July 26, 2006

life in Salvador

It feels strange to think I've only been here a bit over a month if only for the fact that I have already moved twice since I arrived in June in Paripe. Now I am staying in my friend Marcio's wonderful apartment in Dois de Julho, right in the center of Salvador by my capoeira school and in the same neighborhood I used to live in when I was here two years ago. For the first time in years I'm living all by myself, with my own kitchen and living room and even a perfect view to the Bay of All Saints - what joy!

Mostly, however, I have been pulled not only into my old routines of living here in Salvador but also the religious activities of the people I have come to know at the candomble temples I have been visiting and hanging out at. My candomble dance teacher Ana has taken me under her wings inviting me along to the various candomble ceremonies she has been going to, and my friend Chorão's mom in Paripe has been just wonderful in trying to put me in contact with the people she knows involved with the religion. So at least over the weekends when people are not at work I'm occupied pretty much around the clock with candomble.

Its already Wednesday and I still feel I'm only just now recovering from last weekend. After a fun Friday night of capoeira and samba at an event organized by Contramestres Poloca, Paulinha and Janja at their school, on Saturday morning I headed straight to a terreiro [a candomble temple] that was to be inaugurated that evening in Aguas Claras, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Salvador. I spent the day there sitting around hanging out with Ana and the other people I know from the terreiro she is part of. They had all been invited to come and help out in the opening ceremony, to play the drums and participate in the singing and dancing as well as serving as mediums for their guardian orixas. The ceremony itself started after 10, and was indeed beautiful, as were my friends' orixas, Oxum's [the orixa of beauty and sweet waters] dance which represents her washing herself in a river is always impressive in its beauty but this time Ossain [the orixa of healing herbs] may have outdone the two Oxums with his elaborate dance moves representing the collection of medicinal herbs and their preparation.

I didnt get home until 6.30 in the morning, and after a few hours of rest I was already on my way again to the next terreiro. Chorão's uncle had invited me to the terreiro he is part of to a Saida de Iao, the public ceremony that ends the initiation period in Candomble. I was thrilled by the opportunity especially because of the paper I wrote for my Anthropology of the Body class on initiation. After having only read accounts of the saida I finally had the chance to witness the ceremony myself. And yes, I was impressed.

And then to top things off I spent Monday night at yet another terreiro observing a smaller cleansing ceremony conducted by a caboclo spirit. I finally also had the chance to discuss my research with one of these entities and at least this one promised to try to help me out. So, Matt and Neil, I guess I have my metapragmatics of interviewing spirits sorted out for one case at least ;)

I haven't only been deeply impressed by the ceremonies I've been going to though, my mind has been working too while writing up notes on them and things that I have seen now and on my earlier visits have started to come together and make more sense. Of course at the same time I am coming to realize more and more how little I do understand and know about candomble. But I guess its a good place to be especially since I'm still trying to figure out what to focus on in my work.


Blogger jenanne said...

I just wanted to say that I recently came across your blog quite randomly, and I'm very glad I found it.

I'm just beginning my graduate studies in linguistic anthropology, so reading this is really fascinating & enlightening for me. I hope to blog more about my own experiences when I begin field work (still many more classes, though!)

I really enjoy your descriptions and your writing. Thank you.

8/03/2006 2:19 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

Hey E -

Just catching up. So when you get back and process your fieldnotes, I expect something reflexive on the metapragmatics of spirit interview. That by itself seems worthy of a disertation chapter.

8/19/2006 10:12 PM  

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