Por Adilson Moura & Lindenberg Junior
Hawaii is generally considered a true paradise, especially among those who live or have lived on one of the 8 islands of the “Aloha State”. Hawaii, or the “Big Island,” is the largest of the 8; Oahu boasts the capital city of Honolulu and the celebrated North Shore, home of the giant waves; Kauai is known for its gorgeous waterfalls; and Maui provides a rich historical background and tourist stops. It is in Maui where we begin our article.
Hawaiian culture is centered on the importance of family and children, and this “wave” of the “Aloha spirit” can be seen in films around the world. The word “Aloha” is synonymous with Hawaii and embraces the philosophy of the growth of harmony and respect for one another. Thus, Maui greatly influenced Brazilian migration to Hawaii.
It used to be that Hawaii, with its perfect and consistent waves, was merely part of a dream for many Brazilians. Today Brazilians are considered locals and working people such as Alfredo Vilasboas, Maui resident and lifeguard on Ho’okipa, one of the best-known beaches in Maui, which neighbor the famous “Jaws”. Ho’okipa is one of the most visited beaches because of its location and incredible view. Alfredo has lived in Maui for more than 10 years and previously worked as cook, worked in construction and was a voluntary lifeguard. Despite the very tight knit community in Maui, Alfredo was very well received, is well established and has served the Hawaiian community, as well as, earned the trust and admiration from the locals.
Alfredo is very grateful to his great friend and coworker, Kaleo Amadeo, who is always at his side and who has made him feel at home on Maui. Today, Alfredo is well adjusted to his life in Hawaii, and with his family – consisting of wife Jody Mitchell and two daughters (Wailani & Imehana) at his side; Alfredo thanks God, his life-guard position at Ho’okipa, and his friends for all of the wonderful things that have happened to him. For more information about Alfredo and Kaleo visit www. bigwavesafety.com.
About 3 miles away from Ho’okipa is the small commercial center of Paia, where people go to dance and party. This area serves even the most eclectic types of people. Comprised of many good restaurants and attractive bars, Paia also has an incomparably original romantic air. The bar “Charley’s” is one of the most frequented places in Paia because of its live eclectic music. Here you can hear all types of music such as Hawaiian, Samoan, and Jamaican and, of course, Brazilian. Some Brazilians bands from California have played there. Paia Town, is no doubt attractive during the day for its restaurants and small stores, and at night for its bars and night life. It’s an easy place in Maui to find “Brazucas” (slang term for Brazilians living abroad) and many beautifully bronzed people. To be on the inside of what’s happening in Paia Town check out www.myspace.com/nawahineproductions.
With much respect for the Hawaiian culture, and understanding the importance of Brazilian culture, Professor Guga came to Maui at the end the 1990’s from Caraiva, in the south of the Bahia State. He grew up in Caraiva and spent a good part of his life studying and living Capoeira. Guga says that at that time, he worked making boat trips near Port Seguro and Trancoso, and he also gave Capoeira lessons at a local Communitarian Center. Guga was going though a difficult time in Brazil and felt that it was time to follow a new horizon. He wrote a letter to his friend Marcio who had already lived in Maui for some time and invited Guga to come and stay with him.
Today with students of many different nationalities, including Hawaiian, Guga teaches Capoeira in Paia. Here he teaches an art that is distant in the Hawaiian eyes, but so present in the day-to-day life of Guga. He is one of the only Brazilians that risked opening an academy to teach a martial art not well known in Hawaii. Mestre Guga still remembers that there were some difficulties in the acceptance of Capoeira since the “Aloha” culture is very strong and traditional. But, for a few locals, he helps disseminate the Brazilian culture in Maui.
Many Brazilians in Hawaii arrive with the dream of the perfect wave. For some it is the pure pleasure of knowing the paradise of surfing and windsurfing. For others it is the search for the real “Aloha Spirit”. Now we are going to talk a little about the history of a group of Brazilians totally different from stereotypical surfers in search for the perfect wave: Brazilian students of agriculture. Coming from agricultural schools from all parts of Brazil, these students arrive in Maui in search of more knowledge and apprenticeships.
They are trainees of agronomy with the purpose of helping on the vegetable, fruit and flower plantations of the region. The Brazilian trainees well understand the subject, the plantations, treatments and Hawaiian harvests, which possess a refined technique. Generally, this period of training lasts for one year, which means that all year there are people coming and going. This program is intended to help countries with scarcity of manpower in the area of agriculture, and at the same time to help Brazilian students who are either in their first or last year of agricultural studies.
Isaac, a new trainee, says he has never lived away from his family and has never left Brazil before, thus, adapting to Hawaiian culture has been difficult. But, his efforts will most certainly pay off in the future. Isaac still says that not just anyone can serve as an apprentice here. He argues that despite the fact that Hawaii is beautiful the work is very hard and requires a lot effort. An addition challenge is the difficulty in learning a new language.
This type of work and programs for trainees is not new, but has existed even before the Chinese predominated. Today, people from all parts of the world participate, and Brazil, as well, has a strong participation, sending students with competitive qualifications. Brazil strives to stay in forefront to maintain good relations with the plantation owners and Hawaiian farmers. Another student, Evandro “Dodo”, who has almost completed his time in the program, says that although he does not have much time left in Hawaii, he still likes to make time “to catch some waves and refresh his mind”. The weekend alone is a terrific diversion, with dancing in Paia and surfing on Little Beach-Makena.
Leaving the north of Maui and going to Kihei we spoke with surfer Laerte Nena, who used to frequent the coast of Sao Paulo State in Brazil (considered one of the great surfers spot in the Brazilian Coast). Nena came to Maui to surf for pleasure and to make a living for himself by doing what he love; not an easy task considering that Maui is a paradise of surfing Gods and their disciples. Now well known in Maui, but still without sponsorship, Nena says that he has to “grate” sufficiently here.
Despite the fact he leads the same life as he did in Brazil, things are more expensive in Hawaii, and new difficulties appear each day. Nena who works in construction for more than 2 years now, had worked in general stores in Brazil, and has performed worked in other positions that were not related to surfing. Still, he is constantly looking and waiting for some way to make a living from the sport that he has practiced since he was a child. While he continues his search for sponsorships, Nena prepares for one more season of Tow-in-Surf in Maui.
Still in the south part of the island, we find the biggest tattoo store on Maui – “Maui Tatoo Co” and the Brazilian artist Massao. He says: “people come from all over the world to get a tattoo here.” Yes, after all Hawaii has a recognized tradition throughout the entire world for its legendary and symbolic tattooing. Massao, who lived also in Sao Paulo, worked as a real estate broker and had his first contact with this art form when he lived in Itararé – a famous small coastal city in the state of Bahia. There he also painted t-shirts and sold them on the sidewalk and at fairs.
He arrived in California in 1999, where he studied for 2 years at El Camino College in Hawthorne (L.A). Massao worked in Venice Beach, California for more 2 years tattooing, where he improved his knowledge, skills and acquired faithful clientele. He arrived in Maui just a few months ago (Summer 2007). Massao says that the positive vibration of Maui is very strong and that everything there is felt with the “Aloha Spirit”. He affirms “the climate and the night sky here are amazing.
It feels like it is the same climate as the beach cities in Brazil, with people walking in the streets wearing shorts and sunglasses, pretty women sunbathing, and a tropical climate. The quality of life here is superior compared to other places that I’ve lived. I really like the sea, sun and the pleasant temperature of the water here”. An old school skateboarder and avid surfer during his free time, Massao arrived in Maui with the right attitude to strengthen the talented artists of Maui. Good luck dude! More info: www.myspace. com/fukayama
Now we are going to talk about the island of Oahu, where Honolulu, Waikiki beach and the surfing paradise of the North Shore are located. First, we had the opportunity to talk with Mestre Kinha from Capoeira Besouro Group. Born in Rio de Janeiro and worked for the Rio government for years, he moved to Hawaii in 2000. All began with an invitation from Mestre Beiçola (Palo Alto, CA) to teach and pass his experience with capoeira onto Beiçola’s students in Honolulu. At that time, Mestre Kinha was going through a difficult time in his life and without hesitation he accepted the offer from his friend Beiçola.
Kinha arrived in Hawaii knowing only 3 or 4 words of the local language, missing his two children who remained in Brazil, and keeping focus on what he had to do to overcome his difficulties: teach and disseminate capoeira, learn English and make some good friends. About 4 years ago he married a Brazilian named Carmem and together they formed the group Capoeira Besouro Hawaii. Kinha remembers, “I began the group with my wife, my three kids that were here and three good friends. There were difficult moments, I was given this big advantage in life, so I became more persistent and worked hard to reach my goal. Today I have more than 100 students and I teach two classes 6 days per week in different parts of the island.”
When asked about Brazil and Hawaii, Mestre Kinha said, “I usually say that Hawaii is most like Brazil. For example: the beaches, the birds, the climate, the mountains, the Aloha Spirit. When you walk around the island, you can see a little of the Brazilian Northeast, the Southeast, the North and also the South of Brazil. You can see beaches that remind you of Rio, another that reminds Bahia, or rivers that make you remember the Pará State – and you feel as if you are there.” For more information about Capoeira Besouro Hawaii, visit: www. capoeirabesourohawaii.com.
Some of the places where you can find Brazilians on Oahu are the famous Waikiki Beach, which hosts a traditional “roda de capoeira” on the first Saturday of every month; on the beach in Kaimana (next to Waikiki Beach); and, of course, on the North Shore (mostly between November and February) because of the terrific surfing. Inclusive, there is a small grocery store on the North Shore called “Foodland,” where it is not difficult to find people speaking in Portuguese.
In the Brazilian Show Room store on Waialae Avenue in Honolulu, you can find clothes and accessories like Brazilian bikini’s and the “now” famous Brazilian sandals “Havaianas.” The store is owned by Nadia Ribeiro, who is from Minas Gerais State and lived in Ceará (another State, in the Northwest) before she came to Hawaii. She is a very happy and extroverted person who has owned and manage different clothes store for several years in different locations in Brazil. Nadia came to Hawaii for the first time in 2000. She fell in love with the islands and stayed for 10 months, spending 6 of them on the North Shore.
She then returned to Miami, but in 2003 Nadia went to Hawaii again, but this time to stay there for good. Nadia told us that at least twice a year she organizes a Brazilian party out front of her store and that is fun, unique and authentically Brazilian. She does this in order to combat her homesickness for Brazil. At her street parties you can find a Brazilian “Batuque” (drumming group), traditional Brazilian food and drink, and of course, a wonderful mix of Brazilians and Hawaiians.
If you are longing for some Brazilian food or for a good caipirinha, visit Tudo de Bom BBQ on Kapiolani Boulevard. If you want to buy a bicycle or an accessory, or if you just want to chat with some well known Brazilian on Oahu, you can visit “Boca Hawaii” on Cooke Street in Honolulu, owned and operated by Raul “Boca” Torres.
On this island, the Brazilian musical groups are formed, but they don’t stay for long. As fast as they come together, they break apart just as rapidly. And speaking of music and Brazilian culture, for the last 30 years Brazil Borges has been a popular Brazilian personality in Hawaii. He says that the groups that form and break up rapidly do so because many of the Brazilians in Hawaii are in transit. However, he says “when two or three of them get together with some instruments, it always ends with samba and barbecue.”
Willion Borges has been known as “Brazil” since he initially lived in San Francisco between 1969 and 1974. Brazil Borges was born Rio de Janeiro on the famous “gem” Copacabana Beach, is a beach and nature lover, and a person who does not like cold weather. He moved to Hawaii from San Francisco about 30 years ago after a friend of his, Claudio from the group “Viva Brazil,” returned from a vacation to the islands and spoke about how marvelous it was. From San Francisco to Hawaii, he sold and made demonstration of pipe, worked with tropical macaws and helped introduce the “padcab” in the tourist part of the island.
Passionate about Brazilian music, he spoke with us about a new samba instrument – the “xequebalde” that is becoming a big success on the island, and the good image of Brazil and Brazilians in Oahu. With our conversation we also discovered that Brazil Borges is a friend of a Rio samba legend who lived in Hawaii for several years: Carlinhos Pandeiro de Ouro – an old school member of the traditional Mangueira Samba Scholl of Rio, now living in Los Angeles.
Finally we will focus on the surfer and plastic artist Hilton Alves who, with the help of some Brazilian companies, has been on Hawaii since August 07 implementing a social project called, “Surf Art Kids.” With various works throughout the cities of Santos and Guarujá in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Hilton tries to unite art, diversity and the beauty of the ocean. In October 2007, Hilton painted a mural at Waialua Elementary School with the help of his friend André da Montanha.
He looks to the ocean for inspiration doing his best to reproduce the bottom of the ocean with reefs and dolphins in a wall that is 3m x 7m in size. Passionate about the ocean, Hilton also surfs with small surfboards and old surfboards. He is making his name as an artist expressing all of the beauty of the aquatic world on canvas, walls and murals. He has also begun putting the beauty of paddle surfing on canvas. The collection, Waterman, portrays images of stand up, as well as, canoeing, diving and big surf. For more information about Hilton and his artwork, please visit: www. hiltonsurfart.com
According to unofficial data, it is speculated that there are between 1300 and 2000 Brazilians living in Hawaii. A majority number is noted during the winter months – between December and February, in consequence to the big wave season and the World Championship of Surfing Series, or WCT.