In the heart of Brazil’s interior, sits a state filled with waterfalls, wild flowers, winding trails, and layers of silence. Minas Gerais, known equally for its food as for its beauty, is not only a nature-lover’s dream, but a place where simple truths descend like autumn leaves.
Brazil’s wealth is in its landscape and its people: flowering trees, still lakes, vibrant beaches, eroded hills baring red dirt, white cows flicking their tails, brick houses with blue shutters, cascading falls, expansive sky of evolving clouds; vendors selling fruit and vegetables roadside, old women who greet with, “Hello daughter,” girls and boys with torsos bare, a pot of cultures where each flavor is still distinct.
Exploring different towns in the countryside has been one of the highlights of this Brazilian experience: sitting in deserted town squares, losing time walking amongst the green and blue, stumbling upon a singer in the mountains, loaded cherry trees, glimpsing butterflies as big as birds, the olfactory pleasure of a cluster of lavender.
As I’ve mentioned before, the economic situation in Brazil is dire. I was offered a job at one of the top language schools in my city, where I worked for exactly four days. It was while sitting on the bus on my way home that it struck me that I earned more 15 years ago, and thus it’d be impossible to work there even one day more. I gave my notice the next day. The students were fantastic, but the salary was just sad. Why would I stay, when given half a chance so many would leave? If I were in my twenties, I would stay, meet new people, have fun, go to bars, and enjoy the time without a thought. But, I’m not; and, there’s nowhere I can’t go. Years ago, Buju Banton sang in Untold Stories, “Opportunity (is) a scarce, scarce commodity, in the these times.” His lyrics rang as true then, as they do now.
Thankfully, I was put in touch with private students (who wish to migrate), and various freelance writing projects fell into my lap. I’ve been teaching a few times a week in the afternoon and evening, and writing travel articles the rest of the time. The days have been flexible, enjoyable and filled with peace, not excluding whiling away hours at the corner cafe with my laptop, a chocolate-filled doughnut and a large coffee.
Yet, even I know that some “dreams” necessarily come to an end for others to begin. Thus, it’s time to leave Brazil, a place where, as a foreigner, it has been easy to be free. Aware of the privilege of a valid passport, I thought about my next steps.
To quote Buju, “Who can afford to run will run, but what about those who can’t? They will have to stay.” So much wonder, warmth, and genuineness here, but it’s time to fly.