Current date: Sunday, August 10, 2003 1:15 p.m. (Sao Paulo)
Well, hello out there sports fans...it's your friendly neighborhood traveler...once again back at the keyboard. It sure has been awhile so it is time to tell you all what is up with me and give you an update on what has been happening over the past few months. I have gotten many "Where the hell are you?" e-mails over the past several weeks...so first I'll address that. I am still here living in SP and teaching english. As I will state again later, I am not sure when I will leave here but for now I'm thinking the beginning of October. When I do leave, I will go up to the Patanal (it's a large, swamp-like jungle in the western part of Brazil...supposed to be phenomenal for seeing wildlife) and then exit into Paraguay, heading back south to Argentina. That is all the plan I can really give you for now.
The following is an update I wrote back in mid-July that sort of covers my first two months of living/working here (not in detail so it is pretty short...don't be afraid).
Well, far too long has passed since I put fingers to the keyboard. I was just hanging out tonight reading through some Doug McLean journals and I became a bit inspired. The truth is, I really miss the writing...for me it is a great outlet. It's sort of like putting some of my inner dialogue down on paper. Hmmmm...I guess I am officially crazy...I just openly admitted that I not only talk to myself but I write to myself.
Anyway, I have ton of things in my mind right now and I have been thinking back on how things have been going over the past 2+ months. I almost don't know where to start. Things have been both fun and frustrating so far here in SP. I have gone through some emotional ups and downs...those same ones that happen to anyone when they suddenly find themselves living in a new city...throw in that it is in another country, having to learn another language and that it is 8000 miles from family and friends and it magnifies that adjustment phase by about 10,000.
My first weeks here were unbelievable. I had found a job, a great apartment, and the pace was still pretty fast and furious. I had the chance to hang out with several friends that I had met on my trip and I was meeting people at pretty rapid pace. As an added bonus, Sunny (good friend from Houston) came down to visit. As June came around things were chugging along pretty well until about that second week.
Things started to go downhill right about the time we were forced to change apartments...long story...but basically, the teaching job I have comes with an apartment, which is rented for us by the owner of the school. She basically decided to give up the apartment and get a different one, but gave us almost no notice, did not take care of anything associated with the move, and promptly left town leaving us to handle many of the details. Absolutely unprofessional and just plain rude. Anyway, right about that sametime, I was officially at the end of the honeymoon phase of arriving in SP. Tensions mounted a bit at the school over the whole move thing and I started getting that..."why work for somebody if they are going to treat me like this" feeling. For me, hands down the most important thing in any place that I work is the people in the work environment and how they treat each other and get along. Especially important is the boss/employee relationship. Anybody who has ever worked in an office/restaurant/bar/wherever where everybody hated the boss knows what I am talking about here...people don't work hard for someone they don't like. That's just it. It isn't fun being trapped in that environment, and everybody is affected by it. So I started to think at that time that maybe I should just get out of it, but I didn't for several reasons. 1) The QB (figure that one out for yourselves...NOT quarterback) left that week for vacation and she won't return for 3 months, 2) Not the right thing to do to run away the first time things get tough, 3) I didn't want to screw the other teachers and the school who I consider my friends, 4) I like teaching at the school and I love the students there, and 5)I was financially trapped at that time...
This was another main problem during that stretch in June. My car (still unsold as of this moment) has become a cancer for me and sits at the middle of a growing number of problems. The situation was peaking in June and for the first time in months, I was feeling anxiety. Ironically, the source of most of my stress extended all the way back to the States...and had nothing to do with my life here or adjusting to living in SP.
But there were some things I was struggling with. First of all, I was having a tough time with my Porteguese and that was getting frustrating. The folks in SP are generally pretty friendly and patient, but there are some people that don't have much patience for someone who can only speak at a basic level...plus I was still struggling to understand everything. That was tough. On top of that, there is the added stress of finding your niche...finding the folks who like doing the same things as you...just good everyday friends. Tough to do when you can't speak to well and tough to go out at all when you have no money. Also at that time, I was sort of missing being out on the road...that little twinge I get from arriving in new cities and meeting new folks all the time. Things were becoming a bit routine at the time and I hadn't had to deal with that for awhile.
So I was having a couple down weeks...although I was still enjoying myself, I had that "something is missing" feeling. But of course, I had only been here in SP for just over a month. That is nothing. You can't arrive in a new place, try to jumpstart your life, and expect things to go smooth from the get go...that just isn't realistic and I know it. That was when I started toying with the idea of staying in SP for a much longer time, because I realized that staying in a city for 2-3 months just isn't enough time. You have to give a place more of a chance than that. The truth is, even as I write this, I'm not sure when I will leave.
So I sort of found myself complaining a little too much at the time and some of the hard parts about adjusting to the new environment were getting me down. Tough to admit out loud, but I somehow forgot for about a week or so how lucky I am to be doing what I am and to even be in this position in the first place. I was letting a few petty things nag me and dictate my attitude. It took a very moving message from Tom Dillon (friend from ND) to wake me up and get me back on track and realize...hey, this is my life...I'm still out here living out a dream, and really, there isn't too much to be complaining about. Don't know the language...work harder at it, need more money...find more work, and by the way, you are in city that has probably one of the top 20 nightlife scenes in the world...so get off your ass and start enjoying it again!!!
Right around that time there was a four day weekend so I took advantage of it and headed out for a small trip to Minas Gerais (bordering state). I went back to Pouso Alegre to see Raquel and then traveled to two historical cities up near Belo Horizonte, Sao Joao del Rei and Tiradentes. A much needed road trip that came at a perfect time to get me out of my funk. (explained in greater detail in a forthcoming journal) Being back out there, with just me and my backpack was great...the fire to keep traveling is still burning strong.
When I got back to SP, I had a renewed vigor and things started to go uphill from there. I was returning to my old ways...creating lots of fun, meeting some great folks and having such a good time that it seemed unfair. Anytime I would get the notion to complain I would remember one of my important mottos: appreciate what you have while you have it, because when it is taken away, it's too late. For the early weeks of June I had forgotten this.
It was right around that time that I started hanging out with Leandro, a pretty cool guy who was a student at the school. He invited me to a nearby beach town called Guaruja and it was a nice weekend roadtrip. He also showed me some great new spots to go out to here in the city. A very cool guy that has helped me out a lot in the past several weeks...not to mention he is a quality wingman! During the past month, the world has found itself right again for me here in SP. I'm still loving teaching at the school (no QB...she's still on vacation) and have picked up a few private students too. Also, I am fortunate enough to have one of the nicest guys on the planet as a roomate...Mark/Australia. One of those type of guys you HAVE to like and we all wish we could be a bit more like. Mark has traveled all over the world over the past 10 years or so and has been in Sao Paulo for almost two years, working here at the school. Another friend of mine, Peter (from ND) also came to visit which was great and my buddy Jim from Houston is coming next month.
Somethings about SP still get to me at times...a lot of what they say is true...it IS indeed more conservative than the rest of Brazil and there are a fair bit of snobs. However, there are plenty of great people here too with good attitudes and the Brazilian zest for life is still apparent. You just have to search it out a bit.
I have to say, that I AM still adjusting...it has only been about 2.5 months so far...but now I am tackling it much better than last month. No matter what happens for the rest of my stay here in SP, and no matter when I leave...I will appreciate it for what it is...a big piece of a great adventure...and part of the reason I'll be able to do that is because of tremendous heart and fortitude of Tom Dillon. Sometimes in life, we can feed off the courage and strength of others, and I thank you my friend, for your inspiration. This one goes out to Connor Regner Dillon.
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