I’m thrilled to report that minha vida brasileira is fitting just like a glove. I awake each day giddy that this is really happening, not just some dream I had, but somehow a reality. My daily routine generally consists of eating fresh fruit for breakfast, doing some exercises, studying portugues, drawing, and then it is time for my favorite meal, almoço. Brazilians tend to eat their biggest meal of the day at lunch, which suits me just great. Luz Helena is an incredible cook who makes everything from scratch, so I can hardly believe my good fortune, maybe like being on some health retreat. My vegetarianism is a slight issue at mealtimes, but everyone is open and accommodating. A noite, we have a lighter snacky meal, like arapas (the Bohorquez’ are Colombian-Brazilians) or pao de queijos with café com leche. Even grabbing a quick bite at the downtown mall is a nutritious treat (photo below). Muito delicioso!
One night before nodding off, I heard a pop in my violin case, and while startled, assumed that one of my strings had snapped. Sadly, the tailpiece had broken (perhaps the cross-continental luggage treatment wasn’t easy on it), requiring a new tailpiece and repair service to put it back together properly. Hmmm, where to repair a violin in B.H.?
Google revealed some options, but while enjoying the Natal holiday at the Praca de Liberdade, Luz Helena confidently asked the local clown playing his violin for his recommendation. Kindly, Alex (as he introduced himself) stopped playing, and mentioned to us a violin maker and restorer with a shop in the well-known Palacio das Artes. Score!
So a few days later, Luz Helena dropped us off (Graciella and Pachin kindly accompanied me) at the Palacio. After some questions, we were directed down a path with many doors, but only one open. The interior escorted us back to apprenticeship days, small workshops where quality items were made locally, by hand, from raw local materials. We met Adriano, the technician working the shop that day. He repaired my violin on the spot, despite having other projects to complete, and we hadn’t an appointment. While we waited, he pulled out a magnificent amber-caramel colored violin (with a wood grain that looked like tiger stripes!) that the shop owner, Carlos Jorge de Oliveira had made, right here in Belo Horizonte. Adriano offered it to me without hesitation, along with the most exquisite bow with pearl and snakeskin embellishments.
Magically I entered another dimension. Playing that magnificent violin was truly a divine experience. Smooth as butter, it felt and sounded so sweet, and compared to playing my student-grade violin from China (which was a gift, and I adore it, and am eternally grateful), one might compare the difference between driving a Yugo or a Rolls Royce. Curiously, I inquired as to the cost of these dreamy tools. Adriano informed us that the violin cost 12,000 reais (about $6,500.00) and the bow cost 1,500 reais (about $800.00). I was timid to breathe near the items after that, but my friends encourage me to play ‘rapido’, which I anxiously did. Now I have an even greater motivation to practice.
Good as new violin in tow, we headed over to the Parque Municipal, which was so grand and magnificent! It reminded us of Central Park in its size and that it sits smack in the center of the city. There were these incredible wooden benches made from gargantuan trees that had felled in the park. The park is now a special setting in my memories because here my sibling-like friends told me to stop saying obrigada so much, that it was not necessary. I responded that I like to say it to show my appreciation and gratitude, one of the few words I am confident using. Sincerely, they explained that they already feel my appreciation, and that I am like family now, so I do not need to say it all the time.