Thursday, December 3, 2009

Get Out of Bahia

Today I was working on a drawing that I've been doing over the last few weeks, in short sessions- it's on a utility box that controls a whole bunch of phone lines in the Largo. Suddenly someone said "Hey Mark."

Not something I hear very often, especially in English, and there's only a few people who could have said it. It was my Canadian friend and neighbor, the one I hardly ever see, the one who thought about buying my house before she bought her own.

Her own house, which has a view of the ocean.

Mine does not.

And although I completely renovated our house in six months, just in time for our wedding and the birth of Lucas, she has been renovating hers over the five years I've known her. The results are spectacular, but the end is still some years off.

"I want to leave Bahia," was the first thing she told me, not commenting on my drawing. "Don't you find you can't trust anybody here?"

"Yes," I said, without mentioning that I think we've had this conversation before, and without asking if it's taken her this long to figure that out. We only see each other every six months to a year. Maybe it's me, thinking I've covered this subject with every estrangeiro I know in Salvador.

Then she tells me that the only thing she's enjoying at the moment is some group of people she's recently hooked up with, some group that does a ritualized tea-drinking drug-trip-of-discovery kinda thing. "I trust those people," she tells me. I don't ask why. She goes on at some length about it. I can't stay and talk so I ask her again if she's really leaving. She tells me she wants to, but doesn't know what to do with the house- apparently she doesn't want to sell it.

All of a sudden a lot of things are changing around me. The graffiti store, which has accompanied my two year stint in street art, is closing, and the owner, who is probably my best friend at this point, won't be around for me to drop in on anymore. I'm getting rid of my precious office and moving into a more dubious, but much cheaper, one. I'm doing some minor renovations in the house. Ruan is leaving another school, and we're going to enroll him in a new one.

And now my neighbor is giving up on Bahia. My guess is she's giving up on Brazil, and moving back to the calmer waters of Canada. I can't blame her really, and I'm a little surprised she beat me to it. Then again, she's not married, she doesn't have kids... but then again she was involved in a whole other aspect of the city that I've only had peripheral contact with: the artists/dancers/yoga scene. She really seemed to love it here, whereas my feelings about the place could only be described as 'mixed.'

I've always been kind of jealous of her actually.

She's not gone yet, she might change her mind.

I wonder when I'll make up my mind.


Mei said...

That's the worst/best thing about international marriages-- you usually have another option. It's so complicated... you'll always be leaving one person's family behind, plus their language and culture.

We made the choice because I needed to go back to school, and now we're both going back to school AGAIN here in Florida. I was also sick of thinking that "something bad" was going to happen to me. I think you know the feeling.

markuza said...

Yeah, I know the feeling.

Stephanie said...

Isn't that the question of a lifetime? I've only been here six months and I already have those mixed feelings...It really is quite a frustrating feeling too. But what are you gonna do? We're here. And starting from scratch in a different place is damn hard. Those are the two ends that keep us asking that question. *sigh*

markuza said...

Wow, you've been in Brazil six months already? Time does fly. One thing I didn't mention in my post was that it's now been eight years since I first arrived here, seems like it was yesterday. I always felt the first six months in a place was always the hardest, but then again, I had that rule for living in different places in the US, changing countries is a different ballgame entirely. Hang in there!

Pedra said...

I don't regret leaving Salvador...I feel better being in a safer place. That said, your situation is a lot more complicated than mine is/was. Although I must say that my situation now is pretty damn complicated. Why couldn't I fall in love with another American?


Stacey said...

really loved your post....i'm currently in rio, heading for salvador. would love to pick your brain. i wasn't able to send an email from your website- any tips?

markuza said...

Cheryl- I hear ya. But I guess some of us don't want the easy path...

Stacey- hey thanks! You tried contacting me via, and it didn't work? Try again... I wouldn't know where to start with tips.

Randy said...

I've heard the "can't trust 'em" bit before too, and quite honestly, I find it disturbing (I was going to say "disgusting", but I'm trying to hold my tone here)...a reflection upon the person-unable-to-find-trustable-people rather than the society this person has temporarily (it would seem) adopted. I've been here for a good number of years, having arrived as a complete outsider, and I now am happy to have a wide circle of locally-born friends upon whom I can depend as I would back among friends in Indiana and New York City.

Naïveté and a lack of experience I'd say, too much time on the beach? The local analogue to this is the Brazilian who travels to the United States on vacation, returning to announce that Americans are a cold people (the excuse fustered up by Xuxa when her idiotic show didn't take off there).

On the few times I've been told to go back to where I came from I've told the person confronting me where they can go too, but in this case perhaps it wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.

andre said...

I am feeling exiled back in the states.. Never got back to thank you for your counsel, but I decided not to further complicate our already complicated immigration situation and left at the end of my tourist visa. The final word was that we could not, not, not register our US marriage certificate in Brasil, must be done at the consulate that has jurisdiction over the american half of the couple's residence. So I am back in NO, missing southern Bahia very much, wishing I could take your neighbor's place. Maybe she'd like to come live in NO at a time that the Saints are 12-0, and I could settle down to watch Victoria with an Antartica, estupidamente gelada. Happy holidays, Margaret

markuza said...

Randy- your comment made me think long and hard about a lot of things, and I should really devote an entire post to my ruminations. But, because it wouldn't be an easy post to write, it will probably never happen.

Margaret- thanks for the update. I was wondering what happened to you! While you're stuck in the States, take advantage of what it has to offer- like Guinness on tap!

Go Saints!

AkuTyger said...

Really? is it Xena? She always went back and forth on that. I've known her most of the time I've been here too and she always seemed more adapted than I was. I'd be surprised if she really left though. Maybe she can rent her house to the school - I'm sure someone would want to live there.

markuza said...

If we're talking about the same person, I ran into her again yesterday and she seems pretty determined... who knows.