Journal Entry #3: Dec 26th 2022, Paraty Brazil
All the greens, feeling insignificant, and not understanding a thing
Hola and welcome to Where on Planet Earth! In case you got here by accident and are not yet a subscriber, here you go:
Hello! Happy holidays! I hope you are somewhere you want to be, with people you want to be with, doing things you want to be doing ❤️
We are in Paraty, on the Costa Verde (Green Coast), a lush corridor between the state of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. And green it is. Truly the first thing that is obvious about Brazil is that this country is green, so exuberantly green. Dense jungle constantly surrounds you, it’s right next to highways, to beaches, to houses; it’s just ever present, filling your pupils - and your heart - to the rim. There is bright green and deep green, in tall trees and small bushes, olive green and pea green, in giant leaves and tiny flowers, lime green and emerald green, all the greens. After a few days here I can confidently say this fierce greenery is clearly good for my soul - and I'd dare to say for anyone's. How could it not be? "Forest bathing" - or simply put: spending time in nature - has scientifically proven physical and mental benefits, and I am here for it.
Other things to note about this magical piece of the earth: the beaches are SO wild! they are long and wide, filled with super soft light brown sand, framed by the dense nature of the Serra do Mar mountains, and accompanied by the raging Atlantic Ocean. Having mountains with such abundant jungle on them and so close to the beach is quite special. Alan says it reminds him of Hawaii, and I can see why. I think it’s even wilder though.
Also, the Atlantic ocean on this coast is fierce, the waves are big and furious, you can hear them crashing from miles away. I love when nature makes you feel insignificant, when it shows you just how much of a tiny piece of nothing we are in this world. It fills me with gratitude for having the fortune to experience it, to see it, to live it, to feel it. Gratitude! my other favorite feeling.
But, the point was that the ocean here can be scary, and we had a pretty hair-rising experience on a boat, but that is a story for another week. A few people have reached out to tell me some of their scariest experiences in their lives have been in Brazil’s coast. So apparently it’s a common experience :)
The other thing I noticed very soon after arriving: we were going to spend one and a half months in this country understanding just 20% - or less - of what people say to us. Portuguese is a more complex than Spanish, so every Brazilian I have ever encountered understands Spanish quite well and many can speak at least some. What is most interesting is that they must assume we also probably understand Portuguese because they don’t slow down - not even a little bit - when speaking to us in either full Portuguese or a mix of Portuñol (Portuguese and Spanish).
Sure, we can understand some words, and if they speak slowly even more, but ultimately NO, we don’t speak nor understand Portuguese. The moment people realize we know Spanish everyone just seems to ignore it’s a different language. A lot of our conversations are people telling us things in Portuguese and we saying “Que!?” (What?) a lot, nodding without understanding everything that is said, or spending a lot of time in a comical back and forward.
Honestly I think traveling to countries in which latin languages are spoken is harder in terms of communication because people don't even try to speak English or figure out how to communicate effectively, they are just like “ah! you know Spanish? Ok, *speaks Latin language*". In places in which the local language is totally differently, such as Georgia, everyone tried really hard to communicate, even if they didn’t know English, so we always figured it out together.
Apart from the language barrier - which is more than anything just funny, not annoying or problematic - it seems this piece of Brazilian coast is getting all the rain Peru hasn’t received. We came here for sun and beach time but have been welcomed by gloomy and rainy days. But that is traveling for you, sometimes the weather - or the place, the vibe, etc - doesn’t cooperate. And that is ok, you have to adapt, be flexible, and let it flow! The universe told us to slow down, and we sort of did, taking it easy for a couple days while the rained died down. And yesterday we woke up to a glorious day and went kayaking! Today is pretty grey, but still, we are off to hiking through the jungle to reach a dreamy beach.
All in all, I freaking love this wild, kind, exuberant country.
Till next week!