Halloween party in Itacaré

By: Bella Papadopoulou.

The pumpkins are out, the spiderwebs are hung and excitement is in the air. Halloween is fast approaching and Itacaré is ready to trick or treat!

Globally, Halloween is a beloved holiday and a great excuse to act foolishly and child-like all over again. Although not yet well known in Brazil, Itacaré’s Language school, Easy2Speak, knows how it’s supposed to go down and throws the town’s favorite Halloween party every year.

Easy2Speak is a school where one can learn both English and Portuguese easy and fast. Katia Pitta, owner of Easy2 Speak, expects the party to be an even bigger success this year.

“Last year people came and had a great time! This party is unique for Itacaré. Most of the parties here are either reggae or traditional style” says Katia.

The two-day long party is divided into 3 parts so that everyone, regardless of age, can participate. On the 1st of November at 6.30 pm the party will be open for guests from 11 to 18 years old. There will be a walk through the haunted house followed by music and dancing.

The following day from 4 pm until 7 pm, doors will open for our youngest friends from the age of 4 to 7 years old. There will be activities appropriate for their age along with lots of candy, fun and games.

Later that same day at 11 pm the adult party that everyone has been waiting for will begin!

“In addition to live music, Halloween spirits and scary jelly-shots, there will be cool gifts to win, for example a spa day, dinner at a local restaurant, petrol coupons or free English courses” Katia says.

Last year the party was a big hit and people from all over town came and danced the night away in a Halloween-atmosphere. Are you ready to be frightened?

Dresscode: There will be a prize for best costume! If you don’t want to dress up, wear black and you should be fine.

Say Hello to Mara

By Lala the Sunchaser.

I first met Mara months ago at a pizza party where we shared only a few pleasantries then bid each other a good night. The next time we talked it would be for over an hour at a friend’s going away party. We took turns lying in the communal hammock on the roof of a popular hostel, sharing stories about our lives and what brought us to Itacaré. Rosemara Borgens de Carvalho, or Mara as her friends and family call her, was born in the neighboring town of Taboquinas. She has been living in Itacaré for more than twenty years. Her story inspired me and I’m glad that Mara was willing to share it with you.
mara_dancaDescribe Itacaré in three words.
(HUGE SMILE!) Belisimo! Exuberant! Exotic!

What do you do here? I have been working as an artist for the last ten years. At first it was a kind of therapy, but now it’s how I make my living. I’m co-owner of an accessory shop on Pituba. I also assist an English teacher in my neighborhood of Barrio Novo two nights weekly. I adore working with children.
At the party, you shared your story about how this shop came about. Please tell me again.
For six years, I had been working in Infant Education. My focus was teaching young children how to read and write. I also worked as a Nanny from time to time and was hired to work    in Salvador. One day my boss was admiring the blouse and hairpiece I was wearing. I told her that I made them both. She was taken aback and demanded that I return home immediately. She told me, “You are an artist Mara. What are you doing here working for me? Go back to your city and open a shop, make art. You have a gift.”

The following day I returned to Itacaré and noticed this location was for rent. (I conducted the interview in her shop on the main road.) I contacted the owner and signed the papers that day … I didn’t have any money, nothing. The rent was R$400 so I ask three of my girlfriends to open it with me and invest R$100 each. They weren’t aware that I had already signed the papers. It was like something was pushing me … a little voice that said, “Go, Try, You Can Do It!” In hindsight, I believe that when you really want something, you find a way. And when you don’t, you make excuses.

How did you learn to make clothes and accessories?
I didn’t take a course or study formally. A good friend who is now one of my partners at the shop makes clothes; I asked her to give me her left-over fabric, the scraps. I would recycle them, making fuxico and hair pieces; and now, that’s what I do.
What inspires your work?
Colors … vibrant colors.

Do you believe in God?
Yes. God is a figure … pure and perfect. The creator who is superior to all of us.

What do you like to do when you are not working?
I love samba … dancing, singing, and listening to it. My favorites are Maria Rita and Alcione. I also like to “people watch” especially at the beach.
What is your favorite Itacaré beach?
Resende … when I am there I am transformed … all worries disappear. I feel light and free.
What’s in store for the future of Itacaré?
It’s a city that is progressing but there are two sides: one positive and one negative. On the positive side, businesses are growing, there are more jobs, and better technology. However, this type of progression brings pollution, more garbage, drugs, crime and violence. This is a world-wide problem but it is more impactful in a small town like Itacaré.

I would like the city officials and the residents to invest more energy and money in education, professional courses, and cultural arts then sports being last. This is important to me because I have two children, ages fifteen and thirteen. They attend the public school in town.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?
Oh goodness, this is difficult … I will pick one for my work, one for me, and one for the world.
1) Professional: I want to grow as an artist and business owner … to evolve and earn my way.
2) Individual: To find romantic love … someone who wants to share everything.
3) World: That each person will experience peace. There is too much violence and war in the world.
Last question Mara, what is your favorite restaurant?
Malagueta, the spaghetti bolognese is delicious.

Mara and I could have easily talked all night. As she closed the shop, she shared another story about one of her many jobs as a receptionist in a funeral parlor. I couldn’t imagine her surround by grieving people and coffins. She was nearly in tears when she described how sad it was to have to sell things to people while they were in mourning. I’m happy she found her passion and Itacaré is better for it.

Reiki in Itacaré

By: Bella Papadopoulou

Some call it energy, others call it magic. Whatever the word, it’s no longer a secret that Reiki is beneficial form of alternative healing that can lead to a balanced and harmonic mind and body – and thereby life.

I first met Lala in Itacaré and when I found out she was a Level II Reiki practitioner, I was curious to try it out. Lala left hectic New York a few months back in an effort to alter her lifestyle and enjoy living in a warmer climate. She initially planned to visit Itacaré for two weeks and has been here for nearly six months now. She claims it to be a tropical paradise with a magical vibe.

”Itacaré is loaded with creative energy. People that live here are artists or creative types. They paint, dance, make art in various mediums, surf, skate, juggle, and even work with food” Lala says.

Lala herself was enchanted with Reiki a few years back when she was running a busy cafe-restaurant in New York City, and found herself totally worn out after a long day with eight more hours until closing. When a former employee offered her a Reiki session she accepted happily. What happened after their brief session was incredible.

”It was as if my battery was re-charged. I went from being a tired business owner into a happy host full of energy for the event that followed.” Lala says.

This intrigued me even more. Truth is that I was not sure what Reiki actually was and along with several others, I thought it was a mix of hokus-pokus and massage.

”In a Reiki session, I do nothing really. I’m only a channel through which universal energy flows. This energy aids in the body healing itself” Lala explains.

I followed Lala to her space where the sessions take place, I walked into the incense-smelling room and the spa-feeling kicked in right away. I laid down on the massage table and she asked me to close my eyes and relax. Slowly she placed her palms on my head, chest, stomach, belly and back. I began to feel a burning and vibrating sensation on the areas that Lala placed her palms and I could feel my body dozing off into a deep relaxation.

”Reiki helps to restore balance to the body. We are all made up of energy and Reiki helps unblock energy caused by stress, poor lifestyle choices, and accidents, she says.

After nearly one hour, Lala asked me to open my eyes. I felt like Sleeping Beauty who had slept more than a decade. I stood up and felt more alive than ever as well as inspired and creative. As a plus my knee that had been bothering me for over a month, suddenly was totally fine. I thought to myself: this is magic. Lala agreed and said ”Reiki to me is kind of like magic. It is inexplicable and very personal”.

Just like Reiki, Itacaré is a magical place. If you’ve thought about giving Reiki a try, Itacaré is the place and Lala is the person.

You can find Lala on her phone (+55 73 98104558) or via email (okalalea@gmail.com). Hours are flexible and discounts are offered for those who are interested in several sessions.

Storytelling as a social act!

By: Bella Papadopoulou.

Last Friday the doors of storytelling were opened and it was a big day for all the children of Itacaré’s neighborhood Barrio Novo.

Casa do Conto (House of the Tale) is a social movement focusing on reading and literature. It is was created exclusively for children ages 5 to 14 who live in the Bairro Novo community. It is a project that was founded by Ana Laura Nodar, Francielle Benevides, Marcelo Fantucci and Rafael.

“Our intention is to tell stories that hopefully will awaken the children’s interest in reading and expanding the knowledge in their lives,” says Marcelo Fantucci, one of the founders of Casa do Conto.

The whole thing started when the owner of the house where Casa do Conto is, had an idea of doing something for the children of this neighborhood. After which, it didn´t take long until Marcelo and his friends came together to create a place where children could gather and become part of a beautiful tale.

What is the aim of Casa do Conto?

“Our aim is to stimulate children’s interest in reading, believing in better school performance and thereby improving the self esteem of these children that come from a lower-income community” says Marcelo.

At the opening, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Children from the whole area came and showed their excitement about this new voluntary project. “We were expecting around 300 children to come to the opening but over 500 kids ended up coming! We had several clowns, friendly volunteers doing face painting, a judge that organized a football game, a popcorn and a hot dog-stand and of course lots of candy!” Marcelo told us and continued to say that “we did not know how they would react and to our great surprise the games were very well received (soccer, musical chairs and sack race). Everyone enjoyed themselves a lot”.

A philosopher once said “stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can’t remember who we are or why we are here”. If this is true than the founders of Casa de Conto are doing something much more than a social movement.

Children’s day in Itacaré

By: Bella Papadopoulou.

Yet another holiday is about to arrive in Itacaré and the town is preparing for events, concerts and loads of celebration.

The 12th of October is known as Brazilian Children’s Day or dia das criancas in Portuguese. This year It happens to fall on the same day as the country’s Patron Saint day, which is a holiday as well. On this special day parents usually give their kids gifts and there are various activities in the schools to celebrate the occasion.

But the celebrations don’t stop there. On Saturday the 13th of October there will be a live outdoor concert held at Ribeira beach – the last one of Itacaré’s famous Four Beaches.

The concert, a tribute to Bob Marley, will host Itacaré’s favorite band Ethiopia Federation who will be followed by DJ Banzai, DJ Wolverine and DJ Duroc for music until the sun rises.

“As an opening of the October holidays, the sound of Reggae will reach Itacaré in a big tribute to the king himself, Bob Marley. His songs will be performed by great Reggae artists and it will surely be an event that one should not miss!” say the organizers of the event.

The following night, Sunday the 14th, the party will continue on Concha beach. At Cabana 17.00 at Corais there will be a big party with music and dancing for every taste including samba, forro and electronic DJ-ing.

Introducing Franclin

By Lala the Sunchaser.

Born in Ilhéus, Franci (sounds like Frankie) moved to Itacaré fourteen years ago with his older brother, Thor. Yes, that Thor. Business owner, political candidate, and shining star. In 1998, Thor opened Thor Surf Shops and School and Franci has been instrumental in the growth of his brother’s business. When I asked a few people who’s the best surf instructor in Itacaré, Franci’s name was mentioned over and over. I haven’t had a chance to take one of his classes yet but I am already a fan.
franclinWhat do you do here in Itacaré?
I’m a surf instructor, a shaper (he makes surf boards), and an artist.
In the surf world, who are your influences?
Of course, my brother, Thor. And Washington Soledade. He was the first surfer in Ilhéus. When I was 16 years old, he invited me to work with him at his surf shop.
thorWhat is your favorite beach in Itacaré?

What other city compares to Itacaré in terms of the landscape and beaches?
That’s a tough one. I would say Camburi which is close to São Paulo and shares the same Atlantic Rainforests as Itacaré. When you surf, you can see green!

What makes you happy? What’s important to you?
My health, my work, my family and friends. In that order.
Where do you live and with whom?
I live at Kilometer 6 in the middle of the jungle alone. I don’t have a television so I spend a lot of time listening to the sounds of nature. I like to read and play by guitar too. Being alone is good for me … a nice balance since I work with people all day.

So you like music, what are you listening to these days?
Rush, Baden Powell, U2, and Yamandú Costa (a guitarist).

What is your one wish?
To have my own house in the middle of the jungle.
(Born in late June, Franci is a home body by nature like many Cancers.)

Tell me about your artwork. How long have you been making art?
I have been making the small surfboards for ten years now. The first one I made was so ugly, it wouldn’t even stand up straight. It was just a test but I put it in the window of my first “shaper” shop and a tourist bought it. I made five more the following week and sold them all. Then ten the next week and sold those too. So on and so on … I’ve only been doing the optical illusion paintings and boards for the past three years.
frank_optical_illusionDuring my second visit with Franci, he shared the story of a friend who is a formally-trained artist. This friend labeled him a technical artist and Franci was relieved to hear that there was a name for his particular ability. This friend suggested he take a look at the work of Op Art artist and pioneer, Vincent Vasarely. One year later after a near-fatal illness, Franci searched online and began copying the style of Mr. Vasarely. He said, “At that time, I wanted to be him.” Franci told me that he painted 5-6 hours consecutively some days. Painting nursed him back to health. A year or so later, he returned to Itacaré with twelve optical illusion paintings and started selling them on the main road.
From our previous discussions, I calculated that he began painting at 28 years old. So I asked, why so late? What inspired this?
My ex-girlfriend was a major influence. She comes from a family of painters. I began painting when we were living together.

What inspires me to continue painting is having a balanced life, without stress and problems. When I am working and can afford to take care of myself, I feel balanced.
What does Itacaré need to build a better future?
More emphasis and resources dedicated to the education of children. Also, a collective consciousness that will alter the political atmosphere. I learned to live in Itacaré so I want it to flourish but it’s been slow going. I am hopeful, nonetheless.

I believe that in the mind of each person, exists a world. We are the creators of this world and that means anything is possible. For me, it has been emotional conflicts that have inspired my evolution as an artist and a man. With each life challenge, a new idea materializes.

Our interview was scheduled for one hour. Two and a half hours later, I walked out of Thor’s shop floating and inspired. I look forward to getting to know Franci and watching him in action on the beach.