We had more beers than planned at the little beach bar at the other side of the island, so our motley party had to negotiate the forest path by the lights of our mobile phones.
By the time we reached the village we were tired, hungry and nearly completely sober. My companion and I opted for the first restaurant, she went off to get our beers and my job was to find us a table. But, just then, live music started from the garden at the back. Sirens made this music, or
it came straight from the source of life, because it pulled me closer like a magnet. My companion found me sitting in awe on the trampoline. She laughed as she passed me my beer and wiped some tears off my cheeks.
The band is a seven member affair. A lead singer, a small guitar-type instrument, a beautiful wooden flute. And percussion, two people with strange long rattles and two with drums that look like those from Mwanza on Lake Victoria.
But the highlight is the dancers. There are six couples. The men are in black trousers and white shirts. The woman all wear different tight fitting tops, but their skirts are the same, floral with a very wide orange seam. They can take their skirts in both hands and twirl around like exotic birds on fire.
But they can also take it in one hand in front of them, looking down, swaying from side to side while suddenly looking very coy.
“Muito sexual,” smiles my companion. Sim. In any language.
Next, one of the girls comes over to our table. “No! I don’t dance. I never do.” But she pulls and my partner pushes and off I go. My hand is on her moist back. My thumb presses against a vertebra, but to the sides I feel the rhythm of the strong muscles of her back. And somehow, between the beer, the smell of the jungle and the people, and the intoxication of the music, I dissolve into the dance as well. When I am eventually delivered back to my table, it is with “Pessoas da África do Sul dançam muito bem!” This is a lie as big as the river. But I grin and we kiss cheeks again.
Now there is a more formal dance – structured with all six couples moving in unison.. The translation from my companion, however, is at odds with this structure. It’s a slave song, “Boat, boat, no sleep, no sleep. Baby, baby.” She indicates pregnancy over her own slim body.
Yes – this is Brazil! Like back in South Africa, it is all here. The slaves, the masters, the heat, the sex, the love and the violence. But here it is not a convoluted conversation on decolonisation. It is a wild and passionate dance. It eats away the boundaries between races, and it becomes ever wilder and more beautiful in its attempt to devour the whole world.
My partner and I get pulled onto the lawn again – good because the ants are eating us alive. The energy is sky high. The children go mad on the trampoline, the male dancers have taken off their white shirts and they shine. We clap our hands to the beat while a slim girl with blue hair, many tatoos and big breasts dances like a fire that can scorch.
Then suddenly it is over. The dancers retire, they chat and smoke to the side of the stage. It is long after 12, but my companion explains her plans in no uncertain terms. We will start with a swim at the beach in front of our pousada and a rinse at the outside shower.
The night air and the sound of the waves from the Amazon make us yawn while we walk home. We go straight to bed and fall asleep immediately. “Boat, boat, no sleep….” is a far off dream.