Monday, 31 January 2011

The "Jordanian approaches" circuit - Day one (cont.)

The "Jordanian approaches" circuit - Part of the afternoon of day one

The Lower city of Amman - The Theatre - The  Museum of Jewellery and Costume
The 22nd January 2011

Soon after a real delicious lunch, which was one of the best I have ever had in terms of quality and variety (not forgetting the fact that I was introduced to some of the typical Jordanian cuisine for the first time), we headed towards the Lower city of Amman, in which the remains of the collonade of the Forum and the 169 -177 AD  Roman Theatre  are to be seen.

Two images of the Roman Theatre (photo taken from the Citadel)

These are surrounded by an intricate residential urban fabric of fairly low buildings, almost uniform in type and colour (yellowish), which are quite impressive.

Views of the Lower city residential area

Inside the main entrance of the Theatre there is a Museum of Jewellery and Costume with quite a wide variety of attire worn by women and men up to a few decades ago in various regions of the country. Having always been fascinated by bedouine clothes I almost exclusively photographed the female models in their richly embroidered coloured cotton clothes.

A galery on a lower level of this Museum houses fragments of mosaics from the Madaba  area (which we shall be visting later in the week) dating back to the 5th and 6th centuries, as well as mosaics found in the Church of Elijah, Mary and Soreg in Jerash of the late 6th century AD).

We shall soon be climbing up the hill that leads to the Citadel and I am really looking forward to what the former acropolis of the ancient city still holds ... 

Sunday, 30 January 2011

The "Jordanian approaches" circuit - Day One

"Jordanian approaches" circuit -  The Morning of Day One .

The 22nd of January 2011

Although  the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan covers an area which is slightly bigger than Portugal and 85% of it is desert, this circuit will allow us to "discover"  further beyond Jordan's prime attraction - the city of Petra, as we shall be travelling North of Amman and then head towards the Southern part of the country as far as Aqaba.

We reached Amman international airport fairly early in the morning, where we were welcomed by the local agency representative who guided us through custom formalities. A Jordanian guide, Omar (who happens to be a University professor of History) shall accompany us from day one through to the last day.

For obvious reasons our morning circuit didn't start too early ... but the sight of Jerash, a former Roman city just 50 Kilometres North of the capital city made us soon forget the remaining tiredness.

The small settlement of Gerasa (the ancient name for Jerash) was founded around 170 BC, but it was not until 129 that it  became the centre of the Roman empire, as Trajan's sucessor, Hadrian wintered in the city.

The 800 metre long collonnaded Cardo Maximus, the main boulevard of Jerash (Left). Hadrian's Arch (Right).

The Nymphaeum, a monumental fountain dating  to the late 2nd Century AD (Below Left). Corynthian columns on the eastern side of the Temple of Artemis (Below Right).

 The South Theatre built during the reign of Domitian (81-96) to be seen on the Left. The Forum in the foreground of the 56 Ionic column Oval Piazza (Right).

It is  really difficult to say what impressed me most, because these six photos out of about thirty taken around this huge site could easily be substituted by any of the others.  Having read about it before travelling in no way prepared me for what I saw this morning ... and the day is still half way. 

I must say I am really looking forward to this afternoon and what else it may unveil. 

Monday, 17 January 2011

A "unique" book ... and (or) a unique student ...

There are various books, whose valuable themes (such as "Saudade") because of  never having been approached in such a way, become uncomparable ... that being the case of the first ever  bi-lingual anthology of fado poetry recently published by the Gulbenkian Foundation, on which eighteen English speaking poets and translators took up the challenge of  creating versions in English of  a series of poems previously sellected by Vasco Graça Moura, on which fado  singing was based.

What makes this book even more unique is the fact that it was given to me by a student, Garcia (I'd rather call him friend), who regardless of being already retired ... in more than a simple Christmas gesture remembered the long gone classes in which we  (students and I included)  had "attempted" to translate into English some of the best known Portuguese poets - Fernando Pessoa and Antonio Botto (for endless hours and in all sorts of possible versions). 


Having thoroughly read most of the versions, I feel that there is something missing in many of them ... there is a noticeable absence of the "Portuguese essence" ... the essence of the "Portuguese soul" which I only felt in one or (eventually) two of the translators' versions.

With due respect ... I believe it would have been better to have had Portuguese translators do it and have their versions revised by English speaking  translators ... , but that's obviously one opinion ... my opinion, though I feel tempted to challenge some of my students to give me their opinion on it as well.

Uniqueness may be a subjective concept ... and every student may be considered unique in his or her own way ... but those who have known Garcia or even been his "classmates" in the development of the English Language can't help  saying he was (is) definately "unique" ...

I wish he knew (I don't think I have ever told him) how much I (sometimes) miss his "uncomparable" observations ... tinged with the touch of his "peculiar" humour ...

Fado - (Portuguese: destiny, fate) is a music genre which can be traced from the 1820s in Portugal, but probably with much earlier origins.(Wikipedia)
Saudade - is a Portuguese and Galician word difficult to translate adequately, which describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which is lost. It often carriesa fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never return.(Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Cape Verde ... or more contributions ...

Marie Helène will be flying from France (via Portugal) to actually travel with me to Cape Verde next March  and help me out with the Arts and Crafts workshop in Calheta during the morning. She will also have the possibility of getting to know Joceline, the girl she has decided to pay the school fees and school material for.

Marie Hélène

In more than a generous act, she will be using part of her holiday period to "give herself" to these children.

But generous acts keep on pouring in. Silvia has just handed me a bag full of T-shirts and shorts for the boys and girls, some of which will make many of the young sportsmen and women very happy, I am sure.

Some of the clothes  Silvia (Right) brought in for the children of Calheta.

I have already started collecting the things "godmothers" are sending to the little boys and girls they are committed to help, because I know I'll have to thoroughly think about weight (which always seems to be a problem) taking into account the fact that I am carrying quite a lot of material for the workshops.

I have been given a hooded T-shirt and a school set for Ivanilda  (by Paula) to which I added some shorts (by Silvia) and a soft toy (by Elsa).  Ana Maria has also given me some money to be used in whatever might be necessary locally.

I just wish more people could understand how important these contributions are ... because then a lot more children could be further helped in this community ...

But my gratitude goes out to all of those who have contributed  ... and those who keep on  "suporting" me (and the children of Calheta) in this "jorney" ...

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Street Art in Lisbon (cont.)

Two more buildings have had their façades decorated with grafitti type paintings, some of which are quite amazing ...

The location of the "decorated" houses - Saldanha square (Left)
and Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo (Right).


There is no doubt these "slowly dying" buildings almost nobody dared look at ... are now catching people's attention ...

It does not mind how long they will be here for ... because they will have already played their temporary role ...

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Sculpted feelings in exhibition at the Gulbenkian Museum Gardens ... or somewhere over the rainbow ...

It was pouring down with rain as I walked into the Gulbenkian Museum this morning and although my attention was  immediately drawn to some sculptures I had never seen before, it wasn't until a few minutes later (when the intensity of the rain slowed down)  that I managed to see what they were about ...

Homeless people ... people we come across with everyday ... people ...

I was touched by their expressions ... (some of which had a stronger impact because of the drops of rain that could easily be "seen" as tears) ...

I was also touched by what the captions said ...

"Orphanages have been my home since I was six years old. The last few years I have stayed at friends' houses. I manage to get by selling street papers".

"I am just sitting here looking at people passing by, hoping that they can spare a bit of change. I have an apartment but I am afraid to stay there. The streets are my home".

"Have some compassion! Help me give my children and myself something to eat. Have mercy".

"I used to work at a factory, I was married and I have four children. I lost my wife in a car accident and to drown my sorrows I started drinking. I lost my job and now I am staying at a shelter".

"It all hurts a little less when I am high on coke, then the pain seems to leave my body and float up to the stars in the sky".

"Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high there is a land I've heard of once in a lullaby".
(E.Y. Harburg)

An exhibition worth being seen and "felt" ... 

Expressing my gratitude ...

I had  already mentioned the two huge bags with toys of all sorts the girls working for the gymn I  attend provided me with (prior to Christmas).

So far I hadn't had the chance to photograph them nor the precious things I was given for the children of Calheta (some of which I will soon take to  Cape Verde) and openly express them my gratitude.

Part of the games, puzzles, dolls and soft toys, which were in those bags (Left).
Two of the girl coaches working at the gym, Viviana (Left) and Claudia (Right).

May they be blessed for this generous gesture ...

Friday, 7 January 2011

Childhood memories ... or some of my childhood best moments ...

Some of my childhood best moments were spent on stage ... whether they were ballet dancing, performing folk adapted dances, playing piano or being the narrator of performing stories ...

If being on stage  meant being looked at, as well as acknowledged and praised for what I was doing or had just done, the whole preparation for those performances provided me with the necessary self esteem I needed in terms of excelling in whatever I had to do (and did) in a permanent effort to bring out the best of me ... and be recognised as an Arts "dedicated" person.

At the age of six following a ballet performance at the Casino of Figueira da Foz

Being photographed was the worst part of the whole thing ... because it was in the movement  and in the theatrical gestures that I felt to "be myself" ... and that's where the secret of my successful appearances used to lie ... not in the momentarily "impersonated" moves in front of the camera ...

At five years of age (following a folk adapted dance exhibition).

We (my brothers and I) always had access the best possible teachers (I now know that at the time Maria Helena Freitas Branco was considered one of the most exigent ballet teachers and so were the others) ...

My mother, the mentor of all of my "artistic ventures" was also the encouraging character, who pushed us forward (though she never saw any of our public performances), aware of the importance of the developing skills ... what she was maybe not aware of, is ... that when we performed, she was the one we wanted to "impress" most and it wasn't until very recently that we realized she was ...

She has kept all the photographs and newspaper references ... and when she proudly talks about our "achievements", it is as if she was there ... (and I am sure she was ...).

At the age of eight, being the narrator of a fairy tale.

Lyon ... this time

Lyon has put a (certain) magic spell on me ...
The fact that I visited it  on the second day of the year under a freezing cold weather has not diminished that spellbound sensation ...

I don't exactly know why that is ... because  this time ...

... The bright light over the Saône river was not there ...

... The shops in the old medieval quarter of Saint Jean were all closed ... and so were most churches ...

... The strolling around the city squares was more of an unimpressive incursion type ...

... and yet ... Lyon continues to have this special mysterious quality ... that makes me want to come back (again and again) ...

Place Bellecour with the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Fourvière on the hill (Left).
View of the Fourvière hill by the Saône river with the Basilica (Right).

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Solidarity gestures (cont.)

I must openly state that I have been overwhelmed by the number of recent contributions towards the Cape Verde project.

Cristina was the first person to bring some second hand toys for the children of Calheta, followed by Helena who brought in three brand new 500, 1000 and 2000 piece puzzles, having heard that the children really enjoyed doing them.  It was then Elsa's turn having brought a whole bunch of toys and books sellected by her little daughter Beatriz from among her own. 

Puzzles brought in by Helena (Left) and two bags of toys, puzzles and books by Elsa (Right)

Some of these will be "travelling" with me next March to be handed to the children of the village who have never had a toy or a book of their own. I will document the distribution of these precious goods, (as always), because I believe it is important for people to "witness"  the children's happiness, together with the fact that it will be as equally important for little Beatriz to see who the new owners of her toys and books are.

Elsa (Left) and Cristina (Right).


These colleagues of mine have shown me their solidarity side but I am sure they will soon be "touched" by the difference they will have made in some of the children of Calheta's lives ... and that  in itself is going to be their utmost reward for having been generous ... 

On behalf of those children all I can say is thank you ...