The Gate Keepers- The Amazon

I am inside of the boat. I am about to take a 7 day journey inside of the amazon. I am going to Tabatinga. Till two days ago I did not know that place existed. I sit in a hammock. I am surrounded by hammocks where we will sleep.

One day to hate manaus and now I already miss it. And I am still in the port. I made friends here. Raphael and Mayara. I already miss them.

In the way here I talked to the lady who sells tickets for the bus. Here in Brazil, it is not the driver who does it.

We spoke through the traffic. I told her about my trip. She gave me her number and she made me an invitation. I should come back and visit her house. Dear lord, I feel this nostalgic feeling to a place I have yet not left. A enormous desire to return. Drago was right. I had go keep going. Deep down so did I.

I am inside the boat. To one side is kellen a 8 year old new little friend, next to her is her grandmother. I like this boat. I wait for Martin, though not Brazilian he is late. I am happy. The people are welcoming, friendly, helpful.

I probably will not have internet these days. There is electricity so I can keep writing. I’post later.

I look at the grandmother and ask her.

” Will I get tired of the boat?”

“It is a beautiful journey. I am leaving before you. If you do not like you can come out with us.”

” Can I take a boat back to Manaus?”

” Of course you can. And you can see our place first. But I don’t think you will dislike it. Tabatinga is beautiful. So is Leticia.”

She smiles when I say my grandmother is concerned. We take pictures to show her.

I will be gone for a while. You all should know there is always beauty everywhere. Sometimes it takes a little time for your eyes to change. But once they do you know. You remember it all. You hear the laughter, the joy that surrounds you.

I feel myself again. I want to see this world. I had lost that. I feel I am back. And as I knock in the doors of the world, I feel that the gatekeepers were not those unfriendly people that I thought they were.

First you might get hurt and disappointed but if you turn your back away you will never meet the real gatekeepers.

Those, the real ones, will always welcome you. They know you have not given up on the path.

Love from the boat.

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Redemption in The Rio Negro

It took me a day to hate Delhi, a week to go out of there. One month to love India, and I will take a whole life to learn to be far from there, I even miss Delhi.

It took me one day to hate Manaus. I confronted the upper class that reminded me of Brazilian literature, so many lies all over, so much lack of respect to the other. I thought of going home. Then I remembered no one should consider the first week of a long journey seriously.

I love it here now. Met really nice people. Spent a wonderful day swimming in the Rio Negro. We drove through the roads of Amazonas.

The whole country wondered what would be the result of the election. Raphael, my host, voted and I justified my absence. Then we went to a small beach that is unknown to most people from Manaus.

I met other travellers last night. Suddenly I had tons of possibilities for the path. I remembered India. So much freedom and options that in the end will always lead one to not know what to do.

I saw the sunset here in the Rio Negro. Of course, it brought me joy, happiness and memories of the mekong but I did not want to be there. I was in place. I have actually made friends here.

No idea where I am going now. But I feel I am back.

The zoo made me think a lot about the fact that some animals wanted to escape. Others seemed fine there trapped and cared. I knew I would be the monkey trying to escape.

Since I started this journey s few days ago I realised something I thought was strange. When people asked me where I was going, I responded my plans were free and that all I knew was that I did not want to be back in the state of sao paulo this year.

Naturally, people were surprised by this answer. Actually people acted differently.

Some men and women of all ages would reply. Either they felt that was very scary, dangerous and that they loved their houses, and routine.

While others would actually say they would love to do that.

I knew that those would be natural reactions to my response. I did not actually anticipate so many older women being in my group. Even less some of their answers.

“You are so lucky I would love to do that. My trips have to be small because my 27 year old child cannot deal with me being gone for very long.”

“I guess the life of a mother is to abandon her whole life forever. I love my children and grandchildren but I wish I could just go. The next year is always the next year.”

That actually surprised me a lot. Many men replied they wished they could have their freedom back to simply go. I expected that. But I did not expect that from a grandmother.

Since I started this journey I have had so many different emotions.

Sometimes I felt there was nothing else for me to keep looking for. But of course as the water washes your body in that beautiful river, and you realise the amount of beauty there is, it all stops.

And this exercise to see more things brings you back so many gifts that you do not know anymore where to go first and who you should go with.

We have just had the results of the Brazilian election. Dilma is re-elected.

The speech reflects the feeling of the country. Both candidates speak of reunion. The country has been severely divided. There was so much rage in this election.

She wins because it reflects the desire of the poor. My state the richest of Brazil, Sao Paulo, is unhappy.

I did not vote. I have no right to speak of it. I know so little of this country. Both presidents would lead to harm to someone.

As I bathe in the river I thought of that. I wish that the least harm will come to the weaker. I think of that knowing I am in the Amazon. Who are the weaker? The poor? The indigenous?

I dive and I realise I do not know. All I know now is that I feel very well travelling alone. I feel so deeply that I am not weak, that is why I can even endure the beginning of bad moments, my memory is back so I know one must endure it, because the beauty will always follow it.

Love from Manaus.

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On the Go- The North and Northeast

I have started to take vitamine B12. I went to see Dr.Getulio to know how I was. He was amazed. He a non believer considered my recovery a miracle. He attributed it to my enormous desire to live. That seemed funny.

So I asked him about vitamine B12. Did it work against mosquitoes? Obviously he asked me why I was asking that. I told him, what I have always told, it is because I want to leave Sao Paulo. He knew that.

Jules, where on earth are you going this time?

Deep breath… he knew I was about to go back to Asia, and also that there was nothing he could say against it.

So I guess, he was surprised that because my family were so concerned that I wanted to return to the place where I almost died I changed my plans.

” The AMAZON!””

“Julieta, I hope you take me also as a friend now. Take B12, but also take the whole B complex. I never understand why you like these places!”

“Getulio it is the most amazing ecosystem on earth! How can you not understand that? Every time they take a new sample more than half of it is of things they do not know! Does B complex work?”

“It is true. It is beautiful. What can I say, I always prefer you are close. But go! Enjoy it. It is beautiful! B complex works!.””

And so for the past weeks I have been planning my trip. Alone, as I have learned that it is better to trust those you have met on the path.

Of course, he asked me when I would return. And I was honest.

“I have no idea. ”

The reality is that I have a vague sketch in my mind. But I am realistic enough to know I know nothing of the north, nor of the northeast of Brasil. I could get tired of the humidity and the heat in a day. I could get sick. I could wish to fly back home anytime.

I know many people get concerned. And I am thankful, but I need to go. Even more importantly I need to discover this country were I was born in and know so little of.

Most people who wonder the world know way better some countries they visit than they know their own. So, I want to know this one a bit better.

Someone told me these days something I always think about. Through the path you hear things and sometimes you don’t understand them fully. Much later you do.

I became buddhist last year. I never speak of that really because I did not plan it, and I consider I know so little of Buddhism. Yet, I had the priviledge to sit in front of HH Dalai Lama, Karmapa and Lingtrul Rinpoche.

Rinpoche explained just before he called me to become Buddhist

“A Lama does not accept anyone to be their followers. When someone comes to a Lama he looks, and he says yes or no. When they say no, it does not mean they dislike the person.”

Tibetans have a very different conception of life. They believe in many lives. They believe in the non existence of self. More importantly they believe once you say yes to someone, all of their actions will be theirs. So they observe and when they say yes they believe that all of their actions will be interconnected.

I don’t believe they say yes to people they feel are perfect, rather to those who are in a path to become better people. I understand that to be better, it is not to be rich, or successful, etc. It means to be more compassionate, more responsible of their actions, more patient.

That day I heard it and was moved by it. Yet I believe it only belonged to Lamas. Suddenly I realised it did not.

I have said Yes to all that has come towards me. I have felt betrayed, abandoned, hurt. Yet, one day I understood I should simply import, care for those who search a better path, a more compassionate path, a more patient one.

I also realised that I had to say no to many things. I realised that saying no was sometimes more compassionate than to say yes. I understood that things had to be differentiated. As they say “to recognise things for what they really are”.

I have kept lots of people aside on that decision. Which does not mean I wish them harm, I simply do not want to be entangled. But ironically this decision never came from selfishness, yet from a deep desire to not contribute to even more negative synapses in the world for the other.

I also understood that there was a great difference between guilt and responsibility.

More profoundly I understood that I was responsible for all that has happened to me. I even lament the fact that I have put my ex-boyfriend in a position that made him be his worse version.

I used to pray to die. Now I pray that if I am ever in his place that I should be stronger, more compassionate. I never imagined that would happen but today I feel compassion towards him. I am sorry I have put so many in so grave emotional state.

Yet I discovered that we are always responsible for whatever that we feel. Abandoning this responsibility, blaming the other is the greatest loss we can endure.

I am sure many of you might get this email and immediately get concerned. Why alone. Where are you going? What are really your plans.

Alone because I need to. I ll start in Manaus, and from there I have no idea. I ll attempt to write from my phone like now. I will attempt to discover what is that unites these people we actually do not know. Maybe on the path I ll rediscover what makes me from here.

with love,

Jules

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“If you want to know about the other, do not focus on how they speak about themselves but rather focus on how they speak about others.”

Little stories move me sometimes way more than serious political events that take place everyday.

So I will refrain from talking about the elections in my country to tell a small story that happened these days when I went for my typical saturday lunch with my grandmother and both the story and the reaction towards it taught me a lot.

It was suddenly summer here! I ordered tea thinking of the people from the desert and Asia that had told me to not drink anything to cold in the heat. And my 90 year old grandmother ordered her caipirinha. ( lemon, ice and either cachaca, vodka or sometimes sake.)

After the natural confusion of bringing alcohol to me and tea to my grandma, I decided to go to the toilet to wash my hands touched by the lemon of her drink.

I went up and I saw a little boy. I did not say anything when I went in, but as I came out, he was still there standing by the stairs.

“What are you doing? Are you hiding?”
I said jokingly

Quietly, he said no.

“Playing.?”

“No.”

I was intrigued and wondering what could he could possibly be doing so quietly and alone in the empty second floor.

“Come on tell me. I am so curious.”

“Ok. I am just here. Not playing, not hiding. I am waiting.”

“Oh. I see, you are waiting for someone who is inside.”

“No. I am waiting to see how long it will take for my mother to notice that I have disappeared. I don’t think she misses me.”

I was so taken aback by these words. He was literally in silence for a long time.

“What is your name?. How old are you ? I think you are 7. And I am sure that your mom thinks either you are in the bathroom or playing. I am 100% certain she is letting you play. Who is she with?”

“Pedro. You are right I am 7. But you are wrong she is with her girlfriend and she forgot I exist.”

I still talked to him for a while. Sweet boy as hell. And went down to look for his mother and her friend.

Found her.

“Excuse me, are one of you Pedro’s mother.?”

“Oh my god, yes did he do something wrong, anything to you?”

“No. He is lovely. But he has been there for a while waiting to see if you have noticed he has disappeared. I would encourage you to go find him and say you have been missing him.”

She was completely taken back by these words, she thanked me, told me she had no idea, and went after him.

I told my grandmother about it, and she said:

“This goes to show how hard it is to be a parent. How much abandonment a little child can feel. And shows why it is not surprising they later become closer to their nannies than to their mothers. Poor boy, poor mother.”

They came to say goodbye when they left.

I told this story to a few people. Some people immediately thought about the child, some others went as far as saying

“Poor mother she also has her own life.”

The capacity to put your own life before a little child’s, one’s child, shocks me.

And so I remembered a phrase I heard these days

“If you want to know about the other, do not focus on how they speak about themselves but rather focus on how they speak about others.”

Little stories teach you profound things about how to react towards the world. In election time or not.

Ps: as I just read this story to my grandma she said:

“It is way worse for the child. Who is a child. Who feels it strongly, and might in a few years not remember about it consciously, but it will be there and later on they will become the most severe judges of their own parents.”

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