Monday, July 8, 2013

Peru-Brazil 2013 – Day 22 – Lazy day

Last night, while the chickens and I went to bed, Annie got an attack of the munchies (maybe a direct consequence of the fact that all she had eaten were two cones of ice cream). In any case, she saw the little cafeteria along the sidewalk offered hamburgers, and she decided she had to have one. The hamburger was indifferent, the ketchup and French fries were OK, and the mustard was plain strange. The entertainment, on the other hand, was first rate: She was sitting in one of the eight small tables, when all of a sudden a glass gets smashed and an altercation starts in the table farthest from her. A few young people had been imbibing there, and one of the boys apparently had one to many, and his girlfriend was a bit too flirtatious, and . . .  reminds of the Mexican saying that reminds us that la mujer es fuego, el hombre estopa, llega el Diablo, sopla y  . . .  said boy went into a rage, lifted the table from which rained glasses and bottles, and attempted to clobber the girl with the table. Fortunately he was too drunk, and the friends intervened, and the owner came out a kicked out everyone of them, so Annie was able to finish her burger in peace. Not bad for a measly 16 reais!

I only learned about her adventures when we woke up, with no serious plans for the day. We wanted to find a bookstore where we could buy the book A selva, and if possible the film as well, and I needed to buy a new charger for my computer, the old one finally having died the night before. Two simple errands that took us half the day to accomplish successfully, but not much to show in terms of hard core tourism. We had Chinese for lunch, and then went to the Museum of the Amazon, where just by chance they had a special exhibition on the art and rite-of-passage costumes of the Ticuna! This is the same community we spent two days with back in Leticia, and we were delighted to confirm that indeed, we had had the real experience, visiting the real Ticuna. The houses, the canoes, the faces, everything was just as we remembered them.

We also find confirmation of a strange coming-of-age ritual that accompanies the first menstruation of young women. The new woman is isolated and kept separate of the community until the feast of initiation can be organized. Relatives prepare scary masks and costumes, sometimes with big phalluses, to wear during the first day and scare the bad spirits. On the second day there is feasting and much dancing, and somewhere along the way the hair of the new woman is cut by her parents or pulled out by her relatives! According to Joel sometimes the hair is pulled out in wads, and there is bleeding. Finally, on the third day the masks are thrown away, once again there is much dancing, and the young new woman is now allowed to rejoin the community. Must be scary like hell to the poor girl who just had to get over the surprise of her first menstruation.

Our next stop was the Teatro del Amazonas, a grand theater built in 1896, when Manaus was at its apogee as the world capital of rubber. No expense was spared to give a European quality opera house to the Pearl of the Amazon, and the theater still has active opera, theater, and children’s theater programs. It reminded Annie very much of the Teatro Juarez in Guanajuato.

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