Thursday May 22:
**Quick Digression. I forgot to mention an extremely important part of our trip which was a visit to an engineering high school in Rio Preto called FATEC last Thursday. The reason it was so important is because me and my roommate Samantha took the liberty to corrupt all of the students and teach them how to twerk. We Americanized them. But in all honesty they were a really cool group of kids. They had put together a bunch of these presentations on different areas of Brazil and performed a bunch of the traditional dances that coincide with those areas (Amazonian rain dances, fun dances performed at Carnaval, etc). We ended up just having a huge dance party with them afterwards in which they taught us to samba and do the dance to a popular pop song “lepo lepo” and we taught them the wobble, dougie, Macarena, and, by specific request from them, how to twerk. **
Today was interesting. We went to the historic district of Salvador since it is basically the birth city of Brazil. We saw the first government buildings were the important political figures lived and worked.
My favorite part was when we visited the Church of Saint Fransisco. Having studied art history for many years in high school I was excited to see a lot of renaissance paintings in the foyer. Our tour guide Simone told me that all of the paintings and tile paintings on the walls in the convent were done by the slaves and only mimicked the renaissance style by word of mouth. There was no brilliant Brazilian artist that had studied in Europe on how to paint; it was all done by the slaves, yet I was surprised at how beautiful the paintings were and how well they followed the renaissance and baroque styles. The cathedral of San Fransisco was extremely beautiful and elaborate and definitely mimicked the “over-the-top” European baroque style of the time. Gold laid everything with intricately detailed walls and beautifully painted ceilings that mimic the Sistine chapel in style. Slave owners made their slaves go to church and stand in the back to make sure that they were worshipping and practicing the catholic religion. Little did they know that the slaves basically made code saint names for their own Gods as to dupe their owners and continue to practice their own native religion.
We did some shopping afterwards until it started pouring rain again. We all got soaked and we had to skip Portuguese class for the day so we could go home, eat lunch, and shower before going to visit another underprivileged children’s school nearby. The woman running this school is magnificent. With no government funding they work off donations to give these kids an education. They accept every child, which is what makes this school so different. 10 year olds who can’t even read or a child who is 5 years behind in school come here to get an education when they would be turned away elsewhere. We also visited Steven Biko; a college preparatory school for 18-20 year olds or anyone preparing for the college entry exam (the ACT equivalent). This is the best preparatory school in Brazil and many of their students go on to work within Brazil. The woman who spoke to us mentioned how it would be great to have someone come to teach English to the students so maybe one day I will return to teach English and take Portuguese classes…who knows really. We got ice cream afterwards and I almost went home because I felt like shit, but we were on our way to see the Folk Ballet so I stuck it out. This was not ballet, but it was MAGNIFICENT. A combination of old traditional condomble dances and capoeira made for the most enthralling thing I have seen while here. This dance company of about 20 people performed the most high-energy show I have ever witnessed and by the end I was out of breath just watching. We went home, Ana made us soup, and I passed out.