Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mônica, Mototaxistas, and MPB

This weekend mostly involved me getting over a cold (almost all better now, thanks to Fátima’s hideous-yet-functional garlic-lemon tea concoction and lots of sleep), so my adventures were somewhat unexciting.

I’ve spent much of my time this week/end on the couch, absorbed in a Brazilian Manga series entitled Turma da Mônica (team Monica) that my 11-year-old host sister Duda introduced me to. For those of you who don’t know, Manga is a somewhat stigmatized style of graphic novel (read: comic book) that originated in Japan. Lots of Manga have been translated into English, but I have to admit I’d never read any before. Mônica is very popular here in Brazil. She and her galera (team) of 3 friends go on various supernatural adventures across the dimensions of time and space, saving the universe—one bad guy at a time. I’ve found it’s a really great way to start reading and comprehending Portuguese, for a number of reasons: it’s written in contemporary, fairly easy-to-read language, so not only can I understand it, I can actually learn some popular idiomatic expressions from it. And furthermore, if there’s something I don’t understand, the pictures usually clarify! It is quite cross-cultural, indeed. I’d wager I’m reading more manga than my roommate (Carolyn/Hemo), who’s living in Japan right now!

I’ve also been exposed to a huge new music scene here in Brazil, mostly live, but also recorded. When I wasn’t on the couch reading this weekend, I was working at the table with my host mother, Fátima (we both have lots of work due this upcoming week). She’s kindly taken it upon herself to educate me in MPB, Musica Popular Brasileira. What a blast! It’s great, and totally different. It’s a little like smooth jazz, with rhythm and percussion more of a forefront. She’s introduced me to a whole bunch of Cearense and Fortalezense artists. Boy, am I getting cultured, eh? It really is beautiful, and the part I love most is that everyone seems to know all the songs! I don’t really understand how. I’d kind of relate it to “Puff the Magic Dragon” or “Blowin‘ in the Wind” in the States, but I get the sense MPB is way more popular and universal than those songs. And instead of there being two songs of that status of universal knowledge, there are two thousand. At least, that’s the way it seems.

Unrelatedly. Did you know the Mototaxi was invented right here in Fortaleza? Apparently it’s popular all over Brazil now (maybe other places too?). That’s right, you can take a taxi ride on a motorcycle here. Not only that, but it’s wicked cheap, potentially cheaper than taking a bus. I haven’t done it yet, but I kind of want to. I’m intimidated by the traffic here (stop signs are merely suggestions; stop lights are just very strong suggestions) and I’ve never ridden on a motorcycle yet, but we’ll see what the upcoming months bring.

Was it stupid to write that paragraph somewhere my mother can see it?

1 comment:

Cristle Collins Judd said...

The last sentence brings a smile from your mom ;-) Not just at the thought of your thinking about my thoughts about you on a mototaxi, but that you sound like such a Mainer to call it "wicked cheap".