Tropical Tribulations, Final Episode: Small Fieldwork, Grand Finale.

*** I just wrote a lengthy, thought-out post, then accidentally clicked on a link, and when I came back I had lost it all. I have no energy to write it again. Thanks, WordPress, for saying you have an auto-save function that doesn’t actually work. Aaaaaaarg. At least it’s not my thesis. Hm. Below is the part I didn’t loose. Co-Bloggers: please hit “save draft” more often than I did in the past two hours…***

24082014732When I arrived in Brazil, one big question lay over the country: would it be enough for the “Hexa”? The sixth title? Here, at home, with the world watching?

It was not to be. The World Cup – which some considered a flawed enterprise anyway – came and went, at lightning speed, as did the Summer. At the end, as I left the country, footballs still flew high in Brazil – as the picture shows – but new hopes had come to decorate the streets. On the school wall, the talk is of “luz”, “esperanca”, “respeito” and “abracos” (light, hope, respect, and hugs); and although the “Hexa” is still visible, somebody has since sprayed a new dream over the old one: “amor por favor” (love please).

It is not a bad plea. As the country moves into a heated election period, some love and respect may indeed be needed to calm things down a little. I, in contrast, merely move back into a heated apartment, as my flight to Montreal brought a summer of fieldwork to an end. Three months of data collection and discovery, which culminated in a hectic final set of weeks into which I tried to pack half of my interviews, the occasional tourist moment, and a heap of goodbyes. And, somehow – it all came together, at the end of an exciting, busy, stimulating, exhausting, and, ultimately, enjoyable summer.

So, Recife and Brazil, I hope to come back one day! Perhaps with less work, to be able to explore a little more – or to explore different things, at least; perhaps even to be a tourist for a bit. Until then, I will miss playing football on Friday nights under the overpass with the children running around and people drinking and chatting at tables pulled out of nowhere and music blasting out of a car parked on the side; miss the cheap Guarana smoothies, miss the Acaraje, miss even the interviews and the hurrying across the city, and miss the amazing collection of Brazilian music my flatmate hoarded and made me discover. I won’t miss the cold showers, though. You win some, you lose some. Bye Brasil!


Até a próxima!


ps. I can’t be bothered to re-write the story behind them, but below are some photos from the last weeks of the trip:

Ready, set, ... Interview!(conditional upon the free and informed consent of interviewees, obviously)

Ready, set, … Interview!
(conditional upon the free and informed consent of interviewees, obviously)


In case you were wondering, here’s Acaraje!
(not sure the picture helps much though… basically, a deep-fried sandwich filled with mushed beans and shrimp? I promise, it tastes better than it looks).


Old church by the sea in Olinda

An amateur group casually dancing Capoeira in a small square.

An amateur group casually dancing Capoeira in a small square.

In turn, the Instituto Brennand offers rich interiors...

On the outskirts of Recife, the impressive Instituto Brennand, a castle/art collection, offers rich interiors…

... intricate statues...

… intricate statues…

... and an altogether medieval feel.

… and an altogether medieval feel.

Finally, for those who are interested, I recommend three brief videos:

One is of Frevo, a dance on UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage that comes straight from Recife/Olinda’s carnival (which is altogether different from Rio’s samba-based one!). Energetic, fervent, and alive, Frevo is a pleasure to watch! (and impossible to dance) 🙂 Link here: (not my video).

The second is a 1953 song by Brazilian legend Luiz Gonzaga, o “Rei do Baião“! He sings about the Northeast and its (then) drought-driven plight, and it’s the epitome of Brazilian popular music (

And the third, one of the first classics of Brazil’s music universe I was introduced to, and an absolute favourite of a song: Elis Regina! (singing Belchior’s “Como Nossos Pais”). (

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