Fogo Alegre

Andrew Poirier - Brazil


February 23, 2014

Hello world, it’s been a while. Since I last wrote, you, essentially everything has changed. I shall now elaborate: In my last blog I wrote about a brief excursion up a river that gave me many things on which to ruminate. That river was in a small town south of Florianopolis in the state of Santa Catarina. At that time I was living in a city of 70,000 called Joinville where I was working with the blind and visually deficient at an NGO called AJIDEVI. I learned so much there including how to read and write Braille and how people with visual deficiencies do not, and have never wanted our pity. They want to be accepted as whole human beings with just as many quirks and oddities as the rest of us. The spark we usually look for in peoples’ eyes has only moved to a place harder to see: the heart. This lesson was far easier to put into words than into action and attitude.

There I lived with a family of Evangelical Christians, who are so much more than the stereotypes associated with that label. They showed me how the power of love (and an impeccably clean house) can help even even the most judgmental of people (i.e. Me) grow to accept those different from them. One of the greatest lessons I was taught by this family was that people are so much deeper than their religious identities. Whether we are Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Atheist, Hindi, etc., we are greater, and infinitely more complex than these labels. The flames of our souls are fed by so much more than faith. This is not to discount the power of religious identity. For many, it is one of the greatest pillars of their existence, but I personally feel that between these pillars walks the essence of who we are, ever changing and evolving within our human experience.

There I had a close knit group of friends on whom I relied for much of my sanity. We were naïve and content to be so (for the time being). We groaned about our own inequities and gasped in amazement when we found that we could conquer them if we tried. We spent beautiful nights together watching the stars, and laughing at jokes only we would get. We talked about our fears and our joys, the new things we we had discovered and the frustrations of learning a new language. And our candles brightly burned.

Now I have lost my step. I stumble forward without really knowing where I am going or who I will meet. You see I have changed cities. It feels almost as if I have changed worlds entirely and this one is called Curitiba and it’s on fire. I flit about excitedly here, hardly daring to set down my heels long for fear of getting burned. I love it. The fire of this city is invasive and I feel as if my soul is catching a spark that wakes me every day wishing I was already out the door, exploring this new place. I stumble often, but I do so joyfully.

My new job is only beginning and has taken on a different place in my daily life. It doesn’t fill my day like AJIDEVI did so I am left to pursue other objectives like community building and of course, my final project. But being me, I cannot live a life for long that is not scheduled down to the hour and so I am pursuing other jobs like teaching English and assisting at a Brazilian advocacy agency.

My friends here are more spread out and I am not able to see them as often, which serves to make the times we have together all the more sweet. I feel the pinch of loneliness at times, and that’s okay. It sucks, but it’s okay because it creates a need which can only be filled by making more friends, closer to me. And what’s so bad about that?

My time in Brazil began in a city and it appears to be winding down in another one farther to the north. In the first, I felt lost and a little alone, but life continued on and pretty soon, I didn’t feel either of those things. In this one, I still feel lost, but I’ve grown to love the feeling because it is when you are lost that you find the most interesting of places. Lots has changed, maybe even I have changed, but I feel secure in saying that I am still Andrew Charles Wolfram Poirier, a guy who is very good at speaking his mind and very bad at closing paragraphs. Thank you for reading! If you have any questions or would like me to write about something specific in a blog post, please comment below! (I get so excited, please indulge me. :))

Andrew Poirier