31 January 2009

SAUDADE DO FUTURO - film review

        "Saudade" is a Brazilian Portuguese word difficult to translate into English. It is a longing, missing or nostalgia, often bittersweet. "Saudade do Futuro" roughly means "Longing for the Future."

        This 2000 documentary film centers on the lives of nordestinos (people from the northeast of Brazil) who have migrated to São Paulo, a city of 16 million, looking for a better future. Most nordestinos are thought of as unwelcome hillbillies who ought to stay in the Northeast growing potatoes in the drought-prone sertão (hinterland). Some are successful in São Paulo, including Dona Erundina who became mayor (1989-1992) and Emanoel Araujo, an internationally-known sculptor who is a respected member of São Paulo's art scene. Many end up as street vendors, laborers, or the musicians who are the heart and soul of this film.

        Clearly related to rap, the musical style called "repente" that evolved from African rhythms, is featured in this film. 
        Repentistas tap out music on tambourines, guitars, flutes, or drums while improvising verses, often saudades for the simpler life in the Northeast, the hardships of the big city, or humorous (& often sexually suggestive) insults hurled at each other or audience members who gather to listen and donate money. One family group, Banda da Pifanos, started in 1924. The oldest members of the multigenerational ensemble recall being forced to play for Lampião, a notorious bandit who roamed the Northeast with 50 to 100 followers in the 1920’s and 30’s.
        Interspersed between the music are everyday nordestinos who work long hours at mundane jobs for little pay in São Paulo. Their lives are enriched by their social events, dancing, and the repente music which is both humorous and a celebration of their lives.

        I lived in the Northeast of Brazil in the late 60's. I saw, in the varied nordestinos of this film, the faces I had lived with every day during my time there. The faces are filled with the combination of despair, optimism, and humor that creates the wonderful improvised music that infests the film with rhythmic beats that are uniquely Brazilian. There is no narration. The characters tell their own stories through words or verses. The stunning photography of bustling São Paulo makes New York traffic look like a rural joy ride. The film may not be for everyone, but for those who would enjoy seeing a unique slice of Brazilian life, it is “maravilhoso!” 

Portuguese with English subtitles.

Sample verses:

          São Paulo may thrill you
          but its sadness can kill you
          some have a tear in their eyes
          others stifle their cries
          some live in fine villas
          other suffer in favelas

                         the mason from the Nordeste
                         slaves away with no rest
                         builds pools and mansions
                         embellished like gardens
                         but he and his own
                         have no roof to call home

                                        to this city we come
                                        and end up in a slum
                                        we build lovely villas
                                        with door and windows
                                        but once we've painted the place
                                        they slam the door in our face

Update 2/04/09: This post was chosen as the Featured Post of the Week at WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS. Thanks, Contest Chris. Click on the link to join his Worth a Thousand Words Contest.

25 January 2009


        After college, I spent two years in the Peace Corps in northeastern Brazil. During my second year, I used my vacation time to travel through Brazil by bus. Although it was winter in South America, it was warm enough to swim in Rio de Janeiro, but was pleasantly cool in southern Brazil. From there, I ventured to Buenos Aires.
        I learned enough Spanish to say, “I don’t speak Spanish. I speak Portuguese. Speak slowly and I will understand you.” In Buenos Aires, I somehow managed to communicate to my taxi driver that I wanted a clean but economical hotel. I don’t know if the driver knew that the small hotel was owned by a Brazilian couple, but it was a stroke of luck, making communication possible for me.
        I had been traveling for several weeks and needed clean underwear. The landlady directed me to a wash tub in a dark hallway where I met an American woman laundering by hand. She wore slacks and a turtleneck which matched her dark eyes and hair, which was sprinkled with silver strands. She said, “You’re washing more underwear than my husband and I own.” Soon she and I were chatting like old friends.
        Her husband had broad shoulders and was a little taller than his wife, his mustache and receding hair streaked with more gray than hers. During that week, over breakfast and for an additional hour or two each day, I listened in awe to their spellbinding travel tales. In the intervening years, I may have forgotten some of the details, but the essence of what they told me follows. I can’t remember their names, so I will call them George and Helen.

        Helen and her husband had yearned to travel around the world. She was a secretary and George an auto mechanic. They didn’t have high-paying jobs that would permit them to travel in luxury. When their sons were grown, the couple sold their house and furniture, depositing the proceeds into savings. They applied for passports, arranged for immunizations, quit their jobs, and withdrew a few thousand dollars.
        When their travel funds were nearly depleted, they returned to their hometown, rented a furnished apartment, found jobs, and foregoing all luxuries, worked until they were able to save several thousand dollars again. Television, library books, and travel brochures were their only entertainment. They never saw a movie while in the U.S. because the same film would be playing in foreign countries at a much lower price while they traveled. They purchased only the essentials and were soon on the road again. They went through the routine several more times and with each trip learned to make their resources stretch farther.
        When we met, Helen and George were on their fifth trip. They intended to continue this pattern until their money or their health ran out.
        They couldn’t describe lush accommodations or exclusive resorts, but they recounted exciting travel anecdotes that could never be found in a travel brochure. They spoke of stopping in Abu Dhabi or Shanghai the way I might mention a trip to the local mall. They almost always stayed at clean but humble hostels or hotels, but recalled a time when they had arrived at a bus station late at night in a small town in the Middle East and couldn’t find a hotel. In desperation, they arrived at the police station where they were offered an empty cell. They told me of one other night that they had to sleep in a stair well, but that was their only night of real discomfort in many years of unconventional travel. Even the jail cell had been warm, clean, and safe.
        They each carried only two changes of shirts and slacks, with one set left in the hotel room to dry after washing it. The recent introduction of drip-dry fabric made laundering easy. With the addition of a plain black dress for her and a sports coat and tie for him, they could get by at all but the most elegant of events. With three sets of underwear, one good pair of walking shoes, a pair of dressier shoes, and a light water-repellant jacket and sweater, they followed the seasons, so that heavy clothing was unnecessary. Besides toiletries, the other things in their suitcases were an immersion heater coil with foreign adapters, two mugs, spoons, tea bags, instant coffee, and packages of dried soup.
        Most foreign hotels included a breakfast of bread, fruit, and coffee. The couple sought out good food with generous portions at a reasonable price for lunch. For dinner, they purchased fruit, bottled water and bread, carrying them to the hotel room to consume with soup and coffee or tea.
        They knew every interesting place, event, fair or festival in Buenos Aires that they could attend for free or at a very low cost and happily shared that information with me. Mornings and afternoons were spent sightseeing, attending museums, zoos, historical sights, or strolling through picturesque streets, parks, or botanical gardens. They spent most evenings writing letters to their sons, visiting new acquaintances, reading, or attending musical performances or movies.
        George and Helen usually celebrated with a “night on the town” on their last evening in any large city. I doubt that they bought souvenirs of their trips. or even had a camera. Film and developing may have been too prohibitive for their frugal ways, or the bother of carrying a camera might have restrained such an unencumbered couple.
        When I met them, they were waiting in Buenos Aires for a cargo steamer to dock. It would eventually transport them to Genoa. They planned to buy a used motorcycle to bike themselves to Germany where one son was stationed in the military. After staying with their son and his young family for a few weeks, George and Helen planned to roam throughout Europe or perhaps Russia, then sell the motorcycle and move on.

        I think of George and Helen often, wishing I had the courage to follow in the footsteps of such an inspiring couple. If I had the courage to travel as they did, I’m sure it would be a wonderful escapade. But maybe I’d have to forego an extra set of clothes and carry my laptop and a camera so that I could record the intriguing details of my exotic adventures.
        If they are still living, George and Helen would be in their nineties by now. I’d like to think they are still satisfying their insatiable wanderlust. If not, I hope they have settled down with the satisfaction that they did what they wanted to do and did it well. So I salute all the Georges and Helens of the world and all others who have had the heart, the courage, and the determination to achieve in their senior years the dream of a lifetime, to accomplish things that most of us would love to do but probably will never even attempt.
(©2009, C.J.Peiffer)

20 January 2009


I thought some of our new president's comments would be of interest to former Peace Corps Volunteers and those interested in the Peace Corps.

"To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

"And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it...

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

"This is the price and the promise of citizenship."

President Barack Obama, Inaugural Address, 1/20/09

16 January 2009


In previous posts, I have written about my experiences in the Peace Corps serving in a small town called Glória. I served along with Brunie who had been there a year before I arrived. She spoke Portuguese beautifully and fit in into the culture as I never could.

After writing my previous post, I thought of the many bus rides I took in Brazil and decided to tell another tale of a short, by equally memorable, adventure involving a bus.

        On a Monday afternoon after Brunie and I had spent a weekend in the capital city, we caught a 2:00 pm bus back to Glória, a trip of 126 kilometers, close to 80 miles. At home, that might have been a 90 minute trip, but not in Brazil’s interior. There were frequent stops on the unpaved road, so it usually took about four hours to traverse that distance.
        We knew that many people from the interior seldom traveled in any kind of motorized transportation. As a result, they often suffered from motion sickness. We always chose aisle seats across from each other, if available, glad not to be between a sick passenger and a window.
        Three employees worked on each vehicle. One was the driver, of course. Another took care of the luggage compartment under the bus and was also the mechanic. If the bus broke down in the middle of nowhere, we hoped he could repair it. The third man collected fares. He had to keep track of where each person got on and off so he knew how much to charge. Many people couldn’t count, so they just handed the man some bills. Sometimes he didn’t give them the right change. It could be because he himself couldn’t count well, but he might have been pocketing the extra money. If I were close to the front of the bus, I watched him closely.
        Rain swept across the countryside in sheets. The windows were closed. We could hardly breathe. The dense atmosphere was humid enough to keep our clothes clinging to our damp bodies.
        The bus stopped at each small town, but it didn't seem to have any other regular stops. People stood up and went to the front of the bus and asked the driver to stop anywhere along the road. Other passengers stood at the side of the road, ready to flag down the bus. Most wore a hat or a sheet of plastic to protect them from the rain. Each time the vehicle stopped, the mechanic, in a plastic raincoat, emerged to open the luggage compartment for new passengers or departing ones.
        Many Brazilians carried their packages with them, especially if their possessions were alive. That day I counted three piglets and five chickens. One passenger had an unidentified creature moving inside a cloth sack.

        In the back of the bus sat the man everyone called O Crente. ‘Crente’ literally meant ‘believer,’ but was used to refer to Protestants, mostly conservative evangelicals, as opposed to members of the majority religion, Roman Catholicism.
        O Crente, The Believer, caught the bus in his own town every night at about 2:30 in the morning and returned home the same day on the 2:00 pm bus from the capital. Each time we traveled to the capital city, he was already on the bus when we boarded at 3:00 am. He read the Bible out loud to his captive audience, both coming and going. He didn't read it in a normal speaking voice. He read it dramatically, shouting the passages with passion, like the most extreme of fire and brimstone preachers. Most Brazilians thought he was crazy. I found him so annoying that I chose to sit as far from him as possible. Because he lived in the town beyond Glória, I knew he would be with us for the entire trip. That day there had been no empty seats near the front. With the rain and O Crente, it was going to be a long four-hour ride.
        I wasn’t sure what O Crente did in the capital from 7:00 am until he caught the afternoon bus. Maybe he had relatives there. Most likely, he read the Bible in public places. I also wasn’t sure how he was able to afford bus fare 6 days a week without a job. He solicited donations from passengers, but never gathered more than a few centavos. I donated nothing ---I wasn’t about to to encourage him ---but I often wondered how much of a donation he would accept in exchange for a few minutes of silence.

        I tried to read, but couldn't concentrate on my book with O Crente yakking behind us. One couldn't carry on a conversation with that man screaming the scriptures. I couldn’t even watch the scenery in the passing hinterland. The side of the road could barely be seen through the pelting rain and steamed windows. Several times, the wheels spun on the mud while the bus tried to climb a small grade. Leaning my head back,  I closed my eyes, allowed my paperback book to drop to my lap, tuned out O Crente, and started to doze in the stuffy bus.
        Suddenly, the back of the bus lurched sideways. At once, I recognized a skid. I grabbed the back of the seat in front of me. In a second, the bus was in a deep ditch on the right side of the road, leaning on its side, its left wheels off the ground. I had been hurled off my seat partially by the movement of the bus and partially by the force of the female passenger to my left. I still held onto the seat, but I had twisted my wrist. I had to untangle my legs from Brunie and an elderly woman who had been sitting to her right.
        People yelled in frantic Portuguese. Children cried. Chickens squawked and piglets squealed their disapproval. The driver yelled orders to the passengers.

        “Quick, get out of the bus," someone screamed in a high-pitched voice. "The driver is saying that everyone should get off." 
        I pulled myself to my feet. I held my hand out to the woman who had been to my left. Her face had lost its color and her hand trembled as I helped her scramble into the tilted aisle. We helped the old woman who sat beside Brunie to her feet. Once she headed toward the rear emergency exit, we scurried to the front door.
        Outside my sandals sank into the mire beside the road.
        "You okay?" Brunie asked.
        "I think so. I feel like I'll have a few bruises," I answered, rubbing my wrist. “How about you?”
        Brunie had hurt her elbow, but otherwise was okay.
        "I was dozing,” I said. “I never expected anything like this." Up to that point I had been calm, but suddenly felt like my blood sugar had dropped to zero. I leaned on Brunie for a few minutes until my dizziness passed.

        I noticed that the luggage compartment had been thrown open by the force of the skid. I recognized my own suitcase and Brunie's covered with mud in the ditch. Several people were grabbing at their own cloth sacks, probably filled with flour, rice, or cornmeal. To protect them from the rain, they carried them into the sloping bus. Several wooden liquor crates were broken ---some of the bottles smashed.
        We waited until most of the Brazilians had picked up their own possessions, before venturing near the vehicle. Just as I leaned over to grab my suitcase, O Crente grabbed one of the liquor bottles which hadn't broken. Smashing the bottle against the side of the bus, he yelled, "Diabo! Demonio!" Glass fragments and whiskey splattered onto my legs. Reaching for another bottle, the man yelled again. Brunie and I backed away.
        "What in the hell is going on?" I asked. O Crente was yelling and speaking so fast, I couldn’t understand his Portuguese.
        Another man grabbed a bottle by its neck, pushing the broken end toward O Crente who was reaching into the crate.
        Brunie answered me, "The Crente is blaming the desastre of the bus on the liquor. He says it's the devil's work ---he's trying to break the rest of the bottles. The man in white owns a bar in the next town. It's his whiskey."
        I found it quaint that the Brazilians referred to even the most minor of accidents as a ‘disaster.’ Luckily, no one had been seriously hurt in this one.
        The bus driver, the mechanic, the fare taker, and several passengers pulled the men apart. O Crente continued to make aggressive gestures toward the tavern owner waving his Bible in the air. Eventually several men wrestled him to the ground ending the ruckus.
        By the time everyone was calm, O Crente and several other men were covered with mud. O Crente wrapped a handkerchief around his bloody hand ---he seemed to have the only injury. Several men placed themselves strategically between the combatants. The men covered in mud stood with their heads tilted toward the pelting rain, trying to wash brown slime from their faces.

        The bus employees and several of the male passengers spoke for several minutes, with broad hand gestures, some arguing, and finally hand shakes. The driver crawled through the back door and moved unsteadily to the front of the slanting bus. He started the engine. Several men picked through the mud to find pieces of broken glass and move them out of the way. The mechanic explained that everyone was needed on the right side of the bus to push it back onto the road.
        To me it looked hopeless. I was sure no amount of mere human effort would upright the huge vehicle. And if the bus tilted more, passengers could be crushed. I might have refused to help but I didn't want to admit I was afraid. I placed myself near the back end, thinking I could scramble out of the way, if the bus toppled over. Feet slipped from under the passengers as we tried to push. Several landed on their knees in the mud.
        When that didn't work, the bus employees asked the women to get in the bus and stand or sit as close to the left side as possible while the men pushed on the right side. But that strategy didn't work either. The mechanic took some pieces of thick jute rope from his large metal tool chest. He tied them around the posts between windows on the left of the bus. The men pulled on the ropes while the women stayed inside on the left. Then everyone tried pulling on the ropes. Nothing worked.
        An hour passed. The rain subsided to a gentle drizzle. Most of the men gathered in small groups, smoking. A few people crawled back onto the bus to escape the rain, although everyone was thoroughly soaked by then. A few old women, a middle-aged couple, Brunie, and I sat on our luggage a few meters from the bus, under a lone tree. The main topic of conversation was how to get the bus back on the road and how long we would wait for help.
        O Crente sat apart from the others on a stump, reading loudly from his muddy Bible. I wondered if he were reading the story of Noah. Besides the mud that covered him, he wore a look that told the world that no one understood his wisdom, that everyone else was a sinner who needed salvation while he had discovered the one true path to paradise.
        Another hour went by before the first vehicle approached. The bus driver flagged down the jeep. Everyone watched as the two drivers spoke. The jeep’s owner shook his head saying he couldn't help; his jeep was too small. He said to wait. Soon, his friend would be coming in his truck; they had both been to the market in one of the interior towns.

        In another thirty minutes, a truck filled with goods and passengers, turned the bend, followed by a second truck from the market. The bus passengers buzzed with expectant excitement. The mechanic tied ropes to the jeep and both trucks. The fare taker organized the passengers from both the bus and the trucks to push on the right side of the bus while the jeep and the trucks strained to pull the bus from the ditch. It seemed like even that wouldn't work. Then, suddenly, the bus bounced onto all its wheels, the tires grabbed, and the driver was able to steer it onto the muddy road.
        Many handshakes and "obrigados" followed. The luggage compartment was refilled. Passengers reentered the bus. Packages were redeposited on the overhead racks and under the seats. The bar owner and O Crente were kept at a safe distance from each other, the latter loudly proclaiming that his prayers had resulted in a miracle that saved us from the satanic whiskey.

        Settling into my seat, soaked through to the skin, I looked at Brunie. Laughing, I said, "We must look like a couple of drowned rats."
        Brunie laughed. "I probably don't look that good."
        I ran my fingers through my wet hair. "How often does this happen?"
        She wiped her face with paper from the roll of toilet tissue she always carried in her purse. "Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. Of course, when we tell everyone in Glória, we'll hear all kinds of stories about desastres."
        "We were supposed to be back by six. It'll be after nine 'til we get home. Our literacy students will be waiting for us."
        Brunie assured me that by now everyone in Glória knew the bus was late and everyone in town knew exactly which residents of Glória were expected on the bus. The literacy students would not even show up. She fumbled in her mesh bag. Handing me an orange, she said, "It will be good to be home, won’t it?"
        I nodded. I was finally feeling as if Glória really was my home, at least for the next few years.
(Text and illustrations ©2009, C.J. Peiffer)

07 January 2009


“Technology gives us power, 
but it doesn't make us happy.” 

(one of my husband’s insightful observations)

        When I lived in the small interior town of Glória during my Peace Corps service, a generator, known simply as “a máquina” provided electricity in my section of the sertão (the Brazilian hinterland.)
        Zé (short for José) ran the máquina. He was of the same political party as the mayor, perhaps a relative. I understand that for several years before I arrived, while the opposition political party was in power, Zé refused to run the generator. Once his candidate was reelected, the town had electricity again.
        Well, we had electricity from 6:00 -10:00 pm.
        At 9:45, the lights flicked off for a few seconds as a warning, allowing citizens to head home while the street lights were still on. For special occasions, holiday parties, or Carnaval, the máquina ran until midnight.
        Once the lights went off each night, and there were only dim kerosene lanterns to compete with the heavens, one could see millions of stars in the southern-hemisphere sky.

        In anticipation of the coming of full-time electricity, many households had a brand new refrigerator in which people stored items they wanted to keep away from mice or roaches, until the appliances could be used for their intended purposes.
        Some had purchased several refrigerators. They knew that depositing money in the bank was useless, as the interest rate was much lower than the inflation rate. After sitting for a year or so, a never-used appliance could be sold for two or three times the purchase price, less than someone would pay for a new refrigerator at inflated prices, but much more than the owner had originally paid. Thus a refrigerator was an investment, better than a savings account.
        A movie theater showed old American films on a 16 mm projector on Friday and Saturday nights. A student who spoke English well, told me he couldn't understand anything in those American films. The sound on the projector was so garbled, even I couldn't understand one word. Most Glorianos couldn't read the subtitles, so the owner of the cinema allowed a few ginásio students in free so they could read them out loud for the rest of the crowd.
        The theater was hot, stuffy, & uncomfortable. The hard seats were not made for long-legged Americans. At first, I couldn't read the subtitles fast enough nor understand the students who were scattered throughout the theater yelling out the dialogue. Thus, I made excuses not to attend the films. I admit I was not disappointed when the cinema had to be closed after the balcony caved in one night ---luckily, after everyone had left.  I thought, perhaps, along with the renovations, the owner might purchase a new projector, but he did not.
        There were no electric meters in the homes. No one had electrical outlets until the full-time electricity arrived. One light bulb hung from the ceiling in each room and residents were charged by the number of light bulbs in their homes.

        Everyone made do without full-time electricity ---or none at all if their homes weren’t wired. Almost every household listened to a radio attached to a car battery. Sewing machines had large flat pedals, pumped with the feet. We cooked on wood burning stoves or small gas appliances fueled by propane tanks. We used kerosene lanterns and kerosene refrigerators. I will never understand how a flame could keep things cold, but it did.
        I lived with Brunie, another Peace Corps Volunteer, in a house without electricity. In 1968, about a year after my arrival, full-time electricity arrived, although our landlord did not install it in our home. Brunie soon ended her two years of service and returned to California, only to rejoin the Peace Corps two years later to serve in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso.)
        About 6 months before I headed home, I moved into a different house. Besides a cisterna to gather rain water, I had one light bulb hanging from the ceiling in each room. With a few outlets scattered throughout the house, I could use the travel iron I had kept in my footlocker for the previous 18 months.  In addition, a Volunteer who had returned to the U.S. and lived within a 100 miles of me at home, had loaned me his radio to listen to Voice of America.
        I kept my temperamental kerosene-powered refrigerator for convenience, but the owner of the pensão allowed me the use of her freezer compartment ---unaccustomed to frozen foods, the Brazilians left most freezers empty. I purchased fresh green beans, broccoli, and other vegetables in the capital city ---vegetables no one ever saw in Glória at that time ---blanched them and stored them in plastic bags or foil in the freezer. On my way home from teaching English at the ginásio, I retrieved vegetables, meat, and the ice cubes I had made from boiled/filtered water.
        Within weeks of the arrival of full-time power, two televisions arrived in Glória ---at a bar and at the bank manager's home. Even with poor reception, the bar became the most popular place in town.
        The bank manager and his wife were quiet, private people, so I don't think they appreciated the attention, but they were kind and allowed neighbors to view the television from outside their open shutters.

        I haven't been back to Glória since I left there in July of 1969. The city’s web site shows a much larger city with a cell tower looming in the mato outside of town. The town praças are filled with stunning tropical plants. Power lines are everywhere.
        With TVs in most homes, probably fewer people gather at the Ciné Glória on weekends. I’m sure the small circus that used to arrive annually, no longer visits Glória. Just as in the film “Bye, Bye, Brazil” traveling shows can’t compete with TV.
        The nightly social event, gathering in the praça to watch the movemento, has doubtless disappeared. Street lights are probably left on all night.

        Most likely, one can no longer see the Southern Cross quite as clearly in those big, beautiful, Brazilian skies.

UPDATE: I returned to Glória in August of 2011.  You can read about my visit elsewhere on this blog.

(©2008, C.J.Peiffer)

02 January 2009

IGREJA - Nosso Senhor dos Passos

"Igreja - Nosso Senhor dos Passos"
(©2002, C. J. Peiffer)
digital enhancement of a work originally rendered
as a three-color reduction wood cut print inspired
by a photo taken in Salvador, Bahia c.1968
Products featuring this image can be found HERE.

Note that I find the name of this church written two ways:
Nosso Senhor Dos Passos (Our Lord of the Steps)
Nosso Senhor do Passo (Our Lord of the Step)
I'm not sure which is correct.

        A famous 1962 Brazilian film, O Pagador de Promessas (The Promise Payer) was filmed on these steps. It was nominated for a 1963 Academy Award (best foreign language film.) It won awards at 1962 Cannes Film Festival, 1962 Cartagena Film Festival and 1962 San Francisco International Film Festival (best film and musical score.)
Photo from 1962 film O Pagador de Promessas

        On the Internet Movie Database, Manoel Mendonca wrote a plot summary:
Zé is a very poor man from the Brazilian countryside. His most prized possession is his donkey. When his donkey falls terminally ill, Zé makes a promise to Saint Bárbara: If his donkey recovers, he will carry a cross - like Jesus - all the way from his city to Saint Bárbara's church in the state capital. Upon the recovery of his donkey, Zé leaves on his journey. He makes it to the church, but the priest refuses to accept the cross once he came to know the context of Zé's promise.

        Paul Simon recorded a video at the base of these steps for "Obvious Child" ('Rhythm of the Saints' CD). The You Tube video can be viewed HERE.

Igreja - Nosso Senhor dos Passos
Salvador, Bahia

photo c.1968.
woodcut print c.1972
digital enhancement c.2002

(photo © 1968, C.J. Peiffer)