Last weekend, I got to travel to a city called Campina Grande, which is the second largest city in the state of Paraiba. Teemu (the Finnish exchange student in Joao Pessoa) and I had been invited to stay with some friends of my host family that live there, and attend this dance show that their daughter Leticia was to participate in. I was very excited, since I love it when an opportunity to travel arises, and since Campina is known as the city of Forro (popular northeastern-brasilian dance) the dance show was sure to be excellent. We travelled to Campina by bus, which is very common here in Brasil, and it only took about two hours to get there. George and Gisellda, the family with whom we stayed, picked us up from the bus station and took us to their quaint little house on the outskirts of the city. Basically right after we got there, we went to this padaria (bakery) that was right down the road from the house. George bought us like a bazillion Brazilian baked goods for our ‘pre-dinner’. The real dinner was going to be after the show. The pre-dinner would have been plenty for me though, let me tell you. There were like 5 different types of rolls stuffed with either guava, cheese, chocolate, cream or chicken. There was also cake, cookies, pudim (like flan), assorted fruits, and tapioca. I feel like I talk about food way too much on this blog. But oh well, its fun! After our pre-dinner we headed off to the show.
The show was sort of a combination of professional dancers and student dancers with this dance company. Most of the dances were standard Brazilian/Latin American dances, such as samba, bolero, salsa, ventre, and salao. There were also some rather weird Arabic dances (Brasil is big on Arabian stuff, I don’t know why. But there’s also a lot of Arabian food here, and people are always asking me if I eat Arabian food in the U.S.) and this extremely strange ‘contemporary’ dance with a group from Sao Paulo. This was mainly weird gestures and staring off into space at symbolic times, and also random yelling of words and numbers that seemed to have no connection with anything. I didn’t know anyone took interpretive dancing seriously! I felt sort of bad for this group though. People started laughing and then like a quarter of the audience left. But on to the good stuff. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Brazilians sure can dance. Two of the professional groups were particularly good. There was this one women dance, a ventre, with this lady called Ju Marconato, who is apparently sort of famous. It was sort of like a ‘belly dance’ with a lot of other interesting bodily contortions that kept me thinking the whole time that she couldn’t have eaten for at least five hours before doing this. Or she would’ve had a baaaaad stomach ache. She was extravagantly dressed in this bejeweled skirt and bikini top sort of thing. It wasn’t really like anything I’d ever seen before, but it was just another example of an amazing Brazilian dancer! The very best dance was a bolero. It was this two-some called Sheila e Chocolate, a guy and a girl, and not only was it the best dance of the night, it was also the best dancing I’ve ever seen…ever! The only thing I can think to compare it to is the Olympic Ice Dancing competitions. There was a lot of the guy lifting the girl above his head and spinning her around his body, etc. And when they were actually both on the ground, their feet moved so fast I couldn’t even see them! Apparently these guys are sort of famous in Brasil too, and I can see why! I was very proud when I got to have my picture taken with them.
The show got over around mid-night, and then it was time for our real dinner, although I was still full from the pre-dinner. We went to this pizzeria, which of course was still full with Brazilians just getting started for their night out, while in the U.S. the restaurant probably would have closed an hour ago. I’m still continuously surprised by the night-life here! Brazilian pizza is extremely delicious, and there’s always dessert pizza (with chocolate or ice cream or banana, etc.) which is excellent. I met some friends of Leticia’s at the pizzeria and they were super nice and invited me to come hang out with them in Campina whenever I want. But apparently there is this rivalry between Joao Pessoa and Campina so I guess I shouldn’t get too close haha. The next day George, Gisellda and Leticia showed Teemu and I around Campina. We went to the lake, the park, the shopping mall, this huge pyramid where there are forro dances, and to a delicious restaurant with typical northeastern food. It was definitely a fun weekend. I love meeting new people and travelling to new places here, which I’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of recently!
The rest of the week was pretty normal. I went to school every day, which is boring but getting better. There are lots of kids there that I really like and so I look forward to the breaks when I can hang out and chat with them. If I didn’t go to school I really wouldn’t be making friends, so it doesn’t bother me that much to go anymore. Tonight I’m going out with some friends to eat tapioca and then we’re going to this concert of some famous Brazilian singer, which is on the beach close to my house! Should be fun, they’ve been setting up this big stage for a few days now, and I think there’ll be a big crowd there.
Até mais, um beijão!