by CRAIG COLEY
In Brazil, where Iuri Santos grew up, ice pops—picole in his native Portuguese—are popular street treats. “Every park, every beach you go, there’s somebody with a cooler selling them,” Santos says. “They’re very creative. They make a song that rhymes with the flavors while they sell the ice pops.”
Santos tried the song-and-dance approach when he launched Rasta Pops six years ago, but the hustle didn’t go over with Bloomington folks. So now he sets up his cart under an umbrella at events like Food Truck Friday and waits for the customers to come to him.
And come they do, drawn to unique flavors like spicy chocolate, mango chili lime, and sweet-cream avocado. Santos calls his treats “Brazilian fusion ice pops.” He and his wife, Linda Lewis, concoct new flavors and keep the ones people like. It’s hard to predict which will succeed.
Outside of Rasta Pops, Santos is a teacher and musician. His hometown in Brazil—Salvador—is renowned for its heritage of capoeira, an art which includes elements of combat, dance, and music. Son of a songwriter, Santos began learning capoeira at age 14. “That’s where I discovered my culture,” Santos says.
This same culture attracted Lewis to Salvador in 1998 when she took a sabbatical from her teaching job at Bloomington’s Harmony School. She and Santos exchanged English lessons for capoeira lessons, fell in love, and married. Santos moved with Lewis to her home in Brown County, Indiana.
There, Santos began studying English and teaching capoeira. He was 24 then and had shoulder-length hair. Now he’s 47 and his dreadlocks hang below his knees. “I’m a Rasta,” Santos says. “People ask, ‘How come you’re Rasta? You’re not Jamaican.’ I say, ‘Same way there’s American Buddhists.’”
Initially drawn to Rastafarianism through roots reggae music, Santos has had a number of reggae bands over the years. The latest, The Algoriddims, began performing live this spring.
Santos has taught capoeira in Indianapolis, at Indiana University, and through the school he founded in Bloomington, North Star Capoeira. “Capoeira is my life,” Santos says. “I don’t care if I don’t make money from it.”
Santos and Lewis moved to Bloomington five years ago with their children, Zecca Santos-Lewis, 20, and Zara Santos-Lewis, 17, both of whom help with the Rasta Pops business.
Learn more at northstarcapoeira.com and rastapops.com.