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Friday, May 14, 2010

MY Town Friday Shoot-Out

in search of The Dark sideDSC_3462

                                                                                                             On April 15, 2010 I’d lived in Brasil for 7 years.   At first, in those very hard, first 3 years I saw only the dark side of Brasil.  And in order to accept, I had to focus my (mind’s) eye away from the close up - in my face views of what was around me.  I had to learn to focus into the mid-distance.  This is where - how I found the beauty that is Brasil.  The plants and flowers, the mountains, the reflections of sun and clouds in the water, the smiles of its people and the subtleties of its culture that are so different from mine but, finally, I am able to smile about.   And now for this week’s shoot-out the topic was to see – to show the dark side of either Rio or Nova Friburgo.  I took photos in both cities, and then just now, in the last few minutes decided on Nova Friburgo.

  I took my camera where ever I went.  I snapped photos of a DSC_3651trash heap along side the street.  Then found myself asking is this the dark side? Is DSC_3649construction debris left there on the sidewalk the dark side or is it a cultural difference?

I saw a large house that had a new second floor going on – it was evident that the first floor was being lived in and that the lower exterior had never been finished.  Is this the dark side? 

It is habit here to build your home as you have need and funds – a family may build the home over 15 or twenty years, it is theirs, not the bank’s is this a bad thing or is it good or is is just different?


DSC_8008I saw a tiny house along side the canal, tucked away, built with bits and pieces of cast off construction material.  Open to the elements on the sides, the roof seemed  to cover adequately if not with the aesthetics of the common red tile roofs.  Is this the dark side?  The poverty represented by this simple one room shack.   Or is this little house (home?) a symbol of the spirit of survival of the Brasilian people.


Whether walking on the main street, standing in line at the supermarket or looking up at the crowded homes and wires, there are people.  Dodging and darting, standing patiently in lines too long and too slow (for an American?), walking up and down the streets, without complaint or comment.  Stoically accepting what, to me, doesn’t work quite right.   But is this the dark side?  

Brasil, and Brasilians are so proud of their economic growth, and rightly so.  One symbol of this growth is the possibility for more people to own their own cars.  They love their cars, have worked hard for them, keep them in top condition and when able to move upward, go in a better car and someone else on the move up from below, buys the old car…. no waste.  But there has not been equal movement by the government to make and maintain roads, highways, parking…. in the past 5 years driving has become a snarling mess, now the Brasilians also dodge and dart, like they once did on the sidewalks, they now do in their cars.  eeEEKK!

But is this a dark side?

This week I decided that all of these aspects of Brasil (yes Brasil, not just Nova Friburgo) are more cultural than dark.   I am sure that this town of a quarter of a million people has prostitution, drug, muggings, theft, and abuse – but I've had no exposure to them.  I can not see these things while walking on the streets during the day.  These are what make the dark side of any town in any country, any place made up of people.  What we think are the unpleasant – the dark things – as strangers to Brasil are often signs of their cultural habits, with reasons less obvious than what seems to be right before our eyes.   When you see the incomplete homes built in improbable places think about an equivalent 5 gallon of exterior paint that costs close to a days wages – not an hourly rate but a full day is needed to buy the paint for the outside of your home. 


  1. nice post GingerV. I love your thoughts and how you have presented them. a different way of looking at things, than if you are just a tourist.

  2. I guess I totally went off the chart again on this assignment, but oh well...I agree, I live so close to our capital here in NJ, but the inner city is plagued with disarray and crime...I just read a young girl was lured into an abandoned building and was killed...

  3. I love that trio of photos of people on the sidewalk and in the store, just living their lives. It's neat to hear how your attitude has evolved over time. Many dark sides are indeed a matter of perspective and culture.
    So many different takes on this theme!

  4. What a thoughtful narrative Ginger! As usual, your photos are wonderful and informative.
    Great shoot out!

  5. What a wonderfully put observation. I am not gonna put myself in that spot to see the dark side, in the behavior mostly. True a disheveled building does not always indicate a dark side. However as always, there are wonderful variations of this theme. Great post GingerV.

  6. I am trying to figure out your first mysterious shot of the moon(s), how cool.

    Your remarks on "the dark side" of your adopted country are thoughtful and as always I enjoyed your photos so much.

  7. Very good of you to distinguish the cultural differences rather than just labeling them 'dark'. You wrote this so well, I really enjoyed it. This is a great topic for getting to know the towns of participants...I even learned more about my own in the process.

  8. A very thought provoking post Ginger.
    Really enjoyed it. A Country of extremes, I think.

  9. Thanks for the notice on McLinky error...guess I did it in the DARK! Interesting perspective on Your Town and country both in photographs and text. Thanks for visiting Texas...Sue

  10. Ginger, I prefer to see this as the Other Side. An opportunity to appreciate the Bright Side, perhaps? Wonderful photos to illustrate the text, well done indeed!

  11. I have some Brazilian students, (adults) they are very warm. And good looking.

  12. Ginger, you bring up some very valid points. I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I really enjoyed your post. It was thought provoking and very powerful to get us to shift our paradigm. Kudos to you.

  13. Great post, work, pictures!!! congratulations!!!