Last night was my first night in Icaraíva, which is a small village on the east coast of Brasil, north of Rio. It is set between a river and the ocean, and has a some Pousadas (accomodations), a lot of mosquitos, dancing and no electricity.
When the sun set, and the only lights were from a few places with generators, a small band set up on the river bank, and I went to listen to them play. It was a ‘Pagote’ band, made up of 5 guys, and candlelight. The music was similar to Samba, but a local version. As far as I could tell, it was all locals, most of whom were drinking beer and dancing. I sat back and was watching one little girl in particular. The younger kids were up near the ‘stage,’ and this girl was dancing up a storm. Her feet moved much faster than I could count the beat, and while watching her move instinctively, my American brain immediately started wondering about her life here. What is life like, when a night like this one is normal? What would happen if she was picked up and given my life when I was 9? Elementary schools with large gymnasiums glossy floors. Where would she dance? Her enthusiasm and spirit that she had in the moment couldn’t be contained in a dance class. My western life would probably scare her. The change would be too much, and she would long for nights of dancing barefoot in the sand, to candlelight.
How lucky am I to be able to see and appreciate both worlds?
I continued to imagine her life switched with mine. Her days of jumping in the river and laying at the beach would be replaced by clean, chlorinated neighborhood pools, and metal playgrounds at the park. Sand covered feet would be scrubbed clean, and covered in white sneakers.
I am lucky. But my life is not for everyone.
-Some of these posts are transcribed from my written journal as many places don’t have internet access.