This is what I love about Brasil: No guard rails.
Let me back up, as the culture immersion began as soon as my brother mother and I landed in Brasil.
In the center is my cousin, who is on holiday the whole month from her job with the airlines. Turns out getting through customs is pretty relaxing when your cousin has a badge!
The culture hit me when we were outside loading up our car with all our luggage. A genial valet approached my mother and cousin, after reading the situation, and asked if we needed any dollars exchanged into rais. We had just forgone a few chances to do so given the terrible exchange rate found at the airport, so when this valet offered more than 3:1 rais for dollars we were ecstatic to do a deal.
We went back inside the airport and took the elevator down, and my cousin explained simply “no cameras downstairs.” The atmosphere of the whole affair was very casual, given its apparent illegal nature! The entrepreneurial valet apparently used his cash tips to have a side hustle where he had a currency exchange business.
Ah Brasil, I missed you.
A few days of visiting family, seeing the countryside of Rio, and an amazing trip to the new museum Rio built to impress the world during the 2016 Olympic Games.
I’ll write about that trip in another post, but for now let’s get back to the guard rails:
We had gotten off a train in Rio and I asked my brother what he thought I liked most about the scene. It was a trick question, because it was what was missing: those red and white arm guards that come down to prevent people from crossing when a train passes. Having lived in Japan last year, ths contrasting aspects of Brasil is what stands out the most to me: the lack of structure on all levels from social interactions to car traffics. Red lights are optional, motorcycles have the liberty (arguably the responsibility to ensure better flow) to use the between cars as a lane, and sparse social norms allow for free flow of emotion and passion.
Most importantly the lack of guard rails signify to me how people are given responsibility for their own safety. It feels nice to be trusted and not hand held through every aspect of common sense, doesn’t it? The Daoism in me feels the need to give credit to Japan though and the other point of view: it also feels nice to not have to think sometimes!
Speaking of Daoism, meet one of my revered teachers for my stay here:
Her name is Kelly, and I talk her on walks as often as I can. I met Kelly almost three years ago, and she was quite passionate then! She slipped off her collar at one point and I had to chasing through the streets of Rio until I cornered her with one of my cousins. These days she has been cultivating for 3 years in her little piece of the world, and she is much calmer and gentler than I remember (without losing any of her heart!)
She teaches me a lot on our walks. For one, I get into a kind of harmony and understanding with her where she is not tugging at her leash and I am not tugging at her. We fall into sync and I let her lead a bit and I gently turn course with her as well. Its dancing in the wu wei practice for sure. She also earns my trust more and more when I take off her leash and let her roam around a bit outside in parks. She wanders around, but I’ve noticed as long as I remain calm and don’t go chasing her down she returns back of her own will.
I should also mention that she’s incredibly adorable sweetheart who jumps up to hug your leg!
I feel that’s enough for one post. I’ve got more content coming so stay tuned!
Future topics: Beach adventures, Jeitinho, Museum of Tomorrow