Fieldwork 101

Lesson 1.Don’t always trust directions from the internet. I’ve gotten lost in Fortaleza twice now thanks to Google Maps. A few weeks ago, I arrived at a friend’s wedding an hour and a half late, and the place shouldn’t have been more than a five minute drive from my apartment. It wasn’t entirely the map’s fault. Most of the streets had no signs, so I had to guess where and when to turn. At one point, I glanced down at the map on the seat next to me while I was driving, and looked up to find a donkey standing in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes. My heart racing, I sped home and called a friend who gave me better directions and I made it in time for dinner.

Irineu, an accordion repairman.
Irineu, an accordion repairman.
Yesterday I went looking for the home of Irineu, an accordion repairman. He lives on the opposite side of Fortaleza, and I tried my best to scribble down the directions he gave me over the phone, but he assumed I knew where certain landmarks were and I didn’t ask for clarification. So instead I searched for directions online, which almost got me there. The problem was that the map tried to send me the wrong way down a major one-way street, something I only discovered when I was face to face with another car. I made a quick u-turn and tried to find a new route on my own by driving down one side street after another, but I kept ending up at dead ends. And I left his number at home so I couldn’t call to ask for his directions again.
Lesson 2: Never give up. This morning, I printed out a new set of directions. Yes, there was still I chance I’d get lost, but I had a really good feeling about the route. It just seemed right. So I drove an entirely different way—along the coast, this time—and after a couple of accidental detours and a handful of nervous phone calls, I made it. During the interview, Irineu told me about his life, how his father and grandfather were accordionists. His dad had a small business tuning and repairing the instrument. Irineu grew up hearing forró music, but chose to learn samba on the guitar and cavaquinho instead. After his dad died, he needed a job and took up his dad’s trade. He now knows pretty much every great accordionist in Fortaleza, and recounted in detail the history of the instrument’s popularity over the past fifty years, with a major decline in the 60s and 70s because of the electric guitar, and a big resurgence in the 90s following the popularity of a local band, Mastruz com Leite. Irineu told me that lots of his clients are amateur musicians, and that for them, music is the best remedy for life’s problems.

One thought on “Fieldwork 101

  1. oh, my god, i can’t stop laughing over the lesson one, specially the part that you had a donkey standing right in front of your car. seriously, i just wish i was sitting on the passenger seat.

    and hey, this thing, leaving your “date” number at home and not being able to call them back to ask for some new information? that’s tough. i truly understand you on this one.

    take good care.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s