The ICBIE is full of surprises, and the last four days illustrate the rich variety of experiences that animate our lives here. On Saturday we celebrated the third night of the cineforum with the showing of Schindler’s List, and about fifteen people showed up. We were curious to see how the locals would react to such a long and difficult film, in black and white, but, thanks to the plentiful supply of popcorn (supplied by Mary Norris in New York), nearly everyone stuck it out to the end, and the carefree Bahians were profoundly moved, even to tears, by the story.
On Sunday, Pietro and I went to the stadium to see a soccer game. The local team Bahia was playing a big match against Confiança in the Brazilian third division. About twenty thousand enthusiastic spectators put on a show of joyous abandon that rivaled the match itself, with supporters of the two teams mingling harmoniously, drinking beer out of plastic cups and enjoying the perfect weather. A few seats away from us, a group of young boys bashed on drums, providing a rhythmic backdrop that would delight the most serious ethnomusicologist, while the Bahia team battled to a victory that put it in first place.
Monday night was entirely different. Pietro, Marlene, Bogus, Rita (another Italian volunteer worker staying in our hostel) and I got dressed up for a night at the opera. We went to the lovely Castro Alves Theater in downtown Salvador, where the Bahia Symphony Orchestra, the Bahia Baroque Chorus and a cast of European soloists, led by the young Finnish director Valtteri Rauhalammi, performed Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca. The production was surprisingly good, with fine singing and a wonderfully capable orchestra exalted by the theater’s magnificent acoustics. After all the protagonists met their tragic deaths, we zoomed off into the night to a pizzeria.
The weekly Italian cuisine lesson on Tuesday featured ICBIE president Pietro Gallina, who, beyond his impressive academic qualifications is also a formidable maestro cuoco. We spent the afternoon scouring the ritzy neighborhood of Barra (where many Italians live) to procure the proper parmisan and pecorino cheeses, bacon and pasta. That evening a dozen hungry students and friends packed into the back kitchen to observe the procedures, with Marlene coaching the vocabulary and verbs, until the steaming hot amatriciana was ready to be devoured.