Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rio - the Tourist Circuit

After nearly three month in Rio I decided that it was time to leave Recreio and the beaches and get to know more of Rio. I had obtained the desired suntan and bikini mark so now it was time to do something for the mind and soul. As Bill hasn´t seen much of the usual tourist sights and museums neither, we made a list of ´what to visit´. Our first target was the Fort in Copacabana, housing the Museum of the Fort and the History of the Brazilian Army Museum. We went on a very warm and sunny day and the best thing about the fort definately is the great view over Copacabana beach, sugar loaf and Guanabara bay.

The museum of the fort is interesting but seeing that it was build in the same year as my home in Mainz, namely in 1909, much less ´historic´ than I thought it was ;-)

The fort is especially know for the ´18 of the Copacabana fort revolt´ in 1922. In the 1920´s young army officers asked for reforms in the power structure and a social modernization, calling for agrarian reform, the formation of co-operatives, and the nationalization of mines. This movement became known as the Tenente (lieutenant) revolt and came to public notice on 5 July 1922 when a group of young Brazilian Army officers began a rebellion against the Old Republic at Fort Copacabana. A group known subsequently as the ´18 of the Copacabana Fort revolt´ were led down Avenida Atlântica by Antônio de Siqueira Campos and Eduardo Gomes to confront the army loyalists. The eighteen made a last stand on the beach, where sixteen were killed and two, Gomes and de Siqueira Campos, survived. In the aftermath, the government imposed a state of emergency, 1,000 cadets were expelled from the army school and many officers posted to remote garrisons. More successfull revolts followed in 1924. The actions and ideas that grew out of the revolts inspired other individuals, such as Getúlio Vargas, to lead the 1930 revolution against the Brazilian Government and bring down the Old Republic.

In the History of the Brazilian Army Museum we travelled back in time even more. A small but interesting exhibition shows the history of the army from the first landing of the Portuguese and battles with Indians as well as other colonist nations to the fight for Independence and forming of the modern state. I especially enjoyed the lifesize mannequins wearing historic uniforms and weapons. Some wore less clothes and represented the local Indians. We tried to pick out Bill´s ancestors and thought we found them in the first scene, depicting the first landing of the Portuguese and trading with the locals ;-).

For more Indians we visited the great Museu del Indio in Botafogo. The signposting to the museum was bit misleading but we knew when we turned into the right street when we saw four Indians in full war paint walking towards us. Thank God they were not on the warpath but called it a day after presenting some dances and rituals in the museum.

The museum is housed in a colonial mansion in Botafogo and usually shows two or three different exhibitons. We visited one on ceramics and one titled ´The presence of the Invisible´, showing the traditions, believes and artworks of the Oiapoque indians living in the Nort of Brazil, close to the border with French Guyana. I especially enjoyed the legends of the Indians explaining the genesis of the world, the origin of humans and development of their traditions. The legend I kept in mind is about the emergence of body painting used by the Oiapoque:

One day the King of the Lizards saw the beautiful daughter of the chief sitting next to a river after taking a bath. He transformed himself into a human to talk to her but the typical pattern of his lizard skin stayed on him even after this transformation. When the daughter of the chief saw his beautifully painted body she fell in love with him and they met again and again and again. One time the King of the Lizards took her to the djungle and not able to contain himself he climbed a tree and turned a lizard. The daughter of the chief got so scared that she called her brothers who killed the King of the Lizards with bow and arrow. When dying he turned a human again, but still with the beautifully painted skin of a lizard. Impressed by this the Indians of the tribe started to paint their skin just like a lizards. Until now they still paint their skin with patterns and colours inspired by nature.

We watched a video about the indians painting each others skin. It was incredibly cute to see the smallest kids barely able to stand on their little legs but already painted in geografically patterns!

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