Brazilians are always looking for a chance to have a good time. It seems that whatever chance they get, there’s a holiday or a celebration or what have you, and then there’s a party!
My internship schedule has been incredibly altered from its original inception, due mainly to the World Cup. If Brazil is playing, everything shuts down. Along with the Cup, my time here also happened to land on a couple of important holidays. Today was the national holiday of Corpus Christi, tomorrow few things are open because of the holiday today, and next week is a holiday just in Niteroi celebrating São João. I’m telling you – we know how to relax.
It has been a trial to make sure that I will be able to get all the necessary hours for my internship credit during my time here but my host, Valeria, has been tirelessly working on scheduling besides showing me around town, footing the bill for some meals, and so much more. She is the essential link, without her hard work I would not be here.
With the holiday of Corpus Christi, I had no work to do. Valeria decided that it would be time well-spent to visit local hostels that could house future students traveling with Performing Arts Abroad. Everything was good and well until it decided to rain cats and dogs. I had not been in rain that strong for quite a while and even Valeria felt uncomfortable driving on the water logged roads. We still managed to visit two hostels and then took a side trip to Fortaleza de Santa Cruz da Barra, an old military fort founded in 1612 that once was very important in protecting Rio and is still used in military training today.
This fort is directly across from another fort, Fortaleza de São João, and together they marked the closest points of land before entering into the Guanabara Bay. A complex system of forts was established all around the entrance of the bay to protect it invaders.
Our guide, a young military man, led us around the campus telling story after story. How a priest performing mass saw from the corner of his eye a ship and stopped an invasion; how the military prepared the cannons during battle; how prisoners were kept in cells and if they misbehaved were put into smaller and smaller cells – so many stories, so much history.
Valeria told me, as an aside, about another story that the guides no longer tell. Apparently Santa Cruz was used at one point to torture political prisoners (I don’t know when this was or how). These prisoners were kept in small, secluded caves in complete darkness and their screams could be heard in the nearby towns. When the military was asked about what the noise was, they told the people that it was a jaguar that they had captured. The torture chambers came to be known as Cova da Onça, or jaguar pit. They don’t tell this story during tours anymore. Hmm.
Isn’t it interesting how sometimes we choose to ignore or leave out certain facts of the past? I wonder why we do it… Is it because we’re scared of how others will view us in the present? Or because we’re trying to make changes and don’t want to judged? Or maybe we have made changes but others always want to bring up the past to mess up your future.
The way I see it, if we don’t make peace with the past (regardless of being an individual or a country), it is hard to move on through the present to the future.
What do you think? Why does it seem so natural to pick and choose stories from our past?