Health in Itacaré

Nearly every day a local Brazilian asks me what I like about living in Itacaré. I usually run down a list of attributes that first attracted me here seven years ago: the beautiful nature, spectacular beaches, warm weather, happy people, and the fact that I have been a fan of Brazilian music long before I arrived.

During the day Itacaré is full of sunshine and lots of activity. There are no shortage of “healthy” things to do. Kayaking, fresco ball, surfing, swimming, running, cycling, capoeira, and slack lining, to name a few. All one needs to do is go outside and make an effort.

I asked three different alternative health professionals what it means to be healthy in Itacaré.

“What makes one healthy are life habits. Sleeping well, eating natural foods, maintaining a positive disposition, and being in harmony with nature for it is the foundation of life, said Wellington, licensed Holistic Therapist at Clinica do Sol.

Unlike most major metropolitan cities, nature is free and available to all in Itacaré. However, there is another side to this gorgeous tourist destination. What happens when a healthy person becomes ill. What are his or her options?

“At night, the town takes on a different energy,” a former Pilates instructor who frequently visits Itacaré said to me. “For a small city, temptation is every where. I have a hard time being healthy here.”

And she’s right, beers and caipirinhas flow from one hand to the next, the night air is filled with smoke, and barely-covered bodies lurk the streets on the hunt for a dance partner. It’s possible to spend an entire night moving and grooving, making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep if you live anywhere close to Pituba, the main road.

“The quality of life in Itacaré is paramount; we live in the Atlantic rainforest with access to an abundant amount of fruits and vegetables; however, we are sorely lacking in public health care and this has been a major concern, said Veronica, Massage Therapist at Easy Drop Surf School.”

I understood what Veronica was saying. When I was stung by a maribondo (black hornet) two weeks ago, I was reluctant to go to the hospital in town because of its poor reputation.

“In order to define a city as healthy, one must consider not only individual health but public health as well. In Brasil, like many parts of the world, there are still too many uneducated, poor and sick people”, says Wellington who also offers weekly classes in Tai-Chi and Bio Dance. “My objective is to help others understand how the body works, to bring awareness to what it truly means to live in a healthy body AND community.”

I have participated in both Tai-Chi and Bio Dança classes hosted by Wellington and found it to be a great nighttime alternative to going bar hopping. I have also received massages from both Veronica and Wellington and will vouch for the healing power of their incredible hands. Massage has many physical and emotional benefits and can help prevent illness in the long run.
As the social and economic situation shifts in Itacaré, we must not take for granted the preventive health care available to us here in this paradise. For more information about Wellington and his services, click here. To schedule a massage with Veronica, visit the Easy Drop web site.

Wellington finalized by saying “Itacaré is a meeting point for creative, special people from all over the world. It’s important for our community to be strong and fit for the years ahead.”

By Lala the Sunchaser.

Grito Rock 2013

When I asked a few Itacaréense what the highlight of this past weekend’s Grito Rock Festival was, I heard repeatedly: the clowns.

“Itacaré is no stranger to live musical performances and parties so when there’s an event that includes children and laughter, it’s refreshing.” said Julia, a resident of Itacaré.
And, I wholeheartedly agree. When I arrived at the entrance of Cabana Corais along Concha Beach, the atmosphere was spirited but in a calm way. The first band, Mulambo Sound System, was doing a sound check on the stage made from an old and weathered boat. There were a couple hundred of people mulling around plus a handful of booths selling clothing, home accesories, and natural food. The scene reminded me of the Sarau held every second Saturday in Serra Grande (just 30 minutes outside of Itacaré).
Walking towards the view of the majestic lighthouse, I was greeted by another beautiful sight. Families and friends gathered around as two clowns emphasized the importance of REUSING, REDUCING and RECYCLING waste using jokes and innocent play to lighten the mood.
Considering that it was the first edition of this 300 city integrated festival tour, an alternative to Carnival, I would say that it was a success with plenty of room for growth. I left shortly after the first band began but was told that the festival continued with juggling, music, and mingling into the night.
Thanks to all of the performers, producers, participants, and sponsors of Grito Rock 2013 Festival for stopping by to learn, laugh, and dance with us.
By Lala the Sunchaser.

Noite Boa! (with Myreia)

A skyscraper among trees, Myreia Barbarella Anthoniete Lavarro, is a beacon of light and s/he knows it.

When I asked  Myreia to describe herself, Myreia responded:
I am a people person. I am important. I am simply me.

Where do you live?
In Porto de Tras (behind the harbor) where I was born and raised. It’s a Quilombo where families live and support one another. We share everything plus trade goods and services just like the old days.

What do you do in Itacaré?
I work as a part-time public employee at the Camara Municipal (City Council) building next to the Mayor’s office. I also do massage therapy, babysit, and teach dance to children at the community cultural center.

Pretty astonishing for someone who doesn’t have a telephone or internet at home.

How would you describe Itacaré?
Magnificent. It’s a wonderful city … mystical. It’s a place that requires living. You gotta really LIVE in Itacaré… if you live it, magic will happen.

Describe your favorite type of day?
I like when it rains. Everything is much calmer. It fully demonstrates the existence of God.

I really like your style, from where do you get your fashion sense and inspiration?
Myreia blushes then confidently states: Life mainly…. just knowing that we exists inspires me. I also adore fashion magazines but I don’t buy them. There are various friends who give me clothes and I create my style from these hand-me-downs. In my neighborhood, I am the “go to” person when it comes to fashion. Both men and women ask for my advice whenever there is a party or something … It’s about the small touches … a belt, the right jewelry. I’m always adjusting; it depends on the mood and the occasion.

Tell me about your family.
My family is GREAT!! (with an emphasis on “great”) My mother is wonderful for many reasons. And my father was too. He passed on six years ago. They had five children, 3 girls, 1 boy, and me. I love my family.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go?
To Africa … the Ivory Coast. I would like to volunteer for the Red Cross there.

What do you like to do on the weekends?
Dance at the Jungle Bar. I love pop music, rock, electronic, dance, samba and pagode.

Who are your favorite music artists?
Madonna, Cher, and music by Relicário (I love the song Cassia Eller).

You mention that you rarely sleep or eat. When you do eat, what do you like?
Pasta with garlic and olive oil or caruru that comes with Acarajé. I love them both equally.

Where is your favorite restaurant in Itacaré?
I usually eat at home but I sometimes go to Tia Zinha, it’s near the Rodoviaria (bus station). I order the grilled chicken, salad, beans, rice, and pimenta.

What is your favorite beach and why?
Ribeira. It has that native feeling and I enjoy going to the nearby waterfall.

What do you want people to know about you?
I want people to simply get to know me if they so choose. Any one can ask me anything!

Should I refer to you as a man or a woman?
Physically I am a man but spiritually and mentally, I am a woman. I have no desire to change my body; I accept it; however, I feel more feminine than masculine.

Do you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?
No, I prefer to be single and free. I have “friends with benefits” (paqueras).

I’m convinced that there are many benefits to getting to know Myreia. It took an entire evening to complete this interview because Myreia knows EVERY ONE in town. And each person, had a question to ask, a hug to give, or a smile for the glamorous one from Porto Atrais.

P.S. I found this film from 1984 called Quilombo, feel free to watch here.

By Lala the Sunchaser.

Carnival 2013

Do you hear that? It’s Carnival marching towards the gates of Brazil. The world’s biggest and longest lasting street party, Carnival will begin Saturday, February 9th and continue until Tuesday, February 12th. Itacaré is no different from other cities in Brazil, except the parties and blocos are much smaller yet equally as loud.
The Mayor’s Office of Itacaré is hosting “Eco Folia 2013″ bringing diverse attractions to the Carnival festivities promising smiles and good times for locals and visitors alike.

During the day along the boardwalk (orla), there will be two or more local blocos or groups performing at 12 pm and 4 pm each day. At night, there will be live performances of samba, axé, pagode e reggae. The schedule is as follows:

Saturday, Feb. 9th – Priest Tiger “o papa do reggae”,
Sugar Roy and Conrad Crystal,   Dada Yute e Solano Jacob
Sunday, Feb. 10th – Gasparzinho
Monday, Feb. 11th – Viviane Tripodi
Tuesday, Feb. 12th – Jau Peri

One particular group that has been participating in Carnival for years is Libélula. Libélula is a Brazilian non-profit whose focus is to empower teenage girls and young women. They have been working for weeks on the fabulous Carnival costumes made from soda bottles, coffee filters, old newspapers, recycled goods, trash, and anything else you can imagine. This, in an effort to bring awareness to our environmental issues. Their group is called, O Luxo do Lixo (The luxuriousness of trash).

If you are interested in joining their group for Carnival on Saturday, February 9th. Stop by Libélula to purchase your costume ($R10) and support them in their mission to educate and provide assistance to the young women of Itacaré.

Happy Carnival to All!!!

By Lala the Sunchaser

Yemaja, Queen of the Ocean

By Lala the Sunchaser / Photography by Nigia Vieira.

This weekend many places in Brasil will pay homage to Yemaja, Goddess of the Sea. In Itacaré, fishermen, natives, and visitors will gather along the Orla (boardwalk) to make an offering by bestowing flowers, perfumes, candles, champagne, combs and mirrors into the ocean. In addition to adorning the sea with perfumes and gifts, there will be traditional music, samba and capoeira circles to honor one of the many orishas or spirit deities.
yemanja_1Starting Wednesday, January 30th until February 1st, any one can leave an offering for the offering at the Association for Fishermen (Colonia Z-18 Itacaré). These offerings will be placed into large baskets for the procession on Saturday.

On Saturday, February 2nd at 5 am, an early morning procession will kick off with fireworks and a parade around the town starting at the Association.
yemanja_3At 2 pm, fishermen, locals and visitors alike will march along the boardwalk carrying offerings and gifts to bring out to sea by boat. If you’re interested in chartering a boat, contact Jorge Lázaro at 73 – 9961 3382 or e-mail him at jorge.jus@hotmail.com.

At 4 pm in front of the Association, there will be a presentation by Casa dos Bonecas, in addition to Afro-Brazillian dance, capoeira, and a samba circle with traditional music.
yemanja_3It is sure to be a peaceful and pleasant experience for all involved.
Have a lovely weekend!

Happy Birthday Itacaré

Saturday January 26th, marks the 281st birthday of the city of Itacaré. The town will hosts parties and live performances throughout the weekend. Along the Orla, there will be live performances by the following:

Friday, January 25th, 10 pm
RAGHATONI / TRIBAL / PICK UP DE LUXO / CRAZY DANCE
img_ragaSaturday, January 26th, 10 pm
TRIO DAHUANA / MARCELA MARTINEZ / BANANA CHIC
img_birthdayHave a lovely weekend and hope to see you at the party.

And to the nearly 8,000 residents of Itacaré: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!