#GipsyFeelings

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Moving to different countries and states brings a very specific mix of feelings, from extreme enthusiastic anxiety to deep self doubting despair. It all starts with the notion that you can do it, it won’t be a challenge, on the contrary, it is a change much needed. New opportunities ahead, new horizons, a clean slate, a fresh fresh start. Its all very exciting, you can feel butterflies on your stomach, you research everything you can about the new city and you start to believe it is way better than the place you live now. Sometimes that is totally the case, but after moving you also realize that you might have been too hard on your criticisms and too enthusiastic on your praise.

The first time you visit, if you’ve never been, is as awesome as you would expect. Maybe better. Each restaurant or bar discovery is treasured, you start picking your favorite local spots and soon your choices will give hints of your taste, your social persona, your identity. It is very cool to see the neighborhoods with tourists eyes, get to know them, form an opinion and choose your new home accordingly. Having local tips, reading local news and blogs always helps.

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Packing is always a hustle. The troubling thing is, most of the time, we decide we need to take with us more stuff than we actually need. It is a good opportunity to let some things go, maybe that old high school jeans that doesn’t fit anymore, the one you keep just to make sure you stay on your diet. It helps a little bit, but no results so far, years have gone and the button still doesn’t close. Let it go!

Lastly, as moving day comes around the corner, you get that rush of worries: what if it doesn’t work out? What if I don’t fit in? What if I can’t find a job or make new friends? What if? Truth is, “what if’s” are conjunctures we conceive when we take risks, when we fear the consequences and doubt our decisions. There’s no way we can know if all the “what if’s” will become reality, not unless we decide to live, face the challenges and the fears. That might not be easy, but for some reason you thought a change was necessary, so stick to your instincts and give it a try. It might actually surprise you!

A change of life

Every time I go back to Brazil, it takes me a few days to readapt to the crazy, busy, metropole type of life Sao Paulo provides to its citizens. Traffic suddenly becomes a big concern, since driving 9 miles can take 1:30 hours during peak hours, usually from 7am to  10am in the mornings and from 5pm to 8pm at night. You plan your life geographically,  avoiding to go places because you might get stuck in traffic for so many hours that it is just not worth it. Thankfully, that’s not something I have to worry about in my new town.

IMG_0476It has been less than a year since I actually moved from Brazil to Columbus, and it surprised how quickly we adapt to good things. For instance, my house in Brazil used to have walls all over for safety reasons and my suburban american house only has trees and, well, imaginary lines. The streets had public lights, also for safety reasons, but nights here are so dark I spent three months feeling scared to take my dogs outside to go potty. Eventually, I grew out of it, thankfully. Not only that, I realized how beautiful the sky gets when you can see it without the intervention of street lights and tall walls. It is so quiet here, I don’t miss the city noises at all.

Suburbs trumps Sao Paulo in two other topics: quality of air and friendly neighborhood, almost like a community. Quality of air is a no brainer, since Sao Paulo is one of the most polluted cities in the world, and I feel the difference everyday. But the way our neighbors welcomed us, bringing us cupcakes and banana breads, introducing themselves and offering to help us in anything we might need, that was a surprise. We always hear about how friendly and welcoming Brazilians are in comparison to other countries, and for some reason I thought it would be difficult to break the ice. After the first months I could tell that our neighbors were more friendly than any other I had the chance to meet in Brazil. I witnessed the couple that lives across the street taking out the trash for the family next door, feeding their cat while they were away for summer vacation. I also realized they talked about groundhogs and how to get them away of both their yards without endangering other houses. Everybody says Hi, for the very least, when they drive by. Small gestures that make all the difference when it comes to adapting to a life in a new country.

Finding a topic

I have been occupied with some bureaucratic things and trying to find a job, something I find very challenging, which lead me to stop posting texts on the blog this week. I did have a few posts already written, but reading them for the second and third times made me chose to delete them. They are not blog-material and definitely not topics worth writing about.

I always had problems trying to find stories worth telling from the journalistic point of view, mainly because sometimes I still find myself trapped in the same old approaches. Yes, sometimes, I feel I lack in creativity. I see myself trying to write pieces about how an authors life is related to his work or about literature and society, which are themes wildly explored from the theoretical and the journalistic perspective.

Those times, something that really helps me is to read newspapers and see what not-to-write-about topics, read blogs and see what they are talking about, research sources, go out for a walk. My teachers used to say it is impossible to be speechless if you are out there with pen, paper and maybe a recorder. Their answer to lack of creativity was to go out and live. Talk to poor people occupying empty buildings in the center of São Paulo to understand their point of view on housing public policies, just to learn more about real state speculation. Nothing new, but maybe you will meet an architect in the middle of the occupiers, or a teacher, who are there for moral and ethical reasons, not financial problems, and that catches your eye.

My teachers told me the world presents itself for somebody who is willing to get their feet dirty, walk around and just talk to people. Someone interested to get to know things, like how is it to live your life, your struggles, your political beliefs. I never understood that properly until I started traveling abroad and being a tourist. The kind of tourist that prefers experiencing a local’s life, not seeing a chinese walk around the Louvre with a camera on his shoulders, busier filming than actually living the present, enjoying the paintings, learning from it. I started appreciating more and more the french cafes and the talks people were having on the next table, the cab driver complaints, the moments where we find ourselves lost and the maps were all useless.

All I know is that I have been trying to follow their advices ever since, but sometimes I forget… This time I decided to write about it, to remind me of the importance of maintaining that fresh eye, curiosity and humility only a true tourist has. Even if the tourist is traveling on his hometown or the town he lives in.

What about you? What works for you when you want to find a topic to write about? 

New York stole my heart at 16! And, again, at 26.

I was 16 when I first visited New York City. I was on a small interchange – 3 months living with my aunt, uncle and cousins in Darien, Connecticut  and attending High School. Until today the city holds a special place in my heart, being the place where I first went sightseeing without any adult supervision, such a freeing experience. That’s just one of the reasons why the front page of my blog holds a picture of the High Line, the train line that became one my favorite parks in the world. I like it especially because of what it symbolizes: adaptation, transformation, social appropriation of a place that was threatened  to be demolished.

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The High Line wasn’t there when I was 16, but I visited NYC last year with my parents to search for my wedding dress. This might sound weird for some people, but buying the dress in the US, even when the wedding was scheduled to happen in Brazil, would save me something like $5.000 dollars. So, I scheduled an appointment at Kleinfeld, imagining I would have the “Say Yes To The Dress” experience. It wasn’t (and most of it was my fault – I was really stressed out with my parents dress advices, almost giving up, really), and I end up having my dress custom made in Brazil (and I bargained a lot to make it affordable).

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I think I visited the High Line the same day I had my appointment at Kleinfeld. I was really bummed, moody, angry. I felt my parents were pushing their points of view down my throat, no dress would fit me properly and, on top of that, we were having our last trip together before the wedding. My fiancee was sending me websites profiles of possible houses for us to buy in Columbus, Ohio, and I remember thinking we would never find the perfect one. A lot of emotions flying around, yet, a walk on that park was somewhat refreshing.  There were two hipsters dudes playing songs, lots of people sipping freshly squeeze lemon juice and homemade popsicles. Friends were talking and gossiping on the benches, families strolling up and down and we were just following along, appreciating the view, the artworks displayed all around and the sun in our faces. It gave an opportunity to vent out, relax and come out the on the other end of the park with a fresher, calmer mind.

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We took off walking around through the streets of NYC and, before we knew, it was dinner time. We decided to go to Balthazar, a restaurant I have heard wonders about. It was precisely what I was hopping for! We feasted ourselves with fish and duck and went back to our hotel, feeling good and tired after a busy day.

Punta del Este: where beach and countryside come together

by Marcele Folgati

Punta del Este, in the winter is a place to be appreciated, a mix of beach and countryside. The cold wind becames more agreable with the sun that comes out practically every day. Differently from the crowded summer, Punta del Este is quiet and peaceful at this time of the year. In the mornings, after 10 am, when the weather gets warmer, and in the late afternoon, you can enjoy the beach by walking, cycling or skating on the shore. You will surely meet other tourists and locals doing the same.

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José Ignácio is a place worth visiting. It is one of the most visited beaches during the summer. Although bars and restaurants will probably be closed, since they only open during peak season, the sight is simply beautiful.

For those who appreciate good food and are willing to try local cuisine, there is plenty of good options. On the shore, there is a restaurant called Guappa, which is always crowded. The dishes are very good and they go along well with the house sangria. A piece of advice: go to Manolo for dessert, and you will savour the best churros in town, with a side of the famous uruguayan dulce de leche. If, by any chance, you don’t know what it is, a churro is a fried dough normally covered with lots of sugar and cinnamon.

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Another unforgetable restaurant is the one at Hotel Fasano – Las Piedras, a place on the top of a hill where you can enjoy the nature and the endless fields. Here you can get in touch with Punta del Este amazing countryside. Lamb is the preferred dish amoung clients.

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A visit to Casa Pueblo, built by the famous artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, during sunset reminded me of Santorini, Greece. It has a hotel, an art gallery and a museum with several of Vilaró’s paintings.

Nights are calm and the wind makes it colder. Most of the tourists end it up going to the Casino on Hotel Conrad and having dinner there. If, however, you want to get away from the crowds, I suggest going to L’Incanto, a restaurant where you can dine in or just taste a good wine with appetizers.

Personally, I found Punta del Este a very relaxing place, a perfect get away for this time of the year. You can most definitely get in touch with yourself and the exuberant nature all around, forgetting most of the stress we accumulate on our daily busy lives.

More informations:

Guappa – http://www.guappa.com.uy/

Fasano Las Piedras – http://www.laspiedrasfasano.com/

Casa Pueblo – http://www.clubhotelcasapueblo.com/

Conrad Casino – http://www.conrad.com.uy/2011/index.aspx

L´incanto – http://www.incantopunta.com/

BIO:

Marcele Folgati is a Brazilian journalist, one of my closest friends, and she kindly agreed to write a piece for quirksmag. For that, I am extremely grateful.