Friday, July 18, 2008

It feels like vacation

if for no other reason than that I had a good meal and am not in the Zona Norte but am looking out at the ocean and a luscious full moon. My dad is visiting (whoohoo!) and arrived early this morning. My home is simply not equipped for two people, and my foam mattress on the flimsy particlewood bed wouldn't have been remotely comfortable for my father. (He's already having difficulties with the taxis. They were never intended for people with legs. Okay, people over 5'2".) So we're staying in a hotel, with air conditioning and a little balcony that gives a side view of the ocean to one side and the brightly lit favela crawling up a mountain on the other side. I am excited to have breakfast here, both because it is the best meal of the day and because there will be no dishes for me to wash, no pint-sized cockroaches to shoo away from my drying rack, no trail of ants running away from some inadvertently dropped crumbs. The pink house seems to sprout insects overnight; no matter how clean I leave things, there's always a little visitor hanging around.

The hotel, in such situations, is like a mini-vacation right there.

But also, I forget how fun it is to show someone else around somewhere you love. How your eyes are opened all over again to tiny wonders, how new questions arise that you'd never thought of and don't know the answers to, how you see how much you've changed without realizing it. And how, maybe, you're really pleased with some of those changes.

When I moved to Brazil, I was terrified of the "big" city. I didn't know how to do anything on my own; I was shy and self-conscious. Asking for help, directions, etc...all too much for me. Thankfully, that changed. Independence found me. I began taking more risks, trying new things, doing stuff alone. And I discovered that I love the city, the pulse that begins in the crisp of the morning, when the sky is still foggy with sleep and only the most dedicated workers are catching the first buses of the day...until late in the evening, when party-goers mix with the trash-pickers and pocket-pickers to wander the paving stones under hazy yellow streetlights. I love the smell of jasmine that lingers on my street at night, the friendliness of strangers, the availability of red meat and fresh-squeezed orange juice. There are things I hate: trash, oppression, people like the man who gave me a prostitute pick up call on the street tonight, grabbing my hand as I walked down the street and dragging his finger over the palm of my hand. (He received a very ladylike gesture in return...)

But on the whole, I love the city. And am happy to be sharing that love with someone else, even if they'll never share the same passion. That's okay...we're just being who God created us to be. And that, too, feels like vacation. But that is a subject for another posting...


Faye Yu said...

Can I come on vacation with you? No matter where I stay in Sierra Leone I don't feel like I am on a vacation.

indiana.amy said...

Hey Jenna! I just discovered that reading people's blogs is a great way to stay in touch. Brazil sounds amazing and you seem to be loving it there. It's kind of impossible to catch up on like 4 years in one blog comment, but I just wanted you to know I'm still alive and I'm glad you are too and until our paths meet again, we can use this internet thing to stay in touch :-)
Love, Amy