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Posts from the ‘Brazil’ Category

Brazilian Side of Iguazu Falls, Bird Park and Itaipu Dam

As of this morning I’m back on the Dragoman truck and it will probably take me a while to get to know all the new people which have joined in Rio. Some of them will leave us already in Buenos Aires but most people will travel until Quito. Although I re-joined the truck today, I decided not to leave my dorm accommodation and put up my tent. The Paudimar Hostel in Foz do Iguaçu is really a beautiful spot very close to the falls. When you look for good value for money you definitely should go there.

Today was a busy day. First activity on the agenda was a helicopter flight over the Iguazu Falls most people have signed up for. We wanted to do it first thing in the morning because when it rains it’s mostly in the afternoon leading to all flights getting cancelled. The cost of the flight was 195 Real (114 USD) or 110 USD if you paid in US Dollar instead of Real. Stuart and Jeremy even sponsored a flight for our crew Anki and Ross because otherwise they wouldn’t have gone and saved their money for a trip to Galápagos Islands later on this year. By speaking to other travelers in the hostel during the last couple of days I had found out that when you sit on the right side of the helicopter you will be able to see much more since the helicopter will mostly face the falls with its right side. I actually managed to get one of these seats with a better view out of the five seats available in the helicopter. The whole flight was 10min and went by pretty quickly. In comparison to the flight over the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia it took much longer to fly from the landing place to the falls and back, maybe 5 out of the 10 minutes. But once you were right above the falls the view was truly amazing. You could especially see the many smaller falls which make up the Iguazu Falls as a whole and the narrow u-shaped chasm called Devil’s Throat. You could also see the long bridge on the Argentinian side of the falls leading to Devil’s Throat on which I will be walking tomorrow. Besides the falls there is rainforest as far as your eyes can see which makes you realize in what you are actually into. My friend Michael back home went to the Iguazu Falls many years ago when he was still a student and didn’t do the helicopter flight in order to save the money which he regrets today. I hope especially you Michael will enjoy the helicopter view pictures below.

Second on today’s agenda was a visit to the Bird Park. Actually I didn’t really want to go there since I’m not very much into birds. But when looking for the entrance to the Iguazu National Park I somehow ended up at the entrance of the Bird Park at the other side of the road. As pragmatic as I am, I thought when I’m here already I can also have a quick look into the Bird Park. After the visit I was happy I have done so. The park is home to a wide selection of South American birds such as tucans and parrots. Many of the birds are kept in huge cages in which you can actually walk into so you are in close contacts with the birds. The park also features a smaller selection of other animals such as snakes and spiders for which I wasn’t keen to get in closer contact with.

After the short side trip to the Bird Park I actually made my way to the Iguazu National Park on the Brazilian side of the falls. After paying the entrance fee of roughly 50 Real (29 USD) a bus brought us close to the falls were you could walk along a trail mainly seeing the falls, which are at the Argentinian side, from a distance. Actually approx. 80% of the Iguazu Falls are at the Argentinian side so the Brazilian side is best for getting a panoramic view of the falls while the Argentinian side is best for actually getting in touch with them which most people prefer. In comparison to the Victoria Falls, which is one massive waterfall over a length of 1.7km carrying tons of water, the Iguazu Falls consist of 275 individual falls over a length of 2.7km which distributes the fall of water to many smaller drops. The Victoria Falls are in my eyes best when you want to experience the power of water and the Iguazu Falls are best when you like to have a scenic view on a large waterfall. I spent approx. two hours hiking along the major trail of the Iguazu National Park. Most I enjoyed the end of the trail when I got actually in contact with the spray from Devil’s Throat.

Around 2:30pm a few of us drove to the Itaipu Dam situated on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. First I didn’t really want to visit the dam because I saw already many in my life and it’s always kind of the same experience. But I thought I should better go and visit the dam since it’s supposed to be the world’s largest with regards to generating capacity and you cannot just visit it from the outside but also from the inside. Our leader Anki had booked us into a private guided tour of the dam which costs each of us roughly 65 Real (38 USD) and lasted 2.5 hours. Also here I was happy afterwards of having done the tour and some of us even found the tour of the dam more fascinating than the visit of the Iguazu Falls this morning. Main reason was the large scale of the dam project and to learn how it actually was finalized in a joint effort between the two countries of Brazil and Paraguay. Half of the budget for the dam, half of the employees and half of the management came from each country. In return each country receives half of the energy produced. It was also very fascinating to experience the inside of the dam where the energy gets produced. So we were able to feel the water power by touching the large penstocks and we could stand only five meter next to one of the energy generators. The tour was finished with a look into the cockpit where a joint team of Brazilians and Paraguayans are monitoring the operations of the dam.

Back at the hostel a lovely dinner was waiting for us. It was prepared by some of the people who didn’t go on the dam visit and consisted of Mexican tortillas with chicken and vegetables.

Lazy Day in Foz do Iguaçu

When I woke up this morning there were Nina and Laura, two logopedics students from Dortmund, in my room. They are using their semester break to travel around Southern Brazil and visit some friends Laura had made in Mexico earlier on. The girls wanted to go and see the Iguazu Falls today and asked me if I want to join. Since I will re-join the Dragoman truck the day after tomorrow and we will go and see the falls as well I decided to have a lazy day in the hostel and visit the falls with the guys travelling on Dragoman.

It’s really interesting to see how quickly you get in touch with people in a hostel. While in a large city you often don’t know your neighbors and can become lonely if you don’t make the effort to meet people it’s the complete opposite when staying in a hostel. Everybody just speaks to you and you start to speak to people you don’t know. It feels really great and sociable and I hope to transfer some of this habit into normal life since communicating with interesting people really enriches my life and makes me develop as a person.

After breakfast with lots of tasteful watermelon I sorted out my flights for Central Asia where I will be going in six weeks from now. I figured out booking two one-way tickets from Düsseldorf to Istanbul and from Kathmandu back to Düsseldorf is actually cheaper than purchasing one round trip ticket. Usually round trip tickets are cheaper but this could not be the case if you buy an open jaw flight and not all of the destinations are well serviced by an airline company and its alliance member. Booking two one way tickets with two different airlines was actually approx. 400 EUR less than the cheapest available round trip ticket and offered me more convenient travel times and airports of departure (e.g. flying directly from Düsseldorf instead of Frankfurt). I’m also looking forward to travel again with Etihad from Kathmandu via Abu Dhabi to Düsseldorf since this airline is currently my favorite when it comes to comfort and excellent customer service.

Today I also managed to call my friend Michael back home which I was trying to do for 2-3 weeks but he was always busy with work or on travel which I very much understand since my life used to be like this. I was very happy speaking to him since he’s one of my closest friends and matters a lot to me. It’s kind of hard to stay in touch with family and friends back home when you travel extensively and for long durations as I’m currently doing but I do my best to stay in touch and remain a part of their life.

Otherwise, there is not much else to say about this day. I was simply chilling out in the pool area, talking to people and having great food and drinks.

Long Bus Journey to Foz do Iguaçu

The overnight bus from Rio to Foz do Iguaçu was less fancy than the one from Brasilia to Rio meaning no business class type of seats and such. While I was the only foreign tourist in the bus from Brasilia to Rio the situation changed for the bus from Rio to Foz do Iguaçu where about half of the people were western tourists. The travel time was kind of long too. We left yesterday at 1:30pm and didn’t arrive before 2:30pm today which makes it 25 hours in total. I probably could have travelled directly from Brasilia to Foz do Iguaçu but when I left Brasilia I didn’t know where to go but just wanted to leave.

The bus stopped from time to time but I wasn’t sure if it just stopped for a few minutes to let people board or if it was a proper stop where we could actually hop-off the bus and get something to eat. After a while I found out I better only leave the bus when the driver has switched off the engine completely and was fine with this strategy. There were two French guys who were also kind of confused and during a stop in some small town they were left behind. Luckily we noticed it and made the driver stop and return to pick them up.

After I arrived in Foz do Iguaçu I didn’t wanted to search for the hostel and just jumped into a taxi straight away. It seemed the hostel is situated at the other site of the city from the viewpoint of the bus terminal I arrived in and a bit outside too, very close to the Iguazu Falls. Luckily they had received my reservation but no single room was available so I moved into dorm accommodation. I was the first one to arrive in the dorm so I had the choice in which of the six beds I want to sleep.

The hostel was very nice. Free Wi-Fi, a pool, a bar with good drinks and tasteful food so I just stayed there for the rest of the day. While I was chilling out in the pool area I spotted Marco, the Swiss guy who was travelling with me from Salvador to Rio. Marco had left us in Rio in order to continue travelling with Kumuka another overland company from the UK. I was very surprised to see him and he invited me for drink. Marco was also running into the Dragoman truck while being in Bonito and so he told me the latest gossip which was entertaining to listen to…

Overlanding towards Rio and Foz do Iguaçu by Public Bus

The overnight bus from Brasilia to Rio was very comfortable. It even featured a business class type of section with larger seats. The whole journey lasted 17 hours leaving Brasilia yesterday at 4:30pm and arriving in Rio at 9:30am this morning. Since I was in a rush when jumping on the bus I left my fleece in my large backpack and was only wearing a thin short summer dress. I needed to pay for this later on since the air-con was on full speed and I was freezing after a while. I searched the small backpack I had with me on the bus and found another dress I had quickly thrown into the backpack when “packing” and used it to cover my arms and shoulders which looked kind of funny.

I felt really sad it didn’t work out with Pedro* and me. It’s rare to find someone very special and therefore, I don’t regret I went back to Brasilia to get to know him better and give it a chance. It felt really good to be with him, but time was too short for making live changing decisions and we were lost in translation too. As much as I wanted to be with him I wasn’t able to give him everything he desired straight away without being sure he’s emotionally really serious about me.

While I was lost in my thoughts, there was a little boy in the bus who seemed to feel I’m sad. He frequently came by my seat, talked to me, held my hand and offered me sweets what I found very cute of him.

I killed time by sleeping and listening to my iPod. I have the strange habit of reminding myself of people by songs they used to play to me often. For Pedro I added “Bitter Sweet Symphony” by The Verve to my playlist since I couldn’t find the Eminem remix on iTunes he played to me a couple of times while driving his car. I will try to stay in touch with him since he remains very much special to me and this cannot be taken easily but I’m not sure if he still wants to be in touch with me. Probably I will email him a few times and see what’s coming back. If it isn’t much I will let it go after a while.

It also felt good to be back on the road again and see my life continuing to move. This time it felt like escaping too. Pedro couldn’t understand why I spend so much time and money traveling. But for me it’s the ultimate freedom to experience the world and not being controlled by daily routines. For me it’s one of the greatest luxuries I can imaging, more than any expensive car or other physical stuff you can own. Actually many people cannot afford this luxury and not work for more than one year. Most people who like extensive travels do so once they have reached retirement but I don’t want to wait until I’m old and enjoy life now. In the past I have spent enough time with hardcore working and wasn’t able to enjoy life to the extend I do now.

While driving towards Rio I thought about where I actually want to go. I could spend some more time in Rio or I could go back to Jericoacoara, my favorite place in Brazil, and do some more kitesurfing but I was already travelling south and Jeri is in the north of the country. Another option was to travel the originally planned route on my own thus going to Parati, Bonito, the Pantanal, Foz do Iguaçu and catch up with the Dragoman truck mid of March in Buenos Aires. Since I would be in a rush doing so, I decided to catch up with the truck as soon as possible. When I arrived in Rio I had an email response from Ross regarding my email last night in which I requested the options to re-join the truck. He wrote they are just about to leave Bonito for the Southern Pantanal and since this is a wetland area it would be impossible for me to find them and I should better go to Foz do Iguaçu and re-join the truck there. He also wrote me the name of the hostel they will be staying and I sent them an email I will be arriving tomorrow and need a bed to sleep in.

I also figured out going to Bonito and the Pantanal on my own using public transport would be more difficult than just going to Foz do Iguaçu since it’s a much more remote place. So I bought a ticket for the overnight bus to Foz do Iguaçu leaving four hours later at 1:30pm. Going overland to Foz do Iguaçu instead by plane has also the advantage of me really overlanding from Manaus to Santiago via Ushuaia as I have originally planned it. Even when I miss a few interesting spots like Parati and the Pantanal in between I will still be able to see the Iguazu Falls which wouldn’t be the case if I would have flown directly from Brasilia to Buenos Aires.

(* name changed)

My last Day with Pedro* and leaving Brasilia

When I woke up this morning I was somehow in a bad mood. First of all I’m not a morning person and secondly there were many things going on in my mind…

It’s day seven of me taking the contraceptive pills Pedro wanted me to take and according to what I read in the internet, today would be the earliest possible point in time you can have sex without a condom but you cannot be sure when you haven’t start taking them at the beginning of the cycle but in the middle of it as it was the case with me. So I was simply anxious of getting pregnant from a guy I know for a bit more than one week.

Furthermore, I had the feeling Pedro not being happy with the speed everything is progressing between the both of us. He probably wanted to marry me straight away and make me pregnant to be sure I stay with him. But how in the world could I do so on day ten? I really started to develop deep feelings for him but I cannot simply turn my whole life around within seconds especially when I hardly know the person I’m doing it for. I have done many crazy things in my life but this would be simply insane. I’m really wondering how Pedro, as an extremely smart guy, could do such life changing things within like nothing. Probably because he’s simply very much obsessed by the idea of getting married again and having kids to make his life complete as he said. Also the impact on his life would be much smaller than on mine because in his life plan for us I’m the one who needs to leave the home country, family, friends, a business career and social security behind. I’m really able to do all this for someone I truly love and I’m very sure about he feels the same about me. But how can I know this after such a short time with somebody?

I also had the feeling I was showing already how very much special Pedro is for me by interrupting my travel and fly back to Brasilia to spend three weeks with him. I was also committed to cancel my Africa trip in September which gives us another month or so. So out of my remaining ten months travelling I was immediately willing to miss two just for spending time with him and get to know him better. In return I was expecting he’s spending his vacation time to join me on my travels but he wasn’t willing to do so. It was mainly because I’m going to Central Asia next and he’s not fancying this place and don’t want to travel there but to a “nicer” place like the US. I also don’t fancy Brasilia that much and the only reason I’m here is because of Pedro. I’m pretty much sure he would go and work in Central Asia if this would elevate his career but it seems I’m not reason enough for him to go there. This feels quite frustrating. So out of the ten remaining months this year we could have spent at least three months or so together and if everything worked out nicely I could have moved to Brazil as of January next year. But this commitment of mine was not enough for Pedro.

Pedro seemed to be frustrated as well but mainly because I didn’t simply cancel all my travel until the end of the year and stay with him in Brasilia straight away. I guess he was also frustrated because I wasn’t careless about getting pregnant and jumping on him first thing this morning. This ended up in Pedro going alone for breakfast and coming back four!!! hours later. When he came back he said: “We need to talk. I’m breaking up with you. I see it’s not easy for you to leave your social security in Germany behind. And I don’t want to wait until next year because it would be too hard for me and I have no security that you will actually come back. Even when this means I take a woman I fancy less than you she will be here with me. Therefore, I want you to leave now.” This was it.

I didn’t respond to what he was saying because first of all this was not a talk but a statement of him which left me with little option. Secondly this made clear to me he’s probably not really into me otherwise he wouldn’t be so straight and can simply send me away. I also don’t want to be with somebody who can simply replace me with somebody else in case he’s not getting what he wants. Showing the money and putting on pressure isn’t the way to make me develop deep feelings and make commitments. It’s about being special to me, truly loving me and not just saying so and give me the feeling of being home. I only commit when I feel to do so and once I’m committed I stay with it and don’t change it the day after.

I was speechless and it took me a few minutes to recover from the shock and think through my options. Should I make Pedro clear again I have real desire for him but I’m scared too? I cannot be insane and just give him everything he’s requesting from me straight away without really knowing him and his true feelings for me. I thought this wouldn’t make much sense since he seems not to care much if it’s me or somebody else he spends the rest of his life with. I also understand his wish to have somebody here in Brasilia and not somewhere in the world. So I decided to just go. I grabbed my stuff, threw it into my backpack and five minutes later I was out of his door. While “packing” I told him what was randomly coming into my mind such as I really like him and I wish he will understand one day that true love cannot be bought with money or by putting on pressure on someone. I also told him I don’t believe he’s loving me because otherwise he cannot send me away just like this and showing no emotions while doing so. Pedro was very much reserved, didn’t respond to what I was saying and tried to help me packing which even made me even more upset because he felt so cold. He also offered me to drive me wherever I want to go in the city and pay for my remaining stay in Brasilia which was planned until March 13th because he wants to be nice to me. I responded “I don’t want your fucking money. I can take care of myself.” turned my back around and walked out of the building. He followed me until the entrance where a porter was sitting still trying to drive me somewhere with his car but I continued walking towards the street not looking back. “This is embarrassing.” were the last words I heard him saying…

There were a few things which turned out to be true. My friend Michael was right by saying “You should be prepared that South American men are quickly excited about someone but this can also turn around quickly.” I was also somewhat right in saying in an email to Pedro before I decided to go back to Brasilia: “Probably there is something you want and if you don’t get it or don’t get it as quick as you would like to, you will bring me back to the airport within hours…” And sorry Pedro, you were bullshitting when you responded “If you give me a chance I swear I will dedicate myself to you.” and “I am serious and really want you forever…” Now I know you didn’t really mean it as you said.

I also know I had already given more to Pedro as anybody else I know would have given in the same amount of time and in case Pedro overreacted and is still serious about me he knows how to get in contact with me and will come and see me independent from where I am in this world.

I left the building at 4pm and 5 min later I was at the main road of the area stopping a taxi. I had no reason to stay in Brasilia any longer but didn’t really know where to go. The first idea popping into my mind was to return to overlanding, go by overnight bus towards Rio and decide where I will be going on the move. This also solved the problem where to stay overnight since I didn’t need to find a hotel. I managed to explain to the taxi driver I want to go to the bus terminal for long distance busses and 15 min later I was there. After arrival I found out the next express bus to Rio is going in 10 min and I quickly bought a ticket and jumped on the bus. So only 30 min after leaving Pedro’s house I was leaving the city as well. This also meant me loosing again some money since I will have a no-show on my flight from Brasilia to Buenos Aires on March 13th.

The bus to Rio stopped around 11pm in Três Marias so we could have a quick buffet type of dinner. I used the time to connect to the restaurants Wi-Fi to email Anki, Ross and Mollie on the Dragoman truck that I’m considering to re-join the truck during the next days either in Bonito or Foz do Iguaçu and asked them to email me back where exactly they plan to stay in these places.

(* name changed)

My Time with Pedro* – Day 9

Many of the discussions I had with Pedro were around the topic how the both of us can actually live together. Pedro was very enthusiastic to discuss this topic and wanted to find an agreement as quick as possible. As much as I like to discuss future life plans the less I’m willing to make life changing decisions without really knowing somebody. Usually I and most other people I know need a few months’ time to get to know each other to make big decisions such as leaving Germany and spending the rest of the life abroad. Sorry, but I simply cannot make such a decision on day nine! Probably I would have been totally crazy and made such a tough decision if everything was simply perfect (which never is really the case) but Pedro and I actually living together would require quite a number of compromises on both sides. I was aiming to understand the compromises I actually need to take in order to think about them and make an informed decision when time is up to do so. Whenever I have made a decision I usually stick to it which involves sticking to what I have promised to others. Pedro gave me the feeling he just wanted to decide quickly without really knowing what he was up to and I’m pretty sure he would try to challenge what he has promised as soon as he understood what it actually requires from him.

The main decision Pedro was requesting from me was to leave Germany and live with him in Brazil or any other undefined country he needs to go for work in the future. Such a life changing decision requires a lot and you must be very sure what you are doing when taking this step. But how can you be sure about what you doing on day nine with somebody? First of all, you really need to know the person for whom you take this step and you can put complete trust in him / her. Secondly, you need to know the implication of leaving your home country especially when you move from a developed country into an emerging one. It’s not just your family, friends and complete social network which you leave behind but you will also be affected with regards to social security. Living in Brazil would probably mean less money for the same type of work, fewer opportunities to save money for retirement and potential unemployment or disability, a less sophisticated health system etc. This will be even more challenging if we move between countries every few years when Pedro’s work is requiring it. Especially when you getting old and need to find a new job every few years, you are living in a less developed country or you are less flexible because you have a family & kids the impact will be even more rigorous.

I was questioning what will happen if Pedro and I break up after 5 or 10 years and I want to return to Germany. Without having really considered the impact of stopping to pay into the German social security system this might end in me not being able to take care of myself and needing to live from taxpayers money. As much as I can imagine to spent my life abroad as much I would like to know exactly which impact it will have on my future life and make sure life is not hitting me hard in case I want to return to Germany.

I wasn’t really sure if Pedro understood the point of view I was coming from. From his perspective everything would magically work out if I simply stay with him and he takes care of me. I wasn’t sure if he actually understood that in case it doesn’t work out between the both of us I don’t want to stay in Brazil and live from rice and beans he would still be paying for. Instead I would most likely return to Germany and don’t want to find me at the lowest level of the society and not being able to take care of myself. Therefore, leaving Germany would require talking to several experts such as tax and insurance professionals to know what has to be taken care off to stay on the safe side regarding social security in Germany.

Another point I was unsure about is if Pedro is really able to accept my desire to work and me having a career as well. He gave me the impression his career will always be much more important as mine and probably he would appreciate it if I either don’t work or work in a low paying job for which you need little qualification such as teaching German. As casual as I look when being on overland travel (not wearing fancy clothes, being a bit dirty from camping, not wearing any make-up) he probably found it hard to understand I’m actually an executive of a multinational company, I have a real desire for doing business and I will definitely not become a housewife with a side job but a working mum who is balancing business and private life.

In the evening we went to the cinema to watch the movie “Drive”. The entrance fee was with 96 Real (56 USD) for two tickets quite expensive and not really worth it. Okay the seats and the sound system were better than in regular cinemas in Brazil but in my eyes it doesn’t justify the significant higher payment. Probably this location lives from the desire of some Brazilians wanting to show their money and they are able to afford the higher entrance fee.

After cinema we went back home and Pedro wanted to watch another movie called “Bobby Fischer against the World” which is a documentary about the American chess master Bobby Fischer. Pedro is a passionate chess player and therefore, he was very keen on watching it. The beginning of the movie was very interesting but after a while I was falling asleep since it was already far beyond midnight and I was tired. I’m sure I will watch this movie again whenever I’m awake and can actually concentrate on it.

(* name changed)

My Time with Pedro* – Day 8

Spending time with Pedro also gave me the opportunity to learn more about Brazil and the Brazilians. Starting with a trivial fact, Brazilians don’t look you into the eyes when lifting their glass and saying “Cheers!” but they look somewhere else. In Germany as well as in many other European countries we actually look people in the eyes when saying “Cheers!” and there is also a superstition you will have seven years of bad sex when you don’t do so. Therefore, I always look people in the eyes because the last thing I want is bad sex…

There are also some products you cannot simply buy in Brazil such as specific types of cars. You can still get these products when you import them but you will need to pay a high import tax which will make them much more expensive as they are in their country of origin. This is probably because the Brazilian government wants to support locally manufactured products in order to strengthen its economy. Brazilian people with a high income also like to show their money to others and one way of doing so is by owning imported goods such as driving a specific car model which isn’t available in Brazil.

One of my plans for the future is to start my own business. Brazil, as one of the leading emerging countries in the world (BRIC), seems to be an excellent spot for entrepreneurship. Brazil is also one of the world’s largest economies and there are lots of business opportunities. However, Pedro said if a foreigner wants to start a business in Brazil he will need a Brazilian partner and he could act so for my business.

Brazil also has a need for educated people. While Pedro is extremely well educated many other Brazilians are not. I noticed it when Pedro was placing simple orders in restaurants and some waiters were not capable to understand and / or memorize them correctly.

Another challenge Brazil is facing is the infrastructure of the country. The country is huge and there are still places where it’s difficult to travel to without the use of an airplane which we experienced during our own travel from Manaus to Belém. There is also no countrywide train system as we heavily use it in Germany.

As a Poker player it was also interesting to experience gambling being illegal in Brazil and so I wasn’t able to officially play the game in any public place. I hope this restriction will fall one day since Poker is a very beautiful game with lots of strategic, mathematic and psychological components.

Lastly, it’s not allowed to sell alcohol in stadiums. This will be challenging during the upcoming World Cup in 2014 since one of the major sponsors is a beer brand. However, I heard just for this event an exceptional rule will be made. Another exception is related to ticket prices since students and senior citizens pay lower ticket prices in Brazil which is not accepted by the FIFA for the World Cup.

(* name changed)

My Time with Pedro* – Day 7

Pedro was trying hard to be very nice to me to convince me to stop travelling and to instantly decide to stay in Brasilia and to spend the rest of my life with him. He took me out to posh restaurants and bars and paying for it. He probably didn’t realize this was not what I was looking for. While posh restaurants and bars do impress most women I don’t really care about them since on my business travels I spent most evenings in such places all around Germany and the world. Instead I have an interest in special people like Pedro is one of them and I really enjoy talking to them and getting their point of view on all different kinds of topics. Pedro was very much fun to talk to. He’s extremely smart and he a broad interest on what’s happing in the world. Why I was in Brasilia he was even following German politics more closely than I did.

I also don’t like if men always pay for me in restaurants and bars since this gives me the feeling they expect something else in return which is usually a bigger favor than money. I like to give favors because I enjoy giving them but not because someone has paid for my dinner. When I paid for dinner once Pedro gave me the feeling he hated it probably because other people or the waiter might think he cannot afford to pay for me. Back home he made clear to me I should never pay for dinner again so I stopped doing so. Instead I didn’t really enjoy selecting something from the menu when knowing someone else will pay for it. So I ended up watching Pedro eating on many occasions and just had a drink. I was also not very hungry since I had very little exercise while being in Brasilia. When I go out and eat with a friend which I do quite frequently either the both of us put the money on the table for what we have consumed or one of us is paying at one time and the next time the other one is paying.

Instead of paying for my food and drinks I would have appreciate more Pedro showing genuine interest in me as a person. Sometimes he gave me the feeling he’s not really interested in me as a person and what I want to do in life. Instead he was following his own agenda and trying hardly that I buy into it by showing me the money. Instead I was hoping he’s trying to really understand what I’m saying. He often gave me the feeling he’s not very much interested in my point of view and quickly wanted me to decide on life changing things (e.g. me spending the rest of my life in Brazil) whose impact one my life he hasn’t really understood.

(* name changed)

My Time with Pedro* – Day 6

Staying with Pedro made me feel like “Lost in Translation”. Also Travis Rice says in the movie “The Art of Flight”: “When your whole life is dedicated to travel, you have to learn how to adapt to your surroundings.” During the last years a major part of my life was dedicated to travel. I extensively travelled for both business and leisure since I simply enjoy being out there and experiencing the world. My work in the last years was very internationally because I either worked abroad or my clients and / or colleagues were not German. I also attended several cultural awareness trainings for the countries I was mainly dealing with such as China, India, Japan, US, … But staying with Pedro felt somewhat different since it was on a private level and in a country I haven’t spend more than two months in so far.

I tried to be open-minded and understand the viewpoint of a Brazilian in order to understand why Pedro was speaking and acting in the way he did. There are a few points I think I have understood by now but there are others which I still haven’t understood. In general I would say I have failed to really understand Pedro as he has failed to really understand me. I’m convinced really understanding each other simply requires time, especially if you need to bridge cultures but unfortunately both of us didn’t wanted to invest the time in the way the other one expected it. I couldn’t decide on day six to spend the rest of my life in Brasilia and Pedro had no time to lose and really get to know me since he desperately wants a wife and kids today rather than tomorrow.

One thing where I was lost in translation was Pedro saying “I love you” already on day one. This really confused me since in Germany it takes several months until a guy says to you “I love you”. I also noted saying “I love you” is used in other cultures to express that you like someone. But to us Germans love means much more. It’s a feeling which develops over time and once you say “I love you” to someone you are getting very emotional and very much attached to that person so you cannot simply walk away. Most of us are very careful to whom we say “I love you”. Myself, I can still count the guys I said “I love you” to on one hand and I heard my last boyfriend saying “I love you” only once in maybe three years, so very much special is it. But it’s not about just saying “I love you” but to make the other person feel he / she is being loved and this is what really matters to me and which doesn’t need words to express. Therefore, it felt really strange hearing Pedro say “I love you” and I simply couldn’t believe it.

Another thing where I was lost in translation was Pedro insisting to “show the money” to me. It seems when a Brazilian guy likes a woman he expresses this not only by saying “I love you” but also by showing her the money he has. Pedro did this by paying for my food and drinks when eating out and also for cinema and such. For some reason he was also keen on signing a paper which would have made him legally responsible for me and I could sue him on in case he’s not paying for my living expenses. He also offered me a monthly payment in case I stay with him in Brazil and other kinds of financial benefits such as an instant marriage without any prenuptial agreement or giving me half of his flat on paper just in case I need any security to stay in Brazil. He also pointed out it’s the dream of every good looking Brazilian woman to have a husband who is making enough money so she don’t need to work anymore. But sorry, this is not my dream! I only want somebody who truly loves me and who is very much attached to me.

My perspective on this whole “show the money” thing is very much different. First of all I really don’t care how much money my boyfriend is making. He only should have some kind of job he likes and be able to earn enough money so he can live from his own work and not from taxpayer’s money. I rather stay with a “poor” guy I truly love and who is making me happy than with a “rich” guy who treats me like a bird in a golden cage. I don’t want anyone than myself to pay for my living expenses which also gives me the freedom to not be dependent on someone and act by what I think is right or wrong and not by what people holding the money want me to do. Living on someone’s money would give me the feeling of being bought and I really hate when someone gives me that feeling which Pedro didn’t understand. All things I do in live I do because I believe in them and not because someone is paying me to believe in them. I spend my time with people I like, I love people I have true feelings for and I never accepted an offer from someone to have sex with me for money. I fuck with whomever I like to fuck and if I don’t like I simply don’t do it. My very good education, my intelligence and flexibility have luckily put me on the bride side of life. I have one of the highest paying jobs one can have in Germany and earned enough money to be independent. I really like not to be dependent on someone. And although Pedro has one of the highest paying jobs in Brazil what I make back home in Germany is still more he’s making what he probably found difficult to believe.

I also would never request from someone to sign a paper which makes him responsible to pay for my living. I think it’s nothing but stupid to sign such a paper especially on day one or even day six. I never would sign such a paper for somebody and in case I get married again one day I will request a prenuptial agreement as I did for my first marriage to make sure the only reason from both sides to get married is pure love and not financial benefits they can gain from it.

Pedro, believe it or not, I only came back to Brasilia because you are someone very special and I started to fall in love with you. I really don’t care about your fucking money as Brazilian women do. I even lost significantly more money just for being with you than you paid for my food and drinks while being in Brasilia. Actually it’s a nightmare for me to be dependent on someone’s money. I hope you understand one day that true love is more worth than all the money in the world and you cannot buy it. Whenever you get married again, I hope your wife truly loves you and she’s not doing it for the money you were showing to her.

(* name changed)

My Time with Pedro* – Day 5

A new week has begun. I waited for Pedro to come home from work to spend some time with him. This was all I was in Brasilia for and so I didn’t go out to do more sightseeing. Most pictures I’m posting for the blog entries “My Time with Pedro…” were actually taken during my initial visit on Feb 11st and 12st.

Pedro came home during his two hour lunch break and we had lunch in a buffet type of restaurant which serves very tasteful food at a low price. Pedro’s life seems to have lots of routines consisting of things he likes to do and I wasn’t able to break these routines. I didn’t really try to do so since I wanted to experience him as he actually is. Routines I spotted are the places he has lunch on weekdays and breakfast on the weekends. Others are a nap during lunch time, watching movies and playing chess online. He seems not to have many friends in Brasilia since he moved to the city a few years ago leaving his friends in Rio behind. He needed to do so since he works in the governmental sector and there are much better career opportunities for him when he’s working in Brasilia or abroad rather than Rio or São Paulo. This probably makes the life of his girlfriend challenging since she will be his main focus point for social interaction. I can only guess this will lead to problems when his girlfriend is busy with work or other friends and is not able to dedicate most of her time to him. During my time in Brasilia he didn’t introduce me to any of his friends and I spent all my time exclusively with him.

I was also confused by Pedro coming home for lunch every day. First I thought he’s doing it because he wants to spend as much as time with me as possible and I certainly enjoy spending time with him. Later on I found out he’s also coming home when he has no guest and all his colleagues do the same. In my profession as a consultant this behavior would be a career killer. Usually my calendar is booked two weeks in advance with people I’m having lunch with. People I go to lunch with are clients I’m currently working for, clients I used to work for a few months or years ago, people I want to discuss certain business topics with resulting in them buying the services of my company, colleagues I’m currently working with, colleagues I used to work with several months or years ago, people from which I seek career coaching / advice, people seeking my coaching / advice, people I went to business school with, etc. And some of my dinners are spend with similar people for similar reasons.

Over the course of the past years I discovered making a career is not dependent on how smart you are, how hard you work or your actual work results. Basically your work needs to be very good and the rest which makes you really successful is your professional network. You basically need to establish a strong relationship to successful and influential people and as they progress in their career they will also make you to progress as well and get promoted. I tried to explain this fact to Pedro but I guess he didn’t really understand me since he thought establishing a relationship with a client or colleague is to have sex with them which is not the case at all. I never had sex with a client or colleague for career reasons and I don’t know any of my female colleagues who do so. Probably there are a few but I don’t know any in person. I’m also sure if such a behavior is detected in my company this would result in people getting fired.

Relationships are also the reason why there aren’t many women on the boards of multinational companies. The upper management levels (c-levels) and the boards are controlled by “old boys clubs” and they promote people who are similar to them: males with a dominant behavior which belong to their social network. When you search the internet for “social network” you will find more information on those networks, how they can be analyzed and used for multiple purposes such as influencing people. The popular website Facebook is nothing else but a social network and people can derive lots of information about you and how influential you actually are by looking at your social network and the communication streams in it.

(* name changed)