Experiences of a Dutchman living in Belo Horizonte, since December 2004, from month to month.
AUG 2006: In the spotlights; shedding different lights on some subjects and people.
(Click here for the complete overview of ‘A Foreigner in Brazil 2006’)
In July, I had an unforgettable experience in Salvador, the capital of Bahia. I had joined a group of students, and I had enjoyed the beautiful city, its local habits, and the warm friendships with my fellow travelers. As with many unforgettable travels, there is some emptiness thereafter. August became a peaceful month for me, and my thoughts regularly returned to Salvador, to the beaches, to the music festivals, and to various special moments with my friends. All of them had welcomed me as one of their friends. Even as a gringo, who was not able to communicate in fluent Portuguese, I had not encountered serious communication problems with them. Meanwhile, I was working hard to keep my promise to release my photographs of the travel. Initially, my fellow travelers looked with little suspicion when I was taking many pictures, but soon they discovered that I only had good intentions when taking pictures and that I had no problem to share these pictures with them.
When I bought my digital camera in The Netherlands, I also received a CD with a very interesting photo imaging program. This program is able to combine pictures with music, in order to produce professional-looking music videos. When we returned from Salvador, I already had some songs in my mind that I could combine with a series of pictures. At day, I was still dealing with the completion of my thesis, and at night I was spending my time with photo editing. Within two hours, I had managed to complete a series of 36 music videos. I already had informed Jader, our presumed tour guide, that I would have these videos ready at the first Friday night after our travel. At that night, the first reunion of the Salvador traveler was scheduled. Unfortunately, Carol, my travel companion, was not able to join. She came one week later, when I presented the videos one more time. We had arranged a digital projector, and the videos were displayed on a white wall. My friends were very surprised to see this new way of presenting holiday pictures. No more albums, that would go from one hand to another, but everyone was able to watch and enjoy at the same time. Their surprise quickly turned into a great enthusiasm, and some of them even danced at some songs. I had selected a balance of Brazilian and international music. From Bob Marley to Belchior to U2 to O-Zone to Engenheiros do Havai to The Rasmus to Jota Quest.
During my trip to Salvador, I made many friendships. And many of these friendships still continue. And still, my friends have very good memories of that trip. Every time, when we meet each other again, we talk about some anecdotes of Salvador. Many of these friends studied at the university, or were still studying there. Some of them studied Library Science. I was invited to witness the graduation of a small group of them. In Portuguese, it is called formatura. The student then has completed the university studies, and he might try to qualify himself for the mestrado (masters), and eventually the doutorado (PhD). While PhD defense is the most important ceremony in The Netherlands, in Brazil most attention is paid to the ceremony of the formatura. The ceremonies following the masters or PhD are much less ceremonial. At the formatura ceremony, both the candidates and the professors use formal robes, black robes, with a bright colored band around the waist. The color corresponds to the faculty. They also use a jabot, and the kind of beret that always reminds me of the graduation ceremonies in the United States.
The Formatura Committee, which consists of the deacon, some professors and technical personnel, is seated on the front row, behind a large table. Behind them are the candidates, who have their seats in alphabetical order. The ceremony starts with the joint singing of the Brazilian anthem, everyone is obliged to stand. And everyone sings! Then the ceremony is opened by the deacon. Students and professors read their eulogies and members of the Formatura Committee receive small gifts from the students. Everything is done with a big smile, which is caught by many digital cameras. They all are well trained how to pose, with their biggest smile! Usually the professor and the student embrace each other at the moment of the photo shooting. The most important moment of the ceremony is swearing the professional oath. Every faculty has its own oath, in which the candidates solemnly pledge to follow the working ethics. Finally, students are called in alphabetical order to obtain their certificate. And again, a lot of photo shootings, with both the professors and the candidates with their biggest smiles. The end of the ceremony is marked by the throwing of their headgear in the air, what also remembers me of the American movies.
Baile da Formatura
This ceremony is usually followed by a modest reception, and the candidates gather in smaller groups with their relatives and close friends. They may continue their celebration in a local bar or restaurant. It is not uncommon to eat pizza and drink some coke together. Depending on the financial situation of the candidates, they might opt to join the formal Baile da Formatura. This is a real dance gala, and everyone is expected to wear formal suits and dresses. This dancing night generally takes place in more expensive restaurants with special accommodation for dance parties. The dancing continues until the wee hours, while a band is playing popular Brazilian and international songs. I was invited to such a dance night, and I was fortune enough that my informal dress code was accepted.
An international puppet festival was held in Belo Horizonte at the end of August: Sesi Bonecos. For several days, there were many theater performances in open air. The festival took place at the large square in front of the former railway station. The area was flanked by a large collection of large puppets. Some of these puppets were almost looking real, thereby confusing the minds of many visitors. On a warm evening in August, I was walking there with Vítor, who had joined me to the trip in Salvador. He had introduced me to his friends, and we enjoyed the theater performances together. I also met Jader, our tour guide, there. The main act of that night was the performance of Cordel do Fogo, a popular band from the state of Pernambuco. They perform their music in a much diversified way: music with elements of the Brazilian popular music, mingled with folkloric elements of their state, and sometimes interspersed with some touches of rock music. For me and my friends, their act was really enjoyable.
By Adriano Antoine Robbesom
- COLORFUL BRAZIL: Orchids, Belo Horizonte (MG) (adrianoantoine.wordpress.com)
- Imaging Brazil (13): Curious Monkeys in Mangabeiras Park, Belo Horizonte (MG) (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: Bus Travel Belo Horizonte – FORTALEZA (04). First Impressions of Praia de Pipa (RN) (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- COLORFUL BRAZIL: Obelisk, Praça 7 (Belo Horizonte,MG) (adrianoantoine.wordpress.com)