Inhabiting space

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3pm slow Sunday. Sitting in a log in Brockwell park, eyes closed in anti social peace. Tall skinny guy in rubber boots with dog stops by, says 

– Hi, peaceful right. Great. Not from England? Holiday? Live close to here? 

– Yeah, no, its been a few years. Denmark, local now.

– Got a place close to here, fancy a drink? Som’in sweet?

-No thanks, case closed.

Rest eyes on trea, the other way, will go away. But cirkles back behind me, closer.

– Ur very pretty, what’s ur name?

– Maria, gotta go, bye.

– U want a drink? I got cocaine? Sex?

– No. No. Definetely not.

High tech Hobits and Micro Cosmodelic Sustainability in Curitiba

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I wake up in Giovanna’s and Fabio’s little hobit house. High tech hobit, because it has a flat screen TV glued to the wall. I wake up alone, I wake up happy. Outside is breathing peace, a little porch which a passion fruit bush is slowly absorbing into her stomach. Sun and a mild breeze.

Me and Gi are friends since 9 years ago when she came to my home town and told me that I should come and find my tribe in Brazil, where everything which was weird about me would be normal, and the jeans would fit my bum. (xD.) The rest is history.

Curitiba is a calm cool town in contrast with Rio, Salvador, Recife or São Paulo. I’ve landed in Gi’s micro cosmos of sustainable forrestry, organic foods, vegetarian restaurants, funky hair cuts, piercings and compost. I settle in with the people and the place as if I had in fact lived here my whole life, this feels so easy, I talk about spirituality with everybody, without getting a single blank stare. Everyday is a new delicious and spirited conversation about feminism, buddhism and indigenous mysticism. I cannot get enough of people. On more than one occasion there are several alcohol free parties to chose from (so psyched!!), in compensation the air is heavily perfumed with burning weed.

Gi and Cami(kaze) support their income with a home grown tobaco business, freeing smokers of the hands of the multinationals while providing the people with nicotine and sweet smelling flowers. (check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Loguca/827600707257502?fref=ts) . I join in the production and feel like a clandestine migrant worker as we crack silly jokes through the evenings. Totally high from the fumes of happiness, I feel stronger and more at ease than I have for long: this is h.o.m.e…. as well!

I’m invited along to pass carnaval at Psycodalia – a festival guaranteed to relieve your mind from any heavy residues, LSD, theater and the best of the genious musicians (such as living God Tom Zé) readily available… I am drawn like a bird to the horizon, but chose the violent magic of Carnivorous Carnival Rio, and dream of fires, deaths, kidnappings and slaughtered cows bleeding on the pavement… Have a feeling this is going to be intense.

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Post Traumatic Paralysis, Body of Life

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Rainy street, late night and no cabs stopping for me. I’m alone. I tag along a group of people walking in the direction of Lapa, feeling less than calm, but thankful for the rain and the plastic coat providing a blurry camouflage towards the world. Its a calm street really, and there are lots of people walking, I wouldn’t be scared if it wasn’t because I knew that I’m supposed to.

The group I walk behind turns the corner, I speed up, careful to take long assertive steps as you’re supposed to. A cabby stops for me.

”You can’t let a beautiful woman walk around in the rain alone, an ugly one is even okay, but not a beautiful one”

”Yeah right? Much less at this hour. But you know, sometimes I think it would be easier to be ugly”

”How is that?”

”Its not all the attention you get which is pleasant, like, lets say the kind of attention you get isn’t always the most respectful one…”

”Listen, you may not believe me, but I’m telling the truth: I beleive all women should be treated with care and love. I have many prostitutes for friends, I think, it doesn’t matter what a woman does or where she goes. When she is off work she is first and foremost a woman, not a prostitute, that’s just what she does, and she deserves the same respect and care as any woman does.”

”We are all human beings first and foremost, with the same dignity”

”Exactly. Would you believe I never lifted my hand against a woman in my life?”

I believe it, what I don’t believe is that it should be something phenomenal. But sometimes maybe it is. I go through my wallet for money but spent it all. I tell him I’m sorry but only have a hundred, he says he can change it, I discretely fish out a 100 reais bill from my bra.

He takes it and folds it delicately.

”This one from you I will take special care of. You are very beautiful”

I tell him that if I am beautiful all credit goes to God who made me as she made everybody.

”When God made you he was in love on the beach”

Our conversation is over. He waits until I’m inside the door. Upstairs in the hostel I re-feel this down I can’t seem to shake… A vague feeling of chock from the louring insecurity that lives in every dark corner in the street. The same one which used to make me run towards men, wanting them to protect me. Creating saviors in shiny armors from the broken up pieces of hope for decency lying around after so much gendered violence in so many brutally subtle forms.

Its a self negating circle of dependency when you rely on men to protect you from men, and it isn’t freedom.

A different kind of voice calls me up on the phone and soothes my torn nerves, puts the smile back behind my eyes…

I think of how much energy would be liberated for women if everyday machismo and its serial traumas were removed. More than half of the times I share my story with a woman (talking about the more serious ones here, and not just the everyday occurences), she tells me one back, stories which break your heart no matter how many you have heard. Stories invisible and unaccounted for in any statistics. Its not restricted to any specific geographical area or any culture although, obviously, some places are much worse than others.

I’m daunted by the thickness of the silences, and the cruelty of the events, but humbled by feeling how fast silence turns rawly felt connections and the cruelty of our experiences turns a deep feeling of sisterhood.

The Queen of the Sea: Hijacked

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2/2: Me and Andrea wake up at 5 am to go down to the ocean and offer presents to Iemanjá, the queen of the sea, today is her day. The sun is still sleepy and only tickles a little bit while giving a golden glow to the assembly of people dressed in white for the ceremonies on the beach. We buy flowers and let them sail out into the ocean to meet the mermaid. Then make our way through the party people still in the street from yesterday, uncoordinatedly drunk, to go home for coffee and more sleep.   IMAG2842

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I go out again at noon, and the first person outside the door to make kissing sounds at me with a most unpleasant energy receives a silent salute from my middle finger. He looks back at me, face wrenged in disgusts “ugly!” he yells at me. Got a feeling this goddess celebration might have been colonized by machismo baiano, with its own uniquely low-self-esteemed need to assert itself in the most obnoxious (or even violent) ways.

Eileen is leaving today, so after a few hours under a merciless sun in the sweaty crowd I follow her to Barra and leave her in a magic taxi bound for Hamburg. I stay at the shadowy side of the hill where Christ opens his arms around Salvador, looking into the ocean until my emotional body stops its agitation. Then walk back towards Andrea’s house. The sun is setting in the water, the sky full of soft rosy pillows. As I make my way back towards the party I become painfully aware of how alone, tall, blond and female I am. The amount of harrasment totally clean of any kind of invitation, appreciation or respect is overwhelming. I feel like a steak on legs walking counter current against a pack of starving dogs. Andrea texts me she is out, so I have to wait an hour or so in the street. Longest hour of my life.

3/2: I don’t go out until after lunch, and even then everything around me agitates me, my body is in an extreme state of stress. Am totally traumatized, I hate it because I am usually really good at putting up an unpenetrable facade for the unwanted touches and talking to just slide of like tortilla de batatas off of brand new teflon (xD) but yesterday was waay too much. Because my goddess celebration got hijacked, and because I got scared for real. I’m gonna need some time, becuz right now Brazil can go to hell..