Capoeira synchronisity in action

A month before I left on my bicycle trip from Austin to Brazil, I decided to write to Mestre Acordeon.

According to wikipedia, ‘Mestre Acordeon is a native of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, and a master of the Brazilian folk art known as Capoeira. His international reputation as a respected teacher, performer, musician, organizer, and author is built upon fifty years of active practice, as well as research into the origins, traditions, political connotations, and contemporary trends of Capoeira. Mestre Acordeon has travelled extensively promoting Capoeira outside Brazil.’

The reason I wanted to talk to him, was because 2 years ago, at the age of 70, Mestre Acordeon rode his bicycle from Berkeley, CA to Bahia, Brazil.

A week after I had written to him (and almost forgotten about it), I received a phone call with a Northern California area code.

“Hello?” I answered, expecting to hear the voice of an old Northern Cali friend.

“Ah… em… hello…” came the voice of a man with an accent. “How do you say your name?”

“Oh!” I replied, wondering who it was. “My name is Jahnavi.”

“Ahhh, Jahnavi. Hello, this is Mestre Acordeon.”

I stopped pacing through my apartment and went to my room and shut the door.

“Hello! Thank you for calling!”

We chatted for a while, and I told him that I wanted to ride my bicycle to Brazil also, and asked him about his trip.

“The voyage for me was truly magical,” he told me. “I encourage you to do the trip. It changed my life.”

He put me in contact with Pirata, one of the capoeiristas who had done the whole ride with him and who is currently writing a book about it.

“If you have any questions, you can call me anytime,” he told me.

Well, needless to say, that made my day… well, my week, really.

And as we all know, a month later I saddled up and left Austin on my bicycle, headed south.2015-12-18 11.45.02

I’ve made it halfway across Mexico at this point.

I’ve trained with Capoeira Longe Do Mar in San Luis Potosi, Queretaro, and now Mexico City.

I arrived in Mexico City with my friend Monica on Saturday.

That night I found Nao Veio, a professor at Longe Do Mar, and am staying at his house with his wife Nana.

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The next morning I received a Facebook message from the Longe Do Mar academy.

(it was in spanish, but I’ll tell you in english):

“Hello, welcome to Mexico City. Mestre Acordeon is here today and tomorrow and he would like to meet you.”

Apparently Mestre Acordeon visits Mexico City once a year, and I happen to have arrived during the two days he is in town.

That evening Nao Veio took me by subway to the Mestre’s house where Acordeon is staying.

After waiting outside and chatting with some capoeiristas, I was ushered in to meet the Santa Claus of capoeira.12657163_10153504344052545_7902883189447074677_o

Acordeon had just finished a meeting with the director of his documentary (the documentary about his ride from Berkeley to Bahia).

He welcomed me in, embraced me, and we immediately dove into talking about my journey and his journey.

He scribbled on a piece of paper, showing me how I could get from Panama to Brazil, and eventually demanded that I sit down next to him so we could get to the nitty gritty.

He showed me sample clips of the unreleased documentary, and shared stories, switching seamlessly between portuguese and english as though he barely noticed they are different languages.

I soaked it in. His energy is amazing.

I felt a resurgence of confidence in my voyage.

This journey is bigger than me, I thought, as I watched some footage from his ride. I can’t even imagine who I’ll be at the end of this, because it’s so huge.

One thing I know for sure, is that every single capoeirista who I’ve met along this ride so far will never forget me (nor I them) and they will be rooting me on through every step of the way.

And even if I go back to live in Austin, I will have homes away from home across all of the South Americas.

Mestre Acordeon could have chatted all night, and I would have happily sat there through all of it, but finally it was time for everyone to go home and go to bed.12698763_10153676316031773_1743453459_o

He hugged me close and wished me the best of luck on my trip.

I am so thankful for synchronisity and the constant reminder that I need only ‘jump and the net shall appear’.

I can’t plan out every day of this trip, I can only continue to move forward and continue to seek out capoeira and higher guidance as I travel south.

5 thoughts on “Capoeira synchronisity in action

  1. Jahnavi, where in Brazil will you be headed? The Olympics are in Rio this summer and I’d imagine there will be enormous press coverage and I’m pretty sure they’d be interested in interviewing a young woman that just rode a bike from Austin Tx to Rio, solo, in time for the Olympics. Jahnavi, you have a book to publish about this experience and you’re already documenting it through your blog. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody wanted film rights to your story. You absolutely will finish this journey. I can feel the energy in your words. You’re writing this story as it’s unfolding, and the finish line is Brazil. If you can actually get to Rio as your end point, and you get there in time for the Olympics, you will have world wide exposure for the story you’ve written.

    1. Hi Larry! I hope to make it to Rio de Janeiro–maybe that is where I’ll fly out from at the end of the trip? I imagine during the Olympics it will be rather insane. 😛 Thank you for your words and encouragement, and for adding fuel to my goal of writing a book at the end of all of this. If someone is interested in my story, I’m happy to talk to them, so just tell your friends! 🙂 And as you know I am being supported by people on so the more people who back me for even a $1 a month is just added energy to get me to the end (so tell your friends!–haha). Thank you for your comment! 🙂

  2. Hello Jahnavi,

    I’m so glad to read this amazing story.

    I am Juan José, also known as “Tartaruga”

    My heart got filled with amazing memories and warm feelings because someone is crazy enough to do this amazing things. Congratulations!

    I am a student of both, Mestre Cigano and Mestre Acordeon. I was living in Mexico City when B2B Joga Capoeira passed by the city and I was very happy to spend some time with them until one crazy day I decided to quit everything there and Mestre Acordeon let me join this amazing project.

    I rode my bicycle along the B2B Crew from Mexico to Brazil and was the best thing I could have done in my life… EVER!

    Today, I am living in Rio de Janeiro and I have not been able to return because my adventure got even more interesting: Along with one of the amazing members of this project I started a family… Yes, me and Amber “Peninha” just had a beautiful baby girl that’s the result of capoeira, axé and tons of love and friendship together.

    We will never be able to say thank you enough times to Mestre Acordeon and to capoeira!

    Good luck on your trip and if you need more tips feel free to let us know.


    1. Hola Tartaruga! Thank you for your comment and sharing a little bit of your story with me. I’m so glad to hear from you! I look forward to seeing you and your new family in Rio de Janeiro! My faith in capoeira has come and gone, but this trip is renewing it and strengthening my will to continue training and growing in capoeira. I feel the whole community in my heart as I travel south.

      The place that I am most confused about is when I go from Panama to Colombia and then get onto the Amazon. Mestre Acordeon was sharing with me about this, but I wasn’t clear whether you guys were able to ride bicycles all the way from Bogota to Manaus, or whether you had to take boats/buses?

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