Nostalgia. I feel as if I am constantly living a life of nostalgia. I think I have always felt that way. Whether I was waiting until the annual Pensacola, Florida vacation where my family and family friends spent two weeks together. Or maybe I was waiting to visit my dad in Santa Monica, maybe I was waiting to run like a wild child with my cousins at our grandparents farm.
I have always had a sense of a place just like a memory that I can carry with me. And when it is needed, I can pull out that nostalgia and revel in it for however long is needed.
So my idea of Brazil. My Holy Grail. My samba, Jobim, Chico Buarque, Caentano Veloso, beach, Woman on Top, City of Men, and Brazilian Portuguese are a little buried under the surface due to my every day practice of living in the moment. And the past 2 and a half months of moments have been in Spanish speaking countries. Meaning that the cultures are very, very different.
So I want to talk about music. I want to talk about the primary reason for going to Brazil. Every traveler I have come across has responded with the same curiosity,
“Oh you are going to Brazil from here? But it’s so expensive.”
If I hear this one more time, I’ll just simply take out my iPhone and play “Aguas de Marco” or “Samba de Orfeo.” Because that is all I need for my nostalgia to set in of a country I have never even been to…yet.
At the moment though, I am struggling to rekindle that curiosity of Brazil. I met some amazing people through out Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. I learned about some AMAZING music. I fell in love. I ate $2 ceviche from the beach everyday. I spent at least 2 hours a day in a hammock. I saw dolphins at 6am. I danced all night and made some amazing memories with some extraordinary people.
So what makes it the most nostalgic? What takes me back to the exact moment of deep conversation, laughing, and vivid memories?
What I have found traveling overland from Colombia to Bolivia, is that the music is shared. A playlist I made with a friend in Colombia has been my right of passage with the locals I’ve met in Ecuador and Peru!!!
It is fairly simple. I mean all of the USA knows all the same songs. So all of Central and South America share the music because they share the language. I haven’t seen a certain pride or exclusivity to a specific country’s music. Meaning that all of my Peruvian friends listen to music from all over Latin America. My Spanish and Ecuadorean friends do the same.
My best friend, Omar, introduced me to the music he grew up with, what his mother listens to. And who would that be? But of course the Fania All Stars whose songs filled the halls of Booker T. Washington, my high school, when the Latin Ensemble would play.
Not only does Omar, and every other native Spanish speaker I’ve met, know all of the words to all of these classic songs but once the music plays everyone, I mean EVERYONE, moves.
It’s like by now I should anticipate it but every time is like the first. A song ends, the dance is done, everyone seems to be resting or so you think…
A new song begins and I see the ecstasy in my native friends faces and their arms go back to their sides moving in circles, and their feet are stepping forwards and backwards, and their hips are swirling, and their chins are lifted up and a smile….the smile.
Everyone does this. Everyone MOVES to the music. Everyone has a face like this song, and many other songs, takes them to a place I can only imagine is the hub of nostalgia and ecstasy.
This spiritual act has mesmerized me. To me, it is a spiritual act because I have never witnessed anything as natural as how this music makes everyone move.
Yes, I am infatuated, I am in love, I am under a spell, and I am moving away from all of it?! To muster up similar feelings I have/had about Brazil?
Well exactly…because even though I am experiencing these “nostalgia pains” by moving away from what I love, I know…I am SO aware….that a comparable nostalgia will be created again. And once I SEE my beloved samba and bossa nova the way I’ve seen salsa, cumbia, reggaeton, rumba, and bomba I will be inspired once again.
These were several of my thoughts during my time in Machu Picchu. My friend, Ingrid, and I hiked up to the entrance at 5:30am. It was truly amazing. In the sense that both Ingrid and I are kindred spirits. It was physically difficult but all you could hear from both of us was a wave of “ooohhs” and “ahhhhs” and “Oh my gosh, it’s so beautiful.”
Once we made it to the top, Ingrid continued to find her tour guide and I looked for a place to take a nap.
I cannot express what a beautiful thing sleeping in the grass is. I guess I hadn’t done it in a while but that simple act in that magical place overwhelmed me with gratitude, thoughts, ideas, and love.
I mean I seriously almost started crying when I heard an older American couple walk by and with the same elation I was feeling say,
“Oh honey. Isn’t that just beautiful!”
Maybe I’m homesick. Maybe it made me proud. Maybe I’m tired of hearing or learning about horrible things that are happening in the world and how there are some evil people out there, that when I hear someone verbally acknowledge a beauty that is NOT theirs, it makes me so happy. They are so grateful and excited to be here.
I don’t know. I think I heard Grossmama and Grandaddy, my grandparents, in those words and those accents but some strong emotion was triggered.
So, I love you all. I love everyone who has welcomed me in unknown countries and immediately made me family. You know who you are.
I love my family who are continually supportive of my choices now matter how crazy they sound in the beginning!
I love all of the amazing people I have met on this adventure and thank you for….well everything!
Tonight I go to Uyuni to see the salt flats. I’m really excited and I am in a bit of a shock with the fact that I have made it this far.
But when I listen to “Mi Libertad” and see my friend Chipy dancing and singing a comfort settles in me and I know everything is going to be amazing.
Brazil is next….and then who knows?