SO this is Day 5 already and it's HOT HOT HOT. It's a steamy Amazonian heat that doesn't compare ever to any kind of weather at home, a gratifying change from the constant cold but presenting different challenges. My hair is in crisis.
It is great to be back in this community,
the people of CabeloSeco particularly the young people seem delighted to see
us. We arrived on Thursday at the point at which 5 years work was culminating
in a major community concert to launch a CD,
a collection of songs that have been made over the length of the
project, that includes a number of other interesting initiatives driven by the
So there's a library, a cinema club, a team of journalists, a dance company and a cycling club. There are so many parallels with the work at home and in the young people although their lives and their environments are worlds apart. It will be extraordinary if somehow we can bring them together.
A stage was set up outside against the gable end of the house where we are staying, and the home of the project. It's a tiny live-in Hothouse. Lights were hung in the trees, we decorated the stage and swathed the metal chairs in vibrant, floral cloth and, as dusk fell and the moon rose, this cracked and broken concrete square was transformed into a magical outdoor performance space.
The gig was fantastic if a little on the long side, the young people The Latinas played, for 2 and a half hours without a break,all the songs off the CD and then accompaniedthe 8 visiting artists including Pete! The community came out in force to sit on white plastic chairs celebrate the achievements of their young people. The atmosphere and the way people behave on such occasions is so different from home, there are scores of children, beautiful, beautiful children of all ages, running around unsupervised. There are small children looking after smaller children who are looking after even smaller children, no one seems to worry about them falling over, getting lost or getting hurt and there is no crying. The weather and the closeness of the community I guess are the ingredients that make the difference.
This morning, we said goodbye to Jessica a student on an exchange programme researching the economic and environmental developments in the Amazon region. She made a massive impression on the young people, being young (20) beautiful, north American, able to speak Portuguese and, most importantly, blonde. She found the constant attention quite strange and disturbing and for this project the reaction to her was unsettling, as its heart is the development of pride in this community and its Afro/Indigenous heritage, in its culture, its beauty and its identity. The power of the Western ',ideal, is terrifying.
This afternoon Pete is teaching 5 young people, who are the horn section for the Latinas, some new tunes on the instruments we brought from England. They don't own their own and are not allowed to use those they play in school so this is a great boost to the project. He's teaching them by ear and how to improvise, both of which are completely outside their experience. They are so open and eager to try new things and are paying great attention, it's great to see him work and to see how quickly they grasp what he is saying. The language barrier doesn't seem to exist. The workshop is happening in their cultural centre an uninhabited house, a concrete box with the ubiquitous white plastic chairs as the only resource.