Tomorrow marks the one-month date till we leave our little fishing village in the Northeast corner of Brazil and head back to Brasília, with the Swede flying out the next morning, the 20th of November, 2013. It’s hard to believe that more than two months have passed since my last blog post, and nearly three months since we chose happiness. These months have been spent quietly, writing and translating, gazing out the window and walking down to the little shops in our small town to buy milk, eggs, and bread, all of which they have intermittently. This town is a practice in patience, a place to reflect and contemplate, to sit and think. With all of those activities comes both revelations and a bit of boredom, with our internet proving to be the most intermittent thing of all, here for three hours then gone for three days. Luckily the Viking Hotel across the street has been welcoming to us two blondies, indulging our need for a steady table, chair and a consistent connection.
This is all to say that we feel very Western here. I guess we are programmed that way after growing up in Sweden and the United States. Lately a funny thing has been happening, however. We are starting to let the days stretch out like cats in the morning sun. We are getting used to not having what we want when we want it, we have started to enjoy simple pleasures like feeling the sea air on our necks and contemplating on the colors of the ocean from the balcony when the internet had been down for days. We walk more, we talk more, we play cards and spend just a little bit longer cooking up evening meals. Heck, what else is there to do? What I’m trying to say with all of this is that sometimes when we turn our ‘life off’ we end up turning on something else, something purer and more natural. We are forced to connect with unexpected new friends – be they villagers, fishermen, local kids working at the grocery store counter, 70+ year old Swedish vacationers, 80+ Italian retirees, or 50+ American expats who have renounced all that is Western in favor of a gorgeous view, a gusty sea wind and a pretty Brazilian lover. Beyond this hodgepodge of friends and acquaintances we have also been ‘forced’ to connect with each other. To have those needed conversations that Facebook and Gmail frequently hush or avert. Those ones that we save for tomorrow but never engage in. And they are had and cherished.
Sprinkled into this peaceful wave at low tide have been visits from an American, a Swede and an Austrian-American. We travelled the coast from Natal to Recife, stopping in a few small cities along the way. I also travelled back to Brasilia for what was probably the most incredible week of my stay here, at which point I shared my research with the other grantees and we all got to speak passionately and in an unbridled way about what we do- so rare in life. Passion is powerful stuff. It sticks to your ribs for a long time and can help you overcome a lot. The other grantees are incredible people- doing research in everything water treatment in the urban streets of Salvador, to NGO’s in Rio, to creative projects comparing African American and Afro-Brazilian art, to a girl from Ohio presenting her work on literary transnationalism in contemporary Brazilian lit :), to a woman measuring the circumference of women’s bellies in the Amazon to determine the health of infants. I was humbled and deeply affected by what I saw and felt in this group of scholars, gaining insight into Brazil, into my own work and a better understanding of regional complexities. Brazil is huge and diverse and is sooooo much more than Rio. Duh.
So 30 little days left here. It feels deeply bitter sweet. More sweet than bitter to be honest. I’m ready. Ready for what is to come, to be reunited with my family, friends and that lovely green Kitchenaid waiting for me in a box at home. I’m ready to set down a little deeper roots, to ponder what I’ve experienced instead of constantly battling the world around me, battling in the best sense of the word but battling nonetheless.
On that note, my dears, I wanted to thank you for reading. I have noticed that many of you have been much less active on your blogs, that one of you stopped blogging all together. I fully understand both decisions- heck it was me who last posted two months ago. With that said, I’d like to thank you for your readership. This blog will go all the way until this journey has come to a close and I am Dr.C. It will be as intermittent and sparse as life allows but continues to be something I cherish.