I am imprisoned under an incessant rain that flogs this beautiful port in the northeast of Brazil. From the fourth floor of this edifice I manage to see part of the beautiful ocean that appears between a sea of buildings that parade on the coast. It has been two months since I decided to leave a pleasant life and venture into this crazy adventure, as some people tell me, anyway, I do not pay much attention to public opinion and instead I follow my ideals.
On March 3, 2014, I decided to pack my things and get on a plane to travel almost 8000 kilometers from North America up to a small village called Sao Paulo in the wonderful Brazilian lands. The plan was simple, work for a while in Brazil as I await the arrival of the World Cup so I can sustain myself and learn Portuguese at the same time.
A few days before embarking on the journey I began to communicate with several hostels throughout the country and obtained several offers, of which I ended accepting two. The departure date was around the corner and I couldn’t believe it, to be honest, I felt a little bit nervous and with doubts since I had dreamed of this day for so long and for some reason it always was postponed. The most difficult thing was undoubtedly bid farewell to my family, especially my mother, which always has given me her unconditional support.
While crossing the vast continent and its various ecosystems, I peeped out of the window and had the opportunity to see a beautiful sunrise to almost 11km in height. Everything was dark but little by little the horizon was changing to a fire-red color, as if the phoenix was going to rise again, but not so, it was clearly better. The light of the sun showed me for the first time the vast fields and forests of this South American country.
The largest concrete jungle of South America, São Paulo, is a place of many contrasts that will surprise you in every corner. This enormous city gives a place to stay to many ethnic groups, including the largest population of Japanese and Italians out of their countries and a large community of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants. In addition, there is a significant group of people from Central and Eastern Europe as well as from other Asian countries.
This diversity has created an excellent contribution to the gastronomy, which is reflected in the thousands of restaurants and street stalls that are found in all parts of the city. This urban center has thousands of the best nightclubs in the continent, excellent museums, parks, shopping centers, etc; there's nothing you can't find.
I landed early in the morning and immediately headed for the hostel where I would be working in exchange for lodging and food. My first day was great; I met a group of travelers and embarked on a long walk up to the "Carnaval de Rua," or street carnival, as they call it here in Brazil. It was sensational, a lot of music, drinks and even fights, for which we had to unfortunately leave.
During the next six weeks that I was working in Sao Paulo I devoted myself to do a little bit of everything, from disarming a toilet and cleaning it up to serve as a tourist guide for the guests of the hostel. These were six incredible weeks; I began learning Portuguese and making lots of friends, from Argentina and Chile up to Japanese and Africans. From the first day I decided that I was going to discover as much of Sao Paulo as possible and in my spare time I pursued this plan.
I remember the night that I lost my cell phone, or I was robbed, who knows? I met Gervasio, an Uruguayan traveler who loves life and studies architecture in his native Montevideo, where he also works doing projects in the slums of the city. This contemporary nomad has plenty of stories to tell about his adventures in Latin America, since in his spare time he grabs his backpacks and ventures in the far corners of this beautiful region.
His love for the road as well as culture led him to cross path with me and together decided to embark on a safari, only that in our case the jungle was made out of concrete and the animals were changed to cars. We climbed on top of a building a little over 40 floors and obtained a majestic view of this southern hemisphere’s metropolis. We toured around parks, museums, markets and other places. In addition, I had the pleasure to meet some friends of his family, Ms. Beatriz, his mother and Aires, the husband, who treated me very well in their beautiful rustic house which was built by themselves.
On another occasion while working the night shift, two Chilean sisters came into the door, Cata and Majo, two of the nicest people I met. They offered me "Fanschop," a mixture of orange soda with beer, which I had never tried in my life, but ended out being tasty and refreshing. They also prepared me a classic dish from their country, which was delicious. We went one day along with a Venezuelan warrior, Neila, to visit various parts of the city. We walked by a river of asphalt called 25 de Março, which is more of a street drowned in stalls where you can find everything.
After struggling against the tide of people crossing our path, we finally arrived at the Municipal Market, a picturesque place where you could find the famous mortadella or cod sandwiches, which are popular in Sao Paulo due to the large Italian community that lives in the city. The best of the market was without a doubt walking throughout the aisles and the tasting of exotic fruits, which I had never seen, much less tasted. We also had the opportunity to be interviewed by a Chilean TV channel that was featuring a story in Brazil.
After six weeks I decided that it was time to travel to other places and accepted Rafaela’s invitation of staying at her house in Beberibe, a small town near Fortaleza. Her grandfather offered to sell me air miles very cheap and I took advantage of it. It was almost spontaneous, the offer came one day and the next day I was in a city hundreds of kilometers away from where I started. I didn’t think it twice, like the saying goes, “I have a tiger by the tail and don’t plan in letting it go.”
When I less thought of it I was in Fortaleza knowing the family of this girl who I recently had met in “Sampa” while she was studying a bartender course. Her mother, Dr. Cely, is a very wise and religious person who has traveled around Europe and has an endless number of stories.
In one of the excursions they took me to Quixada, a city in the center of the state of Ceará, which is characterized by its rocky formations. This region is a plateau in which gigantic monoliths arise from the ground to break with the monotony of the scenery. We climbed to one of them to visit a monastery, from which we managed to see spectacular views. We also went to see a dam constructed with giant stones that was raised centuries ago by the slaves brought from Africa. Undoubtedly the most famous monolith is “Pedra a Galinha Choca,” a monolith with form of a hen brooding.
Walking through Beberibe and its beaches on foot was a major challenge because of the size of the place and its contrast with the surrounding nature. One of my lonely excursions but most unforgettable was when I walked through the sand dunes that poke a few meters away from the immense sea. I walked approximately 20km that day along the desolate and beautiful scenery. The return was the exciting thing, having to climb to arrive to the dunes, which are located in a cliff along the entire length of the beach. I had never walked on sand dunes, which is very difficult because the sand doesn’t lets you walk with ease, especially when you go are going up.
It was a little dangerous but it was worth it. If I fell my body probably wouldn’t withstand the impact of the strike to such height and also had against me the relentless heat of the midday sun. In addition, I had to deal with walking barefoot, which wasn’t very helpful. After several hours I finally saw a person and I felt safer to hear that I was close to arriving to civilization. Climbing up to the highest part of the dunes provide me with a magnificent vista, as I heard once, "if you can't climb the mountain you'll never be able to see the landscape."
In another excursion I had the opportunity to cover several picturesque villages like that of Aracati and Canoa Quebrada. The first one is rather a city with cobbled streets and colonial style houses in addition to the beautiful architecture of its churches. Canoa Quebrada is a great place to go especially at night, where you will find a street closed to vehicles with restaurants, bars and shops. During the day it is possible to visit its beautiful beach and to practice paragliding due to the strong wind that arrives from the ocean.
It has been two amazing months where I have discovered, learned and shared many things. Two months, a very small percentage of the time contemplated for this immense journey. I still have a few months in this lands, how many? I do not know! At this moment I'm in the course of processing my extension to stay another three months, but want to stay a little more than that. Brazil is a huge country full of diversity and beauty for which I will need more than six months to cover it.
When I began this writing it did not stop raining, but now that I’m finishing it the sun doesn’t give us a break, which has allowed me to go out and discover the beautiful things that this city of Recife and Olinda has to offer. Anyway, I will tell that in the next story. Meanwhile, don't forget the beauty of living and learning about other places and cultures. Don't settle with a dream, go and live your dream. Do you dare to dream?