Category Archives: portuguese

End of studies and Minas

This weekend has been heavily influenced by rain as Brasil finally cools down from the crazy heat. I’ve also finally finished my portuguese lessons. Hard to believe its been 3 weeks here already! It was also a little hard to maintain enthuiasm for the classes given how intense it felt, but I think I did a pretty good job there. That was definitely helped by my teachers being friendly and easy to talk to, and I tried to keep my responses to questions at least a little interesting rather than just the dry facts. Definitely glad I didnt taken the option with more comtact hours though!

So last weekend I went to hang out with my friends’ teacher CM. Kuata. He’s a great guy, gave me some good tips for my game and has been really generous. Along with one of his students called Urso (who has also been really friendly) we went to a place that did amazing feijoada after training in the morning. I ate so much I was good for the rest of the day. Then he took me to a capoeira angola roda, I always love watching good angoleiros, especially old men. After all this I was pretty knackered, but the day wasn’t over. We headed off to a forro night (a brazillian dance vaguely similar to salsa) with another of Kuata’s students. I’d danced some forro before in the UK and thought I at least knew the basics, but going there convinced me I could barely see the basics from where I am. These people were amazing! I was pretty intimidated but I got a bit of coaching from J and some friendly girls we were standing next to and ended up having a great time.

There was more brasil-based-boogie the next day as my hosts André and Julia took me and a bunch of their students to a samba school. They were rehearsing for the carnaval of course, and since it’s nearly the end of the year they were very tight. What amazed me the most though was that they hit a peak of energy very early on, then managed to sustain it for the next 2 hours! With about 70 musicians in a hall it was also incredibly loud. There were probably twice that number of dancers and they pounded the floor for that length of time as well. My favourite dancers were the flag couples. Each flag was held by a woman and sort of attached at her waist. They would present the flag to the audience at intervals and the dancing involved a lot a spinning, one of my favourite things. Quite often the woman would be spinning in the middle with the guy running large circles counterways. The youngest pair looked to be about 10 and they were awesome, more awesome than any 10 year old has a right to, but the older dancers were stunning.

After training monday to wednesday on top of the active weekend my body had decided enough was enough. Fortunately it was then time for a little finishing-the-course drink with the school, which was very friendly. The next day I was off to Belo Horizonte!

As my plane landed my occasional rain-calling powers kicked in with some force, preventing all the later flights from landing (we were lucky to get in when we did I think) and even stopping Dani on her way to pick me up as she could no longer see out of her windscreen! Once Dani had managed to get me though we had an amazing weekend. First she showed me an awesome museum about Minas Gerais (the state BH is in) then we went to an absolutely insane market where we had some drinks and traditional Minas pub food. Minans seem to be very proud of their food and it was indeed awesome. Apparently it is also home to artesan cachaças, so we hunted around the market and found a place I could buy a couple of bottles. I was a bit worried about the plane as I just brought hand luggage and didnt want to check my bag in, but this is Brasil. Of course you can bring 1 and a half litres of cachaça in your hand luggage!

Next we headed off to Ouro Preto with a couple of Dani’s friends. This is the small town which was a former capital of the country as well as the center of the gold rush. It’s fantastically pretty in a mountainous Portuguese style and is now mainly a tourist destination and university town.
We had a great weekend here with a bit of cachaça and some stunning gold-covered churches. These make me feel quite sorry for the poor people who initially donated all the gold, it’s one thing to want a beautiful place of worship, but at some point you expect them to say “You know, we finally have enough gold leaf, solid gold ornaments and beautiful statues.” In Ouro Preto this just didn’t happen.
We also got an invite into a republica – basically a brasillian frat house with a decent party and plenty of free beer. After a quick tour I was sceptical how anyone who lived there managed to get any studying done, but apparently they don’t.

Back in Belo Horizonte for my last day I was dropped off for the morning next to a lake which would have been gorgeous if it had less crap floating in it. On the other hand it also had capybaras floating in it and chilling out on the sides. I wanted to see some of these massive rodents for years so this was an amazing surprise. They were so relaxed, paddling around or having a sleep with their sprogletts and I took a lot of pictures. Some of them seemed to be receiving a groom from vultures while they slept, although if they didn’t move for too long the vultures seemed to give them a hopeful nip to check they were still alive. I think vultures are nature’s optomists. After all, everything dies if you wait long enough. Other, less morbid birds had built some little mud houses in the trees, so I got a look at those too.

Dani’s mother really wants a picture of a roo with a joey!

I arrived back in São Paulo late, so grabbed a taxi to Osasco. This was a mistake. Generally Brasil has been well balanced or a little cheaper than Aus or the UK, but not the airport taxis. Made it just in time for a last roda with Kuata and his students and stayed over for a solid morning of training. CM. Kuata has been incredibly generous while I’ve been here, not charging a penny for his classes and giving me a bunch of instruments for Lee back in aus (and one for me!). It was also a great test of my portuguese as we had a decent chat over lunch, albeit with lots of simple words and explaining.

I’m still a bit behind but I better post this before it becomes the entire rest of my trip. Next time, Mel arrives!

1st Week Retrospective

Today I saw a dog wearing tiny shoes.

After being here for a week I feel like a pro (ha! I lie!). The simple conversations are getting easier but that means that people use harder words. I also found the most dangerous thing in brasil: pay by weight buffet. Anyone who has lived with me can probably see where this is going. Anyway, I’d heard these things were cheap but forgot I was in a foodcourt, and naturally with all these new foods I wanted to try a bit of this and a bit of that and ooh that looks interesting and… Yeah… so this ended up costing 3x what I’ve been paying for lunch elsewhere. It was good though. The 3 deserts I had were great too.

After the last update I went to train at the matriz again and got to meet CM. Gaiola (such a dude) and some more people. I’ve already got to meet and play with more amazing capoeiristas than any time outside of an event. Here’s hoping some of it rubs off. Hells I’ve been to classes with less students than there were contramestres on Thursday. Picked up some handspin tips from CM. Kibe to take home as well.

Ended up having 3 days without capoeira after thurs, which felt bad on the emotive side but good on the legs. Instead I saw the finale of Brasil’s most obsessed-about novela Avenida Brasil (the most controversial character spent the whole time crying… Get a grip) and went to the museum of independence museu do ipiranga. That was a pretty cool place, with a statue of the emperor waving a sword from horseback at the spot he actually sat on a donkey and suffered dysentry, so it was very historic.

Last night I was back at capoeira in 34 degree heat, so today has been spent constantly drinking water to try and catch back up! Great roda though, I played a bunch including with CM. Kibe, although I was pretty destroyed by that point. Had one of those survival games with an instructor I didn’t know who decided to test my reflexes. Fun all round!

So after 1 week here I at feel fairly settled, know my way to the most important places and some cool people. Finally got the tickets for our internal flights sorted as well so I’m looking forwards to plenty of adventures with Mel. Tchau!

Chilling in a hot place

So, after however many years and 30 hours on planes I’ve finally made it! Chilling in Brazil…
The planes were fine. I did a lot of sleeping and movie watching. The low point there being the amazing spiderman, which managed to make me feel like I’d wasted my time despite the fact I was trapped in a metal box with nothing else to do. About the last 5 hours i started to get antsy, but luckily planes these days have plenty of 90’s style computer games to distract my inner child.

Being met by a friend’s family at the airport was an absolute luxury. And my hosts have turned out to be great so far. I’m in a little granny flat at the back of their house. It even has a bunk bed in case granny feels sprightly. They both teach portuguese and one also teaches english so they’ve been very helpful.

I made it to the CDO matriz (headquarters) on my second day. I was so nervous! I realised over the last 8 years of capoeira I’d built this place up in my mind as a promised land of capoeira, full of mini mestres waiting to become the next M. Xuxu or M. Poncianinho at the age of 16. Not to mention all the famous mestres I’d probably be tripping over who’d kick my arse if I blinked at them funny. Of course, the matriz was just a normal class, full of friendly capoeiristas (as ever). I was greeted by CM. kibe in a friendly but busy-and-this-gringo-barely-speaks-my-language way and went on to an intense but fun class. I cant tell if i actually haven’t trained that hard in a while or the humidity just killed me, but i felt like I was training at altitude. The first student I met turned out to be urso, a friend of my friend who teaches capoeira in perth, and he offered to help me get to the place where their mestre teaches the next day. I also met a little kid with a lisp who talked at me for about 20 minutes. I couldn’t understand much but it was good practice. He does judo and his dad was getting his hair cut. Or was a hairdresser. Either way. The class was full of foreigners like me though. One of them even thought i was brazillian because of my broken portuguese, i was pretty chuffed. Pretty destroyed by the end as well.

So the next day I head off to osasco to meet CM. kuata, my friend’s teacher. Its a half hour walk to the station then another hour across 5 trains to estacione comandante in osasco. Kuata seems pretty cool, but the class is mostly beginners. I was nervous again, but this time because i couldn’t figure out when the last trains were and this class doesn’t even start until 9pm. No one seemed worried that i came by train though, so hakuna matata. Urso met me at the station to help me find the place and he’s already one of my favorites here. Awesome guy, super dedicated to capoeira and with a great game. I think he trains every day, sometimes more than once. Thanks to the late start and long travel route (I was basically taking trains in a spiral to get home) I didn’t get in until 12.30. Naturally then i was woken up at 6 by a brain convinced it wasn’t tired. If I understood him correctly CM. kuata would like me to come to as many classes as possible to take sequences back to his student in perth, but with that timetable we’ll have to see how many I can make (sorry doodz, I’ll do my best).

Today, instead of having a “proper” portuguese class we basically listened to a cool song by a band called skank, had a chat and went to the local market. It was awesome. They take over a street once a week and fill it with fresh fruit and deep fried packages of fatty joy called recheio.

Alright, so I’m off to capoeira at the matriz again tonight. My legs are sore but my belly is full and my head is happy. Here’s a link to the song I mentioned, I’d like to embed the video but I’m doing this through an ipod and it’s a bit limited. The typing is a bugger too! Skank – Saideira

Saideira is the last drink of the night, sort of a “one for the road” type vibe. Enjoy!