One Year in Retrospect.

Exactly one year ago, my tattoo was a fresh wound and I had just moved into my new home in Santissimo, Rio de Janeiro. The west side was home to me. The people were warm, and I had made a family there. 

At a rap battle in under the Realengo Bridge. 2014.

At a rap battle in under the Realengo Bridge. 2014.

I was wrapping up interviews for my Ta Ligado: Rodas e Hip Hop no Rio documentary, with artists like MC Sant, Yas, and hip hop legend Zulu TR from Brazil's Zulu Nation. I had never directed and produced a documentary like this before. It was empowering. Life was fast paced, exciting, everything was new. Hip hop has always conquered a big part of my soul, but making a documentary about it in a country where it's language has become my third was unreal. The world cup was over and people stopped caring about Rio. I knew there were stories still to be told.

After interviewing Leidy, coordinator of a youth center in Bangu called Caixa de Surpresa. They held rap and breakdance battles almost weekly. 2014. Photo credit: J.Orta

After interviewing Leidy, coordinator of a youth center in Bangu called Caixa de Surpresa. They held rap and breakdance battles almost weekly. 2014. Photo credit: J.Orta

Parties under a bridge in Realengo or Madureira were more than parties. They were spaces carved out for young black and brown kids to be seen and create. Whether through Baile Charme dancing, graffitti writing or break/rap battles, they were being. Those kids reminded me what it is to be. They still remind me. 

This past year life has been full of deadlines, thesis, editing, evolving, rushing, doing, and never fully being. After a year has past since being and living in Rio, a place where my heart truly lives, I am relearning to be. Being in Medellin has been a challenge, but a beautiful one, with all of its scars this city has to show.