At the current moment I am typing away in a resort hotel because my flight was delayed until midnight. I am in no way complaining because not only do I get time to reflect I also get to spend a couple more hours in Salvador. I am thinking how could I describe this trip and a million things come to mind. One thought which I told one of the students is that in Salvador I am an insider with an outsider perspective. Salvador is over 85% preto which makes them of African descent. The PC term would be Afro-Brazilian. Well the inside aspect is that if I did not open my mouth or take pictures like a tourist then I instantly blended in with the majority of the population. The outsider aspect deals with me comprehending the mentality and psychological perspectives of a specific region of Brazil. I am not going to write a dissertation but I will elaborate.
The calender year is 2010, but the mentality of Baianos is similar to that of U.S. circa 1930. Racism and sexism is not overt but ingrained into the conscience of a good number of Baianos. I was told by fellow Baianos that Afro-Brazilians are told that if you are lighter then you are better. Wow! I began to think of the brown paper bag test that once was administered at certain HBCUs. And there are very intelligent women in Bahia, but they are portrayed for their physical attributes and not their intellect. It was funny and awkward when I had two female teachers tell me one of the best qualities of a Baiano woman is her bunda (booty). Definitely no complaints, and yes pleasing to the eye, but I still found that mode of thought to be a little outdated. I am not knocking a culture, but simply comparing the cultural differences and modicum of thought.
However Baianos of all sexes and races know how to have a good time and enjoy themselves. There was music blasting out of cars and homes and live bands playing at local spots(i.e. bars, cafes, block parties). Every Tuesday in the Pelorihno there is a party. Also the cup de mundo is on the horizon and Baianos are preparing for an unprecedented 6th world cup. Even if you do not know anything about futból you know Brazil is always a favorite to win the grand prize. Furthermore for Capoeiristas the sound of the Berimbau seems to echo in almost all directions. Maybe I was tripping but I frequently heard that one string instrument humming in my ear.
Though to sum it up; I had a supperb time. The one area of my trip that with out a doubt made it memorable was working with the interns. Their energy and desire to succeed in their quest for a rewarding life was inspirational. All three of the interns are intelligent and capable of succeeding in all aspects of their lives. The one thing that every one needs to progress is an opportunity. Hopefully their opportunity to travel to the U.S. in the upcoming weeks will open a door to a rewarding future. Life is a journey and we are traveling our own paths for enlightenment and a sense of accomplishment. And on that note the journey continues.