Brazil; Copacabana and Ipanema, tanned oily bodies in the smallest bikinis sipping on a caipirinha or playing football or volleyball. Samba dancers in even shorter costumes, feathers and sparkles. Carnaval and soccer on one side, favelas and crimes on the other. These are the first things that come to our minds when we hear Brazil. For years I wanted to visit Brazil, even more after making a Brazilian friend but I never had the money, and when I had the money I did not have the time. Thanks to my friend I made it. While I was in Australia she let me know that she’d get married in 6 months and invited me. How could I say no to that?
Spending days drinking caipirinhas at the beach and trying pastel, having my first Brazilian waxing, getting to know exotic fruits and finding out about (for me) weird wedding traditions like the fake cake they have to take pictures and having Portuguese classes. After 6 weeks at my friends, actually her sister’s place, who obvs became my friend as well, it was time to go and explore a bit more than just this little litoral (coast city) close to São Paulo. You can already guess where I went to no? Yes, Rio de Janeiro. Only a 7h bus ride from São Paulo city away. Rio de Janeiro, we always think of favelas, which are also called Comunidade in Portuguese, and crimes. Imagine me arriving there alone and to be honest, a bit scared. But once at the hostel, I met the kindest people, with whom I visited the city, had dinner at night or went out in Lapa. Always fun, especially when you are the only European with only Latinos.
Since I am young I dreamed about surfing and watched surf movies. Two months before Brazil I was in Indonesia where I took my first surf class. It stayed in my head and my heart. I loved observing the waves, the ocean and people surfing. That one day was just getting a taste of it and I promised myself to go to a surf camp to surf every day for a week. For me, that is the best way to find out if I really like it, especially because when you surf every day even just for a week, you will improve a little bit. Brazil is an amazing country for surfing and I booked a one-week surf camp just outside of Rio de Janeiro, with the possibility of staying a second week.
My first class was at a beach called Prainha, which is a small beach in a natural reserve surrounded by mountains. The view was breathtaking! I even got some waves, of course with a lot of help from the teacher but still. On the second day, I decided to stay another week. Everybody in the camp already surfed before, so the main theme was surf. Sometimes we would get up around 4.30 am to go to the beach and watch the sunrise. Go Surfing at 10 am, followed by yoga and lunch, having a nap in a hammock or doing a surf work out twice a week which was killing us. On other days we went to the beach to have fresh coconut (I always had trouble ordering the coconuts because I did not pronounce it correctly and ordered “shit” instead) and observed the surfers or had an afternoon surf session ourselves. Nearly every day we had Açaï from a little store in the neighbourhood. We watched the sunset from the big rock Pedra da Macumba with some beers or even better from your surfboard in the ocean. At night we had workshops about the ocean, the swell, how a wave creates, surf rules and surf in theory. Whatever talent you had, we made a workshop out of it like wine tasting, dancing samba, learning how to make a caipirinha (damn Europeans make it so wrong) and learning how to dance to baile funk, which is mainly shaking your ass also called twerking.
We found a little family, the kinda friends you always needed, spelling your heart out, being yourself and being loved for this. Our little magic bubble. Our little paradise. Our Neverland.
The weeks passed and I stayed, 1, 2, 3 weeks longer. We went surfing at 8 am, just the 4 of us, needless to say by now even the teachers were friends. The paddling out was so hard that day and the ocean rough, especially for me little beginner in her 3rd week only. I had a lot of respect for the ocean. But my teacher thought I can make it, so I believed him believing in me and stayed. A wave came and I paddle hard, only thinking that I don’t want him to give me that little push, I wanna make it on my own. I feel how the wave takes me, I get up on my board. It gets down and then that power of the wave takes me and pushes me even more. I never had this feeling before. Nothing matters, it is just you and the ocean, that one wave. This force of nature, untamed. It’s the end. I get in the washing machine, I paddle out again with the biggest smile. My teacher has a big smile ‘You made it! I wanted to give you a push but then you just went harder. You caught it on your own!’
Even bad surfing days were good days. I needed to learn this as well. It is just human that we want to perform good, we put pressure on ourselves. But once in a while, we need to remind ourselves that just being out there in the ocean, with your friends ..that’s all that matters. That already makes it a good day! Sitting on your board and watching the waves break. Waiting. The little talks or songs or my friend twerking on her board. The feeling you get when you catch a wave. The joy when your friends catch waves. Learning. Getting to know yourself too. When I surf I have like phases, first I don’t know anything, then I know the basics, I have a wall and am not secure enough and then I know and I push myself. Until now it is like this. When I went back this year I had to learn to surf again, my body needed to get used to it again but after a few days, everything came back. Through surfing I became more confident if you really want something and pursue it, you can and will succeed. Outside of the water, the people I met helped to make me feel better with myself. Having a supportive group of friends is so important. Earlier this year I went back to the same camp and found some old friends and met new ones. This kind of women that light your fire, they make you realize how powerful and amazing you are. They believe in you and support you, no matter what!
This whole feeling, the good and the bad it is so hard to put into words.
I have never deeply been in love but I imagine it feels like surfing. In this one moment when you are together nothing else matters, it is just the two of you. You don’t own this love, you have to learn how to handle it because it will give you hard times but that’s a part of life. You want it so bad because whenever you are with her you feel at peace, happy, like the best version of yourself. And when you are away, you can only think of her and you miss her. You might see her again and even if you will never see her again, she will always stay a part of you and you will hold onto these memories forever. This is how I found my true love, the ocean.
When arriving in Recreio dos Bandeirantes I noticed that there were a lot of hummingbird graffitis. I liked them so much that I promised myself to get a tattoo of it as a memory. As already mentioned I met some pretty amazing people, together with a group of friends we wanted to get the classical surfer tattoo, a little wave. Find out in One of my addictions which I ended up getting and about all the other tattoos I have and what their meaning are.
Even though I have been to Brazil already twice within one year, I don’t really manage to write anything about it. I have the same problem with Australia, where I stayed a whole year. Maybe it is hard to write about something you love in such a complex way. I managed it a bit though, Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro 2019 as well as Feminist Bloco Mulheres Rodadas 2019 and First 8M march – Rio de Janeiro.
Find out more about Latin America like Ecuador in 3 weeks in Ecuador and its food in Lets talk food Ecuador. Or about my trips to Asia in 4 days on a boat without a toilet nor electricity in Indonesia or Country of smiles – Cambodia and their food The food isn’t that bad here – Cambodia