Live From The Field

Luis Juarez


November 13, 2018

How I Became Lara Croft, Tomb Raider.

Interestingly enough, I see my first step off the plane as my first step on
my journey back home. If I view this experience as a whole, it’s easy to
see that it begins to end the moment it begins, and only stops ending once
it’s over. While one might be compelled to label this as pessimistic, I
reject that entirely. This is me at my most optimistic. It is all there in
front of me. Or it has all been behind me. Or it just is, right now. It
depends on when you tell the story.

Allow me to back up a bit. Applying for this program was difficult for me.
I have a hard time committing to projects and endeavours, and the prospect
of college applications and the start of a real adult life worried me
beyond belief. It did not scare me to be independent. It did not scare me
to have responsibilities. Leaving home was sad, but it did not scare me.
What shook me was the chance that I might make a mistake, and never
recover. I would fail. Unfortunately, that fear, along with how my personal
philosophies interacted with it, culminated in what most perceived to be
laziness.

I have a hard time letting go of the fact that everything I do has already
been done by Future Me. I can’t get those three words out of my head.

“It’s already over.”

Which leads me to my next point. I think that candles are an interesting
choice for birthdays. Or marriages. Why are we symbolizing these event with
wax, burning and melting to nothingness? I want no candles at my wedding.
Whoever I marry, I don’t want to burn out of them. I want no candles at my
funeral. For once I am gone, I will be gone forever.

I had my birthday here. It was a bit sad, but also astounding to see that
the people around me still celebrated my birth. Enough about that. Allow me
to get to the content, and away from depressing philosophical musings.

My Family

Enzo – Host Brother

Enzo is a quiet kid. He has a lot to say, more than most, but he
doesn’t usually feel that it needs to be said. I wish I could take a
page from his book sometimes. Because Enzo only speaks, and never just
talks. He is fluent in english, mainly from watching movies. This, I am
coming to learn, is the closest thing to a passion I have seen
him exhibit.
He knows more about american cinema than I do, and has expressed that he
would like to study it professionally. Honestly, I think it is
the perfect
way for him to express himself, as he is honestly an incredibly creative
and artistic personality, but often times, most people don’t
treat watching
movies all day as art. But I know better. While most people respect the
music maniacs and the art aficionados, the film followers are usually
written off as just lazy. But it is not the case. This boy watches World
War II documentaries for fun, and has a passion for history that only
someone with a future in documentaries and film could ever have. He plays
percussion, and loves music. And all of this one could never know by
looking at him. In his natural habitat you can catch him usually at home,
watching a movie or listening to music. He doesn’t like photos,
and a smile
from him is rare, but a joy to see.

Denise – Host Mother

Denise is absolutely a sweetheart. She is always worrying about
something, and definitely wears her heart on her sleeve, a heart that is
filled with so much care for those around her. She is emotional, strong,
loving, supportive, dedicated, hectic, funny, and patient as
only a mother
could be. Above all, she has made me feel so incredibly welcome.
I would go
so far as to say that her patience in the beginning is was gave me the
confidence to continue getting better at Portuguese. She does
not speak any
English, and my days are often filled with the sound of her voice from
across the house when she hears me speak in English: “Em Português!” She
also truly takes the time to listen to what I have to say and makes sure
she understands it before she moves on. And when she calls the house, she
will ask to speak with me just to check in. You can find her in
her natural
habitat watching a novela, or just chatting with her family and friends.

Dulcimar – Host Father

I have a lot to say about this man because, well, he’s a lot. He is a
character. He is occasionally playing the same three songs on loop,
usually laughing about something only he finds funny, and always
holding a
beer in one hand and gesturing wildly with his other. As a young man, he
was indisputably one of the greatest judo practitioners in the world. He
used his love for physical education to travel the world as an LGBT+
activist, and organizations would ly him all over the world to
start LGBT+
games in their area. He founded the first LGBT+ games in the
entire country
of brazil, and is an organizer for the annual pride parade. He
also, to be
completely honest, is my best friend here. He is one of those people who
are so inevitably infectious in their laughter. He is a character that
writers hope to create with any degree of reality. The guy who knows
everyone. The guy who has been everywhere. The guy who attracts
people around him. He is so much younger than his years, and sometimes i
can tell it frustrates and deeply upsets him that his body, with several
surgeries and prosthetic bones, does not agree. I think we get along so
well because we share many similarities. We both forget
everything as soon
as we hear it, and we can spend hours just talking about
nothing. He has an
intermediate understanding of english. It is definitely a level
of fluency,
but not quite on Enzo’s level. And he does not have the patience
of Denise
and so often time if he doesn’t understand what i say he ignores it
entirely and moves on. It is one of the drawbacks to such a free
spirit. It
truly is not that important to him what others say, with all the benefits
and drawbacks to that philosophy. But that’s not to say he does not care
about people. He is, by all means, a giver. Anybody could ask him for
anything and he would just do it, without expecting anything in
return but
a promise you will not squander it. He would have (and has) given the
shirt off his back. He frequently introduces me to his friends from ALL
walks of life. A middle aged Van Gogh inspired gay painter, a 20 year old
student who owns her own restaurant, a community of cubans that routinely
hold cuban parties complete with salsa dancing and traditional foods,
musicians, dancers, shop owners, regular people, and
politicians. It seems
he is on good terms with every human being here and I cannot leave the
house with him without running into someone he knows. I am almost
scientifically fascinated by him at this point. You’d think there’d be a
limit to this. But the other day I needed an uber and he just gave me the
number of an uber driver that routinely made personal calls for him.
Connections. I don’t know whether to be suspicious or amazed by
the network
of people he has accumulated. He has been no help to my language
learning,
through no fault of his own. He’s just not who I ended up learning from.
His contribution was to tell me that I have three months to become fluent
or some mysterious and probably non-existent consequences will befall me.
He has also, following brazilian tradition, graced me with my nickname
here: Tombi. This is the phonetic spelling of the nickname. It
derives from
the movie title Tomb Raider. Portuguese pronunciation of that movie title
is so incredibly wrong, sounding like “Tombee Hider.” When I pointed
the discrepancy out, he found it so darn funny that, well, it
just stuck. I
tried to shake it. Now I just have to embrace it.

I will follow up with some movie reviews, art and music recommendations, as
well as an introduction to the amazing organization I work with!!

For now, I would like to introduce a segment I like to call, The part
where I tell you a fun fact!

This time on The part where I tell you a fun fact!

I would like to share with you the first thing I learned that might be
considered a culture shock:

Toilet paper does not go into the toilet. Ever. Always into the trash.

I hope all those germaphobes out there have a fun time with that.

Luis Juarez