Finding amor/a

In Rio there is a plethora of these cafés; more established than a stall but less formal than a restaurant. Places to buy good value simple food strike a good chord with me as I can’t bear eateries where I am fussed over. Fine service is a complete waste of everyone’s collective energy given that I shovel down grub in seconds, regardless of what it is. Here we got excited as the menu was advertising amora (blackberry) juice, which Erlyn had been seeking to no avail for two weeks. We ordered a large one to share and a slice of torta de limão (lemon pie) for good measure. We liked the person bustling away blending blackberries through the hatch.

The holidays end today and they deserve some reflection. Firstly, given how stressed I felt when they started, I feel surprisingly relaxed as of today. They have served their purpose well on that front, and Brazil has been a wonderful destination to forget about work.

Secondly, Erlyn has been a valuable travel companion; another independently-minded soul who enjoys a healthy mix of activity and downtime. We met in Buenos Aires when I was travelling there in January 2018, got on famously and have remained in daily contact ever since, with growing affection for each other. For me it has been testament to how feelings can develop across oceans despite the challenges of language and it was exciting to meet up again. Brazil has certainly confirmed that my abilities in Spanish have decreased, which does hamper nuanced conversations but as before we will continue to chat in Spanish on WhatsApp whenever Portuguese doesn’t slip out by accident. It was perhaps wild to consider that we might initiate some sort of more official romantic long distance relationship after meeting again 20 months later, and we’re both too pragmatic to see this as realistic. To summarise our time together he wrote: somos dos locos aventureros, independientes y de buen corazón.

‘We are two crazy adventurers, independents and with good hearts.’

We’re both happy enough to continue in the same vein as before the Brazil trip, pretty sure we’ll see each other again in the future, but level-headed enough to be pleased for each other if one of us meets anyone on our own continent. It would be sad if we never crossed paths again face to face.

After hopping to São Paulo there was an afternoon of general tedium waiting for the flight to take me back to Africa (Angola first, before onward to Mozambique). The only moment of excitement was when an evacuation alarm started ringing out and no-one moved an inch. I think it takes a lot to panic Brazilians, although in the last election half of them got very nervy at the thought of a liberal government.

Muito obrigado Brasil e Erlyn por umas férias tão fantásticas e novas experiências. Thank you Brazil and Erlyn for such a fantastic holiday and new experiences.

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