In a Brazilian Nut Shell...

If you haven't guessed by now, I am madly in love with Rio and won't shut up about it. I have to say that being back home in Texas has been bittersweet. I developed a very strong connection with Brazil. I felt completely at home in Rio. I was the happiest I've been in a long time and I met some of the most amazing people. To be honest, after Rio, Texas just ain't cutting it anymore.

A year and a half ago, one of my closest friends gave me the "Eat, Pray, Love" book on CD when I was going through a hard time. I found the book to be an inspiring story and it was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. The book left me dreaming of what my "Eat, Pray...whatever" adventure would be like.

Finally, in July I left Texas for my exploration of South America. It took a year and half after I read "EAT, PRAY, LOVE" for my voyage of self discovery to manifest , but in waiting for it, I learned the valuable skill of patience. Although I didn't know how, I knew I'd return a different person.

I may have gone to South America for a vacation, but I was also there to get down to business. I had a lot of goals to accomplish. I consider myself to generally be a pretty laid back person but I am also extremely motivated by creating and accomplishing goals for myself. I am also a master list maker and enjoy the satisfaction that goes along with checking things off as they are accomplished.

Training Jiu Jitsu was goal number one. I knew that the Jiu Jitsu would be good, but it completely exceeded all of my expectations. Training at Gracie Tiujuca helped remind me of why and how much I love Jiu Jitsu. I guess you could say I fell in love with Jiu Jitsu all over again.

Another goal I had was to photograph the city, culture and document my experiences. Rio nurtured my creative side. The culture and scenery are stunningly bright and colorful and the natural lighting is amazing for photography. I can't imagine ever running out of inspiration. Every day was a new adventure to document.

Surfing in Rio and swimming in the ocean every day was also a goal of mine. Growing up in Hawaii, I have and always will be a "water baby". I love everything about the ocean. I find being in or near the ocean to be very therapeutic. The smell, sounds and feel of the salt on my skin makes me happy. While in Brazil, I got some great surf sessions in and spent virtually every day at the beach even if it was just to jump in and out of the water for a few minutes.

I don't think I full understood what it means to be "on my own" until I hit the road and explored a new part of the world by myself. I enjoyed learning about a new culture and lifestyle. I loved meeting new people and experiencing life to the fullest. But most of all I got to know myself better.

I've learned more and more over the years to just relax, be flexible, go with the flow and trust that everything will work out as it should. This trip completely reinforced those beliefs. I was also reminded that when things don't go as planned it isn't such a bad thing after all. Sometimes it can actually work out even better than ever imagined. I had a lot of time to get to know myself on this trip. I've learned about what I am capable of and that I CAN do anything I put my mind to.

I didn't think I would fall so hard for Rio, but I am still under its spell. Rio is my "every" city! It's that city that has everything I could ever want, a place I have been searching for, for a long time. In some ways it reminds me of Hawaii but on a much larger scale. There are mountains to climb/hike and oceans to swim and surf in, nice people and beautiful scenery everywhere.

Since I've left Rio, I have been wearing a string bracelet that says "Brazil' on it. I've been wearing it as a reminder of a place and a time I was most content. If I am having a stressful day I can look down at my wrist and be reminded of the joy of Brazil and it makes me feel better. I intend to wear it until it either falls apart or until I return to Brazil, which ever happens first. At times, I am seriously contemplating selling everything I own and moving to Rio. Perhaps I'll just keep saying that until it actually happens! But no matter what the future holds, I now have renewed sense of appreciation for who I really am. This was the eye opening experience I've been waiting for, and I look forward to many more to come. Thank you for reading my posts. This is the last on Brazil...for now. I've really enjoyed writing about it and sharing my experiences with y'all!


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