Hey y’all, I am delighted to write a blog post about my first trip to Brazil with the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP). I have volunteered with PCAP for two semesters now (my entire senior year). The first semester I facilitated a reentry workshop where we encountered individuals who just literally got out of prison or just recently had. The second semester I facilitated a workshop at the psychiatric facility where most patients are deemed mentally unable to continue trial or have charges pressed against them. PCAP has become not only a second home on campus but an inspiration that has helped me figure and build what I hope to do after graduation and in the future. I have been delighted enough to know all the people who I have gone on this trip with for at least a semester if not more.
I have been in Brazil for a couple of days now and something that I have realized that even though I love to travel, my appearance in another space or country is so insignificant and such a small event compared to the long history and millions of stories that have come before me and continue to grow after. There will be no way of knowing that Ashna has walked down this road many times to get the wonderful food that the country has to offer. Fortunately, on the day when we went to the most southern beach in Brazil, the entire class had the opportunity to have a lunch of an amazing restaurant and I was able to do something I have been wanting to do on this trip: leave a trail behind.
Today we went to the southern most beach in Brazil. Right on it we entered this huge seafood restaurant. The first thing I noticed was white, small notes written everywhere. Hanging off the ceilings, taped onto the walls, and literally anywhere that there was any space open. When I looked more closely I realized that these were all notes in different languages, shapes, and lengths. We then learnt that apparently in the 1970’s a lot of hippies did a lot of backpacking in this area and would stop at this same seafood restaurant right on the beach to eat. They would then leave notes taped onto the wall to leave a mark and so that future travelers would see, and it then became a tradition. The beauty of the restaurant mesmerized me. As I looked around I realized that there was so much history in this one restaurant and I was able to see it and experience parts of it through the notes. At the end of the meal we left a note as an entire class with all of our initials inside a big M. I also wrote a private note. Within it, I wrote a huge Greek symbol that means a lot to me that essentially states where there’s a will there’s a way. Then I filled each corner of the paper with something significant. In one corner I put the date, in another I put a Michigan M, in another I put family > everything, and in the other…Well lets just say it’s a secret that I hope leads me back to that very same restaurant to show a very special someone the note that I taped and left behind for no only others, but for myself to come back to.
Also before this trip I had never really tried seafood other than fish and some shrimp; however, I literally ate all the seafood so well. As a class we got the seafood buffet that literally brought out just recently caught fish, crab, shrimp, and much more during a 2-hour lunch. It literally was the BEST seafood I have ever tasted and also the MOST fresh. I also brought a wonderful t-shirt from the place in order to remember these memories and come back soon.
Well that’s a wrap, and now you know the day of a life in Ashna’s shoes!