Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Bringing Home Brazil

After a full 26 hours of traveling by car, plane, bus and foot, I finally arrived home to our little apartment in Colorado yesterday. Waiting there to welcome me back was a beer stein full of beautiful flowers from my husband and a wiggly, excited dog. My husband was still at work and the house was quiet except for the contented snorts of the dog, who snuggled against my travel-weary legs.

After a hot shower, I suddenly felt an urgent need to unpack, as if seeing Brazilian objects would help me figure out how to begin describing what I did and saw there. So much happened in the past 12 days that was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before... I wanted to do my memories justice with the stories I told.

Several of the handmade items I brought back broke and needed to be repaired, but the majority returned unharmed. As I looked at each piece, examining it for damage, I visualized the real people and places in Brazil that they represented. Each object seemed to carry with it the sound of matracas or waves, the smell of limes or sweat, the taste of shrimp or corn cakes...

Along with the objects, I came back with a camera full of images. These images, while they often fall short of conveying the true color and magnitude of Brazil, also help to tell my story. Below is a series of my photos that I have arranged so as to connect the art I brought home with images of the actual events I lived.

Over the course of the next week, I will be doing a series of posts in which I explain what is going on in these photos (except for the clowns in the last picture-- there is never an explanation for clowns). These forthcoming posts will cover everything from my trips to the sea-side Alcântara and the traditional communities of Taim and Rio dos Cachorros, to the Bumba meu boi, forrô, and tambor criolo street performances, and finally to the culminating event of my stay in Brazil: Saint Peter's feast day (and night).

Coming home is one of the most important parts of traveling-- without coming home, we would never learn to connect our memories to words. Making that connection is important, too, as our words shape and paint our memories, sculpting them into coherent events.

As I begin trying to put my memories to words in upcoming posts, I am drawn to the contrast between memories I made by actually being in Brazil and memories of the fantasy Brazil I dreamed up before I had the chance to go. That is, I still have the memories of the Brazil I spent years dreaming up and they are as vivid as the memories I made in the mere 10 days spent in the actual country. There is something still palpably real about my dream-Brazil, and that is likely due to the fact that many of my fantasies of this place were informed by my husband's art. He wasn't able to accompany me on this trip, but as I look back at his artwork, it seems he may have gone there already somehow... long before me...
One of my husband's artworks
The church in Alcântara where I attended Mass

What are your fondest memories?? How do you tell the stories of the most significant events in your life?? What are the things you bring home from your journeys??

Until next time, fair rustlers of petticoats-- keep rustling!


  1. Oh my goodness! These are wonderful photos and wonderful sculptures. I am so eagerly awaiting the unraveling of your stories. And you are right about Emiliano's art and your photos of Brazil -- even the colors are the same.

  2. Yes, true what Midori observed. When I first saw Emiliano's work I immediately thought of Brazil. That's why the print of Saint Francis and the Birds I bought in Olinda needed to come to the two of you. And of course, I loved to see it hang on the wall above your chair in the reading corner...It made me happy.