Excerpt from “Between the World and Me,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates:
“I was one wrong ticket from Vienna, Milan, or some Alpine village that no one I knew had ever heard of. It happened right then. The realization of being far gone, the fear, the unknowable possibilities, all of it -the horror, the wonder, the joy- fused into an erotic thrill… And at that moment I realized that those changes, with all the agony, awkwardness, and confusion were the defining fact of my life, and for the first time I knew not only that I really was alive, that I really was studying and observing, but that I had long been alive- even back in Baltimore. I had always been alive.”
Lately, I’ve been crying a lot. Silently, in solitude. I find pockets in my day and space to release the spillage of tears that build up from small reminders of South America. I constantly struggle with wanting to share everything with my loved ones and battle with fear of oversharing and borderline bragging. So I stay quiet. I quip about a few things here and there but not even I have encompassed the enormity of it all.
Oh that long-awaited post I have been postponing for fear of not accurately capturing my time in Brazil. But alas, there is no better time than now. So here it goes.
I fell in love with Brazil, that intense teenager newfound love driven by curiosity and vulnerability, where life hasn’t yet hardened you with distrust and precociousness. The sort of love where everything you see is pierced by a cupid’s arrow.
Sidenote: This love is definitely influenced by my decade-long fangirling of watching Brazilian novelas coupled with Bossa Nova beats and bombastic views.
Who are the Brazilian people? A rambunctious community energized with passion, euphoria, beauty, and life. Brazilian people have discovered the full potential of all feel good emotions. They talk, they laugh, they banter, they cry, they dance, they kiss, they hug. My god.
Now all politics and injustice aside, let’s not forget how corrupt ALL of South America is. You want to see corruption at its finest? Go to Brazil.
But the people, oh the people.
I had believed all Brazilians were lean, avatar height beings with tanned skin and… honestly now that I think about it, I had no idea what I was thinking.
That was the eerie impression I received from Brasília, the capital of Brazil. Founded in 1960, the capital was built on an immensely ambitious dream led by then-president Juscelino Kubitschek.
Suffocated by the violence and humidity of Rio de Janeiro and drowning in the vastness of São Paulo, Kubitschek, riding on a high train of economic prosperity developed a daring idea, to move the capital of Brazil to a climatically balanced and regionally convenient area. The expeditious construction of Brasília lasted 3.4 years, under the supervision of Lúcio Costa, and the architectural plans of Oscar Niemeyer. Niemeyer envisioned Brasília to be representative of its future, following the almost laughable flag motto of order and progress. Architecturally, each governmental and residential building has a sterile and clean finish that is properly referred to as Modernism. I later found out my judgment wasn’t far off, for Oscar Neimeyer was a die-hard communist.
Two weeks and some change. That’s it. I had only two weeks and a few days to travel Peru, north, and south, nonstop. Now that I look back at my pictures, I’ve realized how rewarding the trip was, even though by the end of it I was so exhausted I began considering my return home. I had only a list of the touristic destinations I planned on visiting but otherwise little knowledge of the culture (I find it much less disappointing and surprising to have zero stereotypes and expectations about a country and its people).
Like all the other countries I have visited, Peru differed greatly. From its arid landscape in the West coast to its tremendously breathtaking mountains and lush jungle in the East, inevitably became an astonishing destination. Its population is mainly indigenous or mestizos, a mixture of Spaniard and indigenous, with some Afro culture in the West.