Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Arriving in Vitória, Espírito Santo

It was hard to know what to expect. I had never been to Brasil let alone South America. I was leaving the end of winter and arriving at the end of summer. As far as air travel goes, the flights (three of them) were all on time and remarkably stress free. So, in the blink of an eye, after falling asleep watching The Martian somewhere over the Amazon rainforest, I arrived in São Paulo, the biggest city in the Southern Hemisphere. I would be back later in the month to do a mural with Parede Viva, but then it was just a connection on my way to Vitória, the capital of Espírito Santo. 

Upon my arrival in Vitória, I was met by Carla and Beata from the U. S. Consulate,  who are helping to coordinate my visit. We headed to our, not at all uncomfortable, hotel along the beach. After figuring out my key card, I went straight to the window to see this – 

I was in Brasil, exhausted and thrilled.  And then as I scanned the picturesque scene below, I started to notice all of the yellow and green shirts and flags moving towards the bridge that connects Vitória to it’s older twin city, Vila Vehla. There were streams of them, young and old, on bikes, in cars, walking all in the direction of the bridge. It was a protest, a massive protest in Vitória and  across the country by millions of others. It’s focus was the current president Dilma and the former one Lula and to what extent they were involved in corruption. Judging by the crowds, the answer was a clear yes, and they wanted change, now.

Looking back at the long swooping bridge high above the water (far right in the photo above), I could see that it had turned completely yellow and green with protesters, like a field of dandelions moving ever so slightly to the south. Traffic was blocked. The protesters had shut it down, just like recent Black Lives Matter actions back home. I couldn’t help it, I had to go out and see for myself. Outside in the thick humid air with horns blaring, I walked down the middle of the four-lane street with everyone else. There was a positive almost jovial spirit, many people wearing Brazilian soccer jerseys or capes made from the Brazilian flag. A few had on t-shirts that demanded the impeachment of the president. Dusk fell and the crowds reversed their course, heading home as if they had been at a holiday parade.
Those were my first few hours in Brasil.

The bridge I can see from my window  - A Gazeta newspaper
A deep disorienting sleep of the traveler. Breakfast buffet – so many delicious fruits! I met with Carla and Beata to talk about the role and interests of the U. S. Consulate in the project. And then finally I saw Karen, my artist counterpart, and Roger our translator. We had met (sort of) on Skype so it was a relief to see each other for real. I liked them immediately.  We walked over to Escola Municipal Maria Leonor Pereira da Silva ten minutes away through a streetscape not unlike downtown Kansas City. Here’s the front of the school – our ‘before the mural’ shot.   

(next up…the Vitória mural design)

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