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Brazil: The Windshield Series

February 2nd, 2010

The adventure of this trip was to experience the Brazil Lu calls home. This trip wasn’t about work; though stories abound, my purpose was to meet the parents, the brothers, the aunts, the cousins…extended family is big in Brazil…and learn a little Portuguese and some cooking tips. I began in earnest on day two; Lu was busy, so her father and aunt took me out to see the city and have a few beers. In a stumbling mixture of English and Spanish, and as those big bottles of Skol beer disappeared into those tiny glasses, we got to know each other. Both of them are a riot.

There is still a lot to think about from this trip; the cultural differences, the stories of her youth, the trips to the countryside, and, predominantly, my growing role as a step father and member of Lu’s family. But I thought I’d start by sharing some travel photography.

Brasilia was carved out of the plains of central Brazil 50 years ago. It was designed, planned, and plunked down in row-upon-row of concrete and steel. The “Plano Piloto” was created by urban planner Lucio Costa; shaped like a plane or a bird in flight, the north-south axis is filled with housing super-blocks anchored to the highway, each of which could be city unto itself. The eastern tip of the east-west axis is dedicated to symmetric rows of uniform government ministries, the presidential palace, supreme court, and congress. Graceful curves and towering spires were predominantly the work of architect Oscar Niemeyer and the extensive green spaces belong to landscape architect Burle Marx. The city was planned for fewer than 1 million, but suburban sprawl and satellite cities, like Guara and Aguas Claras, have sprung up, bringing the overall population to around 2 million. However, when leaving the city by car the urban infrastructure quickly falls away, leaving wide valleys and vast mesas covered in soy, corn, or cattle.

I often found myself in the front passenger seat, as a guest for the views. We never took the metro, we never rode a bus; her father, as the family driver, wouldn’t let us. So I began taking pictures through the windshield and stealing snaps out the side. This series, rather loosely edited, is taken from within the car or very near the car (with a couple exceptions). It is my initial overview of Brasilia and the surrounding countryside, including Caldas Novas with its water parks and natural hot springs, and the Chapadas dos Veadeiros, a national park with some of the oldest rock outcrops in the world, at 1.8 billion years old.


Brasilia, Brazil: Through the Windshield – Images by Tim Matsui

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