Monday, November 15, 2010
Ok...I know it's been MONTHS. No excuse. Can we say I just needed time to digest everything?
If you are a REAL follower you will have remained faithful...that's why you're reading right now, right?
Ok..where did we leave off....
Poços de Caldas, Ribeirão Preto and Araraquara are the small cities we visited after SP. What was interesting to me is that, although the distance between them was not great (they were about a 3 hour drive apart) each city was COMPLETELY unique.
Poços de Caldas is in the state of Minas Gerais, and it was by far my favorite of the small cities we visited. We got to Poços and it was like a scene from a movie...old small town, quaint with a lot of history. Tall trees, OLD hotel. The hotel was really interesting. It looked like an old ski resort, like the one in "The Shining" complete with labyrinth hallways, 19th century furniture, rotary phones, marble and statues and CREEPY noises.
We arrived, had lunch and had the afternoon off, which was nice. Suuuch good food in Brazil, always. We were pretty tired as usual. A group went to the "teleferico" (cable car at the top of the mountain) but Emma and I weren't too interested, so we went to explore the town. The hotel was right on the central town square...as soon as we walked out we saw a bunch of people drunk on the street, yelling, dancing, blasting music...at 3 PM on a Wednesday. What???? We were so confused and excited at the same time. As we continued we saw what we soon learned was a fashion trend in Brazil (or at least the cities we visited): belly shirts. Yes, exposed midriffs. And these weren't super-model bellies. In fact, most of them were older women with a gut. True life.
We went into a small department store to look around and heard chanting, which was strange. We walked over and found a senior citizens chorus. So precarious and so cute! And the audience of like 5 people was listening so attentively! There was one part that was hilarious...they started in the wrong key and went waaaaay to high so the choirmaster had to stop them and start over. I recorded it. You have to see it when I post it.
Then we walked around some more and saw the most random combination of shops, a sex shop next to a place that sold instruments, next to a restaurant that sold pizza cones (ice cream cones filled with pizza), next to a place that sold scary dolls. And then we saw a train, maybe 3 or 4 cars long, that was sitting on a track that was a little longer than the train. What? And it was elevated so it wasn't part of an exhibit or anything. WEIRD!
All I know is Emma and I laughed the entire afternoon. This place was so all over the place and different, unpredictable. Then we stopped to get ice cream and almost DIED when we saw it was
a SELF SERVE PARLOR....PARADISE!!!! All kinds of flavors, all kinds of toppings (ie condensed milk) and charged by weight. Amazing.
On the way back to the hotel it was around 8 and we saw that the party had REALLY started....and we spotted some of our boy musicians talking to local girls. We realized the party had to do with some college initiation thing. Whatever.
That night i could barely sleep. I had the worst most vivid nightmares. I kept hearing voices, seeing rats and pigeons and at one point, I was awake, and felt the weight of a body over me that would not let me breathe. And when I felt like I was going to pass out it was gone. Some of my friends say it's called "el muerto". Whatever it
was scared the hell out of me. I think that place was haunted.
The concert the next day was fantastic. I think that was the last time the orchestra played Shostakovich 9, my favorite. This is when I realized the tour was wrapping up soon. I really didn't expect much of a crowd but it was pretty full and the crowd was really responsive. Great success in the middle of nowhere....says a lot, but I'll get back to that.
The next day we were off to Ribeirão Preto, which is kind of a blur because I got sick. I remember we got there, then Ana, Emma and I (3 musketeers) went for a walk. This city looked totally different. I can't really explain how, but it did. Different architecture (more modern, taller buildings) and vibe (more quiet and sober). It was nice. Then we changed, went to the theater, which was an old theater, GORGEOUS! Then we walked around the plaza for a while and I started feeling funny. When we got back to the hall I sat on a chair and passed out...they sent me back to the hotel which was nice. I crawled into bed and slept uninterrupted for 13 hours.
We left right the next day and I was feeling a lot better. Araraquara was also different. Part of it was that we stayed in a hotel in the outskirts of the city...it was a comfort inn or days inn, something like that, and it was like on a highway...we couldn't really walk around. As soon as we arrived Juliana (part of the Brazilian team) and I had to scramble to collect and photocopy passports and Brazil visas because, apparently, the police needed to see this if they randomly pulled us over. SUCH a hassle!!! A complete waste of time because we didn't even get pulled over...but...better safe than sorry!
The concert was impressive. We saw a line that went out of the theater and around the block. Amazing. And in Araraquara of all places???? Who would think???? And that's one of the great lessons this trip taught me. I expected to see crowds of screaming fans in the big cities (ok maybe not screaming fans but long lines) and expected a low turnout in small towns. I mean, smalled towns means working class or rural populations, which means no exposure to music, which means no interest. FALSE. At least the interest part. They were very excited. Maybe it was the publicity, or maybe it was the first international act to visit their town. Maybe they wanted to see something different, or maybe it was word of mouth. All I know is these people gave us much more support than any of the big city elite audiences. Not to sound cliche or corny, but it really made me feel like we were accomplishing the mission: to reach out to people who hadn't been reached out to. To bring classical music to people who hadn't been exposed to it. It was a great feeling for everyone and it made me feel like it was all worth it.
The next day we left for Rio....which we all know is my favorite part of the story...and I love saving the best for last. But this time, I am making a promise: I WILL PUBLISH THE LAST POST, RIO DE JANEIRO, BY THE END OF THIS WEEK. Signed, sealed, delivered, no ifs or buts.
Love you all and thanks for being patient. Hope you enjoyed the comeback :)