If I were a man, people would ask me my favorite part about Brazil instead of: were you scared?
Last February, I decided to do this program called Workaway. I would be working at a pousada in Cumbuco, a small town north of the city of Fortaleza.
A pousada is like a bed and breakfast. I would be cooking in the mornings, cleaning and doing simple chores. But, in the afternoon I would be kiteboarding.
The work I did was six days a week for the whole month of July, but it covered my own room with a bathroom and food.
Why I went solo
Throughout my community college experience I had written papers about this very thing. Yes, I sat down and wrote scholarly essays about the psychological and mainstream perspectives on women’s solo travel. I read books like “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” and “Almost Somewhere,” where women either traveled solo through the woods or together.
I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told.
—”Wild” by Cheryl Strayed
Flying out of San Fransisco International Airport to Washing Dulles to then go to Saõ Paulo then to Fortaleza.
I planned this trip not needing a visa because it was during the Olympics.
It’s amazing to fly over a country you have only seen on maps. That all the creases and blue lines are actually rolling hills and slow curving rivers.
When I got into Saõ Paulo I had to grab my bags and switch airlines.
Which means hauling a bag of three kiteboarding kites and all this gear that is half my size.
In Brazil, each time I got my ticket printed out the gate number was always wrong. I would go check the board and the same flight would have a different gate than printed on the ticket. But I was able to manage.
People in the airport were dressed up and signing in their own langue as I waited for flights.
Culture shock and almost there
After my third flight, I was so tired that when I got to Fortaleza I wanted to sleep. But, I had an hour taxi ride.
The man didn’t speak much English so I used my Spanish/Portuguese skills to the best I could. Which drew a lot of laughter from him.
I withdrew my Reais from an ATM and then jumped into the taxi.
The air was so warm and thick when I stepped out of the airport, it felt like a blanket wrapped itself around me.
Driving through the city of Fortaleza at night, after a day’s worth of travel, leaves a lasting impression. We hit the potholes in the road and I would lurch forward in my seat. The air was thick and smelt like one of the thousands of chickens that were being barbecued that night. The taxi played a Taylor Swift remixes that sounded like she did coke. Even T-Swift was different here.
Everyone and their families were just hanging out in the streets. They set up plastic tables, pulled up chairs and left their front doors open. Some people were playing a game under the street light near their house. were dressed in heels and sequin dresses so each step was a glimmer of light. They were going dancing and on their way to a club.
The nightlife was clad in heels and sequin dresses so each step was a glimmer of light. They were going dancing at the clubs we passed, where the music came pouring out the front door.
This was the place I was told to be afraid of. These were the people I was told to be cautious of. Yes, there is a danger in a city but there is also a beauty.
Yes, there is a danger in a city but there is also a beauty.
There were churches giving services at night. While others sat at long tables all together eating the barbecue chicken you can almost taste in the air.
This was the beginning of a wild month.