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|"QUANTUM SHOT" #573|
Link - article by Akka Ballenger Constantin
We welcome our guest travel writer Akka Ballenger Constantin (also a photographer with a gallery on National Geographic). She spent seven years sailing around the world, gathering weird and wonderful material, part of which she shares with us today:
The Unknown Brazil: Boca de Valeria, Manaus, Santarem & Parintinis.
When in Rome, do like the Romans - they say…but what about Brazil? Here are some notes that may help you find places not (too often) mentioned in the travel guides:
A couple of dancers in Santarem, Boi Bumba Festival
Surely enough, your typical tourist will linger on the Ipanema Beach, or take active part in the Rio de Janeiro’s Carnaval…that is if you can do the Samba like the locals, or if you really want to embarrass yourself publicly, by exposing your elephantine grace. A conscientious tourist will have at least a shot of himself underneath O Cristo Redentor, the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer located on the top of the Corcovado Mountain. A shot together with the gorgeous dancers, on the Sambodromo. One on the beautiful beaches of Santa Catarina…Or perhaps a shot of the lively, rocky nights in Armação dos Búzios, catching up with the richest of the riches…
I, on the other hand have none of the above. I am a fortuitous tourist and a natural born traveler. While sailing, my itinerary is always imposed on me, but sometimes it’s for the best. So, what can I tell you about Brazil? Something you haven’t already seen; something you don’t already know?
Encontro das Águas - the improbable junction of the waters
Sailing the Amazon River into Manaus, we were mesmerised by what the locals call "Encontro das Águas" (the meeting of waters). The junction of Rio Negro and Rio Solimões is a very unique sight. For 6 km, the 2 rivers are running along, without mixing. In more profane but visual terms, think coffee flowing alongside cappuccino, without being able to mix it.
There is a simple explanation for what we took for a small miracle: Rio Negro flows at 2 km per hour at a temperature of 22°C, while the Rio Solimões flows between 4 to 6 km per hour at temperature of 28°C. These differences between speed, temperature and density of the two waters are the main cause of this phenomenon.
Evening time: view from the Command Bridge, before entering Manaus.
Boca de Valeria
Leaving Manaus, we keep sailing on the Amazon River. Our next stop: Boca de Valeria: a very small, colourful village, populated by some 60-70 ribeirrinhos.
Several cruiseship companies have placed this little village on their itinerary. Located at the "mouth" of the Valeria River, the village offers an encounter of two different cultures.
A cruise ship arrival is a great event for the small village located on the mouth of Valeria River. The friendly villagers are always happy to welcome all visitors, eager to make contact and get news from foreign lands.
Because of the small space, the visitors are literally poking into the river people’s lives. But they look happy enough to share with us their ways of life: we are being shown their schools, the local market and even the way their houses are made.
They seem to understand that visits like these sustain the little trade they are able to make by selling souvenirs and exquisite crafts. There are very few inhabitants and they are all very proud of their amazonian heritage. Although modern living is slowly making its way through, they dress up with traditional costumes.
The children however are not yet versed in the art of compromise. Although they have obediently donned up their outfits, their eyes say more than words.
They are not used being on display for the large audience and they all look like they would be happier playing, rather than demonstrating their skills. One particular girl attracted the crowds with her beautiful, magnetic eyes. She was demonstrating archery, but her eyes were throwing the real darts.
Little Amazonian Warrior:
In Boca de Valeria, boats are the equivalent of cars in a busy city: the only way of getting around:
Spectacular Boi-Bumbá Festival
Parintins is located on Tupinambarana island in the Amazon River. Its name will probably tell you nothing, but Parintins is very famous for a popular folklore festival. Called Boi-Bumbá, the Parintins festival is held each year on the month of June. It is an incredible experience for the audience: the artistic duel of the 2 teams, Boi Caprichoso and Boi Garantido.
Boi is the Portuguese word for ox and it is the main character of the story. Each of the teams is presenting the same story in their own fashion: the story of Pai Francisco, who killed one of his Master’s ox, because Mae Catirina (his pregnant wife) was longing to eat beef tongue. Unfortunately, the ox he has killed was the master’s favourite and Pai Francisco is sent to jail, after a priest and a doctor failed to revive the ox. However, the story has a happy ending and thanks to the ritual performed by a pajé (pa-zhe, shaman), the ox is brought back to life. Pai Francisco is forgiven and everything ends in a party that celebrates the Boi's life.
Both teams, Caprichoso and Garantido use amazing resources in unfolding the story: apart the musical and theatrical experience, the viewer will be amazed by the grand scale of this artistic confrontation: parade floats, giant puppets, allegoric dances & stories.
The "Bumbódramo" is always at its full capacity during this 3-nights event. 35,000 people are following the competition, encouraging & cheering for their favourite team. During each night, the 2 teams are attempting in outdoing each other through their performance incorporating Amazonian folklore, with its exquisite costumes and flamboyant dances.
(all images copyright Akka Ballenger Constantin)
CONTINUE TO "SPECTACULAR ECUADOR"! ->
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