Mostly I stay in hotels when I do this music teaching traveling. Places with forced air, windows that don’t open, big TV’s and small reading lights, excessive pillows, doormen who open doors and the like. It’s okay and certainly comfortable.
But here in Rio, I came to my host’s mother’s apartment in a real neighborhood. Had a home-cooked meal with three generations of folks in a lively family atmosphere, played piano with a fine jazz saxophonist with the neighbor’s clapping at the end of each song— because the walls on two sides were not walls at all, but completely open to the air! Tumbled into bed in a simple room with another window open to the warm night air, a small fan on the desk and a great reading light.
How I love it! Maybe because it reminds me of hot summer nights of my childhood when there were less machines dominating the landscape and more appreciation of the soothing breeze, the moon out the window, the chatter and laughter of a house full of people. Or a needed touching base with my travel of former times to Guatemala, India, Bali, Ghana, that feeling of being thrown into a living culture with folks living close to the earth and spending their time doing something other than shopping in malls and going from one Starbucks to another. It helps me get out of my own skin, stop brooding so much and open myself to the world that awaits me. It reminds me of that childlike sense of waking in the arms of morning birds and swaying branches and dancing leaves and feeling like I belong to it all.
A whole day free before teaching and a chance to be a tourist in a city I’ve dreamed of ever since I saw the movie Black Orpheus, a city I visited for a strange two days years back when a mysterious fog enveloped everything, some roads were closed and I never got up to Corcovado (though ate in the café where “The Girl From Ipanema” was written). But today skies are blue, the day is warming up to its probable goal of 95 degrees and my hosts are ready to show me their beautiful city.