Ilha de Boipeba, Bahia

Part of the Tinharé Archipelago in the south of the state of Bahia in northeastern Brasil, the island of Boipeba easily became one of my favourite places in the country. The endless, white sand beaches, the warm, turquoise water, the innumerable coconut trees, the stunning sunsets, and the friendly locals make this place worth the long journey from Salvador.

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Ubicada en el archipiélago de Tinharé en el sur del estado nordestino de Bahia en Brasil, la isla de Boipeba fácilmente se convirtió en uno de mis lugares preferidos en el país. Las playas blancas interminables, el agua tibia y turquesa, las innumerables palmas de coco, los atardecers alucinantes, y la amabilidad de los nativos hacen que valga la pena el largo viaje desde Salvador.

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Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

Rio de Janeiro, the Wonderful City founded by the Portuguese in 1565 in Brazil’s  southern Atlantic coast, offers residents and visitors an eclectic mix of natural and urban environments, cultural events, historical architecture, and of course, samba.

I was only there for a few days last winter and didn’t see the major tourist sites like Christ the Redeemer, the Sugar Loaf, the view from Vidigal neighbourhood, or even Selarón’s steps in Lapa. So what did I do with my time there? I walked… a lot. Here are some of the photos.

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Río de Janeiro, la Ciudad Maravillosa fundada por los portugueses en 1565 en la costa Atlántica sur de Brasil, ofrece a sus residentes y visitantes una mezcla ecléctica de lo natural y lo urbano, eventos culturales, arquitectura histórica, y claro, samba.

Estuve allá apenas unos días el invierno pasado y no ví los principales puntos turísticos como el Cristo Redentor, el Pan de Azúcar, la vista del barrio Vidigal, ni las escalas de Selarón en Lapa. Entonces, ¿qué hice con mi tiempo? Caminé…mucho. Aquí están algunas de las fotos.

Beaches — Copacabana & Ipanema

Although Rio is surrounded by gorgeous beaches, packed with surfers and foot-volley players year-round, Copacabana and Ipanema are its most iconic strips of sand.

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Aunque Río está rodeado de playas hermosas repletas de surfistas y jugadores de foot-volley (una combinación de voleibol y fútbol) aun en pleno invierno, Copacabana e Ipanema son las más icónicas.

Jardim Botânico & Casa Lage

Rio’s Botanical Gardens house much more than diverse samples of the country’s flora and fauna, offering a tranquil respite from the busy city and a place to learn about the history and archeology of the region. Casa Lage is an old fazenda built in the 1800s at the foot of the Corcovado that now serves as a public park and a school of visual arts. I saw lots of monkeys in both places!

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El Jardín Botánico de Río acoge mucho más que la diversidad de flora y fauna del país, ofreciendo un espacio tranquilo para descansar de la ciudad y para aprender sobre la historia y la arquitectura de la región. La Casa Lage es una vieja hacienda construida en los 1800s al pie del morro del Corcovado que hoy sirve de parque público y escuela de artes visuales. Ví muchos micos en ambos lugares!

Centro & Lagoa

Downtown Rio serves as the city’s financial and commercial district, and is growing as a point of interest for tourists. The Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in the city’s south is another of the many natural, public spaces to enjoy the outdoors.

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El centro de Río es el distrito financiero y comercial de la ciudad, y también está creciendo como un punto de interés para el turismo. La laguna Rodrigo de Freitas en la zona sur es otro de los espacios públicos naturales para disfrutar de la ciudad.

Pedra Bonita

Pedra Bonita is located in the Tijuca National Park and usually offers stunning views of the city…usually.

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Piedra Bonita está ubicado en el Parque Nacional Tijuca y normalmente tiene vistas espectaculares de la ciudad…normalmente.

Despite Rio’s beauty, its socio-economic disparity cannot be ignored; but with such limited time, I chose to focus on the good, the beautiful, the wonderful. I hope to see more of Rio later this year and experience its other faces.

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A pesar de la belleza de Río, la desigualdad socio-económica no se puede ignorar, pero como tuve tan poco tiempo, decidí enfocarme en lo bueno, lo hermoso, lo maravilloso. Espero ver más de Río a finales de este año y conocer sus otras facetas.

Travel / Viajes – 2015-20172011-2014

 

Best of 2016 Travels / Lo Mejor de Viajes en 2016

Best of Travel 2015 / Lo Mejor de Viajes en 2015

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As I sit here, looking out of my second-story window in Santa Marta, Colombia, I think about how it’s already March and it’s a bit late to be recapping the last year of My Nomadic Life in Brazil. But if you’ve followed my blog longer than a month, you know this is normal behaviour and you’ll forgive me!

2016 was an incredible year that I’m still trying to process. So here’s a quick look back at all the amazing places I was lucky enough to see the past year, and some motivation for an even better 2017!

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Estoy sentada mirando por mi ventana en un segundo piso en Santa Marta, Colombia, pensando que ya es marzo y es un poco tarde para estar recapitulando el último año de Mi Vida Nómada en Brasil. Pero si has seguido mi blog más de un mes, sabrás que este comportamiento es normal y me perdonarás!

El 2016 fue un año extraordinario que todavía estoy tratando de procesar. Así que aquí va una mirada rápida a todos los lugares tuve la suerte de visitar el último año, y un poco de motivación para un 2017 aún mejor!

 

I started the year off in Belém, in Brazil’s northern coast, where the Amazon and the Atlantic meet…

 

 

 

 

Empecé el año en Belém, en la costa norte del Brasil, donde el Amazonas y el Atlántico se encuentran…

 

 

 

Then I visited São Luís, the historic capital of Maranhão…

 

 

 

 

Después visité São Luís, la capital histórica del Maranhão…

 

 

 

 

And the Lençóis Maranhenses, which were spectacular even though they were dry.

 

 

 

 

Y a los Lençóis Maranhenses, que fueron espectaculares a pesar de estar secos.

 

 

 

 

I enjoyed the coloured sands and deep ocean of Ceará…

 

 

 

 

Disfruté de las arenas coloridas y el agua azul del Ceará…

 

 

 

 

I travelled further south to Recife, the colourful capital city of Pernambuco…

 

 

 

 

Viajé más hacia el sur a Recife, la colorida capital del Pernambuco…

 

 

 

 

…before going back north to Rio Grande do Norte, one of my favourite states in Brazil, where I stayed a few months.

 

 

 

 

…antes de subir a Rio Grande do Norte, uno de mis estados favoritos en Brasil, donde me quedé varios meses.

 

 

 

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

 

 

I flew down to Rio de Janeiro in June, a city I hadn’t been to since New Year’s 1997-98!

 

 

Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

 

Volé a Rio de Janeiro en junio, una ciudad que no visitaba desde año nuevo 1997-98!

 

 

 

 

Wynwood Walls, Miami, Florida, USA

 

I left Brazil in July and travelled to Florida in the USA.

 

 

 

Pass-a-Grille, St Petersburg, Florida, USA

 

 

Salí de Brasil en julio y viajé a la Florida en los EEUU.

 

 

Ilha de Boipeba, Bahia, Brasil

 

Back in Brazil, I flew back north to finally see the lovely Bahia, a place that stole my heart.

 

 

 

Salvador, Bahia, Brasil

 

De regreso en Brasil, volé al norte otra vez para finalmente ver la hermosa Bahía, un lugar que se robó mi corazón.

 

 

São Paulo, SP, Brasil

 

After a few months of beaches and sunshine, I faced the enormous and wonderful city of São Paulo.

 

 

 

São Paulo, SP, Brasil

 

Después de varios meses de playas y sol, me enfrenté a la enorme y espectacular ciudad de São Paulo.

 

 

Medellín, Colombia

 

I went home for the holidays and spent some time in Medellín and Santa Marta…

 

 

Bahía Concha, Santa Marta, Colombia

 

Volví a casa para las vacaciones y pasé tiempo en Medellín y Santa Marta…

 

 

 

Araminda, Canelones, Uruguay

 

…before going to Uruguay for the end of year!

 

 

 

Montevideo, Uruguay

 

…antes de irme para Uruguay a terminar el año!

 

 

 

 

2016 was a fantastic year and 2017 is already promising exciting new places for me to visit! To see the complete photo galleries, click on the captions or visit my 2015-17 Travel page.
Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @LauraRepoOrtega

El 2016 fue un año fantástico y el 2017 ya promete luagres nuevos muy emocionantes para conocer! Para ver las galerías completas, haz clíck en los pie de foto o visita my página de Viajes 2015-17.
Sígueme en Facebook, Instagram y Twitter @LauraRepoOrtega

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For more on my journey through Brazil, read about My Nomadic Life.
Para saber más de mi viaje por Brasil, lee sobre Mi Vida Nómada.

My Nomadic Life: Life in Motion

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Arriving in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

I don’t know that I’ve ever felt like a less spontaneous person in my life than the day I found my Israeli friend unpacking his bag in our hostel in Salvador, Brazil, taking out everything he wouldn’t need for Europe but had been essential during his last year in South America. “I found a cheap ticket to Barcelona and I’m leaving tonight,” he said. I was incredulous.

I’ve met those people who can just pack up and travel to another country with only a few hours notice, but I’m not one of them. Sometimes I think I’d like to be that way, but I actually enjoy planning my travels. And although I avoid researching my destination too much–because I like to be surprised and to discover a new place my own way–I refuse to arrive somewhere I don’t know to walk around looking for a place to sleep.

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Galinhos, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

Before I arrived in Manaus in October, 2015, I already had a clear idea of what my route and schedule would be. Sometimes I’ve wanted to change my plans, to miss my flight or just leave without a word, but I’ve only deviated a few times from the journey I planned in my mind and on maps after my first visit to the Amazon in 2012.

Because I’m travelling slowly and cheaply, with the intention of learning Portuguese and as much as I can about Brazilian culture, I’m always going to choose the cheapest ticket even if it means buying it two months in advance, and I’ll take a discounted price on accommodation even if it means committing myself to staying “long term” (ten days up to a month). Until now, I feel following my plans has taken me exactly where I need to be.

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Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Beyond that, I honestly don’t like getting too comfortable, because when I’m comfortable I forget that one of the things I enjoy the most about this journey and my nomadic life in Brazil is movement itself. Besides, I’ve learned that discomfort leads to creativity, curiosity, and productivity, while comfort turns into complacency and the consolidation of repetitive routines.

After living in six different countries across four continents, I have not only gotten used to being uncomfortable, but I actually really enjoy it. OK, I love it. There’s nothing like arriving at a new place, unpacking, starting over, and leaving again, to do it all over. It’s almost as if I liked comfort, but not too much; almost as if I liked stability, but not really; almost as if I wanted to stay still, but not enough to actually do it.

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Amazonas River, Pará, Brazil

With every passing year, city, country, river, and beach, my love for movement grows, and each time I move more slowly, with more time, calmly, without forcing the discoveries one can only make when living far from home. I’ve followed my whims through this parallel universe and haven’t stayed more than two months in any place; I’m always moving to a different bed, different room, hostel, city, state, latitude, beach.

At this pace, in a country as big as Brazil, I’ve inevitably spent countless hours and even days in motion: on ships and boats, buses, trains, cars, planes… With nearly 30 kg of luggage on my shoulders, I’ve walked kilometres along steep cobble-stone, dirt and asphalt streets, going up and down stairs, fighting for space at rush hour, smiling at the shocked looks from those who can’t fathom what I’m doing alone with those bags, on that road, sweating, under the sun or the rain, always with a bag of nuts or sequilhos in my hand. No one imagines I’m waiting for another bus, another train, another map to take me to my next destination, wherever that may be.

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Leaving Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Transport—movement—has been an inescapable part of my journey, although it’s usually discarded as a necessary though unimportant vehicle, an inescapable way to escape whatever it is I’m running from—or toward?—on this journey with no beginning and no end.

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Galinhos, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil

But it’s in those moments that a sense of adventure truly takes over me; when I’m by the side of the road waiting for a bus to pass by, or at the terminal waiting for another one to leave; when I arrive in a new city, reading the street names and looking at the little hand-drawn maps on my notepad, trying to find my place. It’s these moments when adrenaline and excitement take me to my destination despite tiredness and hunger, and desperately wanting a bathroom that’s not moving, and sleeping horizontally. It’s these moments that mark this journey which is taking me around this country-continent, and I will continue devouring maps and imagining routes until the next bus comes around.

Versión en Español
My Nomadic Life

Ceará

Located in Brazil‘s north-eastern coast, the state of Ceará has a diverse landscape, crossed by mountains and valleys. I sadly didn’t explore the interior, but visited some of its beautiful beach towns which are surrounded by large rock outcrops and sand dunes.

Canoa Quebrada, a town located about 170 km south of the capital city, Fortaleza, has an interesting history, as it was colonised by the French, the British, the Portuguese, and eventually, the hippies. The story says it was a Pakistani man who left the biggest mark on the small town by carving a crescent moon and star in one of the beachside cliffs—a symbol that still represents the town today.

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Ubicado en la costa noreste de Brasil, el estado de Ceará tiene un paisaje diverso que cuenta con montañas y valles. Aunque no tuve la oportunidad de explorar el interior, visité algunos de los lindos pueblos costeros que están rodeados por grandes acantilados y dunas desérticas.

Canoa Quebrada, un pueblo ubicado a unos 170 km al sur de la capital, Fortaleza, tiene una historia interesante, ya que fue colonizada por los franceses, los ingleses, los portugueses, y después por los hippies. La historia cuenta que un hombre de Pakistán fue quien dejó la marca más grande cuando talló una luna creciente y una estrella en los acantilados de la playa, un símbolo que hasta hoy representa el pueblo.

Morro Branco & Canoa Quebrada

The state capital, Fortaleza, is a bustling metropolis home to about 2.5 million people, surrounded by beautiful beaches like Combuco, located just 35 km north of the city. Although it doesn’t have many historical buildings like other cities such as São Luís and Manaus, it’s maintained its status as a popular tourist destination for visitors coming from the south and interior of the country.

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Fortaleza, la capital estatal, es una metrópolis con unos 2.5 millones de habitantes, rodeada por playas con Combuco, ubicada a unos 35 km al norte de la ciudad. Aunque no tiene muchos edificios históricos como São Luís o Manaus, ha sido un destino turístico muy popular para personas que viven en el sur e interior del país.

Fortaleza & Combuco

Travel / Viajes – 2015-20162011-2014

My Nomadic Life: Parallel Universe

As my thirtieth birthday approaches, I find myself constantly thinking about time. I think about its role in our lives, how it influences our decisions and our actions; I think about how we try to manoeuvre it, wishing it to bend to our desires; I think about our perception of it when we look back, and what we imagine it to be when we look forward.

Olinda

Olinda, Pernambuco, Brasil

We live in a world that tries to manipulate time; we name it, measure it, count it, as if nomenclature could give us control, as if we could ever master it. This notion of control is fundamental in our understanding of the world we have constructed, and it rules most of what we do, from when we eat and when we work, to when we’re supposed to hit milestones like marriage and parenting. But I’ve always known that’s not the world I want to inhabit; I love living in a world where time is a concept as flexible and untameable as space, where the constraints of forces greater than us are respected but not idolised, where time is considered our greatest asset and most valuable currency. So I changed my world by starting on an exciting nomadic journey.

Although the ‘real’ world and my nomadic world occupy the same space, and exist simultaneously, the world of the traveller is one in which time works for us rather than against us; we who inhabit it have chosen to give up control and have freed ourselves from the traditional restrictions that attempt to overpower nature. Like-minded people live in this parallel universe, floating from one adventure to the next, sleeping in hammocks, sharing music, swapping stories and sometimes more, making friends, re-routing plans, falling in love, learning to say goodbye, following our hedonistic whims to the nearest paradise, all while blissfully unaware what the day of the week it is. Many might say we’re living in an unrealistic, utopian dreamworld, detached from responsibilities, but we like to think of it as controlled chaos, spontaneous planning, a sustainable life of surprise that lets us follow whichever path we choose on any given day.

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Morro Branco, Ceará, Brasil

In this universe, Monday and Thursday and Saturday are the same as the other four days of the week; for me, any day can be a day off, any day can be a work day. We don’t gauge time by numbers on a calendar, but by what we can get done in that space of time. That doesn’t mean we disregard time altogether, but we perceive it differently. Rather than filling in slots on a roster, waiting for the clock to hit that magic number so we can run out, escape the burden of pretending to have the ability to ‘manage’ time, we strive to answer questions like: How long can I spend by the beach? How much work do I have to do before, during, or after? How long will the bus take, how far do I have to walk? How many beers can I drink in the meantime? When does my visa run out?

Maragogi

Maragogi, Alagoas, Brasil

When we travel, we learn to really appreciate time; how quickly it can move, how flexible it is, how much we can squeeze into any given hour, week, or year, and how easily it can be lost. Right now, it seems impossible to me that only twelve months have passed since last May—it honestly feels like a short lifetime ago. And yet it feels like it was just yesterday. How many lives have I lived in the past year, I wonder? How many soulmates have I met, how much have I learned, discovered, let go of? The last year of my life seems to live simultaneously in the distant past and the present; so much has happened since that I can’t help but question the veracity of the calendar’s claims to measure my experiences, to quantify them into numbers so that they’re more easily digestible.

Recife Antigo

Recife, Pernambuco, Brasil

As the months pass by, I realise I can only tell them apart by the cities, accents, faces, and beaches that are attached to my memories, and as I move—on, away, back—I learn that time refuses to be measured or constricted, morphing into whatever shape suits it best, unconcerned by our desires or needs and specially our plans. And as travellers, we have learned to not only accept but embrace its rebelliousness; we have learned that hours only matter in terms of bus schedules, months in degrees and millimetres of rain; we have learned to prioritise weight and distances. Our search for adrenaline and novelty takes over as time becomes an impatient ally who we know can choose to stop being so generous at any moment.

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Lagoa Bonfim, Rio Grande do Norte, Brasil

So maybe we are running away, maybe it is irresponsible to live off the grid, allowing politics and monthly bills to become nothing more than a faraway memory; maybe we should care more about appearing in countless photographs wearing the same ragged clothes, eternally highlighting our simple but functional wardrobe and our unwillingness to conform to fashion trends or societal expectations of what we should look like, in this day and age, at our age. But we are otherwise preoccupied experiencing beautiful moments, fulfilling dreams, and creating collective memories. We have forged a supportive community that strives to live sustainably, happily, and fully, and in a world that seems to have lost its way and identity, we have chosen not to be bound by time, but rather freed by the possibilities it offers.

Versión en Español
My Nomadic Life

São Luís, Maranhão

After the Dutch invasion of the region, São Luís, the capital city of the state of Maranhão in Brazil’s north-east, was formally founded by the French in 1612 and soon after conquered by the Portuguese. The city’s rich history is palpable in its colourful buildings, its cobble-stone streets, and its cultural and ethnic diversity.

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Después de la invasión holandesa de la región, São Luís, la capital del estado brasilero de Maranhão en el nordeste del país, fue fundada por los franceses y poco después colonizada por los portugueses. La rica historia de la ciudad palpita en sus edificios coloridos, sus calles empedradas, y su diversidad cultural y étnica.

Historical Centre / Centro Histórico

But São Luís also has a modern side to it, mostly around Ponta d’Areia, an affluent neighbourhood hugging the beautiful coastline, dotting the rebellious sand with tall buildings, restaurants, bars, and parks where families can be seen enjoying the warm weather year-round. Its priviledged location not only offers nearby beaches, but proximity to the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, located only a few hours away via the small town of Barreirinhas.

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Pero São Luís también tiene un lado moderno, principalmente en Ponta d’Areia, un barrio de estrato alto bordeando la costa, que ha decorado la arena rebelde con edificios altos, restaurantes, bares y parques donde se ven familias disfrutando del clima caluroso todo el año. Su ubicación privilegiada no sólo ofrece playas cercanas, sino una proximidad al Parque Nacional Lençóis Maranhenses, ubicado a unas horas de distancia, cerca al pueblo de Barreirinhas.

Ponta D’Areia
Travel / Viajes – 2015-20162011-2014

Belém, Pará

Belém

Belem is located at the mouth of the Tapajos (Amazon) River on Brazil’s northern Atlantic coast. Founded in 1616, Belem now has a population of around 2,100,000, making it the second most populated city in the Amazon, after Manaus.

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Belén está ubicada en la desembocadura del río Tapajós (Amazonas) en la costa Atlántica norte de Brasil. Fundada en 1616, Belén cuenta con una población de unos 2,100,000 habitantes, convirtiéndola en la segunda ciudad más poblada de la Amazonía después de Manaus.

Theatro da Paz

The stunning Theatro da Paz (Theatre of Peace) is rivalled only by Manaus’ Teatro Amazonas; finished in 1878, it was designed by the European migrants who were looking for their fortunes in the Amazon during the rubber boom.

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El espectacular Teatro de la Paz es comparable sólo al Teatro Amazonas de Manaus; su construcción fue terminada en 1878, y fue construido por los migrantes europeos que estaban buscando su fortuna en el Amazonas durante la bonanza del caucho.

Ilha de Cotijuba

There are 39 islands surrounding Belem, located at the mouth of the Tapajos River in the Atlantic Ocean. This is Cotijuba Island, just 45 minutes away by boat from the coast. The river is so wide, that it’s impossible to see the other shore from the white sand beaches of the island.

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Hay 39 islas rodeando a Belén, ubicadas en la desembocadura del río Tapajos en el océano Atlántico. Esta es la isla Cotijuba, a sólo 45 minutos en barco de la costa. El río es tan ancho que es imposible ver la otra orilla desde la playa de arena blanca de la isla.

Travel / Viajes – 2015-20162011-2014

Stories That Cross Boundaries: From the Amazon to the Atlantic

Photographs of my second boat trip in Brazil, from Manaus, in the Amazon, to Belém, on the mouth of the Tapajós River near the Atlantic coast. Read the story of this journey here.

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Fotografías de mi segundo viaje en barco en Brasil, de Manaus, en el estado de Amazonas, a Belém, en la desembocadura del río Tapajós cerca la costa Atlántica. Lee la crónica del viaje aquí.

Leticia to Manaus / De Leticia a Manaus
Travel / Viajes – 20152011-2014
My Nomadic Life / Mi Vida Nómada

My Nomadic Life: My Real Life

I’ve been reading a lot recently about the reality behind popular blog posts and how the lives of travel bloggers in particular are glamourised to get more likes and shares on social media platforms. Of course, it can’t be denied that some bloggers hide some of the truth to spare their followers from having to witness the boring or difficult side of perpetually travelling, like the long waits at bus stations and airports, uncomfortable rides in trucks and motorbikes, and sometimes more downtime than you know what to do with.

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Ilha de Cotijuba, Pará

Although I mostly post pictures of the beautiful landscapes and cities I’ve visited—because they’re what I take away with me—I’ve tried to keep it real when describing my frustration during ridiculously long and uncomfortable boat rides, or with not feeling at home everywhere I land. I do this because I not only want to show what it’s really like to live a Nomadic Life, but because I’m merely documenting my travels through Brazil, not competing for likes (clearly) or wanting to make people jealous of my chosen lifestyle.

I’m actually living a pretty normal life, I just happen to be doing it on the move, on the road, in Brazil. I do normal things like worry about my safety (it’s messed up that I find this normal), which has put a damper on my ability to photograph many of the beautiful cities I’ve been in, because it’s not safe to walk around with a camera. I’d love to share what I see when I’m walking down the street, but sometimes all I can do is burn these images in my head and hope to never forget them; like the 17 year-old with a cart full of liquor in front of a comic strip piece of graffiti, or the man chopping up fish in a hole in a bright orange wall under the hot midday sun in Fortaleza.

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Lençóis Maranhenses, Maranhão

But life goes on, changing pace and rhythm, moving through the colours and smells and sounds that make up a city. The same things that made up my life in Colombia make up my life here: I go grocery shopping, I cook, wash, clean, wake up early, stream bad shows at night, worry about my budget, wonder when I can take a night off or spend the morning at the beach. Except here, I don’t have the comforts of home that make all these menial tasks much easier than they are on the road.

I’m also always on-call at work, which means it doesn’t matter if it’s Sunday or Tuesday or Friday, I need to be available. But in spite of the restrictions of a regular life, I do also have the privileges of a remote lifestyle. A couple of weeks ago, for instance, I travelled nearly 170 km south of Fortaleza to Canoa Quebrada, a town on the coast that’s been invaded by the French, the British, the Portuguese, and eventually, the hippies. The story says it was a Pakistani man who left the biggest mark on the small town by carving a crescent moon and star in one of the beachside cliffs—a symbol that still represents the town today.

Canoa Quebrada

Canoa Quebrada, Ceará

Although I worked every single day I was there, I always managed to take beach breaks and take some time in the evenings to taste the local food and smell the salty air. I loved walking around the cobble-stone streets and down to the beach, swimming in the rough water and admiring the Atlantic coastline from the high cliffs. It was great to escape the city for a few days and be closer to nature; it revitilised me  and made going back to Fortaleza pretty hard.

Besides my blog and other internet-based projects, I’m also doing work exchange at hostels; I already finished my work in Fortaleza, capital city of the state of Ceará, and I’m working at two more hostels in Recife and Natal. To stay on schedule, I was only able to stay a week in São Luís, the capital city of the state of Maranhão, a much shorter time than I would have liked. And I had so much work during that week (which I’m so grateful for, by the way) that I didn’t even have the chance to see much of the city or even go to the beach. And it’s understandable that these aren’t the type of things that we post as travel bloggers, because I’m not about to take a photo of myself working just to show you what I look like sitting down with my computer.

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São Luís, Maranhão

I know that if I only highlighted my days spent at the beach or in the jungle, my readers could easily think I’m living an idyllic life frolicking on beaches and visiting 400 year-old cities—which OK, I am doing—but it’s not all I’m doing. I’ve honestly spent most of the past two months sitting in hostels, on my laptop, working away while all the other guests go out sight-seeing, spending their days drinking beer at the beach or dancing in some reggae bar downtown.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, though I wouldn’t complain about having more time to spend at the beach or walking through centuries-old cities built with colourful Portuguese tiles, either. But that’s the reality of My Nomadic Life: work still comes first, play second. And most days I’m too tired after work to do much else.

Canoa Quebrada

Canoa Quebrada, Ceará

But then I think, if those are my ‘problems’, I definitely wouldn’t trade them for anyone else’s, and that’s the beauty of my life: it’s not just about travelling, about beaches and exotic meals, but about the freedom to choose the lifestyle that suits me best. And that’s what I think everyone should strive for: doing what you love and making it sustainable. Yes, I love to travel, I love to move around and learn about new places and people, but that’s not necessarily what everyone wants, or the kind of life everyone will thrive on.

So I think that rather than talking about the glamorous side of travelling (cuz it’s mostly not!), we should change the discourse to distinguish that we (nomads, if you will) don’t leave our stable lives to travel simply because we can, but because we must. And if you mustn’t, then don’t; if a nomadic, uncertain life isn’t for you, don’t go chasing it just because it’s ‘in’ or because you think it’s what you should do…according to the internet.

Fortaleza

Fortaleza, Ceará

I believe at the end of the day, no matter what kind of life you choose, it’s the little moments that matter, the ones we should treasure, because it’s those precious seconds and images that add up to become days and weeks and months and years and eventually, our lives, so they should be worth it. For me, it’s walking down the street after dealing with some bureaucratic nonsense and seeing a wall of blue straight ahead—and realising it’s the Atlantic Ocean! It’s strolling along the beach on my way to the supermarket and seeing a girl skateboarding down the main street with a surfboard under her arm. It’s talking to people from all over the world on any given day, knowing something about this place brought us all together.

Sao Luis 16

São Luís, Maranhão

I love the path I’m on; I am constantly surprising myself on this journey with how much I’m learning—like when I have a deep conversation with someone in Portuguese and I think, ‘Wow, that just happened!’, or when I finally figure out which bus to take without asking every single person I see on the road—so I hope you keep following my travels through my photos and stories. And if you ever think I’m slipping in my portrayal of this journey, I hope you call me out on it.

Versión En Español
My Nomadic Life