Making the choice to take a gap year was a difficult decision filled with skepticism, second thoughts, and sometimes criticism from others. I wondered if I was straying too far from my path to follow my passion for music. Brazil seemed like a surreal and magical country filled with so many things I have never could have expected, but when I stepped off the plane (keeping in mind that this is my new home for the next eight months) things became very real very quickly and I knew this was the right path.
To me cultural expression in Salvador is intrinsic to Bahians and I feel its presence increasingly every day. There is history, music, dance, and art everywhere you look in some form or another. I remember one of the first days here we walked around the corner from our albergue(hostel) and heard music and drumming from a building three stories up when Rebeca, one of our coordinators, said “This group trains capoeira, which is a Brasilian dance fight and they train four days a week.” I hear those kinds of groups playing regularly when I walk around, drum groups parading, live music in clubs, paintings, street art and so much more. Even homeless people living in the crowded streets play drums, make trinkets to sell, or dance.
On September 7th, Brasilian Independence Day, I was standing in the plaza of the historic center watching Brasilians playing capoeira and a man from the group approached me. He grabbed my arm and tried to force me to take a picture and have me pay for it, but I refused. The man persisted to get the other Fellows to try to give him money and eventually coerced one of our own into it. The music here is deeply rooted into the culture and even how many people make their living. I am more than excited to be here surrounded by music and am ready to jump in.