Where do I start from? It’s been a while.
Jericoacoara – Week 1
During my first week in Jeri I needed to settle, make myself at home, do some groceries, register with the local gym but also do some translation work. To top it off, I also had a serious concentration problem. This meant that what would otherwise be a project to finish within a day, took me 3 days to deliver but thankfully I had long deadlines. I was taking several long breaks for a walk by the beach, a surf lesson or just chatting away with friends and being excited about my new reality. It was very exciting and it was very tiring too, but I loved it! Told myself I am taking March off. Off from anything too strenuous or stressful, off from trying too much, thinking too much and expecting too much. My goal for March, learn Portuguese, surfing and forro.
With an office like this, I think anyone would be distracted!
Surfing progress / confession. Maybe I was not meant to surf my way in the ocean. Not in this lifetime. I don’t know. I took two lessons, which seriously kicked my butt and I came out with bruises and a pathetic 4-5 times of having managed to stand on the board for 5-10 seconds at best. Alvaro, my instructor, said I did well for a beginner yet, once again, I had higher expectations for myself. I had this image of me being a surf-girl and heading to the ocean every morning to surf.. yeah, right! I ended up staying in bed for 2-3 days, resigning from any effort to get in the sea and only enjoyed long walks by the beach around sunset time. I wanted to buy me a surfboard, but I am not local you see, so things get harder and more complicated (not to mention overpriced).
Learning Portuguese. I found Duo Lingo to be a nice, fun way to learn and practice a new language, so I downloaded it, set the highest daily target of XP gained and started practicing and practicing. The first lessons/levels were a walk in the park as I’ve already learned some words during my first month in Brazil, but it seems like it is getting much more difficult in each level. Hopefully, whoever built the app knows better. I am not giving up on this!
Learning to dance forró. Hm. This requires a partner/teacher and I have not found either one. I did go to the local forró night last night though and gave it a try again with a local young man and must admit that the ‘cucumber’ feeling seems to be going away slowly but steadily. In any case, I am starting to getting into the forró experience by not misunderstanding or misinterpreting gestures or behaviors. Well, there are the guys that will use any line to pick up a girl too, but not much I can do about it. Last night, dancing with Mavi (if I got it right that is) I closed my eyes for a little while. I let my guards down, allowed to be hugged tight (as it should be danced) and tried to enjoy the moment without thinking too much. It was a nice moment. His hand on my lower back was guiding my waist and his legs tightly squeezing mine were guiding my steps. It did help that he spoke English and we managed to properly introduce ourselves and have a small chat during the first couple of minutes, not to mention the fact that despite all the sweat he smelled very nice. It’s not me, I am only confirming what is a generally accepted reality. Brazilians smell nice. And since it is a forehead-to-forehead dance smell is important, but don’t jump into conclusions now. He smelled nice, was kind, polite and a great dancer but that was all to it. After we danced I needed some moments to catch my breath, but the whole night was not enough to dry my dress from the sweat! I stayed there, watching the dancers on the dance floor, trying to figure out the different styles, some full of passion others more ‘jumpy’ and playful, but all simply amazing!
At some point it started raining so hard that the dance floor was a small lake in a matter of minutes. People moved under the covered parts of the venue and the dance floor was empty. It was a god-sent break for everyone, but evidently not too much needed since after 10’ and as the skies did not seem to have any intention of stopping the most courageous ones stepped on the dance floor again literally dancing in the rain, making this a sight to remember for this gringa… I wish someone had asked me to dance at that time, right there. I’d keep my eyes closed throughout the whole dance…
But, hey, it’s rain season for the next few months here, I hope to still get my chance to dance in the rain 🙂
I spent some time during my first days in Jeri with my Italian landlady, Sabrina, who did her best to introduce me to some people and show me and explain how things work around here before leaving on Sunday to go back to Italy with her family. At first I thought she might have been exaggerating a bit, but it has so far turned out she was right about everything she said. Maybe I was too excited too and any negative comment about Jeri felt like bursting my bubble, and it was not what I wanted, but my fears became real the other day when I realized someone had been on my balcony and had stolen a (broken) lamp. A broken lamp for crying out loud of zero value. Was this thing worth jumping over a fence, going one floor up the stairs walking around the entire balcony in plain sight of people possibly passing by? A broken lamp…
So again, reality is reality and what goes up must come down.
My initial feeling of everyone being an angel (I am in my paradise afterall) was replaced by reservation and cautiousness and by the general feeling of not everyone being the kind-hearted and selfless person I aspired them to be. Having a 2-month lease might have made me feel at home, but it does not make me a local in the eyes of the locals. Far from that. I am a ‘gringa’ which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s reality.
Back to today, Day 10 in Jeri. Trying to find balance again and it seems to have come in the form of my new neighbor, Julio, who will also be taking care of the house. Julio is Brazilian and has been living in Jeri for the past 8 years managing hotels. He lives in the apartment downstairs from mine and will be managing the neighboring 5* hotel. But most importantly he knows the locals and the locals know him. It is a relief to know I can actually genuinely trust someone. Sabrina has known him for years and I trust my first impression too. Did I mention he speaks the best English I’ve heard so far in Brazil?
Funny how big a difference a single person can make. A person you’ve only known for a few hours! Last night he invited me to the hotel he will be managing for a paella night with live music so we could get to know each other while he’d also be doing some work. It felt so good to be in a poshy resort for a change. I was sort of “in my comfort zone” again, being pampered with great food and wine, listening to the music while watching the stars… Carefree and safe. We had a nice talk and it turns out he is a kite-surfer himself. Without knowing it, he gave me a push to give surfing one more chance. He said that he wanted to quit kite surfing after the first three lessons and that this is the case with almost everyone trying to learn surfing or kite surfing. He too thought he was not made to become a kite-surfer, that he didn’t have it in him; but once you’d cross this point, he said, the ocean wins over your heart and there is no turning back. Ok, Julio. Let’s do this! I am convinced!
He knows all the right people. He can help me find a surfboard to rent for a month or buy, he knows the nice places to visit and where to rent anything I’d need, he will introduce me to a friend of his who teaches Portuguese and forro but also – are you ready? – the one and only Greek guy that is a permanent resident in Jeri! Yes, there is a Greek in Jeri! This will be interesting!
Well, Julio was god’s gift to me and his timing couldn’t have been better.
Now, all I need to do is get my pieces together and get back on track with my training, nutrition and goals cause I left it all behind for a week and I already regret it. I know I allowed myself to get a month off from training at a box but I went a step too far and pat myself on the shoulder too much.
My friends, Stavroula and Constantine whom I met during one of my visits at Crossfit Patra less than a year ago, have been more than supportive and understanding, always here to chat, inspire and push me to get my butt out of bed and do something useful with my day and not give up. Same goes for Marchito, my tesoro from CrossFit Darsena, who has been regularly checking in on me and is ready to jump on a plane to my rescue, if needed – well, probably for a good session of wind-surfing too, at least he admits to that! And Sandra Kolam, whom CrossFit brought in my life too… always here for a chat, to listen and to make me think, help me dare and make me feel good about life.
New friends, coming out of nowhere really, helping me in more ways than they could have ever imagined. I could not be more grateful. And there’s Angeliki, of course. My bestie, minha irmã. Always here whether there’s internet or not, on the good days and the bad. Love you.
I am blessed in so many ways. Please remind me so from time to time. I am only human.