Obrigada

Skyward bound, with earth below, water before, sky above and fire within<

Skyward bound, with earth below, water before, sky above and fire within~

It’s my final few days in São Paulo and I have over-processed, over-thought, and over-analyzed everything that’s happened, all the people I’ve met, and all the thoughtful conversations I’ve had for the past half a year. I think I’ve reflected out.

I didn’t come with any expectations, other than to be knocked off my socks by how different I knew everything would be. I knew I’d learn significant life lessons, and that I’d grow in ways that I couldn’t fathom, and half a year later, I am simply in awe of how, yes, all that happened, but in ways I could never have imagined even if I did imagine.

Here’s how I sum up my Brazil experience: it changed my life path. Where I was mentally before arriving here is not a separate story from my time in Brazil. Studying abroad here was not an experience reserved for an alternate reality from which I’ll return and pick things up where I left off. On the contrary, I would urge anyone considering studying abroad to think of it truly as a continuation of your studies and as a continuation of any mental or emotional growth that you’re already experiencing.

In Brazil, I learned to be independent. I learned to rely on God. I relearned to love learning. I learned that I don’t know all that I thought I knew. I learned to be humble in this and many other ways. I learned to love. I learned to receive love. And, I learned to embrace the Brazilian way as part of my own: to fearlessly and shamelessly embrace my passion for what it is, and share it.

I don’t have it together. But I’m not the compressed ball of confusion and anxiety that I was back in June either. I am much more myself now, and maybe a little bit more grown up. I’m ready to say goodbye to Brazil. I’m ready to return and finish the last semester of my final year. I’m ready to apply all these life lessons to other places in store on my life path. I’m ready to receive.

Então, só posso dizer obrigada para tudo, o Brasil.

~Feroza

“I Liked You Better With Straight Hair”

IMG_0489You didn’t have to say it. The furrow of your brow and your body language were loud enough.

My hair makes you uncomfortable.

Well then. I suppose your discomfort is better for me to deal with than my hair possibly offending you, which would spark a different essay, or poem, whichever form my thoughts would take to formulate some kind of intelligible response to you.

You.

You, who have been brainwashed, through no fault of your own, to believe that Eurocentricism is the ‘right’ kind of beauty. It’s what you’re used to. And, I’ll admit that I was brainwashed, too. Though I didn’t realize it until I actually chopped off my straightened locks. It had to go. It had to.

Earlier this year, I was on a quest to look for strong female figures, both in the Bible and in the media. I was looking for myself, and a better version of myself, in everything I’d see. I was itching to see a beautiful Black woman rocking her completely natural hair, doing her thing, and doing it fabulously. I know they’re out there, just that images of them aren’t shoved down my throat like images of –insert light skinned straight haired supermodel/actress here-. Whatever.

So, there came a point when I was really quite done with seeing mostly white women on magazine covers, or black women on magazine covers Whitened by their chemical-ed or sown in hair. Don’t get me wrong, women of African descent certainly rock the style, seen in the gorgeously long wavy weave, or the particularly styled press or perm. But, the underlying message, to me, was, “these women are deemed beautiful, therefore if I don’t adhere to this standard then I am not beautiful“.

And so it was. For this very reason, this entire time since first cutting my hair in January until now, I have not felt comfortable or beautiful in my decision to sport the TWA (teeny weeny Afro).

It didn’t help that I could sense a subtle difference in how some people treated me after the chop. My now visible Afrocentrism made them uncomfortable. As a Black woman in the upper middle class, I was palatable with my straight hair. Now, with my afro, they have to grapple the reality of my Blackness. And, because of this, I myself have had to grapple with my reality of being Black, in terms of how I am perceived by others, and how I perceive myself. Because, as I mentioned earlier, I didn’t realize how caught up I was in Eurocentrism until I went completely natural and had an external-beauty crisis.

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Now, as opposed to last year

Time jump to now. I first cut my hair in January. It is now November, and I finally feel wonderful in how I look. I finally, finally, feel comfortable, feel beautiful. Feel like I’m me…in relation to others and in relation to just myself. And I can’t imagine the me of last year, trapped in the stress of flat irons, keratin and grease.

What changed? Well, for one thing, my hair has grown considerably to a length that suits me better than the shorter cut. Medium afro works better for me than the teeny weeny. The other thing is that I have seen far more Black women in São Paulo, and in my travels throughout Brazil, who rock hardcore natural afro-beauty. Far more than I have seen in LA, specifically my university campus.

I’ve found the sisterhood! I’m not a freak of nature! And it feels GREAT. A real confidence boost that I can’t really articulate.

This is not to say that Brazil doesn’t have issues of image and identity as it relates to race. The same issues in the US and in the Caribbean where Black women feel compelled to straighten their hair in order to get a job or to ‘make a good impression’, occurs here. But as an outsider looking in, having the chance to live in Brazil, which some would call a racial democracy, for half a year and attending a very liberal, hippie-centric university, I feel much more welcome and more at ease expressing my naturalness. I suppose it helps that no one here has a frame of reference for how I used to look before.

I currently have a woman-crush on one of the guides that my program assigns to us on some cultural excursions. She is Black, exceedingly intelligent, articulate, and she rocks the most gorgeous Afro I have ever seen in my life. When I’m with her, I just listen and stare (No exaggeration. Thankfully, she accepts my creepiness). But that’s because I see in her what I desperately want to be.

And I realize that I have to be that woman that I long to see—confident, courageous, beautiful and natural. Maybe at some point I’ll end up on a magazine cover, haha.

Ladies who rock the Eurocentricity, y’all do that. Y’all are beautiful. But what God gave me, no additives needed (other than a good moisturizer), is beautiful too. I actually believe it this time.

 

~Feroza

Different versions of me. Happily.

The different versions of me within the last 12 months. Happily.

It’s Been Four Months

All the things that happen under the watch of the Cristo. Unquantifiable. Just as my growth.

All the things that happen and emotions experienced under the watch of the Cristo. Unquantifiable.

How does one commemorate four months of life change? I’ve mentioned this before, but study abroad is really, as my friend Gabby puts it, “You’re going to be pushed outside of your comfort zone everyday” abroad. It’s like a pressure cooker, dealing with absolute alone-ness, loneliness, learning to conquer inner fear and intimidation, learning the rigors of a different academic system, learning to get past the language barrier and plow through the embarrassment anyway, and learning to get over yourself and wrestle with the difficult things that come along. You know, the things that you were sure you were over but being in a foreign land totally highlights the fact that you’re not.

For me, that’s largely been in the form of confronting my issues of national identity as well as my issues interacting with people, especially men. I’ve already written about the former, but my relational issues are a little murkier. It’s rooted in the context of Brazilian culture: the fact that personal space is practically nonexistent (Brazilians are so touchy feely), and the way that men are exceedingly liberal with kissing. So, for me, it’s hard to be friends with a Brazilian guy when by nature they’re touchy feely with even platonic female friends or when after literally five minutes of conversation they want to make out with you.

Me and my fellow American ladies have actually gotten together to complain about this—the stress of navigating the waters that are Brazilian men. We wish we were given a manual about how to avoid super awkward situations with Brazilians that we tend to stumble into because of cultural differences in personal space. Brazilians do have a generally smaller personal bubble, but a Brazilian friend who’s lived in America (and so understands my hang ups) helpfully explained to me that kissing in this country isn’t a big deal like it is in the States. It’s really no different than the significance we’d attach to a handshake. On the other hand, grinding on the dance floor with a guy at a club in Brazil means exponentially more than it does in the States, where, generally, it’s seen as just a sexy dance and nothing more. Crazy, huh?

Even with girls, feeling comfortable with the physical orientation is challenging because their natural comfort zone is generally less rigid and wide than we Amerrcans. The situation is especially difficult because I need my personal bubble. But, in order to make friends and give the signal that I like them and want to keep hanging out, I gotta go through the painful task of shrinking my personal bubble, which isn’t a terrible thing, but is indeed challenging. I’ve made some steps, but, yeah, I still have some boundaries.

This is just one of the many challenges some of us wrestle with while living abroad in a Latin American country. Yet still, I don’t know how to effectively convey that in four months, I’ve seen myself grow personally and emotionally (even academically), into a woman that I never thought I could possibly be.

I’ve redefined independence in the sense of learning to receive help and confidently traveling to unknown places by myself. I’ve learned to be okay by myself for days at a time, yet I’ve learned to welcome conversation without intense hopes of Brazilian best-friend-ship. The language barrier has long ceased to be a barrier because I’ve realized that PEOPLE UNDERSTAND YOU ANYWAY (most times. No promises about Bahia), even if it’s a pretty sloppy sentence. Try anyway. Try.

I actually came to São Paulo for the study part of study abroad. But, I am pleased to have been knocked over by lots of life lessons far from the classroom.

~Feroza

 

Note: this may be a pitch to study abroad, if you can, especially in a country where the language is different than in your home country

Is This Real?

I chat with a few relatives and friends about my experiences studying abroad, and at some point into the conversation, without fail, they ask, “so, when are you coming back to real life?”

I must ask, is the life I am currently living not real? Those tests I had last week were real enough, these presentations I have at the end of next month seem real enough, and the amount of reading I need to get through tonight are definitely real enough. It seems that far more people than I’d like are buying into the conspiracy that study abroad constitutes traveling every free weekend, having not a care in the world, and paying minimum attention to school. And, apparently, that isn’t real life.

It isn’t. But, no one seems to believe me when I say that I actually came for the study part of study abroad. No, I don’t have papers due every week, nor do I have an official ‘midterm’ season, and I really do just have to get an average score in order to transfer credit to my home institution. But, I’m taking my courses seriously. I actually enjoy studying Portuguese and Theology and Foreign Policy. It didn’t take long to realize that I didn’t know just how much I don’t know. I love it. It’s been an emotional and academic challenge without the pressure of tanking my GPA.

So, it’s rather offensive to say that the life one lives while abroad isn’t “real life”. It’s as if one means to devalue the experiences had while abroad. And it’s as if “real life” constitutes a soul-sucking nine to five job, withering away under the stress of fitting into the mold of what society tells you is right. As if real life constitutes living life in parts more known and accepted. As if real life is the traditional trajectory of undergrad, grad, real job, paying bills, having a family, buying a house, and comfortably paying off debts for life….

Wow, real life has been defined for me.

And then there’s the life that Christ calls us into, one where we cast off the cares of the World and follow the lead of the Holy Spirit…apparently, that isn’t real life either (because that’s exactly how I got to this life Brazil in the first place). That’s the life of the crazily, ‘outrageously’ devout.

Maybe it’s because I’m young, and I feel that I need to live my life the way I want to. Maybe it’s that I’m not yet hounded my the responsibility of caring for a family. Maybe it’s that I’m just plain naive and sheltered to think that I can grow up and enjoy what I do professionally.

I’m not questioning myself. I’m questioning the people questioning me. It seems there’s only one one way this will go. It seems I must appear mad.

“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. I have tried prudent planning long enough. From now on I will be mad.” -Rumi

-Feroza

“Don’t Forget Why You’re There!”

Unnervingly, both my grandmother and my Dad told me this within days of each other. But honestly, what kind of stories would they prefer?—“Oh HEY Dad, I’m visiting EVERY bar and club this city has to offer and I’m having a BLAST spending your money on alcohol!!!” or “Hey, Dad, just got back from an awesome trip to *insert Brazilian city/town/village here* where I learned SO MUCH MORE about the culture, and myself, and my LIFE…”

…when in actuality all they really want to hear is, “YAH, spent the night at the library/coffee shop studying my BUTT off, just as I would back at USC, but just completely in this foreign language.”

I’d love to think that some mixture of the three would be acceptable to the parents of the study abroad-ers of the world, though any of the three is perhaps better than someone’s child picking a study abroad program and hating it.

Because…that happens sometimes.

…I’m not hating it (such a strong word). I’m just very over being “The American“. And, unfortunately, São Paulo’s well known scene of bars, clubs and restaurants don’t appeal to me. Living here has made me realize that not only do I not like ‘big city’ life, I also don’t like living far from the ocean.

Perhaps that was part of the appeal that Salvador had for me while I was there. A Brazilian city on the bay without the New York highlife feel. I genuinely wonder why I wasn’t stationed in Bahia for half a year instead of São Paulo, when Bahia felt so much more like it could be home.

Even so, I don’t regret choosing São Paulo. Studying international relations here has been far more thought-provoking and emotionally destabilizing (in a good way) than most of my studies at USC. But, I’m just not comfortable here, despite being accustomed to life and having found my little niche. I’ve got only two more months to power through, so I’m not about to give up and pull out. But, I just…wonder what happens now, now that I have found what I was looking for, but somewhere else?

What happens when you realize that you just don’t want to be here anymore? Still figuring that out, on how best to proceed. I suppose the answer is a simple one: find reasons and places for why being here is wonderful.

It is with this sentiment that I mark three months living in São Paulo. Who wudda thunk it?

~Feroza

Hello, October

I deluded myself
into believing
that it would forever be
September.
I trudged through it with closed eyes,
clenched fists, and a bated breath,
for October to come knocking,
for reality to come calling,
for my failures to tease how they’ve
almost
won the race.

On this the eve of October,
I can no longer close my eyes.
My love affair with O Brasil makes its demands—

In July the fire was lit
In August the fire grew and set ablaze all the parts of me
And in September,
it exploded beyond my confines,
making me question everything I thought I stood for…
…after which the Flame snuffed out into a flickering ember…
and I slunk back to the very things I was so ready to leave behind.

Now I only recall the explosion
rather than make it happen again.

Who likes being burned?

Though I came here for Fire
and Fire is what I received,
and though I lay in fear, sadness and postured hope,
October, sweet October,
reminds me of the limited time
I have left
to fight.

~Feroza

O Americano

“Ahh, the Americans are here to join us! Please, share with us your opinion on *xyz* issue!”

I suppose I should be grateful that my Brazilian professors even acknowledge my presence as an exchange student, and that I should be even more gratified that they want to know my perspective as an American. And maybe, just maybe, it’s just my paranoia working when I hear them refer to the United States as if it were a curse word, or that they speak of Americans as if we were the Devil’s spawns.

I know my history. I know that the United States is partly responsible for Brazil’s military coup in 1964 and for supporting the consequent twenty one year dictatorship all because it was more economically savvy for the US. Just as they did in Argentina, Chile, and others as part of a wider South American foreign policy. Just another day in supporting economic comparative advantages and IMF driven cut-and-paste trade liberalization, rather than supporting the basic human rights that our so-called ‘great country’ espouses.

As a student of world history on her way to attain a first degree in international relations, I’m all too aware of the atrocities that the United States has either committed or supported on the world stage, all in the name of protecting “life, liberty and property” or for the cause of more advantageous economic collusion.

So yeah, with this background, as I reside outside the U.S., I carry a lot of shame when it comes to being singled out as an American and, further, identifying as an American.

De onde você é? Where are you from? The inevitable question in response to either my accented Portuguese or my more formal word choice. I’ve been told that I could get away with coming off as African, but I think that’s mostly because Brazilians aren’t used to foreigners, especially Black foreigners, being able to speak their language. And when I reply, “Los Angeles,” the excitement, wonder and curiosity becomes all too real. And too much.

“Ahhh, California! Hollywood! Santa Monica! Beverly Hills! Rap music!”…After which I usually just want to crawl under a rock and stay there.

I associate myself with none of those things. I cannot even begin to explain to them the intricacies of being Black in America as a Caribbean immigrant. There’s no time. And I don’t think they want their stereotype-bubble burst. What’s more, I can’t explain my complicated American background to every single person I meet in order to convince them why I’m different from the type of American that I know they are envisioning.

Put simply, I can’t control how they view me, just as I wouldn’t be able to back at my private, White and Asian dominated university. And back home, that would be fine. I’m comfortable in my racial identity. I’m just not comfortable in my national identity.

The real issue isn’t that I’m ‘American’ by title. It’s the tension among who I am as an American, who I actually am as an American, and what others think of me as an American.

As another one of my professors put it, “I love you Americans; I just hate your government.” I could only chuckle and respond that yeah, many of us hate our government, too.

I know that I am not my government, and I know that my Brazilian colleagues don’t think that I am (for the most part). But this issue is still not resolved for me. I’ve only learned to suck it up, nod along and smile when Brazilians either go goo-goo-gah-gah over my Angelino origins, or ignore me out of whatever weird complex they have with Americans. Not much I can do about it.

 

~Feroza

“Welcome to Traveling”

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This part of Salvador da Bahia dates back to the 1550s. Not too old, but pretty old.

That’s the first thought that popped into my mind on the first morning of my solo trip to Salvador da Bahia. Salvador is one of the major cities of Brazil in the north eastern region, known for its history of sugar cane-driven slavery and consequently predominantly Black population. Wanting to dig deeper into this history, it became the destination of my first solo trip ever.

On the first day, I sleep-drunkenly ambled through my morning routine, feeling uber groggy and just wanting to bounce off my thoughts on the previous day with someone. I was sort of looking for a ghost person. You know, a friend on your right or left side to just say, “hey, what did you think of…?” only to find no one there.

‘Twas weird.

The only one responsible for me was myself in a city where I knew no one and no one knew me. If I decided to jump off the boat (I did go on a boat trip my first day), or maybe if I ‘fell’ into the sea never to be discovered again, only strangers would be left to call my emergency contact. Such a…solitary…concept…

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Well, one thing is, gotta learn to perfect the selfie. I hate them, but they become a necessary evil when you’re alone

Traveling alone as a woman

Because, c’mon, there was that brief flash of surprise when I’d tell people that, yeah, I was traveling alone.

To be honest, I was very apprehensive at the prospect of a truly solo trip prior to buying my ticket. I thought about it practically: I wasn’t confident in my Portuguese (much less with the famed unintelligible north eastern accent), I didn’t have friends or anyone waiting there for me, and really, I just wasn’t sure about traveling alone under those circumstances as a woman, a woman of DSC03210color. As the colorful woman that I am.

I’ve heard the stories and the fables—women swallowed up by machismo, black women mistaken for prostitutes (that actually kinda sorta did happen to me), women kidnapped, yadda yadda…I could explore a foreign European or American city by myself without thinking twice. But Latin America? Brazil? Uhhhhhhh…..???

…If I were a man, this wouldn’t even be an issue.

Funnily enough, my mom was the one who told me to go for it. She was like, “Go! You’ll be fine. You’re able to read and you have common sense. Just enjoy your 20s.” And she said it so nonchalantly as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. That was all the encouragement I needed—someone to say yes to my crazy idea without doubt in their eyes.

How was the trip? Awesome. Packed with a gabillion realizations, as per usual, with some to share.

A rear view of the elevator, yes, I said elevator, that connects the lower city with the upper city

A rear view of the elevator, yes, I said elevator, that connects the lower city to the upper city

My Portuguese is actually better than I give myself credit. Or maybe I should spend less time with my fellow exchange students, with whom I invariably end up comparing my language skills. Or maybe I just needed to be in a situation where I had to fend for only myself, different from São Paulo where I usually have company. A friend of mine has a name for this phenomenon: ‘having the conversations that you don’t want to have, but have to have’. Like my first month in São Paulo with 90% less “hmm” and “umm” and crying. But actually, even with choppy language skills, people actually understand you. Brazilians especially make the effort. So really, language isn’t a barrier (mostly).DSC03271

Don’t doubt yourself—if you wanna go, GO. Just be smart, walk with confidence, and get ready to laugh at yourself. I went to Bahia for many reasons, with a particular date in mind, and it tugged at my heart so much so that I had to go, and I had to go alone. The reason for this is deeply rooted in my spirituality and perhaps, in time, I’ll write an article about it. Nevertheless, I’ve realized that generally, women are told ‘yeah, you can do that!’ yet there is still that expression of surprise when the woman actually goes after it—Yeah, you can be president! Oh, you’re actually running for office? Yeah, you can totally travel alone! Oh, you’re actually booking a ticket?—The double double standard. The thing is, once you’re armed with information about where you’re going and what you’re doing, you’ll be fine. The rest is to simply enjoy, explore and laugh at yourself when you trip on the sidewalk in front of the locals.

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Took part in a capoeira roda. This sport is the very root of my first fascination with Brazil

Know what you want, and know what you’re willing to give up. I suppose it’s fun to pick a city blindly, but it’s important to do your research and know what you’re heading into before you get there. This is especially true if you intend to ‘rough it’, by which I mean the ultimate backpack-style travel of buses and walking (taxis are for squares). Before I left, I read a gabillion and one blogs and travel guides about Bahia and all the need-to-know’s. Armed with this information, I had the blueprint of what I wanted to do and how I was going to do it. However, I met some awesome people at my hostel, wonderful enough that I didn’t mind dropping some of my plans to compromise with them. After all, I value conversation over sights any day. But, I successfully persuaded them to consider doing some my ideas, too. Win-win.

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Met these crazies at my hostel. Ended up spending the week together. Apparently, this is normal in the traveling world.

Wherever you go, whatever it is, it might be better or worse than you imagined. Sometimes the lows are as low as the highs are high. Maybe you won’t like traveling alone. Perhaps you already know that you don’t. But I’m making a case to really just say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, nor is it a promised death sentence. I had a conversation with a fellow female traveller on this trip who told me how you’re never really ‘alone’ when you travel alone. You meet people at the hostel, or on the tour bus, or even on the street (all three happened to me) and you end up hanging out with them for part or all of the time. You end up having wonderful conversations that you never would have had if were you traveling with others. It ends up being more than you possibly could have imagined.

But again, it really all depends on what you want, or what you think you want, out of traveling. To each their own.

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We sat for a while just watching the magnificent waves crash against the rocks. The might of nature.

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You can walk along the coast of the city and see this view, one of the many bays of Salvador.

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Cheese roasted right in front of you. Found at any beach. Oregano topping is a must!

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Happy bee with mah cheese!

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Trans: “Between colors racism does not exist”

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Snapshot of the Pelourinho, an area well-preserved from the colonial days. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site

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Shamelessly a tourist in this one. =]

~Feroza

Why Do We Shy Away From Telling Our Story?

God doesn’t give us experiences for us to pretend like they never happened, or for us to keep to ourselves. I say this in self chastisement. Crazy things have happened to me in the past few weeks, more than I care to write about, and I’ve caught myself wanting to keep it all to myself.

Let me preface: I went on my first solo trip recently, to Salvador da Bahia, and honestly, I don’t want to talk about it nor do I want to tell anyone about it, because it was so special for me. So, so special. But as I’ve thought about what to say to the million and one people asking me how the trip was, I remember this concept my past roommate once told me: memories are personal, not private.

The path I walk is yours too

The path I walk may be part of yours too. Where I’ve been, where I’m going, where I am…

Things happen to me, my life changes, or my paradigm shifts, and it’s up to me to share these things with others. This concept goes back to my last post about being filled and emptied. After being filled, it’s important to pour a bit of yourself and your experience into others. It doesn’t have to be the whole world, but really anyone who genuinely asks. Believe it or not, the things that happen to you aren’t all about you. They’re actually part of a wider chain of events occurring in the world. Think of the ebb and flow of the tide. The butterfly effect. The six degrees of separation. Your ancestors came before you and were influenced by shared conversations about experiences, leading to a sequence of events that brought you into this world. You yourself are influenced by conversations and media about other people’s experiences. Therefore, who are you to be selfish and break that chain?

Perhaps I’m hippie or alternative or whatever the lingo is these days, but I believe that sharing even part of your story with others contributes to a larger body of ideas, thoughts and desires that can furnish someone else’s development, no matter how old or young. This is the same reasoning behind why Christians find it important to testify. To encourage others on their own path that Jesus IS alive and working. It’s just up to you to decide the amount of detail you want to give.

Depending on the personality of the storyteller, telling a large group of people about an awesome life-changing road trip or event might feel like it cheapens the experience, as opposed to talking to two or three where it’s easier to intimately communicate the profundity of the trip.

Whichever way works, just remember that it’s important to speak, it’s important to be open, and it’s important to share some of the life-lessons you’ve learned along the way. This is essentially the premise of Daily Sojourner.

Unshakeable earth below me, the heavens above me, living water before me, and an unquencheable fire within me

Unshakeable earth below me, the heavens above me, living water before me, and an unquenchable fire within me. Oh, Brasil, what are you doing to me?

I write about what I’ve conversed, and I converse about what I’ve written. This is my method of understanding. I’m sure you, dear reader, have your own. Tell me about it in the comments below, if you’d like. I’d love to hear it.

~Feroza

We’re Just Vessels

A snapshot of the view from Farrol de Barra in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil

A snapshot of the view from Farrol de Barra in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil

There’s this concept of “vasio e cheio“–empty and full–that I’m trying to grasp.

I think that when we travel, we have to do it with empty hearts and with an empty spirit. That way, we can be filled with the love and beauty of all the people we meet and the sights we see. To ‘aproveitar‘, truly, is to allow yourself to soak in everything without walls, allowing yourself to be vulnerable to the land.

Be empty and be filled.

But, the thing about being filled is that I want to hold on to it. I want to keep that beauty with me. And in some way, I know I can. But as I move on to the next place, as any traveller does, I have to consciously allow myself to be emptied again. This way, I can be filled with the beauty and love of that next place.

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As one travels, this becomes a cycle of sadness and joy that is oftentimes bittersweet. But if it’s the right place, it has one falling in love.

And maybe that’s what it means to be in love—being filled with love while also pouring your love into something(one) else.

I don’t fall in love with every land I visit. So, now that I have, it’s something special, something to embrace, and something to dig deeper into.

Why here and not all the other places?

~Feroza