It’s time to say goodbye to Rio. After breakfast with my roommate Gerda from Belgium she was picked up by Silvio a Brazilian guy she has met a couple of days ago. Gerda is already 67 and Silvio in about the same age. It feels good to see that adventure doesn’t stop when you are 50 or 60 but can continue as long as you want and you set your mind to an adventures mode. Since my childhood I’m afraid of getting old and especially the fact I will need to die one day because I enjoy life so much. But when I see people like Gerda or my fellow traveler Bob in his 70ties this encourages me to make most out of my life every single day I’m on this planet. But it feels also good to see my life changing. Coming from a hardcore working life which nearly sucked the joy of life out of me, I now travel around the world, enjoying life and the freedom to decide on every single day what I want to do without being controlled by a packed schedule I have little control over.
The freedom to do whatever I want made it also possible for me to return to Brasilia, a city we stopped at 1.5 weeks ago. The reason for returning is a guy called Pedro* I met in a Samba bar on Feb 11th. (Please note that Pedro isn’t his actual name. I changed it because I respect his identity and want to be discrete. Therefore I will focus on what happened and what I experienced rather than expose somebodies private life. I will not publish any facts which would make it possible to easily trace back on his true identity why some of my descriptions will be rather vague than specific.)
In order to leave a Dragoman truck you have to sign a paper declaring you are now travelling on your own and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for whatever happens to you. By doing so I instantly lost 1,300 USD which is the non-refundable value of the transportation, insurance etc. between Rio and Buenos Aires which is the leg of the trip I was signing off. What I didn’t lose were the joint living expenses (kitty) of 900 USD since I will not need a hostel / campground, participate in joint cooking etc. I also accumulated additional travel expenses (flight from Rio to Brasilia and from Brasilia to Buenos Aires) which brought my overall loss to more than 2,000 USD just by deciding to leave the trip for a while and spend some more time with Pedro. In addition there are things I will miss to experience and why I came to South America such as diving at the islands of Parati, boating through the wetlands of the Pantanal and the Iguazu Falls.
So is it worth to give all of this up for somebody you don’t really know and you have only spend a few hours with? Actually you don’t know unless you go back, spend some more time with him and find out. I also talked to some of my friends and fellow travelers what they would do if they were in my situation. In the end more of them said I shouldn’t go back but make him come to see me because then I will know he is really serious about me. One of the people I asked for advice is Michael who is one of my best friends and probably the person on earth which knows me best. His advice was: “I have seldom seen a guy confusing you like this. You should take the three weeks’ time to get to know him better. You cannot decide everything by just using your brain. What do you really have to lose? But please remain skeptical. You should be prepared that South American men are quickly excited about someone but this can also turn around quickly. And please let not put you under pressure!”
After having received conflicting feedback I was still very much undecided what to do. But in the end I thought if I don’t go back to Brasilia I will never find out with what kind of person I’m dealing with. And my friend Michael was right in saying a guy seldom confuses me like this and I wanted to turn this confusion into knowing. I also thought I can always return to Brazil to see Parati, the Pantanal and the Iguazu Falls but there is seldom the opportunity to meet someone very special. I also had to learn some lessons in my previous life teaching me that special people (family, friends, lifetime partner) are in fact much more worth than any money and any business career I want to achieve. Therefore, I decided to return to Brasilia and booked the airplane ticket.
I checked out of the hotel around 11am. Since my flight was not until 6:45pm, I put my luggage in the baggage room of the hotel. I also gave Ross and Anki a bag of luggage I won’t need in Brasilia such as my anorak, thermals, hiking boots, camping equipment etc. I also decided to leave the majority of my valuables in the safe of the truck since I don’t want to carry a huge amount of cash with me. I also left Pedros contact information with Ross, Anki and my friend Michael in Germany, just in case something happens that they have a starting point to search for me.
I killed the time until my flight to Brasilia by hanging out at Ipanema beach which was very much packed and by lying down in your bikini you were immediately exposed to hundreds of people surrounding you. To have a beach in the middle of the city is truly amazing about Rio. Therefore, many people think Rio is a beautiful city but Pedro brought it more to the point by saying Rio is a city which was built in a beautiful spot and he’s right about it. The city features beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema as well as tropical forest surrounding Corcovado Mountain and Sugarloaf Mountain. I always felt very welcomed and save but heard other travelers saying they were attacked during the carnival by people holding a knife or a gun.
When I picked up my luggage in the hotel, I ran into a young couple from the UK who looked like they were leaving for the airport. I asked them if we should share a taxi and they agreed. We spent the travel time to the airport by exchanging our experiences of the past weeks and I found it very interesting listening to them since they were coming from the south of the continent where I will be going in a couple of weeks.
While lining up to check in for my flight I spotted two guys with a “Berlin” t-shirt and started to talk to them. It turned out they are members of a Samba club in Germany and came to Rio for three weeks to join the local people on the streets and play Samba with them. They were staying the whole time in the apartment of a Brazilian couple they haven’t met before and only got the contact by other people back home. In return they have invited them to spend some time with them in Germany next year. After check-in I had a drink with them and they were explaining me a lot about the Samba culture in Germany and Brazil. This included an explanation of the rating scheme which is used to rate the different Samba schools parading in the Sambadrome. It also happened during this carnival that a member of the jury ripped the rating form because his favored school was not about to win. I don’t know exactly was happened since I couldn’t find the case in the English speaking media.
The two guys boarded their flight to Salvador to spend their last week in Brazil on the beach. Only minutes later I boarded my flight to Brasilia. The plane was supposed to land at 8:41pm but actually it landed half an hour earlier resulting in me walking out of the baggage claim area even before the scheduled arrival time. I waited ten minutes or so until Pedro arrived and felt very happy to see him.
Pedro took me to a place which was supposed to be a German beerhouse but despite a few pictures of German cities and landscape there was nothing reminding me of a German beerhouse. It’s interesting to know that upon entry in a Brazilian pub or nightclub you have to show your ID card and they register you on their computer. Brazilians seem not to care about them being registered for a pub or nightclub visit. They even appreciate it because it gives them more security that no dodgy people are in the location and the owner of the location seems to feel more secure about people paying their bill when leaving the location and not trying to sneak out. In Germany this procedure wouldn’t be liked at all since many people don’t like it when they are being registered and controlled which would probably result in people simply not visiting this specific pub or nightclub and go elsewhere. Even when I’m leaving or entering Germany the immigration officer is not registering it which in my eyes gives me the right level of personal freedom.
While having a drink Pedro came straight to the point and asked me what my plans in live are probably to validate if my life would fit into his. Actually it’s hard to explain that currently it’s the first time in my life I have no big plans and I really enjoy the fact my life is really open and I have the freedom to turn it into every direction I like it to turn. Since my life was moving very fast during the last years I sometimes had the feeling I have experienced already more until now than most people will experience during their whole lifetime. Currently there are only two big experiences I haven’t made and I really would like to do so in the near future. One of them is having family & kids and the other one is starting my own business. I’m not heavily attached to any specific place in the world thus can imagine living and working outside of Germany which I have already done in the past. I’m also not attached to any specific type of work or too picky when it comes to specific features of my lifetime partner. I simply require an open mind, straight talking, true love and good sex, no more and no less. Believe it or not, this freedom and flexibility feels really great.
We spent the late evening watching the movie “Beerfest” at Pedros house. It’s really interesting to see how people living outside of Germany actually perceive German culture and laugh about things most Germans don’t perceive as funny. I will write more about it tomorrow.
(* name changed)