It snows in Brazil sometimes

Music, Travel

I don’t go chasing waterfalls only, I deliberately look for paradox in life too. I got sunburnt in the Northernmost places of our planet, but I also managed to see a monkey covered in snow in Brazil. So while I am enjoying a balmy 20 degrees Celcius evening in Berlin, I do sympathise with the other hemisphere where it gets rather gloomy and cold these days.

So the photos above don’t come from Spreepark in Berlin, they come from MARGS – Museu de Arte do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre where I stayed for a couple of wintery days in September 2013.  This post is about breaking some stereotypes or attributions, and not the weather forecast though. Much as I love listening to MPB, drinking coconut water, or wearing Brazilian bikini, there’s more than that in the discourse about the complex, multicultural and huge country like Brazil. I am a sucker for its literature, architecture, art and fashion, and recently: techno music.

My daily Upload feature on SoundCloud suggest me more and more Brazilian artists who are producing really deep, industrial and groovy sounds. Last summer was definitely heavily influenced by the produced CoastDream whose dreamy house kick was constantly on my rewind.

On that note, the Brazilian community of producers and DJs is also abundant. I am very lucky to have met a very ambitious, open-minded and talented producer Pedro Passoni. Although he came back to São Paulo early this year, he continues to amaze me with his new productions, currently experimenting the darker side of the EDM.

Fortunately, I believe that the darker side of techno and house in Brazil is not as rare as the view of the aforementioned monkey in the snow. Electronic music represents the progressive, diverse, free space and rhythm – something that not only Brazil, but the whole world needs now more than ever. I stay connected and sending only the most positive vibes to all my Brazilian friends who make a positive change in their country. Against all odds, I plan my next trip to their amazing country within the next couple of months, when the snow will be back in Berlin. Stay tuned and vibe!

Macau é legal!

Travel

Last year I set foot in East Asia for the first time in my life and after scratching the surface in pursuit of discovering Japan, quite spontaneously I decided to travel to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan during the New Year’s week.

Most people visit Macau for its fame of being an Asian equivalent of Las Vegas: with their copies of Eiffel Tower, Venice, casinos and its vibrant nightlife. I was attracted to it, naturally, by its history and second language: Portuguese. To make it even more interesting: I went there with my Brazilian friends. It was a pretty amazing experience to be in Chinese-controlled territory and read the names of the streets, menus and shops in Portuguese.

This exotic combination is a consequence of its complicated and paradox history: Macau belonged to Portugal as a part of their administration territory first, and then overseas colonies. Macau was the last remaining European colony in Asia and its sovereignity was transferred back under China’s in 1999. Until 2049 it remains a solid dose of authonomy from China and is one of the wealthiest states in the world.

Being the largest gambling centre in the world and somewhat overwhelming with its luxurious hotels, it is a land of contrasts, too. Together with my friends, we took an opportunity to walk around both the ovewhelming skyscrappers and the ruins to get a bit broader view on this place.

I think there are as many opinions about this place, as are the people. Literally one friend almost discouraged me from even going to Macau, and other claimed it was one of the most unexpectedly nice surprises when island hopping around Hong-Kong.

I have to admit, the visit was definitely unforgettable. Almost like lost in translation between Cantonese, Mandarin and Portuguese. I am always a fan of collages and diversity and I am pretty amazed by Macao’s story. It was equally worth to get lost in its small streets of the Old Town, and in the shadows of the Grande Lisboa Hotel.

My experience is probably incomplete, since I stayed there for less than 24 hours, but what travelling experience is anyway? Straight from Macau, I took a plane to Taipei, from its very modern yet small airport with the runway located on the sea, which added up a lot of adrenaline to the overall experience (after having a blissful breakfast of a typical Portuguese tosta mixta and pastel de nata).

Apart from quite particular art showing various depictions of rabbits, which can be the best closing note for this blog entry.

Special dedication to Cassiana & Paula who took this extravant journey full of champagne com cereja (e certanejo) around South-East coast of China with me. You’re the best and you know it.

BRIC in the wall, in a sharp lense

Personal, Travel

Call it food for thought for a Monday evening. I got recently inspired by the political science research collective to share an impactful photo taken in one of the BRIC countries. They are starting a campaign called Rising and Declining Global Powers and they took the urbanization, relative poverty and mass transformation of the BRIC regions as a good start of the dialogue about the major issues in 2015.

So Brazil in my lense is, sadly, not only beaches, stunning landscapes and happy people. There is rage, poverty, and unpredictable growth of the mutant cities (aka politically correct cidade satelita).

This image was taken one morning when I was doing the daily 5 km run, on a very popular trail surrounding one of the neighbouring cidade satelita of Brasilia, Aguas Claras. With my European mentality I could not tell where the borders between the safe and totally uncontrolable neighbourhoods (aka favelas) begin. There are often none, and different groups live next to each other. I decided not to care too much about it, regardless of noticing the 5m high electric fences in front of the households.

And there he was, on a 8-lane-drive, surrounded by different kind of cars, a man riding a horse-drawn vehicle. He looked so surreal with among these skyscrapers and 4x4s, as if he was one of the few underprivileged remaining. Especially that I’m talking about the Brazilian capital, the richest place in the country, if not the whole South American continent. Also, as I later learnt, the capital of inequalities.

Looking at this crazy Brazilian dynamics during my travels in 2011 and 2013, be it Brasilia, Recife, Natal or SP, I thought about the possible crisis and what it may entail in the future. Having previously seen the dramatic real estate bubble in the Southern Europe I was somewhat cautious. Not that I am a nature-born pessimist, I just know that leaving the capital in hands of 1% of the richest won’t lead to nowhere. Well, possibly to world’s widest roads ridden by men on horse-driven vehicles.