and this is carnival ?

Breakfast is Prepared

Carnival day one in Maraba and woken quite early by the chat of people outside our window. The net has kept is safe from mossies though I was bitten a little yesterday evening. Our room in this house is a little home for us for this time and feels friendly. The daily cold shower is a good awakening.

Today the young people are going to help prepare breakfast for us all and then we will share and play a little music before they go off to rehearse for their carnival bloco. We gather round the kitchen table – Anna Paula, Andrianna, Evany, Kathryn, Me, Caroline, Camilla, Eliza, Dan, Mano and Matheus. We eat apple, papaya, cheese toasties, coffee, hot chocolate and we chat in 2 languages. It is very friendly nd a weekly occurrence in the house. The youngest child is 11 the oldest 16. Then we offer some Licorice allsorts brought from the airport and the faces are a picture. A very new taste that although sweet is also very new. Aniseed is not a local taste at all! Kathryn then gives everyone a lovely small diary and a onemanband postcard. They are so pleased and we sign the cards and put our phone numbers in the books.

The first Musical Exchange

Around the table. ‘Bring me sunshine’ on the trumpet goes down a storm. Then a song ‘ Oi Messo’ with drum and percussion. We learn then chorus and sing along. A second more samba like song follows and Eliza on the pandeiro is very good for me to see. Maybe this is my opportunity to learn this thing!

Out come the cooking chopsticks from HK! And around the table we hit chairs for a little time. It is fun as ever and the energy is high. A good step. There will much more of all of this. We relax again and chat and add dates to the diaries. People drift and more arrive and for a little time there is more sharing with a bit of fun the melodica and community leader anna Louise arrives with T shirts for her Bloco. They all laugh as I try mine on. I thought it was cool but it is obviously a bit strange with my white white arms!

Money and Solidarity

We sit in the front room and talk about money, expectation, contribution, sustainable development and the future. It is fascinating to try and work out the landscape together. They are being so careful how they make decisions in this community. Everything is discussed with the young people and community leaders. There was an award from the state that will hopefully pay for a number of things over the next year(s) including the making of a community garden/cinema, trips for people outside of the community, training for leaders, instruments etc. They are taking it very very slow and trying to make sure there is no misunderstanding, no exploitation and that the work is truly embedded an led by the young people. What are my expectations?

I explain that More Music has some funding to develop internationally and that this trip is R&D in relation to that. That we are paying air fare and covering my salary. That Kathryn is coming at our family cost. That we really hope that our work is an exchange for living costs – food and accommodation while we are here. There is no expectation to bring home money. However in the long term if this is to develop it will have to have it’s own funding stream. Solidarity, learning exchange, social capital and long term community growth are our aims.

Walking the promenade

Lunch is good. Guava juice is wonderful. Dan and Mano shop for food and we walk the length of the prom where there is endless activity in and out of the water. Much prep for the carnival tonight with bars developing, stalls opening and many of the young men coloring their hair.

We watch, talk and reflect deeply in our conversation and watch the river flow.

Meeting the others for beer we talk more this time about methodology and pedagogy of our work, the journeys to China and how we might collectively develop from these 3 weeks. It is so interesting. The conversation never stops! Walking back to the sunset we pass the stage, meet the big car sound systems,


have a dance with Anna Louise and her monkey and then home for a little rest time before out for our first night carnival.


Bloco in Maraba

Dressed in Copo de Farado vest tops we walk into town. White arms exposed in pride! There has been much conversation about me playing trumpet with Zequinas band later complicated by no rehearsals and different information about when and where and whether it is appropriate.

Dan and Mano are very very sensitive to how the community of Cabelo Seco and also the wider community will perceive any development with ‘outsiders’ and this has been slightly fuelled by a newspaper article in the paper using their press release as a basis which focuses on collaboration and sensitivity but that is headlined  to imply something different. And Zequina is very sensitive. As we leave we meet him and he says that they are not playing tonight. This is good so I leave then trumpet behind. We pass the big stage and make our way down the prom where there are now many stalls selling everything from beer to cashassa, food of many sorts and hats, masks and headdresses. There are sound systems at every bar and quite a lot of people out many dressed in bloco t shirts.

At every moment assessing what we see and trying to make sense of it. Here it is trying to understand what will happen with the truck and the dancers in the bloco. It soon becomes apparent as we sit in a bar and drink Cayparinas and watch.