It was one of those crazy trips, arising from the mood of the moment. Frustrated from everyday work and 10 days off, I decided to travel to Brazil. It was not a real trip. Rather, it was a return to my old life, my longing country and my great love. I still had enough money on my bank account to survive that month. My Portuguese was completely rusty. And to make matters worse, I didn’t tell anyone of my journey – except my family. Everything should pass off spontaneously in the next eight days. Because I wanted, no, I had to feel again the adventure Brazil.
My journey began in Germany, and more specifically on the Josef-Strauss airport in Munich on a Wednesday noon. I knew when I embarked the plane from United Airlines that there is no return anymore. 14,000 kilometres lay ahead, three changes on the airport and two sleepless nights. But it was worth it to me. From Munich, it went to Chicago, Houston and finally to Rio de Janeiro. More than six times I had to approve my identity. Two fingerprint checks were required and I had to re-check my luggage in the US. And as I were on terra firma again and left the airport, the stress wasn’t gone. Because from that time on, I needed to manage the way from the metropolis Rio de Janeiro to the 130 km distant Juiz de Fora just with my sparse Portuguese knowledge.
When I stepped out of terminal 2, two things were immediately familiar to me: the pushy taxi drivers and the hot, Brazilian air. Somehow it seemed as if I could remember more and more things from my past with every step, every meter in Brazil. There was the service with all information related to public transport. The fully air-conditioned buses that bring you to every conceivable place in Rio. And of course the small signs that are stuck on your suitcases when you hand them to the driver. Detail by detail came back to my memory – as if I had never been away. And that should be just the beginning!
When I left the airport, I first took a bus to rodoviaria. All central bus stations in Brazil are named this. In every major city there is one. And because Brazilians like to travel by bus – due to the prices -, here there is a rush as at the airport. I was guided by the crowd and ran from one counter to the next one, the waiting hall up and down and finally I read “Juiz de Fora”. After about ten minutes I reached my goal. Overjoyed I stood in the short line. But I was – as you might expect – wrong. Four gray-haired seniors told me that this is the counter for older people here and I had to buy my ticket on the other side of the hall. Said and done. I overcame all difficulties with flying colours. Now I just needed to catch the right bus and to buy some food for my trip. And somehow I managed this without any incidents – except from a snack shop assistant, who didn’t understand my order correctly. Whether it was because of my pronunciation or due to the fact that I spoke quiete. I don’t know. But even this woman who growled at me with a penetrating “Que?”, didn’t ruffle me. I had already been travelling for 30 hours and 14,000 kilometres. And nothing could stop me.
So I got this bus to Juiz de Fora, which brought me back to my past. On the way everything seemed much more beautiful than I could remember. Rather, I didn’t even know why I was so in love with this country. But on this day I fell in love again – with the bold hillsides of the “corpo de bombeiros”, the bald palmeiras and the small churrascarias and barzinhos close to the rodovias. In my excitement, I had almost forgotten to sleep. And so I fell asleep again and again minute-long. Every time I awoke jumpy. I didn’t want to miss anything. I wanted to see the mountains, the driveway to the city and of course, I didn’t want to miss my arrival in Juiz de Fora. After four hours, the time had come. As we reached the rodoviaria, my heart was in my mouth. I was hot and incredibly nervous. Because now there was just one bus left which kept me away from my goal – the Avenida Barão de Rio Branco.
I can remember every detail of the next one hour, although it happened as in time-lapse. The ride to the centro, the way from the bus stop over the busy main road to Rua Antônio Dias and the what’s-app message to my Brazilian. He also didn’t know anything about my coming. And so I wrote to him that I am “agora” (now) “em frente” (in front of) his office. He replied with a question mark. But a few seconds later, he were already standing in front of me. Not believing what was going on. He held me close – as tight as never before. We were both very excited and however it was as it used to be. As if I had never gone away.