Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Shifting gears

Brazil feels like the distant past already. It's been nearly two weeks since I boarded the plane in São Paulo, exhausted and relieved to be returning to a place where things work properly. I've said it before: I've never been much of a patriot, but the more I travel the world-Europe included-the more I'm grateful to carry a US passport and have access to things like online bill pay and Target. Not that I want or need them all the time- but I'm thankful for the simplicity and ease of it all when I'm State-side.

I can't report that São Paulo was any more productive or any less frustrating than our other stops in Brazil. Nevertheless, I did have some of the most intense, enlightening experiences of my life. Here are a few highlights:

Amazing vegetarian buffet:

Cheesy love:

More amazing vegetarian buffet. We had to repeat:

And the best pizza in the world, found at Braz. The ultimate "happy ender" to the trip:

That's right. We went to São Paulo and ate. And ate and ate. And holy shit was the food good. I'm salivating just thinking about it. For all you foodies, add São Paulo to your list of destination pig-outs. The city isn't what I would describe as 'visually appealing', but it doesn't matter-- spend all of your time restaurant-hopping. Besides, in the time it takes you to travel via cab from one restaurant to another, you'll have fully digested your meal and be ready for the next.

I flew straight to Minnesota to visit my parents and be a vegetable for a few days. I arrived to massive snowstorms and temperatures much below freezing. It was perfect. I spent far more time in my pijamas than in 'real clothing' and soaked up the sounds, smells, and loving energy that can only be described as home. And for the first time in years, I had a very hard time leaving. I felt compelled to extend my visit and hide from the world. I longed for more cozy days filled with nothing but my dad's Southern New Mexico cooking (or alternatively, spicy hummus and micro-brewed beer at Barley John's) and endless episodes of The Office on Netflix. (I'm noting that this post brings up food quite a bit. It's nowhere near lunchtime...) The morning my alarm went off at 3AM, marking the end of my visit to the Arctic Tundra, I felt a dead weight in my heart begging me to stay put as I reluctantly showered and headed to the airport.

Perhaps it was that I really needed a few more days of rest (and for someone who loves to laze in bed, waking up at that early hour is absolutely torturous), but I think in truth I was apprehensive about the next chapter. What lay ahead was a leap of faith onto a new career path and into a new life with my partner. While I've been able to let go of many fears in the last few months, my controlling nature still fights to survive in moments like these that require the utmost trust in the process and acceptance that others are capable and don't need to be micromanaged.

When I passed through security and began the time-juggle to put on my boots and sweater, store my laptop and threatening liquids in the appropriate bags and throw my yoga mat on my back, and to do all of these things gracefully and before the next impatient passenger started to breath heavily in annoyance, I felt the subtle shift. I went on autopilot and felt suddenly calm about the journey ahead. It had been a matter of taking the first step forward. After that, things become far less scary.

Now in Cali, Colombia, my mind and body are adjusting to the tropical weather and the perpetual sound of salsa music in the background. The familiar chaos of Latin America is present but somehow more enjoyable than in Brazil. Maybe it's that the Colombians are such a happy and well-read people. Maybe it's that they make plans and follow through with them. And maybe it's that I'm finally dedicating my work and play hours entirely to what I want to do and that as a result, I'm failing to notice things around me that would otherwise make me crazy. What I'm certain of, however, is that the empanadas, arepas and pandebono make the experience quite enjoyable. That, and that after weeks of binging, I'll need to go on a mega-cleanse when I return to the States in January.

Ok, enough talk, more action. I'm going to buy a snack.

Too-good-to-be-true food photos courtesy of John Stanmeyer.


  1. Mira como siempre entretenido leerte. Comete todas esas cosas ricas y disfrutalas.. Cada lugar con su especial atractivo. Masajes con Rafaela? Miss you guys. Vengan pronto.