Home Away from Home, Part II

Words and photos by Coalatree Ambassador Rafaelo Infante. Read part 1 of his story here.

It was a fairytale that had come alive. The stories were true, the people were real, and the energy. Oh boy. The freaking energy! 

The skies: a piercing blue. The land: covered in tropical lush greenery that flow right to the ocean. The people: wearing their Havaiana flip-flops, dressed in color, and smiling as they continued their day.  


Everything was so new, so alive, so real, yet at the same time partly familiar. My mother’s stories from her early 20's, told to my sister and I as kids, were now coming to life on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. We walked the streets that she had once ran on with her friends and created memories with. 

As we explored Sao Paulo, we could hear the drums, the hoots, and the energy beckoning us down the streets. Corner after corner, the sounds grew louder. As we came around the last corner, there it was: the creator of those sweet beats that are Brazilian samba. It was exactly what I had pictured.

A simple corner transformed into a lively, beautiful space. A simple bar turned into the most magnificent festival. It was the Brazilian way! It was the music, the people and their love for their culture that had us lured in, subconsciously swaying our hips and bobbing our heads. My sensei, my mother, up front, guiding the way as we entered the crowd. Hands in the air, grooving to the magical beat! 

We were greeted with open arms and the happiest of people. Speech was substituted with dance and pure happiness. It was an invisible communication fueled by a love for music and culture. Time was forgotten. The past, the future, it was all a blur. We focused on the present and embraced the new experience. Dance, laughter and joy prospering through all the poverty and corruption. This is a place of happiness but as always there will be the negatives. 

Corruption plagues Brazil’s leadership and has given rise to intense poverty and thus high crime and danger. Brazil is famous for its favelas which are the mountainside epicenter of drug crime and theft. These, often literal wars with police and life in Brazil, create faults in the resources for bettering one's life. The struggles of Brazil are evident but across all spatial, ethnic and demographic barriers; samba, love, laughter, adventure and the swaying of hips to a beating drum are factors that seize all. The bad was forgotten, and the good was present, or at least for that one night. ⠀⠀ 

We cherished our first night and kept momentum as we travelled. We ran for the waterfalls of Ilhabela; explored the vibrant, colorful city of Rio de Janeiro; and pranced in the countryside of Sao Paulo. It was a time that shall never fade nor be forgotten. 

I felt so at home. I felt at peace. 

20 years of storytelling had finally become a reality. The stories were no longer just a voice, they were in front of me. I was reliving the stories and experiences my mother had told me. I took what I heard and ran for the beaches. I ran for the waterfalls. I ran to the next corner to experience those little festivals. I wanted to take those stories and make some of my own. With my sister by my side. We took flight and danced! 

We shall be back once again, and it will only get better!  


“A vida e o amor que criamos são a vida e o amor que vivemos.”
“The life and love we create is the life and love we live.”
Vinícius de Moraes

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