Drummer Blog: Maria
In our build up to Brazil trip 2020 – bass player Maria tells us about Katumba’s last visit in 2017, where the band performed for the world famous Carnaval celebrations!
Katumba em Brazil 2017, what a culturally rich experience! Eye-opening, mesmerising and colourful!
It has been almost 3 years – facebook memories relentless remind me of the carnival fun. *sigh* How cruel technology can be!
A trip to memory lane is only appropriate…
As soon as Juliana (our lovely movement director, and generally kickass-organising star) mentioned a potential trip to Brazil – sometime during summer 2016 – many pairs of eyes lit up. Tickets were booked, deposits were paid and it was only October! The next 4 months served nothing other than building up our excitement… Packed and ready by January (for most of us), with a copious amount of sunscreen, summer clothing and DEET, we were all over it!
And we were off!
It was finally February! Holiday mood *check*; arrived in Lisbon by the evening with our Portuguese drumming family ‘Bombrando’ *check*; Sunshine and stroll in Lisbon *check*; 8 hour flight to Recife *check*! Welcomed by two familiar faces, Juliana and Ritchie (our amazing music leader, and tireless creativity force), we made our way to Maracaípe and Porto de Galinhas. Being from Greece I‘m no stranger to beautiful sandy beaches, but my oh my! Easing in to Brazil by the beach, bonding as a group and taking a breather from everything was the best start to our trip.
Days 3-4: Training
The first few days involved a very well needed dose of drumming! We went to Ibura to meet Leao da Campina drumming group, a very hospitable, warm and loving bunch of people. They instantly made us feel at ease and welcomed. We made our way to the rehearsing area – an OUTDOORS rehearsing area, the bliss! This vibrant community of creative souls, all getting ready and rehearsing for the main carnival event was enough to get you excited and personally invested.
Day 5: Getting ready
We took it to the next level, and moved to Olinda, the heart of the carnival. The hotel was gorgeous; a green and beautiful oasis in the middle of a colonial city. On the days we spent in Olinda, we explored the Old Town, went to the opening of the carnival, had an amazing workshop with a very talented samba teacher (plus a bit of laziness by the pool) before the absolute craziness began…
Day 7: CARNAVAL!
What a weekend! Roaming around the VERY narrow streets of Olinda, we watched countless blocos (groups of musicians and dancers); danced to all kinds of tunes (from samba reggae and maracatu to forro); smelled ALL the bodily smells possible; drank way too many caipirinhas; and danced some more! We had an absolute blast! But obviously, it wasn’t all about fun. As respectful drummers on tour, we went to support our maracatu hosts for their competition (we came third!!!), and attended a very emotional and deeply moving ceremony.
At this point, it’s worth attempting giving you some context to why there is carnival in this area – why there are so many drums – and why this ‘last’ day of carnival is special. I‘m completely unqualified to talk about the history of Pernambuco (so please don’t use me as a reference!) it’s just my interpretation and experience. Carnival in Recife is the cheapest in Brazil and it’s as democratic and less capitalized as it can be. Everyone can join, everyone is welcome to enjoy and share the fun. It’s different from any other carnival as the celebration stems from spiritual grounds. People honour their ancestors and their struggles against their oppressors. Maracatu nacaos (groups) are not only drumming groups for people to have fun with music, but cultural hubs of each community, to pave the way to a spiritual way of life through music.
I‘ll stop now, enough foreign-splaining…
The last day of the carnival was the night of the silent drums, where all maracatu nacaos meet in front of the church Rosario dos Homens pretos. At midnight the music stops to honour their ancestors and their struggles. It’s a highly emotional moment.
It was a rich life experience. I‘m very grateful to our directors for not only organising this, but actually going through with it, as it’s surely not easy “babysitting” rowdy drummers on tour. Creating new connections, bonding as a group and having an overall great time, Recife Olinda carnival 2017 was awesome.
Katumba em Brazil 2020, here we come!
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