Writing has become increasingly difficult the longer that I find myself living here. It’s not to say that there aren’t wonderful times to talk about or even struggles that occur that I could write pages about. Sometimes it’s just the lack of words to fill a blog post and other times it’s all just happening too quickly that emotions become lost and twisted. Or simply, one thing I write about gets interpreted as a negative post when in my own perspective it was not at all portrayed as negativity. But enough about that, because living in Brazil is no longer a challenge, rather it’s a norm. About four months have passed since I have been living in Brazil and as time goes by so does the news of gringas and gringos living in Brazil. Suddenly we are just ordinary Brazilians. In my case, I am referred to as a: Garopaban-Santa Catarinense-Brasileira.
I know my neighborhood better than the back of my hand, which is constantly covered in mosquito bites and itch cream. I can take you to both local markets by foots and I can tell you exactly where banks and stores are located. That is what happens when you live in a city for a while. You become aware and conscious of your surroundings. You navigate yourself without even realizing just how much you know. I guess you could say that kind of scares me because back home, I lived in a city about the size of the city that I currently live in and I still didn’t know where everything was. I knew just enough to get me through the days.
Living in Garopaba has shown me so much more than I tend to give it credit for. I see on a daily bases my Tia Rose working from sunrise till who knows what time of the night. Making meals for her father and brother, cleaning their home, taking care of my two brothers, cleaning homes for Garopabans and even cleaning the bus station. I can see it in her eyes and body the weight that she carries and the tiredness that grows every day. I can’t help but admire her strength and hard-work but most of all, I wish there was something that could help her as the bones in her body continue to show more every day and the bags under her eyes grow larger.
Then there is my host mom, Maria Jose de la Papeleria. She wakes up every morning at about 6:30 A.M. to give my brother Inacio his medication before she makes his food. She then spends each morning cooking and cleaning the house while simultaneously running around the house behind my little brother Benjamim. As soon as 1:00 P.M. arrives, she gets her backpack ready and heads off to her job in centro: the Papeleria, where she ends the remainder of her day making sure her business continues to succeed and meet the needs of clients. As you can tell, she never really goes out. Either she’s working at home or working at the Papeleria. Not much else.
These are just two of the women that I have been blessed with getting to know. They are only a small part of the exposure that I have encountered every day. I wouldn’t say that back in the states hard-work doesn’t exist. That there aren’t people who go above and beyond or have a lot of things that they have to accomplish every day but moving to Brazil has made it more apparent. Here I have had the time to observe and notice the work that gets put in. Back home I knew it existed but I was always too busy to really feel and see it.
Seeing what I continue to see here, I know what I have to do on my part to help my parents who work long hours and are growing older. I am constantly learning what it takes to be a good daughter. Back home there are things I would never do or just leave for my parents to do for me but here, although it is not required of me, I do out of respect and to help out.
Being away from home is constantly showing me what I didn’t see before. I am growing to learn more about myself every day and I have created a future end goal for myself with a time frame. I know how I want to spend my time and who I want to spend it with. I see the work that I need to put in to make these things happen. I see the toxic relations that I had and the relationships that will help me. I understand what is worth my time and what isn’t. I guess taking a bridge year for me was the answer to connecting the dots in my life. It has answered questions I have had and eliminated those that are irrelevant and unnecessary and for once I can say that I am ready.