Saturday, August 23, 2008

Brazil Okinawan Festival, Part II

John Tasato, Daniel Chinen, Glenn Kogachi and I decided to stay behind. I was so glad we did! We hang out with the locals and talk story as we watch the entertainment. This grandma calls her grandson over and I guess tells him to speak English to me b/c he is studying it in school. The boy, who looks to be in elementary school, asks me, "How do you do?" I answer, "I am well. How do you do?" and we smile at each other for a long, awkward moment. The grandmother nudges him and I guess tells him to talk some more because he then tells me, "You are very pretty." :) He got me charmed!

John Tasato and I brazenly walked into the VIP section and found ourselves schmoozing with politicians, with an incredible view of the entertainment. Edu Oshiro’s brother and sister-in-law spotted me sitting at the table and told him I was still around. Edu shows up and hangs out with us for the rest of the night, trying valiantly to teach me to whistle Brazilian-Okinawan-style (photo lower left). Heh. The photo lower right is with Kamiya, a politician running for some office. John tells him that my father is a kaichou for the Okinawan association in Hawaii and all of a sudden they start pinning campaign buttons on me.

At the close of the festival, I found myself near the stage with Edu, dancing the kachashi. We were surrounded by a sea of Uchinanchu, with Eisa drummers snaking all around us – creating a living beat that resonated through me and shook the ground. Piercing whistles were going off all around us. It was magical. I could not stop smiling from ear to ear. The entire area was awash with such incredible joy and sheer energy! I remember thinking, “This is why I came to South America!!! This is what I expected to find for the celebrations!”

The events ended with a big fireworks show right over our heads. heh. I had paper raining down and getting caught in my hair. The finale was thousands of firecrackers going off. We end up in a gym, where RMD Hawaii performers continue to celebrate. Tomaz Chibana, with RMD Brazil, generously drives us back to our hotel even though it is well past midnight. What an amazing experience!

No comments: