Monday, January 09, 2006

so far so good

09Jan 06  Rio de Janeiro

Things are good here. We fell right back into the old neighborhood.
Went to have lunch and the waiter said, -Estava viajando, neh?- He
knew that he hadn't seen us so he figured we must have been
traveling. Everyone remembers us, even the newsstand guy. Very cool.

Gigogas are the big news over the last few days. I had to ask a guy
what that was. This of course meant that I was immediate friends
with everyone in the bar. They all began to tell me the story/tale
all at once. It seems that this aquatic plant, found mostly in
lagoons and rivers, has become overgrown due to lots of ´nutrition´,
shall we say, in the water. This over growth has lead to the development
of sort of a Brazilian sea-going Trifid. When it rains, these plants
are washed out into the sea and come ashore on the beaches. The good
news is that it means job security for beach cleaner folks.

Anyhow, leaving the bar, all my new friends I met 5 minutes ago were
wishing me happy trails. Where else in the world can you have a
converation about Trifids with a bunch of perfect strangers and leave
feeling like you just visited your family? I love this place.

Went to Canarios Friday night. They are now at a building down by the
port area. Something about the rent not being paid in Lapa. I had been
to the building before for a Filhos de Ghandi rehearsal. Cool space
but a little iffy out on the street at 3 or 4 AM. The samba is a little
slow getting started after New Years. The blocos are just now forming
up and calling for submissions of sambas from the composers.

The sambadrome rehearsals are in full swing and have become perhaps
a little too popular. My friend Jorge got stuck in the traffic over
there for 2 hours on Friday. It makes sense. Most people cannot afford
the first world price of a ticket to Carnaval. The open (free)
rehearsals in Sapucai are an opportunity for the locals from the areas
of the schools to show up, see the school parade in the sambadrome and
sing slong. It´s a big scene and very well attended. All the alas,
commissao de frente, porta-bandeira, etc, are represented. There are
no big floats. The baterias strut their stuff as this is their opportunity
to march and play and work their show. These rehearsals happen 2 or 3
times per week and are published on various websites and in the paper.

On the samba de mesa front, there are some cool developments in our
area. There is a new dance studio about one block away where they now have
shows on Sat and Sunday. This week it was Forro on Saturday with a roda
de samba with Teresa Cristina on Sunday. This also is published in the
paper. Travessa Euricles de Matos. 1700 hours. $R15. There is also a
roda on Sunday nights at Severina just around the corner.

Marcos Suzano is doing his workshop at Maracatu Brasil again this year.
Poorly advertized but, somehow, well-attended anyhow. If you´re in Rio
this week, check it out. He moves very slowly and is a good teacher.
Great beginner course. Not sure on price.

In my opinion the best places to eat continue to be the Pe Sujos,
little bars your mother told you to stay away from when you were
little. You have to look around for a clean one. These are the primary
lunch places for workers in the area. They have fixed price meals with
more food than you can possibly eat for about $3 American. Since
the value of the dollar has fallen so much during the reign of King
Shrub, it´s more important than ever to find good off-the-beaten path
eateries.

In the beer department, stay away from places which only serve Choppe.
This is the Brazilian version of draught beer. The stuff is OK but,
compared to my beloved SKOL in the 600ml bottle, it´s really expensive.
SkOL is around $R2,80 at the time of this writing. More than last year but
still in the ballpark.

More on Guaratiba and Moqueca tomorrow.

Off to walk the beach. j