Hidden Gems

Brazil has been hard. Not one single moment has been wasted in teaching me an important message or point. Everything about life: morality, happiness, success, and health have been thrown at us. More often than not all of it at once.

The first month of our permanent homestay was the worst for me. Right after the first month of In-country orientation spending almost every waking moment with 19 people who all spoke English, only to be torn apart by states, and in the case of 6: continents. The first month of home-stay I attempted to tackle challenges of communication, understanding, connections, and mental health. I failed. In everything. To truly live and experience another culture, to thrive as a local and native can’t just be experienced. Every aspect of your life has to be taken, broken and redefined. My community back home in Portland couldn’t have been any more different than the life I lead here in Macacu.

My first impression of Macacu couldn’t have been a more stark contrast of Portland. While I had a soccer ball and field to play, I lacked the language skills and confidence to simply reach out to ask. The first month I didn’t have the connections, the communication skills, or the understanding of my community to find the hidden gems of the community. I trapped myself in the single-story of small farming community; lack of events to do, lack of people, and endless hours of work in a farm. I was accustomed to having access to everything my heart desired in Portland. The feeling of restraint I felt in the first month of Garopaba forced me to see freedom and happiness in a new light.

My first month I took it easy in Macacu. I tried to assess my situation, see where I was and what I could do with it that might help me. It wasn’t until the second and third months here I learned that life had changed, but that didn’t mean it was worse. It was my turn to find the hidden gems in my new community. I found them soon enough. In the people, the interactions, the events, dance and music shared with good friends.

These last few days here in my community I look back on what I had before. I remember crying after my first capoeira class was canceled and I had nothing else to do. I remember being asked to play soccer within a closed-group. I remember being asked by my new friends to go to Michele Telo concert. I remember walking on the beach with my host-brother only to find random people from my community and deciding to join them. I look back and I see the change. Now I will tell you the challenges of life, are much easier once you have friends around you.