This is a letter that I wrote to my grandmother from my volunteering in Brazil. Being more specific, being in the lungs of the world: The Amazon. I hope you feel it as much as she has felt it, and that the emotions and desires of wanting to live my experience invade you.
Magical, mysterious, adventurous, warm, and surprising. I fall in love with the road, with the kindness that its people give me, and with the beauty of mother nature. There were coronas, bicycles, many walks, some boats, and the occasional motorcycle. After doing my third volunteer service, and making other stops around the huge country, I arrived at a very different destination. I come to the green of the Amazon, to the pure jungle, to life.
The last volunteer on this trip
I’m moving from Manaus to Itacoatiara. The whole trip was very heartfelt. Traveling alone, in a slow way, being a backpacker, opens my mind and embraces my soul. I find myself in solitude, but also in the mirror of the other and that makes traveling alone something wonderful. I learn I am grateful, and I enjoy the journey as life and life as a journey.
In the calm of feeling, I don’t just live in the moment. But sometimes fleeting flashes of memories also arise. I think of friends, family, or my childhood self. And this is how this letter to my grandmother arises: back on a bus to Manaus, I decide to tell her about my experience. Trying not to worry her, I want to inform her where I am, assure her and convey how grateful I feel. As a child, she was the one who gave me all her love. He raised me, took care of me, helped me become who I am today. But, being a grandmother, she has old-fashioned traditions.
She can’t believe how her 19-year-old granddaughter is going to travel alone through different countries, with nothing planned, relying heavily on the outside … “the world is crazy” she would say (I believe her, we all are). I wrote him this letter because he was very present those days when I could not communicate. I felt his embrace, I felt his containment, his light. And with these lyrics, I show you that prejudices must be swept away, that you have to experiment and go looking. Because as the Mexican poet Octavio Paz said, “We are condemned to leave the garden: the world is before us.”
Grandma, I came to the Amazon
Itacoatiara is a city that is about four, five hours from Manaus. It is not very quiet. The noise of the motorcycles and the music of the houses welcome those who arrive; It is not touristy, but it is one of the most populated cities in the Amazon. I came to do another volunteer, but this one is quite different. I become a teacher of the crianças (children) of the place, I teach them a little Spanish, mathematics and also plastic arts. And we play, the game must always be present. We grow up playing, expressing ourselves freely. I do not forget the afternoons playing with you in the back of the house. I remember it very well, and my inner child is more alive than ever.
I was accompanied from the beginning, then alone and again accompanied by another volunteer. I had a slight inconvenience when I arrived, and it continued for two days. It’s that the chubby girl wanted to eat at a bus stop, a Folha do, something like an empanada. Hours later I was vomiting my stomach, and dehydration was what scared me the most because it is very hot here. That day I didn’t know what was going to happen to me, and I was alone, and it was very difficult because I couldn’t ask anyone for help, not even to go to the hospital, although that option was not within my possibilities.