When I applied for Global Citizen Year (GCY) in November of 2018, the first question they posed was to describe a hypothetical Youtube video of mine that had just reached its one-millionth view; “What is the video about and what is your role in it,” they inquired. With enthusiasm and humor, I responded that the video would capture my life on a big pink banana filled food truck. Nearly a year later that video has come to fruition. For the last two summers, you could find me cruising throughout Colorado in the Banomanom food truck. It was only upon the video’s materialization that I realized Banomanom’s relevance and symbolism to where I find myself today.
In all honesty, I put the video together for social media content. It seemed like a good way to encapsulate my summer experiences and convey my transition from food truckin’ in Colorado to living on an island in Brazil. But this type of thinking dismissed the reason I devoted immense energy and time to my job. My journey to South America and survival beforehand depended upon my commitment to the business. In a way, the video, moreover the food truck itself, got me into GCY and quite literally was the only way I became a fellow. Days after graduating, I got into a serious car accident. Weeks later I needed housing while trying to save for GCY, repay a friend for their totaled vehicle, and afford medical expenses for diabetes. Needless to say, I was in a liminal state on my quest toward security. My position at Banomanom provided the stability I lacked as well as the optimism that I needed to reach my ultimate goal – Brazil. I spent hours upon hours, days upon days, and months upon months in this food truck. The importance of this video, despite its playfulness, should not be overlooked.
The video displays only one shift, start to finish, on Banomanom. Each shift varied extensively – from location to catering objective. This video showcases what I would call a “normal” shift. Getting the truck to a venue, opening, operating on a made-to-order basis, closing, and cleaning and preparing the truck for the next day. However, the months I have spent traversing the state and making nice cream have been vast and particular to each gig. Having lived in Florianópolis, Brazil for over a month, I now realize how the experiences, interpersonal relations, and sounds attached to Banomanom are synonymous with my life here.
I no longer ride passenger seat in a hefty truck through narrow Denver streets, avoidings loose belongings tumbling within. Crowded buses, audacious drivers, and winding hills in Brazil simulate the same conditions. Nevertheless, the rowdy routes in both countries lead to dazzling destinations and astonishing adventures. A music festival in Loveland, Colorado; A social impact, technology, and data festival in Cacupé, Florianópolis; A mountain town market in Black Hawk, Colorado; The Mercado Público in Centro, Floripa; Fourth of July fireworks in Fort Collins, Colorado; The Pride parade in Estreito, Florianópolis.
Each shift my coworkers and I would exchange our stories from our time apart. Each day my host family and I converse about our society's differences, our lives before we met, and our daily whereabouts. This summer I would train new employees, hands-on and thrown in mid-shift. Now I am the one being taught: how to samba at a birthday celebration and partner dance in the middle of a restaurant. I familiarized myself with Banomanom’s regular customers, and am now learning the names of those I continually run into in my neighborhood. Rather than informing customers of how nice cream is vegan, I am teaching Brazilian children about my diabetes equipment.
The array of sounds that one hears on this truck is unparalleled to that at any other job. Instead of the constant rumble of generators, the chirping of the local birds fills the background noise of my time outdoors. As I walk the streets of downtown and local vendors shout toward passersby, I am reminded of my coworkers hollering the names of our customers to get their food. While I no longer hear the squishing of fruit as it transforms into soft serve, I often listen to the blenders that concoct my new treat in Brazil – açai.
To embrace new experiences I have to reflect on the past and be open to change. To better recognize the differences I have to connect the similarities. It's an ongoing process, and I look forward to immersing myself in a new culture, new language, new routines, new sounds, new interactions, new everything for the next 6 months – while showing my gratitude for the reasons why I can be in Brazil now. Thank you Banomanom. It has only been a month, but I can already say that the fruit stained clothing, the overwhelming lines, the shifts without tips, the calluses on my hands, the scorching dishwater, the crazy scheduling were all worth it.
Enjoy the video!