Saturday, February 9, 2013

A day in Caruaru - Capital do Forro

During our 2-week stay in Surubim, we took a day trip to Caruaru, a medium-sized city further into the interior of Brazil that is known for its huge markets. Incidentally, it is also world-famous for being the birthplace of Mary’s brother Alex – but we mainly went there for the markets.

There was a whole section of the sprawling market devoted to big sacks of beans, rice, lentils, and of course dog food. That’s black-eyed peas on the left and kibbles n’ bits on the right.

And it wouldn’t be a market in Brazil without lots of brightly colored tropical fruits. These red guys are acerolas, and they are sour enough to make lemons seem sweet. But they have a ridiculously high vitamin C content, and make great juice (with a bit of sugar).

The clothes section of the market also made for some interesting photos. We visited during a transition time when some stalls were just opening and others were closing. So there were lots of mannequins in various states of undress. These ones all said HELLO on their backs.

Hanging mannequins were also popular, and apparently not creepy at all once you get used to them. This shot captured the full range of hanging mannequins available, from pelvis to legs to (most disturbingly) child hanging by the neck. Brightly colored religious icons like the ones on the right were also fairly common at the various stalls.

 Last but not least was the “other random stuff” portion of the market, where you can find everything from knock-off PlayStations with awesome names…  standing fans and little brightly colored stuffed animals. 

There was also a traditional arts and crafts part of the market, but we just bought some traditional art instead of taking pictures of it :)
Caruaru is also well known as the birthplace of forro (pronounced Fo-HO). Forro is a traditional style of music and dance in the Northeast. The music is played by a 3-5 man band and always includes an accordion, a flute, drums, and a triangle. It was made famous by a guy named Luis Gonzaga, who is an icon throughout the Northeast. He’s the guy with sunglasses and the accordion in the mural to our left.

After the market, we visited the Forro Museum, where we learned a lot more about forro and Luis Gonzaga. Here is Mary in front of the museum, posing with statues of Lampiao and Maria Bonita. These two were famous outlaws back in the days of the sugar plantations who attained legend status by robbing from the rich (plantation owners) and giving to the poor (everyone else). They are also the subjects of lots of forro songs. Hence the statues.

Inside the museum we met this guy, who gave us an informal tour of the museum in a mixture of English and Portuguese. He was also a local artist, who had some work on display in one of the galleries. Here he is with one of his paintings, which was quite nice. Like the museum itself and everything else in it, his art was devoted to celebrating traditional rural life in Northeast Brazil.


  1. This photo was pretty amazing. He used paint to make it 3D so that the mud on the ground really looked like it was cracked.

  2. Very impressive recount of your honeymoon stay in the Northeast !! I love the painting! Marvelous photography!