Holli Sullivan - Brazil

September 15, 2011

Nature is so smart. How can you take a big green coconut ball and fill it with clean, fresh, delicious drinkable water? Don’t ask me, but geez, está muito bom. So anyways…Here I am on the patio in Rio Vermelho (Hee-oh Veh-mel-yoo…who’d have thought right?), soaking in the Bahian sun and finally writing my blog. It’s taken me quite a while because every time I sit down to write it I put too much pressure on my brain and it explodes. Literally. So please forgive me if my blog lacks a theme and words like “coincidentally” and “thus far.” I’ll get there, I promise 🙂

They told me when I first got here to Salvador that a lot of things here were all about “reciprocity.” I didn’t really know what it meant to be honest, but now I do. Brazilian Independence day down in Pelourinho brought tons of festivities, sounds, and people to the max. I was stoked about all the excitement, and as usual liked seeing it all through my lens rather than with my normal eyes. Well my friends, reciprocity is a big brat let me tell ya. I was filming 2 young’ns-not even 10 years old I’d say- playing the beautiful game of capoeira. These kids were less than half our age but could easily drop any of us with one Rabo de Arraia. I was getting some pretty sweet footage of these two, when up walks a half-naked very tall Bahian man on a mission (Let’s call him LidVaris). He first grabbed Tonino, then Karina, trying to get them to go over closer to the newly forming roda (the circle that capoeiristas n’ pals form to play the game) to watch and video. Of course it would be, the naivest of the naive small town kids in the universe, to be way stoked to go over and watch them. LidVaris grabbed my arm and led me over to the kids, where i continued to film them. After about a minute of filming, he sticks his long berimbau (a musical instrument used in capoeira which handy-dandily enough doubles as a tourist deposit bank) into my face and grunts, knowing that i spoke pretty much no Portuguese. “Sim, sim, muito beleza!” I said, thinking he just wanted me to appreciate the instrument. Nah, he didn’t, he placed some of his own reais (Brazil money) into it to give me a pretty obvious idea of what I was supposed to do. Really LidVaris, really? I knew that all I had in my bag was 20 real bills, which was really way more than I wanted to pay just for filming two kids playing capoeira, so I began to walk away. But the berimbau followed close behind me, and LidVaris behind it. His face was getting angrier by the second, and I knew he wasn’t going to give up. I realized that I didn’t technically have to give him my money, but I wasn’t about to be the little white tourist running through the plaza screaming for help with a big angry berimbau man chasing me. The rest of the fellows were watching and began to walk away from the situation as I was digging through my bag looking for anything smaller than a 20. Finally I found a 10 and just threw into the berimbau and walked away, extremely irritated. Now I realize though, in the eyes of Bahia, Salvador, and “LidVaris,” I got my video, why shouldn’t they get something in return? Is this something I necessarily agree with? No, I wouldn’t say that, but hey I’ve only been here 2 weeks, so I do think that I’ll begin to gain respect for little cultural difference. For now…I think I’ll go get another coconut for sunset 🙂


Holli Sullivan