Thursday, February 05, 2009

And the winner is . . .

The mystery is solved! Susie H. is now designated as the "Birder Queen" of my South American trip as she identified that little yellow bird as a Lesser Kiskadee.

You can see additional pictures to decide for yourself at Arthur Grossett's Lesser Kiskadee site. We've seen this little kiskadee in Sao Paulo, Rio, Salvador, and now here in Ouro Preto. The song sounds much like its name: kis-ka-dee, kis-ka-dee.

Outside, the drum clubs are warming up for Carnival with marching bands and samba steps. The energy hums through the night, with trills of whistles, singing, marching feet, and syncopated drum beats.

Today we traveled to Congonhas to see the Old Testament Prophets sculpted by Aleijadinho sometime between 1800-1805. These 12 statues were absolutely wonderful. My favorites were Daniel and his lion complete with curly hair, and Jonah with his whale featuring a double spout and curly fins. I suppose the curls were influenced by the Baroque era and will post pics a little later.

We traveled through the Serra Mountains and stopped in Tiradentes to see two churches there. The Igreja Matriz de Santo Antonio, featuring some of the last works by Aleijadinho, is stunning with its nearly solid gold altar. But I found the second church more moving.

The modest Igreja Nossa Senhora do Rosario dos Pretos (Church of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Blacks) was built by slaves in 1708 only after dark and honors several black saints, including Saint Benedito honored throughout Brazil and who came to Italy from the early Ethiopian Christian church. Musician Kris Katsuko writes movingly of attending services there. We stood alone in this church, quiet, and still felt the power of faith in spite of the legacy of slavery which remains always present in these great Baroque churches and cities, in their squares, and in their civil buildings, many with thick walls, once used as prisons.

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