oh yes the RAIN forest

Mosquito Net

Our sleep is under the canopy of a pink mosquito net on a newly built bed in the spare room of their house/community house. With a fan blowing all night and a heavy rainfall somewhere there in the dark we sleep deep. Breakfast is fruit brought from street sellers whose cries we hear from our window. (The streets and houses are very poor. Like shacks with occasional large scale 2 story houses poking up ready to take over. This is more like Baracoa in Cuba, or the streets of old Shanghai where the living is ON the streets and where people have very little.) Mango, banana, cereal and juice. Coffee brought back from Berlin where Dan and Manoela travelled just before now to attend a conference and launch their new book in Europe.

The 9 o’clock Meeting

With Eliza (15) and Camilla (16) I walk with Dan to the school 15 minutes away. This is a place where we will work after carnival. We are to meet the staff and start the process of collaboration. The young women are there because they will follow this project through and keep the connection. They have just left the school and are returning with the banner declaring the National Award they received a month or so ago. We sit in a room with 15 teachers and introduce ourselves and the idea of the 3 point start up project in the school. It will be presentation (2 hours), young leaders workshop (4 hours), teachers day (8 hours). The school is so poor. There are so few resources. It is for 9-15 year olds. There are 3 phases to the day. One group come from 7.30 – 12, another from 1.30 to 5 and in the evening it is open for adults returning to learn basics of secondary learning. We talk and share main common thoughts about education and how arts and culture can allow for different access, confidence building and development. There is an excitement and recognition of the long term plan to treasure and promote the culture of Cabelo Seco through it’s young people.

Home in the Rain

For conversation and sharing of the meeting in discussion with the young people. Continually consulting and talking about what has happened, how we engaged, what will happen next. This is steady steady careful confidence building and skill sharing. We are also starting to plan and consider the next week plan when we will probably travel away a little. There are various options opening up as ever. Tucurui for carnival, Belem for holiday…. Boat trips….

And then off for lunch which is at a restaurant that will provide us free food while we are here as a partnership deal. This is one of the ways of Solidarity support.

Galpone des Artes

A little rest and read and then to meet two new friends at the gallery not so far away. We walk again down streets that are becoming more and more familiar.

We visit a gallery space with a digital space. Privately owned. There is a very complex issue here between the state funded world and the rest. We seem to be in continual conversation about communities, identity and life. Dan has so much to share and so much experience. Very interesting. We spend an hour or so in the place and see some great work. A Ponto de Cultura.

Then ice creams in a self serve parlour and more conversation before back to the house with a few more meeting points along the way.

Then … we sit and talk more and drink a little as a storm brews outside and … we stay in as the rain pours down… and down… and down. We are in the forest. Oh yes. The RAIN Forest !!!!!!!

The journey is real

This diary will develop with photos and news from us both.


Beautiful few hours in a city that feels quite familiar after our autumn trip. Coffee on the square at the top of town. Beer with the dreadlocked youngsters at the beer park overlooking the river as the sun began to go down. Beer and snack in a lovely pastelleria and then as the barrio alto places were shut we went into a very local café/restaurant – Casa de India – and had great fish and potatoes, rice and sald and more beer. A stopover and also a place I am sure we will revisit lots as daughter Rosie and Paulo settle here.


The man city fan on the first flight there with his four friends – only missed four matches this season. Sad cos of his broken knee that stops him working. But he is a traveller for sure and likes to talk of his travels as a truck driver round Europe. Fellow Brazilian traveller from Manchester with 2 portugese guitars and a white shirt with a big collar. All the way to Brasilia he follows us! The granny looking after her children and grandchildren and folding up the red blankets and pillows as we came down to land.


Land in Brasilia

At every moment assessing what you see and trying to make sense of it. Remembering the same feeling travelling on the train from Kyoto to Tokyo many years ago spotting all the golf driving ranges in the towns. Here there are no doors to the airport. It is open to the world! And now as we fly north what will we see out of the windows?

Maraba Arrival

Cloudy, cityscape below, red roof, red dust track roads, big river, What will we find? Luggage for a start (phew – all the bags with presents an instruments!) and then Dan waiting. My childhood friend re-met after a long gap (more of this later) and as we round the corner to get outside : 8 smiling young people playing and singing in welcome. “Bienvido a Maraba. Kathryn and Pete” Great joy and suddenly it all makes sense. We have arrived in a new community who are as excited as we are. Ready to play I am sure.

Cabelo Seco

The drive is with a member of the community and some of he young people over a long bridge, down a bamboo lines road and into the area of old Maraba where the community of Cabelo Seco is. The name means dry hair and was written in response to the seeming dryness of African hair when it came in contact with water. This community, we are told, are the oldest within the city and also inevitably the most disenfranchised. There are 200 families – Afro indigenous people and this is where Dan and Mano have worked for 7 years and lived for the last year (there will be much more to tell). It is a community that is threatened in particular by the building of a hydro electric dam, the regulation of the river level and the massive expansion of the town that will see this communities water front changed from a place where they wash clothes, fish and swim to a series of hotels and rich peoples mansions. The focus of our friends work is with a group of young people, with whom they have worked for four years and who they are listening to and letting lead the project for the whole community. We arrive at their home in the middle of this community, sit and talk with the young people, are introduced to Zequino (the local grandfather and holder of the music traditions), and we introduce ourselves – largely in Portugese. At every moment assessing what we see and trying to make sense of it.

The day is long – we walk, eat lunch, talk and receive briefings on safety and discuss potential schedules…

Valentine Goodbye

“As I listened to calypso last night

I knew I could not give up the fight

I would have to let go and let the love flow

With you right there in my sight

You’re my Miss Sunshine, my daily ray of sunshine…..”

and the “Bags are Packed, we’re ready to go”

most of the applications are written, and those that aren’t will be finished as we travel.

The press release is written and attached below…. goodbye Morecambe Bay…

Cabelo Seco sedia residência internacional do músico e arte


2 days to go

We have started to pack and collect gifts to take. The news from Dan in Maraba is that the humidity is intense and that there are various different groups waiting to meet and play with us. It is a new adventure and one that is quite scary.

Breathe and relax. Look forward to the flights!

Full Moon

2 days of a full moon and the clear sky is intense. Yesterday I was very low with everything closing in so this morning woke with a new resolution to make energy postive. A certain hysterical approach worked from an early morning run to the gospel singing session in Preston at the end of the night. In the middel there was a conflagration of funding applications and discussions about the future. How can we predict. we can only hope and wish.