Sunday, January 3, 2016

Twerking in 2016: New Years in the Favela

With Bruno Matias from Checkmat and some other people

Everyone that knows me should be hip to the fact that I hate holidays (with a passion), being away from home makes holidays all the more fun to deal with.

My first year in Brazil I was looking forward to avoiding all aspects of Christmas but I randomly ended up moving in with a Peruvian family and ended up celebrating Latin American style with Pisco Sour and Ceviche. My second year in Rio a friend of my moms from the US was visiting her family in Belo Horizante (in Minas Gerais, a state north of Rio) and she invited me to spend the holidays with her family. It was actually a dope trip as I only paid for a bus ticket and she treated me to an amazing time and I got to visit the historic city of Oro Preto and stay in a sick house that her family has owned for generations.

This year was the first year that I was able to avoid Christmas all together. It was glorious. I went to the beach (twice).

For New Years, everyone in Rio dressed in white and heads to Copacabana beach to watch the fireworks (the Cantagalo favela where I live is above Copacabana and Ipanema beach). I hate crowds so there was no way in hell I was planning on leaving the favela. I just got a new Iphone 5 (for free) and I wasn’t about to have my baby snatched up at the beach while taking my first selfies of 2016 (and then have to walk up over 28 flights of stairs to get home or wait til the elevator opens at 5). Plus, from Terere’s roof you can see Copacabana, Ipanema, Lagoa, and Christ Redeemer. From Copacabana beach you can see… Copacabana beach.

So, I ditched all the parties and went to Terere’s house instead. Terere is traveling but I chilled there with his girlfriend, his family, and the other teachers from the social project. Good food, good friends, and the best view of the fireworks.

After getting down on some food and distributing a millions hugs and kisses to a lot of drunk sweaty strangers, I rolled out with Terere’s girlfriend to hang out on the Pistao (the main road of the favela where there are a few bars and, at the time, a huge setup of speakers). We came back around 3A.M. to find a nearly empty house with a few kids playing playstation and a very inebriated black belt up on the roof.

I cleaned up the beer and then rolled out to the with the inebriated black belt that was pressed to go to the pistao.

The pistao is the main strip in the favela that connects the two sides. I tried to take a video but it was too dark and there were too many guns so I desisted. One of the weirdest things about being on a party in the pistao (especially if your not from around here) is seeing the mix of people here. At one end there were a bunch of dealers with walkie talkies, dancing, drinking, and performing their nightly lookout duties, then you would pass by another group of guys two stepping with a drink in their hand, watching a third group of girls that were shaking their asses, and then.... then out of nowhere pops out a crew of 6 year olds working it like they were professionals. 

This is such a shitty picture but I feel like it adequately describes 
my relationship with them: blurry, confusing, but lots of love and 
always repping that FT spirit! 

I made my way to the end of the pistao where I posted up on someone's car with my inebriated black belt and some other guys from the Checkmat gym that is also located in the favela (Terere and Checkmat are to rival BJJ social projects from Cantagalo). 

I was just chilling, thinking about how 2016 was going to be a year of small miracles (starting with the fact that you can never catch me out this late), when all of the sudden someone comes up from behind me and flips my new FT Jiu Jitsu snapback off my head. 

Apparently it's not meant for me to have nice things because a black belt in Curitiba recently took a liking to my brand new sexy ass red leather machina boxing gloves and subsequently relieved me of them. Matias finessed my hat off me though because he followed up his theft saying:

"You know who I am right? I know you know who I am cause you follow me on Facebook. You run the marketing at Terere's so don't even tell me you can't get another hat"

At which point my ego exploded. 

Seeing as how I have just recently been graduated from the ignominious ranks of white belt, its an honor when black belts, or anyone in the Jiu Jitsu world for that matter, actually acknowledges you as a person. 

(Note: or the non jiu jitsu crowd, lets just be clear, I mean that literally. I have been told time and time again that white belts aren't people!) 

After that I entrusted the care of my inebriated black belt to someone else and headed off home to sleep. 

Best part of 2015:
When Terere printed the Terere Kids Project logo on shirts and rash-guards for the first time. The name came from a friend of mine from MiKiDo Martial Arts who helped me brain storm and the logo was designed by Deus Fight Co one of our sponors that we met through BudoVideos. 

Worst Part of 2015:
Its been two years since I've seen my family. I've missed births and deaths and everything in between.