Monday, November 21, 2011

Manguinhos e Domingos Martins, ÉS

Olá gente!

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Sand in my camera, so here are some of Karen's fotos from the past two weeks in this lovely state of Éspirito Santo. Karen and Heráclito, longtime family friends, were so kind to take me in and immediately help me to feel welcome in Brasil. My days in Manguinhos, an adorable fishing village outside of Vitória, have been decadently slow. Lots of  learning how to make delicious comida with Suzy, eating said comida with new faces everyday, portuguese sessions with Euzi, flipping over sea turtles on the beach, giggling at big-eyed lateral-scurrying crabs, biking cautiously by stray dogs, booking it for my life past said dogs, making every imaginable combination of fresh fruit juice, enjoying bolbo de chile + vodka with Karen, reading snippets from the immense collection of novels, napping in hammocks, sleeping under mosquito nets, and dozing to the sound of scurrying lizards in the ceiling.



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Dreamy house of Neusso
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Terrified, politely: pé de frango... chickens feet.

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Heráclito, Karen, and Neusso the artist.


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From left, clockwise: Sonia, Euzi, and Guta (completely hilarious trio), Suzy (the loveliest woman, maybe ever), and Seu Heráclito (amazing fellow with a fascinating story)

Domingos Martins is a town in the mountains where Seu Heráclito has a sweet home, a small coffee farm, and a big reputation in the coffee world. We were only there for a short time but it was long enough for me to learn heaps and fall in love with the coffee plant/process. Steep slopes of shiny shiny leaves in misty morning and toucans outside my window. I wanted to cry a little bit.

Camera wasnt functioning so no photos of D.M. but its probably a good thing. You just can't pixelize the sound of raindrops on big banana leaves in the warm afternoon fog. I regret even trying.

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Café: pre roasting


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Lil town outside of Domingos Martins: Check out all that coffee!




Tomorrow morning, I'm off to Salvador da Bahia.
One day, I'll let you all know how it goes.

But for now, I'm sorry to say this blog will be on a temporary hiatus. Please do some nice things for yourselves, enjoy your thanksgivings, and know that I am so goshdarn grateful to have ya in my life.

You are my cornucopia!
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Abraços e beijos.
até logo gente,
Eriquinha

ps send me email updates whenever! i dont have an address... yet.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Go For Broke

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 Last week I accompanied my Great Uncle George, who is truly great, to Washington DC, where he was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for serving in the 442nd regimental combat team during WWII. The 442nd, along with the 100th infantry battalion and the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), were being honored for fighting two wars: one against fascism abroad and the other, indirectly, against prejudice in their own United States.  All three groups were Nissei, second-generation Japanese-Americans, who were born and raised in the US but classified "4C- enemy alien" following Pearl Harbor.  They faced immediate suspicion, on top of longstanding discrimination, and their families were locked behind the barbed wire of those racist American internment camps (vaguely mentioned in US history classes).   Nonetheless, these men fought courageously and with unceasing loyalty, as the true Americans they were, to become the most highly decorated outfit in US Army history.

If this seems peculiar to you, that´s because it is.

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What could have possibly inspired loyalty among these guys? Why would many of these men volunteer to defend a country whose government had stripped them of their rights, their land, and their belongings?

Shedding their blood to "defend American freedom" was beyond irony to me; in many ways, it made me angry. I sat in the fancy conference hall, scrutinizing the motto stitched into their 442nd veteran's caps: "Go For Broke."  A gambling term that means risking everything to reap substantial reward, implies that these Nissei believed there would be quite a payoff... 

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There were a number of scheduled events, one of which was to visit the WWII memorial.  When we got there, George kept looking past the memorial and out to the nearby park.  Hobbling around in my heels, I wheeled him to the pond, where we watched the ducks and the deep colors of autumn trees (after the war, George was an artist in Greenwich Village for sixty years). I could see the media doing interviews across the pond, back at the memorial, and I found this to be an appropriate time to ask him my burning questions...

"Why?" He repeated slowly. "Because we're Americans. This is the only land we've ever called home."  Unfortunately, patriotism has always been a foreign thing to me (pun intended).  I didn't get it.

A friend of George's, who was in the MIS,  tried to explain later, "We had something to prove."
But I still didn't get it.  I was busy looking around at the spouses of these vets, weathered and beautiful women who lived through the internment camps and never got to "prove" their American-ness.
(I tried to discuss this with a fellow Yonsei, a bro from LA, who assured me, "yo, that feminist shit is hot.")
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"...did so despite the fact that our nation at times fell short.."

But after several days of deserved pomp and circumstance, I started to figure it out for myself.

The substantial reward, for which the 442nd, the 100th, and the MIS were willing to risk it all, was most evident at the CGM ceremony.  Voted upon and awarded by members of Congress, these Nissei soldiers received the mostly highly recognized form of national heroism...
It´s like a sharp backhanded slap in the face of our notorious history, which is riddled with suspician, prejudice, and discrimination.  The Nissei soldiers valiantly defended our country, honored their families, embarrassed our government, and preserved their dignity. All without asking for any recognition... How very Japanese!

It´s also sort of a declaration of love: "Hey, even though your government took away our rights, doubted our loyalty, and threw our family in camps-- you´re worth fighting for, America."

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At the gala dinner, I heard one 90 yr old woman say to another, "they just don't understand what it has taken to get here." Maybe they were discussing the DC traffic, but I was super critical and assumed it was about our generation. After all, I had heard this murmured before... and I agree.  We feel pretty free to stomp our feet without acknowledging that we're standing on many people's backs. There is a great quote in my mom's house that says, "Honor those who stepped forward when others were thinking backwards."

It's so easy to take our own American freedoms for granted... I do it all the time. On the other hand, it would be irresponsible, arguably disrespectful, to not use those rights that we do have, which others have earned for us. We are "the grandchildren" for whom they fought, and as such, we all have an American history (I'm not only talking about Japanese-Americans here). This whole experience helped me understand what George meant, about being American. Maybe, being American should mean being accountable (as people, not as a Nation). 

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Anyway, George turned out to be quite the candid capturer. He is such a hoot. Truly one of the greatest men I've ever met.

A fond memory of George was back at the WWII memorial.  I had just finished thanking him for his service, knowing that he, like the others, were there mostly for their buddies who never came back.
"Well I tell ya-- War is a lousy business," George sighed, sitting back in his wheelchair. "But in the end... I'm pretty hungry. Say, where can we get a sandwich around here?"


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All in all, the trip to DC was really important for me. I got the chance to reflect on what it means to be American and what it means to be Japanese-American.

Twas the perfect send off to figure out what it means to be Brazilian.

Love from the southern hemisphere, where my full moon is your full moon too,
Erica

Friday, November 4, 2011

East Coast Tour

Mr. Burruss has called me out for being too elusive.
So here are some words:

About 10 days ago, my kin and I rented a scooter and rode out to an empty beach in São Miguel (Azores). Fully clothed, Arlo layed out into the ocean to catch one poorly thrown plastic disc. My bad! Then we scootscooted to the Ponta Delgada airport, where I bid my brother farewell and boardboarded a plane to Boston-->NY-->Brrrrlington.

As my wardrobe for the last month was suited for island livin, Dru outfitted me in boots and coats and scarves. If you met Dru when she was living in Eugene during summer 2010, you'll be happy to know she is as lovely as ever. If you didn't meet her, I really hope you do someday.

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I can't believe I didn't get a reunion picture with the Ted and Peaches Houskeeper! But they send their love too. It was all love and fuzzybunnies and Vermont beers and endless billiards and crunchy leaves.

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At 5 am some morning, Dru drove me and our Dunkin Donuts coffees to Rutland, where I caught the Adirondack train to Albany, capital of NY. With four hours to kill before my bus to Oneonta, I stopped by Occupy Albany...

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... just in time for some fresh coffee and a morning march to Governer Cuomo's office.

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The first snowflakes of this winter fell on my eyelashes as I walked home from the Oneonta bus stop to my mom's house. The first snow is always gentle and hush and purple-skyed. There are no photos for such a thing.

Here's a sneak peek of the next chapter:

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(He's such a badass!!)

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The most delicious vegan dinner at the home of one Alayna May Rasile-Digrindakis. I tried to take a picture of her but that stunning smile (you know the one) screwed up the flash and melted the inside of my digital camera.

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This happened too.

Lovelove,
Quinha

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Oakland

With their permission, this is a from an email I received today from a good friend in Oakland:

"I'm sure you heard, but shit went off today. We met at the library and marched to the jail to demand those arrested in the "cleanup" of the occupation be freed, we occupied and marched through the city streets blocking traffic and enticing the cops to create a big motorcade and blocking streets with riot police whose guns were drawn. It was surreal in many ways. Upon arrival we were met with rubber bullets and tear gas. I haven't heard of arrests, injuries, or goodness forbid deaths. But here's a vid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bytMNoKNeRA&feature=youtu.be ...[expletive]. 20,000 people are called to action tomorrow, we'll see if it happens."

I'm told that flash grenades were used by the police, who are trying to say it was protestors throwing m80s. Additionally, one of the people the police shot in the head with a rubber bullet was 2-tour Iraq injured war vet and Marine named Scott Olsen. There's a video on youtube.

The state of this country is in uprising and the tipping point may be on the horizon. I'm only posting these things to you because I'm currently in contact with many good friends around our beloved nation who are, collectively, helping me understand the escalating magnitude of the Occupy movement. I feel compelled to share with all of you what I'm learning and trust that you'll make your own informed opinions/decisions individually. Your readership is flattering!

Obrigada,
Q

Email me if you have any local updates you'd like to share.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More on Occupy

Still in solidarity with the Occupy movements around the world, but with several hesitations and criticisms. Here's an important article:
http://www.truth-out.org/occupiers-have-convince-other-99-percent/1319466407

And here's the trailer of a badass documentary that I saw last night with Dru. I encourage everyone to check it out... an especially interesting perspective from Swedish filmmakers during the Civil Rights Movement. Features commentary by Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, and Questlove; also a fly soundtrack. (Y'hear Joaq?)



In the spirit of these times, if you're looking for a good, quick nonfiction read: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train by Howard Zinn is damn inspirational. (I believe there's also a documentary about Zinn by the same title).

Beijos e gritos,
Qbeeee

Update from Arlo!

"Hi guys,
Just wanted to send you a quick update.
I am currently in the Canary islands, and ready to get out of here quickly.  It's like the Jersey shore meets Cancun, with all of the gawdy beach boardwalk stuff alongside mega-resorts.  Curiously, the beaches are full of (elderly) Scandinavian nudists.  The sand dunes at Maspalomas were amazing, though -- the sand was blown over the ocean from the Sahara desert.  I've heard the other Canarian islands are worth visiting, but I'd rather get back on track with my lusophone itinerary.
So I'll be going to Cabo Verde tomorrow, where I'm hoping to do some couchsurfing.  From there, I think I can get flights to Fortaleza or down to Sao Tome, another African island nation.  Not sure yet which direction this trip will take.
Hope to be able to send more complete updates soon!
-arlo"

Update from Erica:

It is cold and crisp and cider donuts where I am.
Lots o' love.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Some classics from the Azores and Madeira islands

This is basically a photo blog (phlog?) these days.
Hope you're all doing splendidly during this beautiful autumn.
I'm off to Part II!
Love, Erica

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Drinking at gas stations

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This was actual a double rainbow!!


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The spooky capela where we stayed in madeira

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Personal favorite

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Hah, epic. 

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Post climbing the windmill

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The beautiful pools from Porto Moniz on a blustery day

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For Shy and Sara Quinn

Climbing things

From endless stairs to sibling dares:


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Arlo: "jumping fences lead to the best adventures"

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Traversing across an old fort above jagged rocks and ocean

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Playground

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Climb on,
EBQ

Friday, October 21, 2011

Island #6: Porto Santo

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Arlo's homemade deck of cards: (he's so proud!)


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Cheers!
Eriquinha