February 6th - 14th. Lynn and I took an overnight bus from Lençois to Feira de Santana, a place without much to offer tourists, but it wasn’t wasted time. We had a great day exploring fruit markets and restaurants with a local friend of Lynn’s, Julianna. By 5pm we were back at the bus station and headed to Recife.
I spent a full week in Recife with Lynn and the family she had gotten to know during her first visit to Brazil 3 years before. We stayed in a slum called Chao De Estrelas. On the surface, Recife is a rough place - there is a constant struggle to keep children there off drugs, it is dirty, it smells of rotting everything, it’s loud (for example, people install massive street-facing stereo systems into cars and trucks, then drive around neighborhoods blasting commercials), and the food is always the same rice, beans and meat. But, the city has a personality that grows on you. Never have I seen so many people dancing, drumming, and smiling. And they throw a hell of a Carnival party. The slums have a sense of community that wealthier neighborhoods often lack. The family I spent much of the week with was kind and inviting despite the language barrier, and there always seemed to be some relative ready to take us to lunch or a dance performance. I was sad to leave.
At the airport in Recife, a guy near me was rather suddenly surrounded by a pack of fans and cameras. He was amazingly patient, and greeted every one of the 50-75 (no exaggeration) people that approached him with a warm smile. I couldnt help but think of Los Angeles, where - for better or worse - the people and the celebrities are too cool to care. It turned out to be Saulo Fernandes, one of Salvador’s headlining Carnaval acts. The fist ad I saw in the airport two hours later featured his giant headshot. I was happy (lucky?) to stumble into his concert a few days later. His music sucked, but no worse than most Brazilian pop/rock, and I almost liked it because, you know, he’s my buddy now.
Some other highlights in Recife: trying (and mostly failing) to break-dance, the sound of 50 drums in a narrow street, the old woman who walked by at a bus stop and fondly pinched my chin, smiled, and carried on her way, and the juice of more fruits than I knew existed.