September « 2007 « [Pelada] Movie Blog
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September 25, 2007
Brazil, Part 1: Rua de Lazer
Filed under: Brazil |

You hear about Brazilian soccer players from an early age—they are the inventors, the magicians. While Americans learn prescribed moves—the scissors, the stepover, the fake kick—Brazilians make them up, coming up with it as they go along. And while you know all this beforehand, nothing prepares you for seas of eight-year-olds who can do loop-de-loos over your head.

Arnaldo greets us at the airport and drives us to his father’s home Nova Iguaca, a ghetto suburb of Rio. It’s probably not where most tourists end up. The Brazilians look right in your face as they speak—like they are extremely considerate, wanting you to be aware that they are speaking to you, for you…even though you can’t understand anything they are saying. We nod and wait for Luke to translate. Arnaldo drives to the grassroots newspaper that tries to bring news to the million residents of Nova Iguacu. From there, a journalist and a musician take us to the small favela they both grew up in. We walk over an open sewer and into narrow corridors covered in bright graffiti. A mix of kids, teenagers and forty year olds play in the widest street—occasionally pausing for cars, old women carrying bags of groceries, and bicycles with soft horns. Construction cones serve as temporary goals—their real goals got run over by a drunken truck driver the previous week. The favela graffiti artist leans against one of his drawings—a woman with large red lips—sketching in his notebook as he watches the game. He gives Gwendolyn a drawing of a woman in very short soccer shorts. After the game, we duck into a neighborhood bar and drink Guaraná juice as a television plays highlights from the Brazil/Australia women’s game.

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September 20, 2007
T&T, Part 2: Trinbagodians
Filed under: Trinidad & Tabago |

While out on the Queens Park pick-up fields, we are introduced to Carlan, a steel pan player for the government. On slow days–days when there are no diplomats to play music for–he rides his bike out to the field, orders a snow cone with condensed milk and watches practices and pick-up games.

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September 14, 2007
Trinidad, Part 1: Garlic Pineapple
Filed under: Trinidad & Tabago |

At 3:30 AM, we finish packing, Gwendolyn loses her passport, and Ryan thinks he’s gone blind. By 4:15 AM, Gwendolyn found her passport, Ryan discovered he stuck two sets of contacts in his eyes, and Ferg is waiting by the car, worried about time.

By 4PM, we are eating okra and pig’s tail in Trinidad, with the family of Gwendolyn’s club coach. Louis, a cousin, takes us walking around the Burroughs of Chaguanas. He wears a beanie with a brim, a red wife-beater, and Lugz boots. We walk by fruit stands, bunches of bananas hanging from string, men with machetes cutting open coconuts. There’s a troop of stray dogs following us. We buy salty, spicy, garlic pineapple, though we did not know it would be salty, spicy, or full of garlic. Luke, who doesn’t like to waste food, keeps offering the plastic baggie to people who walk by. Everyone rejects him, like he is the creepy guy at Halloween who offers poisonous candy to children. Trinidadians drive fast and without fear–aggressively nudging their way into intersections. Louis has the same approach to crossing traffic when on foot–he slings his arm out to the side and the four of us follow like little ducklings into the middle of crossing traffic. Once it turns dark, Louis says, “Without me, someone will put you in a car and steal you. I’ll protect your life.” We smile and nod.

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