Excursion 2: People make a place

Thursday, July 24, 2014

We didn’t get much sleep last night after hanging out at Sta. Tereza with Steffania, Larissa, Steffania’s sister Morgana and friends.  When we got home there were lots of people in the streets yelling, shouting, honking after a football game of Atletica which kept us awake.

approx 11:30am – 3pm

We skip our regular morning stretches and decide to head out for our second excursion. We stop on the way to get breakfast at a different luncheonette and have fresh squeezed orange juice, Mineiro traditional pão de queijo and coffee.  A sweet little girl comes in for breakfast with her mom and she’s very talkative, smiley and entertaining.  After breakfast we continue on our way down Alfonso Pena retracing our steps back from the first excursion.  On the way, I buy a pair of highlighter yellow shoelaces for my sneakers.

We walk around the plaza with the sculpture from the other side to a street with a bunch of stores where we notice two men dancing on the street outside of an electronics store and playing percussion on the side of a box.  Pilar starts to record the audio coming out loud speakers from many of the stores.

We stop and take photographs of the stores and street but Pilar forgot her memory card so I lend her mine from the point&shoot which means we’re down one camera.  We continue around the plaza where a group of men are shouting repeatedly.  I think they’re taxi drivers looking for passengers.  We quickly realize it’s difficult to both record sound and take pictures.

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The street leading to the overpass by the bus station is very interesting to both if us.  There are many people, a lot of life on the street and also a lot of homeless people assembled around the open spaces in this area.  We pass the same woman potentially trans woman with the bleach blonde hair sitting in the same place underneath the overpass selling candies.  There’s an improvised structure in the bay of the overpass behind her which may be where she sleeps.  A man who looks homeless is talking with her.

We continue down to Av do Contorno and I pull out the gopro camera.  Pilar is excited about doing the audio recordings and taking some photographs so I decided to use the gopro experimenting this time without the harness but just holding it loosely in my hand, secured with my new yellow shoelace.

By the time we reach the end of the first block we get a whiff of something that smells like maconha.  There are a few guys standing on the corner and Pilar seems quite interested in them and starts talking with them.  I was holding the camera and rolling and I think Pilar was recording audio as well.  We take a couple of photos with them before heading on our way.

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There are lots of auto parts stores in the area, selling things like hubcaps, motorcycle helmets, and different parts to fix cars.  This seems to be the theme of this quadrant of Av do Contonro.  (In retrospect the theme of the previous quadrant was parking garages.)

Pilar has an interaction with a man collecting cardboard recycling and it seems he didn’t want his picture taken.  He said he wasn’t a model.  Pilar and I discuss the act of asking for permission to take photos, and I say it’s not a bad idea to ask before taking photos but then immediately wonder about my own actions filming everything that’s happening though not necessarily knowing what was being captured on the small GoPro camera.  I am feeling somewhat limited by not having the small point&shoot camera accessible but at the same time feel the image quality isn’t great.  (Perhaps I’ll consider getting another smaller compact camera later on when the back at home.)

We stop into one of the auto supply stores with a number of live birds in cages singing which is what initially attracts my attention to the store.  I ask the woman behind the counter if I can take a picture of auto parts that were wrapped in newspaper sitting on the shelf.  I am intrigued by these forms that look like papier-mâché sculptures.  The woman is very nice, she allows us to take photographs and wishes us luck in our work.

12.AutoStore_IMG_2200 10.AutoSculptureDetail_IMG_2196 11.AutoPartsHeart_IMG_2199 9.AutoSculpture_IMG_2198

We walk out of the store and quickly encountered another man standing on the edge of the sidewalk who is also very talkative.  A very sweet petite older woman joins in the conversation, talking to us in Portuguese and telling us she’s from Belo Horizonte.  She has a very sweet disposition and deeply lined face. After talking with us for quite a while she introduces us to other people who are nearby including a mother and her son who run an auto supply store.  Although the son, Ala, also works as a nurse in the emergency room at a local hospital and tells us he really enjoys dancing.  They invite us in the back for coffee.  This is a very warm block many very friendly people.  Ala invites us to come with him wherever he was going but we tell them we need to continue on our way along Av de Coturno.  They reply that there’s nothing there!  We continue on our way and promise to be back to see them again!

The next street is a park with an open area where a woman was sweeping the paved area right outside of a structure built out of what looked like six shopping carts covered in blankets.  There’s a boy resting on the planted area with his feet up.  I am impressed by this woman who seems to be living there in the park with a broom making the effort to clean the area where she lives.  The next street approaching the overpass people seem to be much more destitute.  On the other side of the overpass we can see the center where people bring recycling on the carts.

I wonder if this overpass also signifies the next quadrant of Av do Contorno and in fact when we check the map we had in fact gotten to Av. Bias Fortes.  We cross underneath the overpass and this seems to start another thematic chapter of recycling centers and we decide this is probably a good place to stop for the day.  (These overpasses tend to mark the end of our journey for the day, as the major diagonal streets carve up Av do Contorno into segments or chapters.)  This is also right around where the gopro memory card was full further reinforcing that this is a good place to stop.  Without worrying about the gopro I suddenly felt free and inspired to take photographs even with the iPhone.  I’m curious to see the footage using this new experimental technique to see if it’s worth it or there any potential benefits but this will have to wait until tomorrow.

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I’m uploading yesterdays test to vimeo – the footage from Atlantic City.  It does feel good to get this stuff up and out.




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