourselves on a smaller scale. It was a whole new level of speed and agility through their flips and rapid kicks. To close off the show, there was a lively dance of samba, showing the happiness and energy exerted by the group through the dance.

      Today we went to the Pierre Verger Foundation Center. Pierre Verger was a French photographer who was well known for his research on the Afro-Brazilian culture in Bahia. There we took an Afro-dance class that incorporated elements of nature through the movements. The people there prepared a wonderful lunch full of traditional Brazilian food, such as manioc and guava juice. The desert satisfied our sweet tooth with coconut chunks and shavings as well as cake.  Then we did two more workshops: art and percussion. In the art class, we took recycled soda bottles and made them into decorated flowers. In the percussion workshop, we learned how to play the drums and many other Brazilian native instruments. We took a group picture with the people in the cultural center and got a surprise gift: an apron and chef's hat for each person. We then took an hour bus ride and arrived at our hotel in Praia do Forte.

Brazil 2018:  Itaparica day two Nov 9

Brazil Itaparica day two Nov 9  Adam, Eliza, Ollie

Last night we stayed at a new hotel in the colonial region of Itaparica. We had a view of the ocean and there was a pool. Some of us even woke up at 5am to watch the sunrise before falling back to sleep again. This morning was our first time swimming at the beach. All excited, we woke up and went to the beach at 8am. This was a time that we could relax and swim and hangout with each other. The water was very warm and calm with almost no waves. At the beach some people also played soccer. We spent about an hour and a half on the beach and we took lots of pictures. Then we went back to the hotel and got ready for the remainder of the day.

After leaving the hotel, we went to Professor Javier Escudero's wife Patricia’s parents house. We met up with the capoeira masters from Thursday and many more Brazilians, and with them we engaged in sports like volleyball and soccer. We also took the time to get to know many of the Brazilian people who were there, whether it was sharing music or speaking through google translate. Patricia and her family prepared a fantastic lunch of rice beans and brisket for us. And near the end of our time, many people got their hair braided by some of the Brazilian people. Overall it was a great time and a great experience interacting and sharing cultures with some awesome Brazilian people.

At their house we got to learn more capoeira and drumming, and dive further into it than we did the day before. Capoeira is a traditional Brazilian mix of dance and martial arts. We started with the ginga, the most basic capoeira move that is always taught first. From there we learned more flashy and intricate moves like cartwheeling alongside a partner and balancing in positions hovered over the ground. The sun was out and we were so very sweaty but everyone made it so fun that we didn’t want to stop. Some of us also learned how to play capoeira music. It was very hard at first because it was new for almost everyone but we really got into it and it felt like there was music playing in the background the whole time we were there.

Brazil 2018: Itaparica in Bahia Nov 8

Itaparica (in Bahia) Nov 8 Leah, Nicole, Naia

   On Thursday, we traveled by ferry from Salvador to the island of Itaparica and spent most of the day in a quilombo, which is a community where escaped enslaved people would build their homes and where their ancestors now live. One of the things we did in the quilombo was go to the place where manioc is processed. Manioc is a common plant that grows very easily in Brazil. We were able to see how it is ground up and made into different products, like flour and crackers. Also, we got to meet the people who were doing the process. It was very interesting to watch and the producers were very generous in giving us lots of samples to try!

  We went to a capoeira museum on November 7. In general, everyone had fun experiencing the Afro-Brazilian moves, such as kicks and cartwheels. Also, we interacted with the students by doing capoeira with them and trying to play the instruments that are heard when doing this sport. The instruments, such as drums and tamborines are used as a way of bringing rhythm to the moves. Along with the instruments, the students would sing about their ancestors together. Furthermore, it was one of our best days because we had the opportunity of learning about Brazil’s dancing and martial arts sport.

   In the middle of the day, the NMH students entered a Candomblé house to meet with Mãe de Santo (Translated as Mother of the Saint) Juanice to better understand the Afro-Brazilian Religion. Candomblé is a religion originating in Africa and was brought over by slaves through the Middle Passage. Since then, Candomblé has grown and evolved throughout Brazil’s history and has cemented itself as a staple part of Brazil’s culture. During our visit to the house, Mão de Santo Juanice spoke about the different Ancestors, who are the deities of the religion, such as Iiansã the god of the storms, lightning and thunder. She also spoke about one of the rituals performed by those practicing Candomblé, which involves chanting in a circle and playing the drums rhythmically. Mãe de Santo Juanice mentioned how, often, these rituals were performed in secret to prevent outsiders from looking in on the tradition and believing that the practicers were crazy. By understanding the history and significance behind these rituals and the religion itself, the NMH students are making the most of their Brazil Cultural Trip. 

Apologies for the late postings--Internet connectivity has been a little weak.