31 December 2008

In Country: Meet Fernando

Our Portuguese-English translator when we leave Campinas will be Fernando Rocha da Silva. The following is a brief overview of his biography:

Fernando was born in Sao Paulo, a city of more than 24 million people, and at a very early age began surviving the streets on his own. At six years old, he left Sao Paulo for the city of Belo Horizonte. Fernando spent the next six years on the streets before entering a restoration house where he lived until joining Master’s Commission in 2007. He has not seen or known the whereabouts of anyone in his family since leaving Sao Paulo at six years old.

Now at 22, Fernando has a great love for people and tremendous gratitude for the opportunities he’s been given. He is working to become the director of a restoration house similar to the one that helped him get off the streets. Fernando is entering his final 18-month training which includes principles of leadership, working with children at risk, and organizational management. One of his life time dreams has been to travel around Brasil, but he never had the means to do so. Now, by serving as our language interpreter, he is getting the opportunity to live his dream!

In this photo, Fernando is the young man in the black t-shirt. The other little boys are also street kids who have come to the restoration house.

30 December 2008

In Country: Context is Nothing

The following is a decontextualized list of things that I have witnessed in the past 5 days.

1) When driving, stop signs are just a suggestion.

2) Brasilians are very social. Even asking for directions on the street becomes a community based activity. Whether walking or driving, the typical approach to finding one's way is to just head in the general direction of one's final destination. Then, apparently with great random, stop and ask for directions. Sometimes this may require a second opinion, so another person will also be solicited for advice. After the directions have been agreed upon by all parties, resume traveling toward the destination. After a while, it is appropriate to again stop and ask for directions. Usually this second stop is accompanied by an explanation of the first set of directions earlier in the journey. This second inquiry may also require more than one person's advice. And, of course, it is always necessary to acquire agreement about the directions from all parties before resuming the journey. On occasion, the names of one's children or the place of one's birth may also be inserted into the conversation. Travel in Brasil is like attending a very large party.

3) In the States, handicapped parking spaces are provided for individuals with physical challenges. In Brasil, this courtesy is extended to senior citizens. In some grocery store parking lots the word idoso, which means senior citizen, is placed between choice spots near the doorway. In addition, once inside the store one can find separate cash register lines (known as preferencial) especially for pregnant women, women with babies, people in wheelchairs and senior citizens. This afternoon, because I am still functionally illiterate in Portuguese, I managed to stand in the caixa preferencial line for . . . oh, about 10 minutes . . . before it was pointed out to me that I was neither pregnant, carrying a newborn, navigating a wheechair nor old enough to qualify as a senior. It's not clear to me what was more embarrassing: standing in the incorrect line or having to be told that I was standing in the incorrect line.

4) All Brasilians, regardless of body type and size, wear skimpy bathing suits at the pool and beach. While it's quite appealing in the thin and youthful, there are some exceptions. Men, often with the bulging beer gut acquired with age, wear speedos. Women, without concern for the impact child bearing may have wrought upon their bellies, wear two piece bikinis. Not to be forgotten is the posterior view of the famous Brasilian thong, which manages to disappear into the crack of one's rear. Anyone who does not wear the speedo or the thong is known to be a foreigner.

5) Brasilians call all Americans "gringos" regardless of the color of one's skin.

6) Most buffet style restaurants provide customers a wash bowl before entering the food line.

7) Household garbage is placed in a raised cage on the sidewalk to await pickup. Supposedly this is to keep dogs from getting into it before the truck arrives. When the garbage truck does come along each day, young men run behind it for the entire route, stopping at each house to throw the cage's contents in the back of the truck. They are very thin young men. Although unconfirmed, locals claim that the garbage men are prisoners working off some of their jail time.

29 December 2008

In Country: Missed the Museum But Caught the Train

On Monday, 29 December 2008, Jocelyn and I went on the hunt for two museums. Over the weekend we had poured over locations and descriptions for some of the cultural sites listed on the Campinas city website. Although many of them sounded interesting, we had identified two of them to visit first: the City Museum and the Museum of Sound and Image. Unfortunately they were both closed on Monday. Even though our search for museums was thwarted, we did discover another important historical monument.

Our gem of the day was the Railway Station of the Paulista Company of Railroads at the corner of Andrade Neves Avenue and Rodovia Lidgerwood on the southernmost edge of the center of town. As Sao Paulo state was moving into industrialization in the mid 19th century, many plantations that had been growing sugarcane switched to coffee. Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais states were at the center of this agricultural transition and soon came to dominate the rest of the country in coffee cultivation. Because coffee is a perishable crop, it needs access to ports for speedy shipment to markets. The port at Santos (outside Sao Paulo) came to be the main port for coffee exports. At its peak, about 80% of Brasil's coffee exports were shipped to the United States, with most of it transported through Campinas and the port at Santos.

Thus was born the Campinas Train Station. The first station was built in the 1860s but was later replaced in 1884 with a more modern one. Over time, the train station went through seven important phases of development, until it was finally abandoned in 1961. Because of its importance in the economic development of Brasil in the 19th century, one of the trains that traveled the tracks of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais states earned the nickname Maria Fumaça, or Smokey Mary.

Today the train station is part of a federal reserve, and is considered a valuable heritage site for the city of Campinas. When Jocelyn and I arrived we inquired about the history of the station and were fortunate enough to get an interview with Luiz Antonio Aquino, the chief architect working on its preservation.

Educated at the University in Sao Paulo, he has been working with a consortium of architects on heritage sites in Campinas since 1989.

The woodwork depicted here is restored original, and shows colonial influence in the high, narrow doors and hand carved detail. Note the geometric zigzag pattern of the ceiling. That ceiling is in the main hall of the train station. With a little imagination one can almost hear the train wheezing to a stop on the platform and the station master yelling: All aboard! Okay, you're right. The call would have been tudo a bordo! But you get the idea.

In Country: Context is Everything, or a Brief History Lesson

Over the past 200 years, Brasil has experienced significant shocks to its political system. As the country turned the century into the year 1800 it was still a colony of Portugal, which held power across the Atlantic in Lisbon. But before the decade was over, the King of Portugal --João VI--was forced to move his family and throne to Brasil to escape the advances of Napoleon's forces across Europe. It's worth noting that this transmigration by a king from Europe to a colony in the New World was historic. Never before and never again would a king move the seat of power away from European shores. The year was 1808 and Portugal was permanently weakened.

By 1822, Brasil had declared its independence from the Portuguese crown. The newly designated emperor was Dom Pedro I, son of João VI. The father did not support the son however and João VI refused to recognize Dom Pedro's (and Brasil's) independence until 1825. Regardless of the family squabble, most historians refer to this time in Brasilian history as the Era of Empire: 1822-1888.

Eighteen eighty nine represents a turning point for Brasil. First, slavery was abolished. Second, it marks the end of Empire and the beginning of Republic. In many ways the new government fashioned itself after the United States, beginning with the its formal name as "The United States of Brazil." Although there was a dark side to its beginnings -- mainly in the power and influence of the military -- as a republic it sought to live up to the ideas embedded in the term res publica, which is Latin for "community." Eventually people received the right to vote and there was a separation of church and state. Historians refer to this era as The First Republic: 1889-1930.

Yet 1930 represents another important transition in Brasilian politics. Like many other countries, Brasil was impacted by the global economic collapse brought on by the 1929 crash on Wall Street. In Brasil this was known as the "Crisis." Perhaps even more importantly however was the military coup d'état which installed Getúlio Vargas as dictator for the next 15 years, an era known as Estado Novo (New State): 1930-1945.

The next segment of the Brasilian political roller coaster spans the complicated years from 1946-1964, when elections were reinstated and many freedoms, including freedom of the press, returned to the populace. Ironically, Vargas was elected president during these years but was hounded by that same free press and ended up committing suicide in 1954.

Freedom was short-lived however and another right wing coup d'état, accompanied by a new dictator -- Marshal Humberto Castelo Branco -- came to power in 1964. This dictatorship lasted from 1964-1985.

Since 1986 Brasil has once again enjoyed democracy. Currently Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (usually referred to as Lula) is president, after having been elected for a second term in 2006. Lula is fairly popular, hence his re-election, and comes from a modest family. His background is comprised of union organizing, and he was a founding member of the party who eventually overturned the last military dictatorship.

Much of this information, except the most recent material, can be found in Robert M. Levine's The History of Brazil. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 1999.

28 December 2008

In Country: Late and Languid

Bom Dia! We have arrived in beautiful Brasil.

After what turned out to be two days of travel -- by plane, bus and VW bug -- we are now situated in a modest apartment in Campinas. As I suggested in an earlier pre-trip posting, Campinas is a city of about 1 million population. The weather is humid and warm at 84 degrees, with gray cumulous clouds floating across a vivid blue sky. Really it's just a typical Sunday south of the equator.

Our apartment belongs to an American woman, Kendra, who teaches at the American school with my sister-in-law Jocelyn. Kendra is on holiday with her boyfriend and she was gracious enough to allow us to use it. In terms of size, the apartment is quite modest. At about 850 square feet, it contains a living/dining room with a small patio overlooking the pool 14 floors below us. There are two small bedrooms and two bathrooms. The laundry room is in the kitchen which has very high ceilings to allow just-washed clothes to dry while hanging suspended from a clothes hanger system consisting of levers and pulleys. In a word, all is efficient.

The time is 6 hours later, so when it's 9:30am in California, it's 3:30pm in Campinas. There are several times zones in Brasil, however, and I will try to keep you posted when we move to a region with a different hour.

Yesterday we woke early -- around 9:15am -- and walked to the faire (pronounced 'feta') hippie. Otherwise known as a hippie street fair. Because Campinas is a fairly middle class city, there are not a lot of tourists here. Thus the street fair was not comprised of trinkets for rich Europeans and Americans as one might expect, but rather there were lots of antiques, soaps, shoes and other household items on display. In my groggy jet lagged state, I forgot to grab the camera before we left so I don't have pictures.

After strolling through the hippie fair we stopped for coffee at an upscale cafe. Brasil is known for the coffee, which is strong, and for the cup size, which is small. As a point of comparison, a large cup in Brasil is still smaller than a small cup in California. Consumption is not the same here.

Then we headed on to the fruit market, where we picked up some fresh mangoes, papayas and oranges. When we stopped at one of the stalls, the vendor and his wife cut open a mango and served slippery sweet slices to us on his knife blade. Afterwards, their son produced a basin of clean water to rinse our sticky hands. Their good marketing paid off; I filled my grocery bag with fruit for just over $7 reis, or about $3.00 U.S.

Eventually we made our way back to Richard and Jocelyn's modest house in the Salles Apolis neighborhood, where we spent the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the family. In deed we did not make it back to our apartment until 1:00am this morning, which is why I named this entry "Late and Languid", for that is all we have done today: slept late and laid around languid.

22 December 2008

Pre-Trip: Bibliography

Several people have asked what sources I am using for research. In an attempt at responsiveness, here is a running bibliography of the books and articles I have read so far:

De Jesus, Carolina Maria. Child of the Dark: The Diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus. Translated by David St. Clair. New York: Signet, 2003.

Johnson, Randal. "Brazilian Modernism: An Idea Out of Place?" Modernism and Its Margins: Reinscribing Cultural Modernity from Spain and Latin America. New York: Garland, 1999. pp. 186-214.

Levine, Robert M. The History of Brazil. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2003.

Martinez-Diaz, Leonardo. "Latin America: Coming of Age." World Policy Institute 2008. pp. 221-227.

Peebles, Frances de Pontes. The Seamstress: A Novel. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.

Pendergrast, Mark. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

Shaw, Lisa and Maite Conde. "Brazil Through Hollywood's Gaze: From the Silent Screen to the Good Neighbor Policy Era." Latin American Cinema: Essays on Modernity, Gender and National Identity. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005. pp. 180-208.

Skidmore, Thomas E. Brazil: Five Centuries of Change. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

St. Louis, Regis et al. Brazil. 7th ed. London: Lonely Planet Publications, 2008.

Tiller, Ann Quiggins. "The Igniting Spark-Brazil, 1930." The Hispanic American Historical Review. Vol 45, No 3 (Aug 1965), pp. 384-392.

Tyson-Ward, Sue. Brazilian Portuguese: A Complete Guide for Beginners. London: Hodder, 1997.

Whitaker, Robert. The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon. New York: Delta, 2004.

Williamson, Edwin. The Penguin History of Latin America. London: Penguin, 1992.

12 December 2008

Pre-Trip: Changing Plans

After some consideration, I have decided to change the itinerary somewhat. The following is the revised plan:

The structure will include 1) arrival and departure dates for each location, 2) the location itself, 3) lodging contact info, and 4) travel away from that location.

1) 26 December 2008 – 13 January 2009
2) Campinas
3) a friend of Richard?
4) on 13 January travel by bus from Campinas to Curitiba

1) 13 January – 18 January
2) Curitiba
3) a friend of Richard?
4) on 18 January travel by train from Curitiba to Paranagua

1) 18 January – 21 January
2) Paranagua
3) Lodging: Paranagua – Hotel Ponderosa at Rua Prescilinio Correa 68Phone: 3423 2464 get room with view
4) on 21 January travel by ferry from Paranagua to Ilha do Mel

1) 21 January – 23 January
2) Ilha Do Mel (island) Nova Brasilia (village)
3) Lodging: Enseada das ConchasPhone: 3426 8040 or http://www.pousadaenseada.com.br/
4) on 23 January travel by ferry (via Dalton contact below?) from Ilha Do Mel to Parque Nacional do Superagui

1) 23 January – 25 January
2) Parque Nacional Do Superagui Transport: ferry, call Dalton (41) 8406 0579 at Pousada Superagui to arrange
3) Lodging: Pousada SuperaguiPhone: 3482 7149 or http://www.pousadasuperagui.com.br/
4) on 25 January travel by ferry (via Dalton?) from Parque Nacional do Superagui to Paranagua; travel by train from Paranagua to Curitiba

1) 25 January – 26 January
2) Curitiba
3) Lodging: San Juan Charm at Rua Barao do Rio Branco 354 Phone 3219 9900 or http://www.sanjuanhoteis.com.br/
4) on 26 January fly from Curitiba to Foz do Iguassu

1) 26 January – 29 January
2) Foz do Iquacu
3) Lodging: Pousada El ShaddaiPhone: 3025 4493 or http://www.pousadaelshaddai.com.br/
4) on 29 January fly from Foz do Iguassu to Sao Paulo

1) 29 January – 2 February
2) Sao Paulo
3) Lodging: Pousada Dona Zilah at Alameda Franca 1621 (Jardins district)Phone: 3062 1444 or http://www.zilah.com/
4) on 2 February travel by bus from Sao Paulo to Campinas

1) 2 February - 3 February
2) Campinas; drop off Hope
3) friend of Richard?
4) on 3 February travel by bus to Sao Paulo; fly from Sao Paulo to Manuas (David and Maureen only)

1) 3 February – 5 February
2) Manaus
3) Lodging: Hotel Tropical at Av Coronel Teixeira 1320Phone: 658 5000 or http://www.tropicalhotel.com.br/
4) on 5 February travel with tour group

1) 5 February – 9 February
2) Jungle Tour in the AmazonTransport: Amazonas Indian Turismo Phone: 3633 5578

1) 9 February – 11 February
2) Manaus
3) Lodging: Hotel Tropical at Av Coronel Teixeira 1320Phone: 658 5000 or http://www.tropicalhotel.com.br/
4) on 11 February travel by river boat from Manuas to Belem

1) 11 February – 14 February
2) River Trip to Belem
3) Transport: River boat with Agencia Rio Amazonas Phone: 3621 4319
4) on 11 February travel by boat from Manuas to Belem

1) 14 February – 18 February
2) Belem
4) on 18 February fly from Belem to Sao Paulo (David and Maureen only); bus from Sao Paulo to Campinas

1) 18 February – 4 March
2) Campinas
3) friend of Richard?
4) on 4 March travel by bus from Campinas to Sao Paulo; fly from Sao Paulo to Recife

1) 4 March – 21 March
2) Recife
3) Lodging: Pousada Casuarinas at Rua Antonio Pedro Figueiredo 151Phone: 3325 4708 or http://www.pousadacasuarinas.com.br/
4) on 21 March fly from Recife to Sao Paulo; bus from Sao Paulo to Campinas

1) 21 March – 1 April
2) Campinas
3) friend of Richard?
4) on 1 April travel by bus from Campinas to Sao Paulo; fly Sao Paulo to Estados Unidos :(

28 November 2008

Pre-Trip: Brasilian Modernism

Brasil is complex. Of course this is true for most every country in the world, but it's the conclusion I have reached as a result of reading an article entitled "Brazilian Modernism: An Idea Out of Place?" by Randal Johnson. The article is actually a chapter from the book Modernism and Its Margins: Reinscribing Cultural Modernity from Spain and Latin America, edited by Anthony L Geist and Jose B. Monleon.

Brasil's complexity comes as a result of its indigenous and European pasts, and its identity-seeking present. In broad terms, the history of Brasil can be separated into three important segments: the pre-Cabralian indigenous past, which represents the time before 1500 C.E.; the age of European colonization from 1500 - 1889 C.E.; and the rocky era of modernization since 1889 C.E.

Each of these are rich in cultural contributions about the story of Brasil. However it is also important to recognize that the last chapter of the story -- the modernization of Brasil -- is still being written. What am I saying?: Brasil is even now in the act of writing itself. From its rich and vital roots, along with the graftings it has received from African and European branches, Brasil is a work is progress. In the words of Paulo Emilio Salles Gomes, Brasil is "neither Europeans nor North Americans. Lacking an original culture, nothing is foreign . . . because everything is. The painful construction of ourselves develops within the rarefied dialectic of not being and being someone else." Brasil and Brasilians have been for the past 80 years -- and are even now --inventing themselves.

Johnson's article speaks to that invention. It may focus on a short moment in time (1922- 1930), but it reflects a momentous movement in history: Brasilian Modernism. For context, the country was undergoing tremendous changes. The nation had only recently abolished slavery (in 1888) and it had been the last country on earth to do so. A year later, the Portuguese monarchy was deposed and Brasil was enjoying its First Republic (1889-1930). Immigrants, mostly white working class Europeans, were arriving in large numbers (1.5 million between 1905-1923), bringing with them the class consciousness and political militancy of the European proletariat. During this time the radio was introduced to the airwaves of South America, and the country received its first loan from the United States. The latter represented an "eventual rearrangement in the country's relations of dependency with industrialized nations" (Johnson 190), an economic re-positioning that continues to have importance in the 21st century. In short, Brasil was a nation on the fast track to industrialization and modernization.

Along with changes in the economic and social structures in society, Brasil was also experiencing something of an identity crisis. Having recently rejected European monarchy, Brasil was beginning to question how much of Europe it should continue to draw from in the creation of a uniquely Brasilian society. It was starting to evaluate the "contradiction between . . . world and national relations of power, [as] the key to drawing a more precise figure of Brazil in the modern world" (Johnson 193). The political openness of the First Republic allowed for Brasilian citizens to conceive of a Brasil which could step away from the political, economic, religious and artistic influences of Europe that had dominated the country for the past 400 years.

Enter antropofagia. The term refers to cannibalism, but in relation to Brasilian Modernism it carries more than one meaning. The first interpretation associates with the pre-Cabralian past when the Tupinambá -- an indigenous group from the northeast -- practiced ritualistic cannibalism as part of their totemic system. Johnson treats the subject handily, as does Theodore Robert Young in his lecture entitled "Anthropophagy, Tropicalismo, and Como era gustoso meu Francês." Translated into English that last part means "How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman" which is, among other things, a reference to who was dining on whom in the 16th century and the title of a popular film in the 1970s.

The second meaning to the term antropofagia explains the ways in which Brasilian Modernists were employing the concept. Stay tuned for "Eating the Europeans" and an explanation of the image at the top of this entry next time!

15 November 2008

Pre-Trip: Murder, Mayhem and Mapmaking

. . . and that's only partially the story in Robert Whitaker's historical biography entitled The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon. Whitaker was selected by the American Library Association for writing one of the best biographies of 2004. Having read the book, I can certainly see why.

The story begins in 1735 when a party of ten French Enlightenment scientists journey from Europe to the Viceroyalty of Peru, a Spanish colonial territory of modern-day Equador. Their task: to measure the circumference of the earth. The team of men included Charles-Marie de La Condamine, Louis Godin and Pierre Bouguer, all important members of the French Academy of Sciences.

Whitaker's descriptions of the men, their personal rivalries and public foibles are compelling, but the story really gets good when their research reaches its conclusion in 1743 and the expedition makes plans to head back to France. Prior to their departure, one of the team members - Jean Godin, the cousin of Louis Godin - met and married a local woman. Actually, it would be a misnomer to call Isabel Grameson a woman on her wedding day; she was a month short of 14 years when she married Jean Godin in an elaborate ceremony on 29 December 1741. But child brides were common in colonial South America and Isabel's father approved of the match.

What follows their wedding is the stuff of legend. When the expedition pulls out of the region in 1743, Godin is "barred from departing because of his debts . . . and take[s] a position as professor of mathematics at the University of San Marcos in Lima" (Whitaker 198). But the political climate for colonial elites in the Viceroyalty of Peru is changing and so by 1749, Godin sets out toward the Amazon basin without his four month pregnant wife Isabel. Godin's goal is to reach the Portuguese city of Para where it meets the Atlantic ocean -- a journey of 3,000 miles -- and obtain the necessary paperwork for their passage to France, then turn around and go back up the Amazon to retrieve Isabel -- another 3,000 mile trip--, take her (and their newborn child) through the Amazon to Para in Portuguese territory (yet another 3,000 mile excursion) before catching a ship back to Europe. Perhaps by now the reader can see how this is turning out: Not well. For starters, only about five Europeans have ever made this trek down the Amazon even once and Godin wants to do it three times. Add to that the complicated world of diplomacy between colonial Spain, France and Portugal and one can clearly see how unlikely Godin's plan might be.

Needless to say, Jean Godin gets stuck in Para and its environs for the next 20 years. That's not a typo from a thick fingered blogger. Isabel, however, never stops waiting to be reunited with her husband, and in 1769 she takes it upon herself to leave her hometown of Riobamba in search of her long lost husband. Without hyperbole, a colonial elite woman traveling down the Amazon searching for a husband she had not seen in 20 years is about as inconcievable as her husband's plans had been in 1749.
Isabel is accompanied by 40 other people, including two of her brothers and a nephew, along with several servants. The latter are justified because a woman of status and culture surely can not trek the Amazon without others to do her hair in the morning.

Along the way, Whitaker exposes the reader to the dangers of the Amazon. From vipers to leeches, from head-shrinking indigenous tribes to vampire bats, Isabel braves it all as she traverses 3,000 miles of Amazon jungle in search of her beloved. Early in the journey, as the reader might imagine, the updo loses its import. Many of her companions, however, lose their lives. In short, Isabel is the sole survivor when the expedition goes awry. Everyone else dies or disappears. Isabel alone crawls out of jungle near-death and, finally, in 1770, reunites with Jean Godin.

There is more to the story, including how the couple finally arrive in France in 1773 but I will leave that for the reader to uncover. In short: Jean had been away from France for 38 years and Isabel never saw South America again.

For more information, maps and links go to http://www.themapmakerswife.com/Mapmaker%27s%20Wife/Home.html. Be sure to click on the link entitled "Following Isabel" for a slide show of photographs by Robert Whitaker. These were obtained by the author during the course of his research of the territory and the route Isabel took. Enjoy!

07 November 2008

Pre-Trip: Vaccinations

In the midst of election fever, David, Hope and I went to Kaiser Hospital in South Sacramento for vaccinations. Because of David's employment, he did not need Hepatitis A & B, tetanus or the typhus vaccination. Hope, too, is current on her vaccinations, so she and David only had to have a yellow fever inoculation. I, on the other hand, earned the great honor of receiving four shots, two in each arm to grace my shoulders with a lovely spotted orange and purple pattern that made me look like a hairless pale leopard.

Imagery aside, the vaccination we each received on Tuesday was for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a virus which is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitos in South America and sub-Saharan Africa. This map shows the region in South America for yellow fever transmission. Because we will be spending about 6 weeks in the "zone" and because there is no cure for yellow fever once it is acquired, we each received the vaccination.

Yellow fever is not common in the United States today. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that "Between 1996 and 2002, five people from the United States and Europe who traveled to South America or Africa contracted yellow fever and died. They were all unvaccinated." Although it is now rare in the U.S., recent history offers several famous yellow fever outbreaks in the Americas, including Philadelphia in 1793, New Orleans in 1852 and 1905, Havana, Cuba in 1898, and Peru in 1995. A recent PBS program entitled The Great Fever features these historic events and can be found at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/fever/.

Globalization has also raised the ante for governments seeking to limit the transmission of yellow fever. The World Health Organization concludes in a 1998 report that "yellow fever is an important public health threat, which needs more attention" (WHO 15). The report presents the unique challenges of urbanization in the Amazon basin, and can be found at http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/surveillance/Yellow_fever.pdf.

Despite advances in understanding the origins of the disease, a yellow fever alert has been issued by the Brasilian Ministry of Health (MOH). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention "As of June 11, 2008, 45 confirmed cases of yellow fever have been reported [in Brasil], including 25 deaths. Among the most recent cases, two human yellow fever cases have been reported in the State of São Paulo ..." http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentYellowFeverBrazil.aspx. With a 2008 estimated population lurking at 190 million people, this handful of yellow fever cases in Brasil represents only a fraction of the number of people who live there. However, while I want this to be a trip of a lifetime, I am not interested in seeing it be the trip that ends my life. Therefore, although the MOH does not require yellow fever vaccinations, it does recommend them in light of these recent developments. Hence, the shots.

Science aside, the side effects I experienced from the vaccinations were interesting, if not annoying. Chiefly, I ached. In addition to general achiness and dizziness, I could not raise my arms above my shoulders. This posed some challenges to writing on the board while lecturing, which reduced me to explaining my condition to my classes. Being the great people that they are, the students were receptive and empathetic to my temporary disability. Between four shots and the emotions brought on by an historic presidential election, I was pretty much a wreck on Wednesday, November 5.

Another, more compelling, side effect has been the loss of control of my arms. They seem to have developed minds of their own and have taken to flailing, jiggering and generally being independent from my will at the most inopportune moments, such as when serving food, drinking tea or shaving the back of David's head. Yes, he really was putting his life in my stuttering hands this evening. It must be love. Sigh.

Muscle aches, known as myalgia, are an early symptom of yellow fever, and because the vaccination consists of injecting live antibodies of the disease into one's system, I suppose this is just a small taste of the real thing. In this case, I prefer the sample rather than the whole meal!

22 October 2008

Pre-Trip: The Plan

After considerable research and reflection, I have arrived at a tentative itinerary. The first few weeks focus on the southeast.

The middle portion will be spent in the indigenous Amazon region of the northwest.

The final month will take place in the Afro-Brasilian region of the northeast.
26 December 2008 – 13 January 2009
Campinas Orientation

13 January – 18 January
Transport: bus to Sao Paulo; bus to Curitiba 6 hours
Lodging: San Juan Charm at Rua Barao do Rio Branco 354
Phone 3219 9900 or http://www.sanjuanhoteis.com.br/

18 January – 25 January
Paranagua and environs (18 – 21 January in Paranagua)
Transport: trem (regular) train to Paranagua, departs 8:15am, only runs on Sundays; sit on left side
Lodging: Paranagua – Hotel Ponderosa at Rua Prescilinio Correa 68
Phone: 3423 2464 get room with view

21 January – 23 January
Ilha Do Mel (island) Nova Brasilia (village)
Transport: ferry 2 hours
Lodging: Enseada das Conchas
Phone: 3426 8040 or http://www.pousadaenseada.com.br/

23 January – 25 January
Parque Nacional Do Superagui
Transport: ferry, call Dalton (41) 8406 0579 at Pousada Superagui to arrange
Lodging: Pousada Superagui
Phone: 3482 7149 or http://www.pousadasuperagui.com.br/

25 January – 26 January
Transport: ferry with Dalton to Paranagua (60 minutes); trem to Curitiba
Lodging: San Juan Charm at Rua Barao do Rio Branco 354
Phone 3219 9900 or http://www.sanjuanhoteis.com.br/

26 January – 29 January
Foz do Iquacu
Transport: fly (40 minutes)
Lodging: Pousada El Shaddai
Phone: 3025 4493 or http://www.pousadaelshaddai.com.br/

29 January – 2 February
Sao Paulo
Transport: fly from Foz do Iguacu (1 hour)
Lodging: Pousada Dona Zilah at Alameda Franca 1621 (Jardins district)
Phone: 3062 1444 or http://www.zilah.com/

2 February
Bus to Campinas; drop off Hope

3 February – 5 February
Transport: bus to Sao Paulo; fly to Manaus
Lodging: Hotel Tropical at Av Coronel Teixeira 1320
Phone: 658 5000 or http://www.tropicalhotel.com.br/

5 February – 9 February
Jungle Tour
Transport: Amazonas Indian Turismo
Phone: 3633 5578

9 February – 11 February
Lodging: Hotel Tropical at Av Coronel Teixeira 1320
Phone: 658 5000 or http://www.tropicalhotel.com.br/

11 February – 14 February
River Trip to (Santarem)
Transport: River boat with Agencia Rio Amazonas
Phone: 3621 4319

14 February – 17 February
Alter do Chao
Transport: bus stop at Av Rui Barbosa or Av Barao do Rio Branco (45 minutes)
Lodging: Albergue Pousada da Floresta; get a cabin only
Phone: 9651 7193 or http://www.alberguedafloresta.com.br/

17 February
Bus to Santarem; fly to Sao Paulo (by way of Manuaus); bus to Campinas

17 February – 1 March

1 March – 5 March
Transport: bus to Sao Paulo; fly to Belem
Lodging: Machado’s Plaza Hotel at Rua Henrique Gurjao 200
Phone: 4008 9800 or http://www.machadosplazahotel.com.br/

6 March – 10 March
Sao Luis
Transport: bus 12 hours; 3249 2488; Av dos Franceses, Santo Antonio
Lodging: Pousada Colonial at Rua Afonso Pena 112; ask for view room
Phone: 3232 2834 or http://www.clickcolonial.com.br/

10 March – 15 March
Transport: fly from Sao Luis
Lodging: Hotel La Maison at Av Desembargador Moreira 201
Phone: 3242 6836 or http://www.hotellamaison.com.br/

15 March – 18 March
Transport: bus 12 hours from Fortaleza
Lodging: Pousada Casuarinas at Rua Antonio Pedro Figueiredo 151
Phone: 3325 4708 or http://www.pousadacasuarinas.com.br/

18 March – 21 March
Transport: taxi or bus from Recife
Lodging: Pousada do Amparo at Rua do Amparo 199
Phone: 3439 1749 or http://www.pousadadoamparo.com.br/

21 March – 1 April
Transport: fly from Recife to Sao Paulo; bus from Sao Paulo to Campinas

18 October 2008

Pre-Trip: Home Base

The home base for our trip will be in a city outside Sao Paulo called Campinas. It's in Campinas that David's older brother Richard lives with his family.

Richard's move to Brasil involved a slow evolution. About 15 years ago he began bringing Brasilian youth to the United States where they would participate in a two year exchange program known as Masters Commission. Gradually Richard also began taking youth from the U.S. down to Brasil to complete an exchange program there. A school was established and a halfway house was opened to assist children attempting to transition out of the favelas (vast slums in many of the large cities). As Richard became more and more involved in the Brasilian end of the exchange program, he realized he needed to move there. And so he did in the fall of 2007, with his wife Jocelyn and four of their six children. The two who remained behind are in colleges in the U.S. At top is a recent photo, from left to right, of Jocelyn, Richard, Chris, Adriana, Sean and Rebecca. The photo below includes Richard and some of the favelados (slum dwellers) enjoying an afternoon game.

Campinas, the city where Richard and Jocelyn live, has a population of about 1,000,000 and is in the western interior of Sao Paulo state. Campinas is not a tourist destination. Although it was founded in the 18th century, it doesn't sport amazing cathedrals or glorious national parks. Rather it is a participant in the financial, industrial and agricultural products processing boom which is fueling the Brasilian economy's emergence on the world scene. According to the Brasilian Tourism Ministry, 9% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 17% of the industrial production of São Paulo State are from the Campinas region.
Historically, Campinas rode the wave of Brasilian coffee production in the 19th century, in part because it served as a major transportation hub between rural production areas and coastal shipping ports. Today, Campinas boasts a Coffee Museum which, according to the BTM, "aims to preserve and promote the memory of the coffee production culture in Campinas." I recently picked up a book about the history of coffee, so I will report back on this topic again later once I have finished reading it.

17 October 2008

Pre-Trip: Explaining the Project

Brazil is a nation of superlatives. It represents one of the top five emerging economies of the 21st century. In geographic size, it is the fifth largest country on earth, only eclipsed in size by Russia, Canada, the United States (including Alaska) and China. It contains the largest population of people of Japanese ancestry outside of Japan, and the largest population of people of African ancestry outside of Africa. Brazil was also the recipient of the largest number of African slaves to the Americas during the European slave trade, and by 1830 Brazil had the largest slave economy in the world.

Lest one think that Brazilian history only reflects the worst of humanity, it's also important to recognize that many creative art forms have emerged from the confluence of the indigenous, African and European people who call Brazil their home. This is, after all, the birthplace of samba, capoeira, Carnival, and cinema novo.

Therefore David (my husband), Hope (my daughter, age 6) and I will be taking a trip to this nation of superlatives. After arriving by air in Sao Paulo, we will tour from the Europeanesque beach resorts of the southeast to the indigenous Amazon rainforests of the northwest. With distinct hopefulness that we not slip into the waters and be eaten by a ferocious Amazonian pirahna fish, we will then travel on to the Afro-Brazilian northeastern region before heading back to California.

Thus it is with honor and gratitude that I acknowledge the role that Cosumnes River College's Professional Standards committee, President Francisco Rodriguez and the Los Rios Community College District have played in partnering with me on this project.

In the course of our journey, we will interact with poets and pastors, mothers and musicians, slum dwellers and slave descendents. In all, this trip will consist of 95 days, span four time zones, and cover 10,000 kilometers. That's about 6,200 miles in pursuit of an understanding of the indigenous, African and European influences on contemporary Brazilian society.

We are all in this together. I hope you enjoy the ride.