Today marks my first month in Brazil. What a month it was!!
You know what I miss most? My washing machine and dryer. To understand what is written on foodstuff packaging at the super market and to have a good cappuccino freddo. The small stuff we usually take for granted in the ‘first- and second- world countries’ – a term which I have to admit I only heard in Brazil for the first time. To be able to take my laptop at a café and work without worrying that I might get robbed.
Of course I could have most of this, even in this ‘third world’ country; instead I choose to live somewhat closer to the reality of an average person my age (at least in Natal) and I feel I am growing as a person through this. Mind you I am well aware of the fact that what I may consider the ‘reality of an average person in Brazil’ could be far from what it actually is. I know that. Still, the cultural shock I am experiencing is already quite intense. I feel I am changing day by day, week by week. Although life around here seems to pass by at a slower pace, it would seem to me that my days are very full and when the evening comes I just can’t wait to get into bed. Despite what many people may think, I am not on constant vacation. This means I need to wake up every morning at 6am (which would be 9am London time), check my emails and be available for any project that may come up or do admin work. If there’s nothing urgent requiring my attention, I train at 8am and then plan my day around the things I need or want to do. Then at around 18:00 I go to the box again and train some more. This is of course not possible every day, but I am trying to set a routine along those lines to stay consistent with my professional obligations but also do my best to achieve my CrossFit goals. At least that was my routine in my pre-Jericoacoara time. In Jeri my reality changed. I changed. My priorities changed and so did my perspective on things.
So regardless of the things I might be missing, I’ve also gained so many life lessons and experiences! During the time I’ve been in Brazil I realize I am becoming more aware, more mindful of many things that I used to take for granted and I am now ‘forced’ to focus more on myself and reflect on my life… or maybe I am just more ready to do so. I feel more thankful for having been given the opportunity to meet the people that came recently into my life and I am also appreciating in a different way the impact some people have had on me in the past.
I am trying to see the good things that came out of each difficulty I experienced so far, which in the past would only serve as a good excuse for me to blame others (or my bad luck) instead of facing life and being more active in setting goals and crushing them. For years I was feeling I was doomed to just keep working an average job because I’d set my mind to believing I will not succeed professionally due to lack of higher university education. I now see this forced me to choose different paths, to think out of the box and look for alternatives to becoming successful – at least my definition of ‘success’, which has changed dramatically in the past years, but it is only now that I have this different perspective on life and what success really is that I can I feel grateful for the paths I have chosen and take full responsibility for the mistakes I’ve made. I never used to give myself much credit, which of course was due to my low self-esteem, however I can at last proudly say that I’ve made it quite well thus far. I ended up having a job many would envy as it allows me to travel, work and still have time to actually live, which was a thing I was feeling guilty of for a long time. I was feeling guilty I had free time when others would work 8-10 hours per day and not have time to do the stuff they really liked. Not anymore. I think it’s time to feel a bit proud and give myself a break. I’ve done well 🙂
Back to Brazil and the Brazilian reality. For a strange reason I feel that having grown up in Greece has taught me a lot and is very helpful now that I am called to face the Brazilian lifestyle, bureaucracy and everyday life. I think it’s easier for me to just ‘get it’ sometimes; why some things don’t work and how some things work perfectly in what would appear to some to be a chaotic situation; why song lyrics are so important to Brazilians; why being cheated on (for a man) is the worst that could happen, but for a woman it is just normal or a reality they have to accept; the over-dramatizing, the exaggeration, that is all so familiar to me.
On the other hand, having stayed a short while in Milan, I am already comfortable with the way Brazilians greet each other (one kiss on the right cheek and a prolonged, tight hug) which I am liking very much, but also with the fact that people just kiss and hug in general and touch each other when talking. I love how they can create music using soda cans and can start singing in the elevator or in the bus ignoring anyone standing next to them. They are laid back and don’t take things so seriously. It could be that this is contagious as I am starting to get into this mood too. It’s a good mood to be in J
I am sure that many of my experiences in Brazil will present themselves as lessons learned or skills acquired in the most unexpected of times and although I may not be seeing this at this moment, I am confident I am building up a good ‘Life CV’.
I must brag about the fact I started staying out of the house after 5.30 pm when its ALREADY dark! Well, that doesn’t mean I’m partying all night, only that I went to do my groceries the other day at 7pm instead of waiting for the next morning and felt good about it! J
I am slowly learning some Portuguese and I am so looking forward to having conversations with the locals. I feel I am missing out on so many things because I don’t speak Portuguese…
So, in a week I will be flying to Fortaleza again, to go Home, to Jeri. My apartment is already arranged, my plans are set and I can say I have some new goals to crash! A month ago I was struggling to find a dream to chase… not anymore!
At first I felt guilty for putting CrossFit on the side for a while, taking it off my priority podium, but I realized Jeri helped me find some of my much needed inner, mental strength and this will only complement the physical strength I’ve built up so far with CrossFit. I know CF will be there for me when I am ready for it again and I am thankful it has taught me how to take care of my body. I realize I can be my own enemy or my best ally, so I will do my best to keep a consistent workout plan at the local gym in Jeri in addition to my attempts in surfing, dancing and meditating – and learning Portuguese, of course!
In my 4 months of travelling so far it is the first time I am excited. Really excited and counting days to my next destination! I’m already thinking of my daily routine, the groceries I need to stock up with, the hours I will be training… I’m telling you, I’m intoxicated and Jeri is my drug!
I’d like to share with you the song that keeps me company lately and puts a smile on my face making me swing to the tune a little bit too! It’s about a girl who was ‘seduced’ to the dance floor by a moreno (a darker skinned boy) to dance “xote” all night… Don’t you just wish you could understand the lyrics?