One thing that many people who don’t get to travel a lot don’t tend to understand is the great amount of hospitality and generosity those you encounter have. Whether it be just a friendly smile that brightens your day or you are offered a chance to spend a day with a family, traveling opens you up to a whole new world of possibilities.
Of course, one must always use intelligence and what apparently is not-so-common sense. But what can occur as a result can be some of the best memories of your travels!
I have to say that one of the things that I love about my church is that no matter where I am in the world, I can find people who share my beliefs and with whom I can feel at home. My hosts were kind enough to take me to church yesterday morning, as there happened to one near by. Granted, I was expecting a bit more of a welcome than what was received – I have often experienced that larger churches tend to have problems in making visitors feel welcome. I didn’t let it get to me, however, and eventually introduced myself to a young woman who also happened to be named Juliana! Long story short, I was brought along to her home with her husband, Alexandre, his parents, and her sister, brother-in-law, and nephew for lunch and a wonderful afternoon just getting to know each other. I even attended their choir rehearsal for the fun of it. We’re already looking forward to seeing each other again next Sabbath and exploring parts of Niteroi I haven’t seen yet!
Later that evening, my hosts and I went to blues/rock concert that Daniel, the Aprendiz program coordinator, was playing in and had invited me to. The music was great and I got to meet some interesting people during the program.
Today was, once again, a free day. My host, Valeria, and I took the opportunity to sleep in but then took advantage of the nice weather (it has been raining here for the past couple of days) to go explore Rio de Janeiro. We visited the botanical gardens and saw lots of beautiful plants, turtles, monkeys, tamarins, birds, a squirrel, and at least 20 pregnant women. Seriously. It was like – pregnancy fest. They must have been taking advantage of the good weather as well, because each of them was being followed by a photographer.
Later on we met up with Valeria’s friend, Patricia, and her sister-in-law, Raquel for a late lunch and then a stroll of the famous Copacabana beach. Let me just say – it wasn’t HALF has bad as I was told it would be. Honestly, it was quite tranquil. Sure, there were still a lot of people, but nothing like what I was expecting. Apparently all the Argentinians who had been literally camping out on the beach (which isn’t allowed, by the way), have moved with the games and are migrating north. That’s what I’m told at least.
The beach was filled with individuals proudly wearing the colors of their country. The FIFA Fan Fest, especially, was filled with soccer lovers and proud citizens. The Fest had several booths and activities as well as an enormous screen where the South Korea-Algeria game was being broadcasted (Congrats to Algeria, by the way!).
In the evening, Valeria left me at the Teatro Ipanema with Alline, the photographer of the Programa Aprendiz that I met the other day. She was taking pictures of the final performance of a musical geared towards preteens and teens called, “Tudo Por Um Pop Star” (Everything for a Pop Star – http://aventuraentretenimento.com.br/tudoporumpopstar/). I don’t think I had ever experienced anything like this… The imaginary wall that normally is placed between the actors and the audience was completely obliterated. The audience was filled with adolescents who seemed to have seen the show ten times already, because they knew all the lines. There was one time a guy behind me shouted out a line before the actress, and she just turned and stared at him before saying, “You want to keep telling me what to say?” Everyone laughed, and the show went on. By the end there were people literally crying and cheering and holding up signs – apparently it was the last show of the run. Quite the experience.
All of this is to say – without trying new things, meeting new people, and taking some chances, life isn’t all that fun. I went to the home of complete strangers that I can now call friends. I went to someone in concert that I only just met once before, the same with the musical. Exploring Copacabana, with a camera, is supposedly extremely dangerous but I had a fantastic time with no problem whatsoever. Yes, be smart but sometimes its worth stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
I’ll be adding links in the next couple of posts to videos from my trip so far (since I have the basic WordPress, I can’t properly embed them here). I hope you’re enjoying reading along and be sure to leave any comments or questions you might have.