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Friday, July 29, 2011

Fandango, 'Twist and Shout' Grace Fish Festival

The talk of the village was the scant catch of tainha fish. The fish were not jumping into fishermen’s nets just days before the annual festival to celebrate the abundance of tainha. The seasonal fish usually surfaces in fishermens’ nets during the Brazilian winter (July, August ).
Barra do Una beach, where tainha were scant before festival
 The tainha refused to cooperate, but the people were busy preparing for Festa da Tainha in Barra do Una, a village in Brazil’s largest Atlantic coast preserve, Estacao Ecologica de Jureia-Itatins in the state of Sao Paulo.
Villagers were erecting booths, and raffle tickets were selling fast. After all, each ticket was a chance to win national soccer star Robinho’s autographed T-shirt.
Una River at the end of Barra do Una beach
Musicians were getting ready to play the songs of the caicara (coastal backwoodsman ) on hand carved instruments. Deep inside the wilderness, a dance with fandango music had always been a way to celebrate a harvest or to thank neighbors who helped buid one’s house.
Meanwhile, the night before the festival, my neighbor, Benedito ( “Dito”) reported that he did not catch tainha. “Nemhum” (not one), he said emphatically. He was walking on the muddy road in front of our houses on his way back from the beach.
Finally, the day of the festival, Diego (photo, right), said with a radiant smile, “We caught 99 tainha last night.” The tainha are very smart, Diego explained, and a special triple net is used to catch them.
That evening the tainha roasted on portable charcoal stoves in booths beneath rows of small, multi-colored flags. The fish emerged from their tin foil covers, plain and barbecued, or stuffed with caviar, crab, shrimp, or banana.
People were feasting to the beat of “Dancing Queen“ and “Twist and Shout.” Then suddenly the twist stopped blaring from loud speakers, and fandango music penetrated the wilderness. A singer droned in a mournful tone; musicians played on three handmade guitars, drums, and a tambourine.
The performance was just like the ones from the time when musicians traveled all day on foot or on horses to bring fandango music to a festivity, said Jorge Paulo Silveira, a lover of traditional lore.
The only difference today is the amplification of the music with electronic sound equipment, Silveira said. Silveira, an employee of the Cultural Department of Peruibe, the town closest to the preserve, is also a volunteer for Nacao Caicara (Caicara Nation), a dvision of the non-profit Institute of Studies and Conservation of the Atlantic Coast Wilderness. Caicara Nation was sponsoring the traditional band.
Meanwhile, hundreds of people arrived, including villagers, city dwellers with vacation homes in the village, and other people who traveled on the mountainous, rocky, dirt road, the only one that leads to the village.
Dancers kept rocking back and forth to the monotonous music, and as promised by posters for the event, the fandango music sounded “ate o sol raiar” (until the sun rises ) inside the preserve's 792 square kilometers of wilderness.
Story and photos by Carola C. Reuben
Copyright, 2011, Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter

1 comment:

  1. I love the way the scenery and the fish and the natives and the fandango do a dance together in this piece. The stark beautiful isolated look of the beach is very striking.