Road to Petropolis

“Quando voce recordar um passado entre nos...”

With that phrase a new history commenced. A story of poetry and music; of romanticism and magic. It was in 1951 that Garrotos da Lua published this sweet and simple melody. Little did they know that years later their voices would alter the course of history and music forever. I imagine Elizabeth and Lota dancing to the rhythm of these Joao Gilberto notes and shutting the whole world out in their cocoon of Samambaia, getting lost in the moment. The song would end and the record player would skip to the next tune, but they were so lost in the music of the jungle and the melody of the toucans that they wouldn’t even bat an eye.

 

Now I’m in a labyrinth streets and highways. Building tower over the ground but Gilberto’s voice still rings, and it brings a needed touch of intimacy to the city. I’m moving both by vehicle and by mind, immersed in the avenues, trying to see them as they were before in the enigmatic 1951. The landscape changes and the colors accompany me. Verbs, music, colors, Bishop, Gilberto, Portinari…these sensations mix with my emotions and send my senses into overdrive. They are my treasure though, treasure I will see carried out on linen and velvet in due time. But I’m not ready to leave yet. I have to find the real prize, that connection to my past, that something that will transform them into blood that runs through my arteries.

Standing before the imperial palace I imagine Peter I on his way to Minas Gerais, falling in love with the greenery. I imagine him scrutinizing every detail about his summer palace with the architects, butting in opinions on prices, materials, and events. He would be proud of Peter II, his younger deceased son, who set the wheels in motion towards the completion of this palace. His words echo inside me. Just a few kilometers ahead was where he pronounced the start of a new journey and a new country. “Se e para o bem de todos e felicidade geral da Nação, estou pronto! Digam ao povo que fico” (If it is for everyone’s benefit and the general happiness of the nation, I’m ready! The the people I am staying”).

And me too. I’m staying. Im staying where the air is pure and the greenery is fused with happiness. I’m staying where the yellow sun illuminates and the blue sky extrapolates your fears. I’m staying to discover the mystery behind Petropolis and my grandmother.