Hanging out with the Sydney jazz musicians started to take up a big part of my life. They were the up-coming musicians of that time (many of whom have now made names for themselves both nationally and internationally) and I was jamming with them and learning a lot.
Needless to say, I lost interest in the University course and quit, left Wollongong and moved back to Sydney to “learn on the job”. However, apart from some great music education, I also got some big life lessons and, when I look back on it, this was quite a difficult period of my life.
I started to learn some piano again, this time from a Jazz perspective, and began creating new projects, doing gigs and earning money in live band for hire Melbourne.
After listening to my Brazilian music and with nothing much else to do one day, I decided to go for a walk to the beach. What I saw when I got there changed my life forever.
There were many people in a circle clapping their hands and singing beautiful melodies in Portuguese. They were almost chanting and in the middle of the circle were two people doing a kind of gymnastic dance. I stayed there all afternoon watching this event and afterward approached the people who seemed to be running it.
I was feeling as though Australia wasn’t giving me the experiences I yearned for. It was hard to keep musical projects going primarily because I found the musicians I was working with quite difficult.
I booked my ticket and, just in case I ran out of money, purchased an “around-the-world” ticket as I could find work in England if I needed to. However, I really had no desire to go there.
I packed up my entire life into one backpack and left by myself to go to a country where I didn’t speak the language and didn’t know anyone. It was, however, arranged that I was going to stay with the family of my Capoeira master. They lived Salvador, Bahia, the birthplace of Capoeira and they lived in the favelas.
I could write a book on the feelings of landing in Brazil the way I did, but there isn’t space here. Enough to say that the experiences I had there were the best and worst. Everything was bigger than I had ever experienced before and all new and alien to me.
I was mute for about a month, busily looking words up in my dictionary and translating the songs I loved from Capoeira as well as articles in magazines about the movement of Bossa Nova.
Among the many discoveries I made for myself there were these:
- Poverty and ignorance was ugly in many ways (before I lived in Brazil, I had romanticised other cultures, especially those of developing nations);
- The people who took me into their homes and had very little for themselves were among the most generous people I had ever met.
- Most importantly I discovered that was very fortunate to have what I had – belonging to a group of women who were the freest women in the world, having an education and the ability to earn a living among many other things.
So Brazil, didn’t end up being the paradise for me that I dreamed it would be. The ‘Round World ticket came in handy after all and I was ready to leave.
Off to London, England. I had a dancing friend from the Japan days who was already there and I arranged to meet her which was a comforting thought.
When I landed at Heathrow, I got into a black cab. I heard my language for the first time in four months and the cockney cabbie made me laugh (for what seemed the first time in four months too!). I realised that I had suffered severe culture shock in Brazil and finally I could breathe.
It was cold and grey that morning and I was so happy to be there!