Ana Tijoux Represents Cultura Independente

ana tijoux

This past Friday French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux took the stage at Praça das Artes, and while she repeatedly confessed she spoke “nada, nada, absolutamente nada de portugués,” she had the crowd, including me, enthralled and moving. (It also helped that there were a number of Chileans there.) I only knew a few of her songs beforehand, but her show left me a full-fledged fan. She seemed to have a very focused sort of energy, very calmly spitting out rhymes, but was clearly enjoying herself with her stellar band. Tijoux’s a huge MC in the Latin alternative scene, with her music’s focus perfectly summed up in her newest song “Somos Sur.” Translating to “We Are South,” she explains:

“Somos Sur” is about the importance of resistance, not only in Chile, but around the world. Global resistance movements, whether in Latin America, Africa or the Middle East, are fighting against the same patterns of violence that have repeated themselves throughout history. Which means many of these groups share a similar set of demands. We are asking for a free Palestine just like we’re asking for an independent Wallmapu in Chile, without police control.” (Colorlines)

Tijoux’s free show is one of the many events making up São Paulo’s Mês da Cultura Independente, or Independent Culture Month. Featuring both international and Brazilian artists, there are concerts, theater, films, workshops, exhibitions and much more happening around the city for free or low cost. This weekend there was a screening of classic Brazilian horror movies at Cemitério da Consolação! (It’s a shame Brazil doesn’t really celebrate Halloween.) Find out what else is happening this month at the official site.

ana tijoux

Five Places I’d Return To

There’s still a huge part of the world I yearn to see, but certain places I have visited remain forever imprinted in my mind. Prompted by the Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There challenge, here are five places I’d return to in a heartbeat:

paris - Garnier Opera House

1. Paris
Truth be told, I was a bit reluctant to go because I wanted to use the travel opportunity to see somewhere less popular, less obvious. But when I arrived, I literally gasped at the sight of the Cathedral of Notre Dame and I realized, there’s a reason why this city is so celebrated. It was also my first time visiting a place where I didn’t speak the language, which was humbling to say the least, and forced me to get creative. At one point when a waiter forgot how to translate the name of a meat in English, I asked him what sound the animal makes.

New Orleans

2. New Orleans
Despite being in my home country, this was much different than what I was used to. (Greeting strangers — what a concept!) I went there during Mardi Gras season but a week before Fat Tuesday, so I was able to see local neighborhood parades and celebrations. On our first day, my friend and I went to Cafe du Monde, which serves simply beignets and chicory coffee, and went back every day for the remainder of our stay. My favorite detail was seeing Mardi Gras decorations everywhere like it was Christmas (including decorated pine trees!)

santiago de chile

3. Santiago 
A few years ago back in the U.S., I volunteered at a social justice-oriented cultural center founded by Chileans recovering from the former dictatorship. I happened to arrive in Santiago a few days after the fortieth anniversary of the military coup (their September 11th, literally), and its legacy and efforts to preserve the collective memory were very much present. I left with a deeper understanding of the cultural center, the people I had worked with, and of course Chile. The city gave me an incredibly good feeling through its architecture, nature and friendly people. It’s also amazing to me that you can drive an hour east and reach the mountains or drive an hour west and reach the ocean, all the while passing by vineyards.

mexico city

4. Mexico City
If Mexico City could be summed up in one word, it would have to be stimulating. It is forever a busy, chaotic, messy city but with a lot of color, culture and beauty. There are Aztec ruins in the middle of downtown, alongside centuries old churches, fashionable boutiques, crafts markets and packed bars. Most importantly (for me), there’s nothing like going to the market to eat a blue corn quesadilla stuffed with squash blossoms. It’s the city with the best street food ever.

salvador bahía

5. Salvador
Located in northeastern Brazil, it’s known for two things — its Carnaval and its strong African roots. I’ve never experienced the former, but the latter can be felt everywhere, through its food, slang, rituals and sounds. On every corner there’s music, whether it be blaring from a parked car stereo or from people improvising with trash cans. It’s a very relaxed city, sometimes to a fault, but the people are always friendly and willing to chat. This place has stayed with me in such a way that I feel an immense sense of joy when I smell dendê oil and remember eating acarajé on the beach.

I’m nominating five blogs to take on the challenge: Grobetrotter, Ella Está Por Embarcar, Journeying Jeff,  The Travelling Chopsticks, and Braless in Brasil. It’s simple – 5 places you’d return to with 5 photos and 5 nominees. The winner, picked at random, will get a new iPhone 6. Rules and regulations here.

And of course feel free to add your favorite destinations in the comments!