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and Capoeira

rain 75 °F
View 2020 Vision - around South America on HopeEakins's travel map.


Natal, Brazil is on the point of South America that is nearest to Africa, directly south of Greenland and quite close to the Equator. The city seems to grow as you watch, with high rise apartments and hotels rising up above dilapidated houses and dirty streets. Most doors are covered with metal gates and fences; people don’t stroll in parks. We saw few churches or government buildings, just endless apartments to house the population that is growing rapidly beyond its 1.5 million level.

Available excursions today? A ride in a dune buggy that could be con or sem emocao (with or without emotion); both options recalled roller-coaster rides with our children. A trip to the world’s largest cashew tree. A swim on a beach described as “no longer pristine but reasonably clean.” We chose to visit a school in a poor neighborhood (actually, most neighborhoods here look poor) that teaches Capoeira, a fusion of fight and African dance moves accompanied by twanging and banging and clapping. The Capoeira Master held the children’s attention and had obviously trained them comprehensively. The students looked from 5 to 18; they banged sticks and leapt over each other and somersaulted and ate fire and breathed fire. They got very close to each other but never collided. The foot in the photo was mere inches from my face. One of our group had brought a bag of the (very small) chocolate squares that get put on our pillows each night. After the dance, she gave the candy to the kids one by one. There were almost enough pieces for each child to have one, but we feared that there wouldn’t be. But of course all was well - the first boy unwrapped his 0.16 ounce treat and carefully broke it in half to share with the boy behind him.

We learned much of the plight of these kids who would grow up in abusive homes, malnourished and uneducated, without the help of this school. Although a statue of Christ with broken hands stands outside its walls, the school has no Christian financial support or connection. It was moving, however, to see Christ present though wounded, there to protect his children.

We declined to learn Capoeira ourselves, although several people from the Whisper tried and were quite skilled!

Next we were off to a prison atop a hill that is now a craft center, with small shops in the cells. We walked through with no intentions of shopping until Bill spied a pair of lovely leather sandals for Hope. They are beautifully made; they fit, and they were reasonably priced. Aha! Despite knowing only the words for ‘Thank You’ and ‘Hope’ in Portuguese, and despite having no Brazilian money, we managed to make a purchase. A mere twenty minutes later we sniffed the air. It is likely that these sandals left the tannery this morning. The odor of cow skin is permeating the cabin, and the sandals will sleep outside tonight.

Posted by HopeEakins 02:49 Archived in Brazil

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