The New LoFi

Ten Years

Diário de Brasil: Entry 002


It is certainly possible to be bored in another country, and I always find a way. The weather has been a cruel host: 14 degrees and overcast. This is Brazilian winter. I asked Artur in São Paulo if he had ever seen snow. “One time” his eyes lit up, “when I was in Germany…” Ah, what a life! Imagine if the freezing cold was novelty!

I’ve tried to picture myself as a local Brazilian who happened to have an extended long weekend. I think there is a lot of social pressure to have an exciting trip, to weave tales of fascinating daytime adventure, breathtaking hikes through the jungle, drunken mischief and random interactions with potential lunatics. Of course, the argument could be made that I, in fact, am the one who is boring. This is a defensible position. I manage to find myself in this situation every time I visit a Latin country: how is this possible? They’re such a friendly people and they love to party! It turns out the only place in Canasvieiras bumping loud dance music past 9:00 at night is the fitness center. People, regardless of culture and language, are pretty much the same everywhere.

I am a local Brazilian with a few days off work. I’ve been reading a lot, which is what people seem to do when they don’t have television or the internet; those piping hot forms of media that flash color and photo, ceaselessly entertaining and bottomless. Books, unfortunately, have bottoms. And I fear that once I reach the end I might lose my sanity completely. When I was a child, I would fill up this spare time with video games. But somewhere along the timeline of becoming an adult I stopped playing video games, erased them from my computer, and let my Nintendo DS deteriorate to the point where won’t even turn on anymore. I am a local Brazilian with a few days off work.

Conceivably I could immerse myself in the culture. Which is a fancy way of saying that I could get lost and look like a jackass. I could: hop on the bus, see where it takes me, presumably hop off the bus and try and find something cool and worthwhile to photograph. This would be brave, I would go home and recount the tale of my brazen adventure, the potential dangers, the strange interactions, the ironic twist. A story arc, humorous subplots, an unexpected friend. These are the stories people want to hear, this is what makes a trip worthwhile. But what worth is necessary when the trip was free? Do I have to try so desperately to squeeze value out of every dollar spent when I made money for showing up? I am a local Brazilian with a paid leave from work.

I got drunk last night and waged war on the squadron on insects. This is a mistake that may prove fatal. My home base, fortunately, is a few miles hike for them. I hope they are a diplomatic race. I am willing to negotiate. I feel the phantom limbs of phantom bugs crawling on my legs.

The sun is hopelessly masked by a thick web of cloud. A garbage truck chugs up and down the block. Stray dogs sound the alarm. I dreamt that I got in a fight with the cable company; they installed a thick steel wire diagonally across my front door, making it impossible to open the door fully. I exaggerated the severity of the situation over the phone. My only motive was cheaper cable. The wire? I could live with that.

In a feat of attempted bravery, I drank four beers and went out in public. “Perhaps this will initiate something exciting!” I rubbed my hands together. I ate a burger and watched six men talk about work. I think. It was 9:30 on a Thursday night. My excitement for the day came when I watched a karate class for fifteen minutes. Most people were in bed. The neon blue hue of the television glowing from every other apartment. People are the same everywhere.

I apologize if this sounds trite. Perhaps you as a reader are thinking: “I would have more fun in Brazil. This friend of mine is a real Debbie Downer.” And perhaps, my friend, you are correct. Perhaps you are braver than I, you would seek the adventure or the adventure would seek you. Rain? Rain be damned. You would hop on that bus, headlong into mystery and intrigue. Perhaps you would find love and friendship, a pick-up game of soccer or a hidden grotto off the beaten path. You would return to Calgary with a scar, a misplaced step, a near death experience. A laugh. A twinkle somewhere behind your eyes that says “I am not afraid”. Perhaps.

Or perhaps not.

I would like to make it clear that I am not having so terrible of a time. I may not return with any captivating stories, any jungle exploits or fascinating downtown escapades. I might not return having tried any new foods, found any nude beaches, or lost any shoes in a drunken stupor. My camera won’t be full of exotic animals, smiling faces and scenic overlooks. And yet, I am still having wonderful time. Why?

I am a local Brazilian with a few days off work.

[audio:ência.mp3|titles=Lenine – Paciencia]
Lenine – Paciência