Monday, October 27, 2008

Quarta Feira da amanha-Cross town traffic

Long distance running. Filling in the blanks, holes in my agenda, tourist shopping and one interview were my goals. I keep asking myself, “Why can’t I lose weight from all of this walking on cobbled streets?”

I left home just after nine on Wednesday morning to finally talk with Professor Jefferson Bacelas at CEAO, (Centro Estudios Afro Orientais, We had previously arranged to meet last Friday, until I had received the call about Junior’s mom.

The week before I had sought him out, after Claudio, the film Professor had recommended that I speak to him. He shared an office with two people, a Baiana and an American, who administered an international exchange program for college students to CEAO. Matt, the American, seemed like the perfect subject for Molly’s book project that I am trying to help with. It could mean some lucrative freelance work and good contacts for back home. She needs recipe development with particular themes and demographics.

Jefferson was also a colleague of Vivaldo. Vivaldo had helped found CEAO as well as IPAC, ( ).We hit it off well. Selfishly he seemed to revel in the ability to talk shop with someone who basically knew the score. We sparred briefly, comparing and haggling over relative strengths of academic research and historical materials available in our respective countries. He felt that we were far superior in the scope of documented materials detailing the Colonial history of Slavery: our own and the general global scene.

I asked if part of this could be a result of climatic deterioration of original source materials. He thought it was a more about our culture of inclusion. We agreed to stay in touch. He was curious as to how I was making out with Vivaldo. I was content. I asked if he had many students focusing on History via Food Studies. Very few. It was always just an aspect of a larger work. He seemed like another person who was not quite in the right fit, if that existed for him at all. Teaching history was enjoyable, but his focus was food, and he stressed not Food Journalism and Home Décor.

I left close to noon and grabbed some lunch just off of the Largo. I went back to a place Urania had tried to take me to, one Saturday morning. It turned out to be an old haunt of Amado’s, Porto Moreira. The walls were plastered with old and new clippings, celebrity citings; writers, film makers and folk musicians, not Hollywood types. The Galinha com Molho Pardo was excellent. The unctuous sauce had a great napping consistency and a tangy vinegary finish. As always prices were ridiculously cheap.

My next goal was to stop in at Fundação Gregorio Mattos for some research materials if they had them, São Joaquim for some of Viterino’s hand painted unglazed tiles, (Eneida’s recommendation), Liberdade for Ilê Ayé’s culinary program, Cabula to pick up a Oxum doll at Ilê Axé and stop in at Paraiso Tropical to see the garden/or just thank Jorelma for her help. Ready?- go!

I peaked down into the valley of Barroquina and the “leather church” Tracy had enjoyed photographing. The nickname comes from all of the artesan leather goods people who line the steps down to the church. Shortly thereafter I had a few snapshots, two pairs of slippers and pony sandals. Yes, pony. All for $45 reals. The Fundação yielded no fruit. They suggested Casa do Benin. I sidetracked there, and amidst the beautiful African art, I found a good book for Mossa, but not what I was looking for.

Regrouping a bit, I hiked up the Ladeira do Carmo, and asked in at a few Pousadas in preparation for next week with no roof. I found rustic charm, quiet streets and a great view for a higher price than I wanted to pay. I took the Carro Inclinado down to Calçada and a bus to São Joaquim.

Viterino and his tiles were a great find. He and his spouse were playing something like Bridge or Bid Whisk on an old piece of wooden paneling straddling their knees. Viterino’s head was down concentrating on his cards. He looked like his eyesight was poor from all of the repetitive fine brush work. Another fellow, middle aged and swarthy attended to me. Every time I wanted to see another design motif, they had to lift their makeshift table, one of them had to stand up to find and pull out a carton of samples. The space was littered with ceramics waiting to be sold.

When it came to pricing my booty, suddenly Viterino perked up and observed me. “How I had found him? Was I an architect? Another architect had taken many designs already.” I wondered, did I get a better price if I passed the grade? We bartered a bit, and when we made our deal, his wife-partner interjected flashing few teeth but a keen savy for numbers. She questioned his pricing for me. Then he brought out the catalogs identifying him as a local treasure. In the end, I got my price.

I asked for a small bowl for cooking Moqueca , and she brought out a beautiful one that was 28 inches across not including the fish head and tail on it. I said it was great and thoroughly impractical for international travel. As she went to put it back the tail came off in her hand. Oops. She needed more revenue from me. “How about this, and….?” I agreed on a small Moqueca bowl and my tiles, 24 total for $50 reals. Their assistant wrapped them in newspaper, boxed them and created a carry handle with twine. I was done.

I was walking to the Carro Inclinado up to Liberdade when I saw a great Xango figurine three feet tall. I stopped to photograph it, at the Casa de Yemanja and picked up some contas as gifts. The owner moved my box from a stool to his counter as he climbed up to pull the contas down from their display. The box was poorly positioned and crashed to the ground. I cursed under my breath. He assured me it would be fine, unwrap them at home, and let him know. Now anxious, I left quickly, got up to Liberdade bussing and walking to Ilê Ayé, only to be turned away until tomorrow.

The steep hill down from Rua Curuzu intersected with several bus lines. I made it to Ilê Axé just after four. Today, Wednesday was Xango’s day. I already knew that the store and museum were consistently open on Wednesday’s, and sporadic on other days of the week. Since they were having a ceremony today, the woman who ran the museum had Obligacões, and had only worked for a few hous in the morning. I could come back next Wednesday, or Thursday. No. I can’t,….hmmm. That went nowhere. I decided to just go home, skipping Paraiso altogether.

I walked in the door, one hour later, close to 5:30, the time we had agreed on to leave for the ceremony at Ilê Axé. I chugged a beer, pulled my box up onto Kathy’s bed to go through the tiles with her. 75% were broken. F ck. She extracted four and I now had to navigate my next steps. I put everything together, separating out the remaining intact pieces, changed my shirt and got ready to go with Tracy and Kathy to the Terreiro. It would be Kathy’s first ceremony.

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