05 January 2009

In Country: Essas Coisas Acontecem

Yesterday Jocelyn, David, Fernando, Hope and I went for a ride on the Maria Fumaça. The train is cared for by the Brazilian Association for Railway Preservation or ABPF and is housed at the Anhumas station just outside Campinas. At the bottom of their brochure they claim that it is "a cultural association without lucrative aims." According to the volunteers who work there, the government does not supply any federal or state funding for its maintenance.

The train has been running again since 1984, after having been shut down for several decades. Most of the engines were made in the 1910s and 1920s. In fact, the engine that pulled the car we rode in was made in Germany in 1927.
Apparently the idea of Maria Fumaça is almost as important as the reality of it. There are several songs and poems with her name, and several states boast of train lines similar to this one. The following is a link to one particular example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdNrOyNlDF8&feature=related

The train ride itself consisted of an hour and a half of slow moving through coffee country. We stopped at several old train stations and passed many fazendas (farms). More than once the people along the tracks would wave and smile as we passed by. It is a source of pride and identity for them.
The final destination is a tiny town called Jaguariuna, where all the passengers disembark and fan out for about 40 minutes before the train leaves for its return to Anhumas. Since 40 minutes is not a very long time one is torn between visiting the faire hippie with handcrafted goods, the Dynamic Railway Museum, or lunch at one of the nearby sidewalk cafes. Jocelyn and I tried to be slick by ordering lunch, and then having the others wait for the food, while we dashed over to the faire hippie. It worked; I was able to pick up a couple of souvenirs and some sweet treats for the ride back home before returning to David and the others who were waiting patiently with freshly made juice and sandwiches.

After eating quickly we jumped back on the train for the hour and a half back to Anhumas. Along the way a funky band played for the passengers. Apparently the songs they played are well known and originate from the northeast region of the country. It consisted of an accordian, a
zabumba (drum), and a triangle. It sounded to my ears like country music Brasilian style. Many passengers sang along, and the party next to us said it is known as forró, which is both a type of music and a type of dance. The following link has some information about a recent film made about this type of music. http://www.dev.tv/PMA-PresentationEN.pdf . Also here is a link to a National Geographic's website on the topic. http://worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com/worldmusic/view/page.basic/genre/content.genre/forro_720

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