A change in energy

Hello from the USA! We all arrived safely in Omaha yesterday after two flights. While i’m glad to be back home with family and friends, I wish my time with Nisse and Armando didn’t have to be so short.

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I spent a little more than two days out at the farm, sleeping in the garage and photographing everything else my story needed. Nicky came and joined me on Friday afternoon, and we started to cover all the holes in the story.

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On Friday night, a little before bedtime Armando told Nicky and I that his heart was going to be very sad when we leave. He also told us the energy around his home changed for the better when we were there, and he was going to miss us. Things like this make me feel so good. I posted early on after my first day at the farm hoping I would leave Nisse and Armando as many memories as I would have. It felt weird not going out to the farm Sunday morning.

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Nicky and I set it up so one of our translators can show them our multimedia project when we finish it, so they can see what they took part in and hopefully create some change for the Landless Movement.

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Have a great day,

Matt

A party on the farm

Nicky and I headed out to the farm today, and little did we know, within 30 minutes of showing up Armando and Nisse’s whole family would be joining us for a birthday party for one of their grandchildren. It was amazing how much hard work Armando did for this small, modest party. First, more electrical wires needed to be spliced together. Armando crunched through a wooded area and found the right wires underneath dead leaves and twigs.
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Next, a pool was erected for the birthday boy, turning five, which meant Armando needed to reroute some of the water lines buried underneath the farm. With his heart condition and the hot Brazilian sun beating down, both Nicky and I were worried about how much work Armando was going through.

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All went well though, except the pool collapsed once and all the water spilled out. Everyone feasted on turkeys and chicken, to which I asked Nicky if i had known those animals in the previous two weeks. We decided we’ve probably photographed our dinner a few times by now. After everyone finished, Armando finished up his strenuous chores and sat down with a knife and a fork to eat.

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The whole family was receptive to Nicky and I, which made us wonder how weird the situation must have been overral. Having the kids and grandkids go home and explain the party to their friends. “Oh, it was awesome! There were these two guys with cameras that didn’t speak a word of Portuguese. I’m not really sure why they were there.” I was glad we went though, it’s the kind of event that is important to the story, even if the frames never make it into the final cut. I understand the family dynamic that surrounds these two landless farmers more and am beyond thankful they let me past their gates into the farm. Even if I can’t speak their language.

Thanks for looking,

-Matt

Staying overnight

Things have been going well on the farm. Nisse and Armando finished the fence they started on the 27th, now the turkeys stay behind the house for the most part. The small turkeys and chickens are able to make it through a hole in the kitchen wall and come in, but there’s not much you can do about that.

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Nick and I spent the night last night, and it was a good night to go. We watched as a rain storm slowly took over the nearest town, covering it in a wavy, gray blanket of rain until the storm reached the farm. Soon, all you could hear was thunder. The lights inside the home flickered on and off until the storm overpowered the electricity and the lights went out.

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The opportunity to document this story is giving me personal stories I will never forget. Last night when we all sat down to dinner on the farm. Nick was digging into his second plate, out of nowhere a chicken jumped up and sat down on his plate. Nick moved his plate around in the air, but the chicken wouldn’t budge. Eventually, Nisse and Armando grabbed the chicken and got him off. Nick dumped the rest of his food on the floor and the chickens cleaned it all up. It was absolutely hilarious and was a moment where all four of us could share in a deep laugh together.
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Time is winding down in Brazil. I’m going to be sad to leave Nisse and Armando and all their animals, but i’ll be making the most of the time we have left.

Feliz ano novo!

-Matt

From above

Last night I had the opportunity to take photographs from atop one of the many skyscrapers on Paulista Avenue, thanks to Andrew Dickinson, who needed roof access for his motoboy story.

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Being high above the streets was the first chance I had to truly grasp how huge this city is. It doesn’t matter which direction you look toward, there are too many skyscrapers to count.

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There was a light rain while Andrew and I were up on the building, so I figured finding some sort of rain feature photo was necessary. I messed around with probably a dozen different shots before taking this frame. It’s rare to go a day in Sao Paulo without rain, and when it didn’t rain for nearly two days this week, we all started to miss the rain.

Thanks for looking,

Matt

Back at the farm

I headed out to the Landless Movement farm again today to watch some planting of beans and go on a few errands with Nisse.

These people are genuinely happy where they are, and they really believe in the change they are creating. Nisse and her husband have been living on the farm for over a decade and are still fighting the government to gain official rights to the land. For now, they are happy with their simple life, a plywood home with donated tin roofs and animals roaming freely.

It’s one big family out there. All the families share everything, the crops, the animals, the resources to build and fix homes and anything else you can think of.

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Enjoy the holidays!

-Matt

A story for another time

Yesterday was my last day at the Garrido gym. They are closing it down until January 6 for Christmas break. Which is too bad because things were going well and there seemed to be a good story lying underneath that viaduct.

Things like this happen though, it happened to me in India, and it will probably happen in the future too. Now i’m back to the drawing board to a new story. Stay tuned for what will be a better story.

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Thanks for looking,

-Matt

Searching São Paulo

For the last two days, my translator, and all around good guy, Slash, and I have been searching through this huge city to find one man, Nilson Garrido.

Garrido started a boxing academy and weight training gym for people who cannot afford a gym membership underneath a bridge in São Paulo. The only issue was, everyone was telling Slash and I that it was underneath the wrong bridges.

We walked over 12 miles, uphill then downhill then uphill in the rain and then downhill in the pouring rain, on Wednesday peeking under overpasses and asking mechanics, internet cafe users, boxing club employees and anyone else we would find where to find Garrido.

Yesterday, we found him. Here are some pictures from last evening.

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Felipe Silva, left, wraps his hands in preparation to train as Anderson Assuncao watches his boxing form in a mirror underneath the Viaduto Alcantara Machado. (photo by Matt Masin)

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Anderson Assuncao, 21, warms up for a training session by hitting punching bags. All equipment at Garrido’s gym was donated. The punching bags were courtesy of a television program. (photo by Matt Masin)

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Anderson Assuncao and Felipe Silva share a laugh while training at Garrido’s gym under the Viaduto Alcantara Machado in São Paulo.

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Patricia Estambone is one of about five girls who trains at Garrido’s gym. She lives near the gym and was asked by her cousin to join her at the gym. Patricia is two months into her training at the Garrido gym. (photo by Matt Masin)

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Jorge Marcelo Soafes picks up speed as he continues a training session at the Garrido gym. Soafes works near the gym and has utilized the weight training area Garrido started for two years. Soafes has only been boxing for about a week, and started to box because it was free. (photo by Matt Masin)

Thanks for looking,

-Matt Masin