Salvador, Brazil’s center of Afro-Caribbean culture, overwhelmed me. We made a lot of friends, and we saw some wonderful music and dancing and capoera, but I think three days would have been more than enough for me. It’s dangerous, extremely tourist-driven, and full of street children on crack! There were protests, people harassed us, and we felt hands slipping in and out of our pockets every night we went out.
Yet. Yet! Every day there is drumming at any given time on random corners, and every night jubilant live samba music pours out of all the bars. And despite the touristy nature of it all, the crowds are mostly local people having the time of their lives and dancing circles around us. So, you know, tradeoffs.
But about that samba dancing. Who invented this torturous impossible beast of a movement? What kind of human being is able to move their hips at 3/4 time or maybe even 6/8 time and their feet at a 4/4 beat!? It’s insane! Yet every Brazilian is able to shake his or her beautiful body (seriously, they, are, all, stacked), in perfect rhythm, without biting their lips in concentration, or furrowing their brows, or counting the beats in their heads the way I have to. So, when I say we “went out samba dancing,” I am referring to the times Travis and I and the French guys went out and stared unabashedly in amazement at What Brazilian Hips Are Capable Of.
Travis and I even took a samba class; our teacher was quite embarrassed by us. But it was fun to sweat like crazy on a hot rainy day and dance with a fat old man who chain smoked through the entire class. I however will maintain, to my death, that the samba beat is genetic. Either your body knows it at birth or it never will.