Thursday, May 16, 2013

Don't cry for me, Curitiba...

After a short stint in Porto Alegre, we took a short flight to Curitiba (pronounced kur-ee-tcheeba).  The flight was made complicated by the fact that the power went out in the airport.  There was a generator to keep the computers going, but we finished our check-in in the dark.  Needless to say, the process was a tad complicated.

We arrived to Curitiba, and checked in to the hotel and I made arrangements to meet up with a friend of Harry’s named Kizzy.  Harry and Kizzy lived together in Nicaragua.  I left Keola and co. for the night to hang with Kizzy.  Keola and co briefly met Kizzy and later mentioned that they would be glad to play for our wedding.

Kizzy and I went for shwarma at a shwarma joint around the corner.  I love Brazilian food, but it was nice getting a lil change.  We sat out chatting (in Spanish) in the outdoor café, eating shwarma slathered in spicy orange Brazilian pepper sauce and drank lil cups of beer.  I learned a lil about Curitiba, which had a large community of Poles and Ukrainians, as well as Italians and Germans.  I also learned about Kizzy’s interesting project in Nica.  Kizzy was working with La Isla Foundation on an interesting project related to entrepreneurship and development through cosmetics.  Her project taught villagers cosmetology skills so they could be entrepreneurs of beauty salons (fashion diplomacy)

The next morning, after some frustrations dealing with another departing group, I got to wander around Curitiba’s city center.  I wandered around the pedestrian center of the city, cobbled and shaded by big banyan trees.  I sat in the shade drinking cold pressed sugarcane juice with lime (caldo de cana- actually sugarcane soup). 

I made my way back to grab Keola and co for our sound check at the dynamite Teatro Paiol.  I say dynamite, because the round theater was converted from a gunpowder depot in the 1970s to be an art space.  The round theater had thick walls with stadium seating arching upwards.  It had phenomenal acoustics, and proved to be the best place they played the entire tour.  Working in such a phenomenal space made the night’s performance even better.  Keola and co played a great show, and had a lil fun with the translator Cesar as Keola got him to translate a birdcall (kaw!).  The enthusiastic crowd delighted in the Hawaiian music and cheered so much that they got an encore out of the musicians.

"What you brought to Poland wasn't just jazz. It was the Grand Canyon, it was the Empire State Building, it was America." -Polish jazz fan to Jazz Ambassador Dave Brubeck 

 "I heard Hawaii in your music. What a beautiful place! I heard the waves of the ocean in what you played." -Brazilian concertgoer´s impressions from the concert of Keola Beamer and Jeff Peterson, with Moanalani Beamer, in Brasilia. Brazil.

After the show, I joked with Kizzy and her Mom who also came to the show about our upcoming wedding and the band’s offer to play our ceremony.

We went out for dinner, then sent everyone on home and I headed out with Kizzy to a rock club.  She tried to put me in a taxi since she didn’t have an extra helmet, but I scoffed at that and put on my sweatshirt hood.  We drove through town on her scooter over to a rock club called Crossroads.

At Crossroads, there were a few Brazilian bands playing hard rock and heavy metal, and we headbanged to Alice-in-Chains, Rage Against the Machine and Metalica.  The first band was not bad, while the second band was actually quite good.  While I doubt State Dept would ever turn to Heavy Metal Diplomacy, there actually would be a very receptive audience for such music in a LOT of places.  The counterculture expression of bands like The Ramones are symbols of expression that end up on t-shirts and in the ears of youth that I have seen from Mexico to Argentina.  The heavy metal-as-voice-of-youth is rather uniquely tied to the American musical landscape, even if it is rather unlikely to be employed as a form of cultural diplomacy.  Meanwhile, the alternative music scene born out of Seattle speaks to the local culture of the Pacific Northwest.  But I digress into a mosh pit…

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