This may be hard to believe, but last week I left Rio de Janiero (pop: 6,000,000) for small, elegant Ouro Preto (pop: 66,000) because I thought I might escape the mania of major Carnaval, that week-long celebration of song, dance and drink that leads up to Ash Wednesday and (presumably) forty penitential days of Lent. I love a party as much as the next person, but I had a heap of work to do -- research for a new book -- and limited time. And I had ignorantly underestimated how completely the country closes down during the entire week before Mardi Gras, and celebrates every day.
Every corner I turned in Ouro Preto, however, I found Carnaval!
The kids had just seen the giant puppets.
Many historical houses are missing their chamber pots
Lots of dancing
So I figured, if you can't escape it, join it.
Mary Jo McConahay's GlobeWatch
"Dramatic life-and-death experiences in a clear prose style that flows with immediacy -- a profoundly moving document"
--Jon Lee Anderson, Staff Writer for The New Yorker and Author, Che Guevara, a Revolutionary Life
I'll be "In Conversation with William Carlsen, Author of Jungles of Stone," the great new book about Maya world explorers John L. Stephens and William Catherwood at Litquake, Mechanics' Institute, San Francisco, Oct. 8, 2016, 11:00 a.m. Free!
And coming: Tango War, about the WWII struggle for hearts, minds and strategic resources in Latin America. From Macmillan, 2018
Writer and journalist Mary Jo McConahay watches the globe, near and far. She is author of the award-winning Maya Roads: One Woman's Journey Among the People of the Rainforest (Chicago Review Press), and Ricochet, Two Women War Reporters and a Friendship under Fire (Shebooks). Mary Jo is the current Lowell Thomas Travel Journalist of the Year. Her reporting has appeared in Time, Newsweek, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Ms., Salon, Sierra, Los Angeles Times Magazine, Parenting, The Progressive, National Catholic Reporter, and many others.
As a documentary filmmaker, she co-produced and co-directed Crimebuster, A Son's Search for His Father, and the award-winning PBS documentary, Discovering Dominga, writing its original story. She is producing a new half-hour documentary: Father Bill, Revolutionary Priest, about the late Fr. Bill O'Donnell, who was arrested 245 times for nonviolent resistance to incidents in which "my government misbehaves."
GlobeWatch continues the column by the same name, formerly published by Pacific News Service and New America Media.