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Brazil

Day 71: Blumenau to Pomerode

 
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Young Brazilians celebrate their German heritage.
Michael Palin - BrazilOutside the museum the dancers, many of whom have already had a sharpener with their lunch, fill up their mugs with beer provided by the remarkable Choppmotorrad (chopp, pronounced 'sho-pee', being the word for draught beer in Brazil). It's a motorcycle sidecar driven by a portly photographer named Ingo Penz. He has adapted a 1950s Czech Jawa motorbike to carry, in the sidecar, a fifty-litre keg of iced Pilsner, and his wife. She, like he, is dressed in lederhosen, and both wear felt hats with feathers and badges as they dispense the beer. Ingo is a character, constantly coming up with ideas to show off yet another facet of German-Brazilian culture. One of his most recent is the magnificently named Choppmotorradvereinmusikanten, a musical group which preserves some of the instruments that the German settlers brought to southern Brazil, including the bandoneón, the Mundharmonika and the Teufelsgeige, the Devil's violin.

The traditional dances are done with great gusto. To the strains of a relentlessly jolly accordion, there's wood-chopping, in which young men with several steins of Pilsner inside them risk dismemberment whilst slicing into the wood with axes, mock-fighting and roundel dances which involve hoicking up the skirts of the girls. There's a bravura display of Schuhplattler, the Bavarian dance in which heels are kicked and thighs slapped at great speed, whilst yodelling at the same time. And behind them the sun slowly sinks beyond the hills.

Our evening in Pomerode is enlivened by an encounter with a thankfully rather different sort of band led by a man called Michael Lochner, a German who came to Blumenau for the Oktoberfest and fell in love with, and later married, a local girl. It's rather refreshing after a heavy-duty afternoon of Alpine culture to listen to a band which combines black and white musicians playing a fusion of rock, reggae, Bavarian and Brazilian music. It's a fusion of cultures which shows the lighter side of the European Valley.

A nice way to remember our day in the Most German City in Brazil, drinking beer brewed behind the bar and listening to this joyfully eccentric band play one of their more memorable numbers, 'White Sausage Samba'.
 
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The chopping dance. How did this get past health and safety?
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Brazil
  • Chapter: Day 71: Blumenau to Pomerode
  • Country/sea: Brazil
  • Place: Pomerode
  • Book page no: 298

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