Here is the second part of the lessons I learned in Brazil, and at the World Cup in 2014. A piece of my heart will always be in Brazil, as the country and people are amongst the most beautiful that I've ever seen or met.
8. Shit Happens
I would describe myself a relaxed soul, typically going with the flow of what life sends my way, but there were definitely times on this trip that I said a couple of prayers. When we arrived to Sao Paulo, we realized we had such a short time to see everything the city had to offer. Based on size and culture, Sao Paulo is equated to New York, while Rio de Janeiro is equivalent to Los Angeles. We mastered the metro in Rio and decided that Sao Paulo would be no different. We jumped in a cab and promptly told him to take us to the metro because we wanted to go to the famous “Mercato”. He told us for 10 Brazilian Reals more he would take us straight to the Mercato, but we told him that we did not have enough money. He said, “I’ll take you to a bank.” What??? At least if we died in that cab we knew we got to go to the World Cup. We agreed, and he pulled up to a grocery store that was not in the best neighborhood. He pointed at a small supermarket. We thought, “Excuse me Sir…is this a joke…this is not the Mercato??” We then realized he said there was a bank inside. We went in (to probably the sketchiest grocery store I have ever been in), and tried to get money out of the ATM machines. Then my card got stuck in the machine. I had money strapped to my bra, so just in case we got robbed of everything I had some of my dignity with me. My friend then had to go into the bank (which was on lock down, with a police officer letting only one person in at a time), and thankfully a woman helped me get my card out. I had never been more grateful for all the “Hail Mary’s” I said that afternoon.
9. Looks Can Be Deceiving
I’m American, and I can anticipate what your money can get you in terms of accommodations: Hotels, Motels, and Holiday Inn’s. Booking accommodations in Rio was something that I did blindly. Everything was expensive, whether it was a hostel or a “hotel”. I even came across a hotel that didn’t have a roof. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t feel like having a heart attack in the middle of the night at the sight of someone jumping over my hotel wall. I had a travel agent book that part of the trip (my OCD self had to just let that go). We arrived at Hotel Itajuba, and judging by the outside it actually looked really decent. We checked in, received our 5 lb. key, and burst into uncontrollable laughter as we opened the door to our room. The size of our room was not luxuriously large (maybe the size of a dog kennel), however our shower was beautiful and could fit about 10 people, and would be within the Fire Marshall’s Compliance until you notice the electrical box in the shower…that could very be the last shower of your life!
10. If You Love Something Let It Go
I was lucky to have not lost anything on this trip. My stuffed duck (Ducky) that travels everywhere with me, credit cards, and my passport were all safe and sound. The friend (Jenny) that I was traveling with was not so lucky. Prior to our trip, Jenny decided to bring a pair of her favorite gladiator sandals with her, but not before gluing the gold embellishment that gave them their distinctive flair back on. We must have walked miles around Rio in a matter of hours. Footwear never stopped the Romans, and it would never stop us. When we took our Samba skills to the street – yes, there was a “block” party by our hotel around 2am – shit got crazy. Suddenly we were learning to line dance, and I had a Mexican man singing the French song “Dominique” to me. Where were we? We met some fans from Orange County that had been in Brazil for a month, going to games and traveling around the country. It was some real inspiring stuff. Back to this life lesson. That night Jenny lost the gold embellishment on her shoe. She realized this the next day and immediately wanted to go search for it. I told her that she has to leave it there, throw away those shoes, and know that we left more than our hearts on the Brazilian streets of Rio that night.
11. Life Isn’t Fair, but It is Still Good
I was first introduced to the Caipirinha four years ago when I was in Italy. This national cocktail of Brazil is lethal and intoxicating at the same time. The merging of Cachaça, sugar, and lime, was enough to make your taste buds do a small party in your mouth. We had gone to the Copacobana beach to watch the Russia vs. Algeria game at the quaintest bar. What had happened next completely shocked me. We were cut off. No more Caipirinha’s for us. Really Brazil? How does this happen, when the veins of the Brazilian people are flowing with Cachaça?? At the point we realized that sometimes life isn’t fair, but we know it is still good because we picked up and moved to the next beach establishment.
12. The Shortest Way to Get Anywhere is to Have Good Company
My advice for an amazing trip is good company. Find someone who travels at the same speed as yourself. Oh, and make sure it’s someone you can put up with and vice versa. This has to be someone that you can drink with, fight with, and run through airports with all in a short amount of time. I would describe it as a Kindred Spirit. This is a person that you can still laugh with at all of your unfortunate situations and still can hold your head high and go with the flow. Oh, and I highly suggest this is someone that you are ok scheduling poop sessions with, because yes it will go there.
13. When In Rome, Do As The Roman’s Do
I will never understand people who will travel to foreign places, only to greet themselves with comforts of home. I believe in self emersion, and trying something at least once. We tried Bacalo, corn vendors on the street, and did the samba until our legs hurt. When you finally reach your destination I would like to say you are in your “Honeymoon” phase. Everything is new, your inhibitions are out the window, and you are ready to do anything and everything. That is until you get back home, check your credit card charges, realize that you consumed about 5 lbs. of sugar from all the Caipirinha’s you drank, and that you might possibly have to take out a small loan to get your stomach pumped so that it returns back to normal.
I am reminiscing of my experience of the World Cup in Brazil, and it makes me extremely excited for my adventures to come in Russia. This time we are going to 3 matches, and we are excited for what awaits us. Let me know if you are going to Russia! :)
Bellisima = "Extremely Beautiful" in Italian, and how i would describe the world, and how I view it through travel.