Last week I got a package from Brazil by mail. An aunt sent me photos from my childhood, kept by my Grandmother from my father’s side. Along with those, letters that I wrote from my life abroad between 1994 and 1998, when I was married to an air maintenance engineer. I carefully unfolded the pages – the thin paper I used smelling funny after so many years.
I wrote them from Athens, to where I first moved: how I loved the Greek Salad, The Acropolis, the Mediterranean Sea. I told them about Lake Vouliagmeni, whose depth and connection to the sea is unknown and how lots of people disappeared on its caves over the years, bodies never found. Creepy.
When it was time to leave Athens and get into a 5-day trip by car to reach Spain, I sent them my last Greek postcard. Our car packed, we got into a ferry that took us to Bari, Italy. From there we drove up Italy, crossing France to get to Barcelona. In the letters I talk about the time we drove by Monaco’s exit, temped to visit but too tired to do so.
I can still remember the persimmon tree we drove by, full of ripe fruits in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by white. It was also the first time my son Yuri and I experienced snow and we almost burned our hands in the process.
Arriving in Barcelona, another ferry took us to Palma de Majorca, where we lived for 6 months. One of the letters talks about our visit to the Frederic Chopin & George Sand Museum, created in the rooms occupied by both in their trip to Majorca in 1838 and 1839. I also talk about the almond fields, that blossoms between January and mid March.
In Madrid, I would take the Metro everywhere with Yuri. We visited Plaza Mayor where I tried their “Clara de Lemon” which is a wise mix of beer and lemon soda. I was surprised to find out that a typical recipe tasted like Brazilian feijoada.
We sent letters from Tenerife talking about their black sand beaches. From Casa Blanca in Morocco, where I made friends with the housekeeper and we were invited for dinner at their place. From Varadero, Cuba – where we befriended a fisherman that took us in amazing adventures in the island.
After four years we went back to Brazil and I knew my life would never be the same. Still, it took me two decades to realize how deep that experience shaped me. Experiences are gifts that keep giving throughout your life. They help us connect with the essential, with our own being. To transform your views, invest in rich experiences – not things.
March 30, 2021