Stories of Lorena

Lorena is my priceless two and a half years-old niece. She started talking when she was about 12-13 months and haven’t stopped since. My brother posted this little vignette in his blog and I couldn’t help but translate it:

We were watching Shrek on the weekend when Lorena commented:
“That donkey doesn’t stop talking…”
I couldn’t resist: “You are right! Like Lorena!”
“It isn’t Lorena who doesn’t stop talking, it’s the donkey! The donkey doesn’t stay quiet. Doesn’t stop talking. Lorena stays quiet. It’s the donkey! The donkey who doesn’t stop talking! Not Lorena daddy! It’s the donkey! He doesn’t stop talking… “

I guess after that monologue, my brother was able to stay “I have no further questions your honour”

To travel…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see. Gilbert K. Chesterton

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. Aldous Huxley

I’ve just finished reading Javier Reverte’s Vagabundo en África, a mix of travel notes, history of Africa and reflections on the state of Africa at the time Reverte spent two months criss-crossing through that great continent. Highly recommended. It made me wish I was brave enough to travel as he does.

His conclusion on travelling at the closing of his journey through the heart of Africa:

“Viajar prolonga tu vida, la llena de rostros y paisajes. Conoces hombres cobardes que deben vivir una vida valiente, y hombres valientes obligados a vivir como cobardes. “Viajar – escribió Aldoux Huxley – es descubrir que todo el mundo se equivoca. Cuando uno viaja, tus convicciones caen con tanta facilidad como las gafas; sólo que es más difícil volver a ponerlas en su sitio”.

Un largo viaje es también una suspensión en el vacío, por eso crea en ti una sensación de eternidad. Observas, como un “voyeur” impúdico, cuanto sucede a tu alrededor, y a la vez te implicas, te asombras, te estremeces, sientes la ternura de los hombres y también el temor a lo imprevisto. Te observas mientras miras fuera de ti.

Y viajar es también una forma de crear, porque retienes cuanto ves y cuanto oyes, en la memoria y en la retina, para intentar más tarde interpretarlo, como si fueras un artista, un pintor frente a los colores, frente a los rostros y las formas; un músico abierto a los sonidos, a las voces y los ritmos, o quizá y al fín, un poeta. El viaje nos convierte en seres libres; hace posible que nos veamos detenidos en el tiempo mientras el mundo corre a nuestro lado.

Y viajar es bailar, como bien dicen los Chichewas, sordo a todo aquello que no sea el son de una canción ignorada.

Elsewhere he says:

Hay veces, cuando viajas o emprendes una tarea creativa,, en las que te preguntas si el destino existe. Es una cuestión boba que no está de moda en estos tiempos de realidades matemáticas y de hombres seguros de su ciencia. Pero yo creo que existe. Y que es uno quien lo propicia.

Weather part II – photos

I don’t want to rub it in – ok, maybe just a little – but I thought I would post some pictures of when we went to the beach with my parents. Keep in mind that this was mid october (!) If it’s any consolation, the locals say it should be colder than this by now…

Cyclist at the beach

Don’t know who the dude is but he looked pretty relaxed…

People sitting by the boardwalk

Alan said I couldn’t capture the wave breaking with my film camera so I had to prove him wrong:

Waves breaking

And I got the hang of it and went a little nuts:

more waves

The next one is not very big but I like the colours and reflections in it:

waves again

But the best was watching my nephew, Matheus, having fun

Matheus & TecoTeco & Matheus

Needless to say, he was not happy when we had to leave!!

Amazing weather – the Canadian dream?

It reached 28 degrees yesterday!! (and I’m not talking Farenheit!) We’ve been told it does get cold here in the winter and judging by the state of things when we arrived in april, the trees lose their leaves at some point. The only problem is: we have no idea when this so-called winter starts.

I’m used to having warm weather at all times of the year but to Alan, the Canadian from Quebec, this is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. He’s never had warm weather for six months before and is extactic. Let’s not forget, weather defines the way the rest of the world views Canada and the way Canadians view the rest of the world.

Growing up in a country that still defines the world through a first-world vs third-world dichotomy, I expected when I moved to Canada that Canadians would not to be too interested in my third-world country. I didn’t count on the Canadian obsession with warm weather. Invariably, it went more or less like this:

Canadian: “So, where are you from?”

Alex: “Brazil”

Canadian in a tone of shock: “WHY???”

Alex confused: “Excuse me?”

Canadian still shocked: “Why would you leave such a warm country with beautiful all-year-round beaches??”

I then quickly realize that although Canadians love their country and like some snowy weather once in a while, by January/February they are totally fed up. Most dream of retiring somewhere warm. They go to Florida or if they can’t get too far, move to Vancouver where it is said winter is shorter.

The rest of the world have a similar attitude. This is what I get from every single person I have met here – irrespective of nationality:

Foreign friend: “So, where are you from?”

Alex: “I’m originally from Brazil but I live in Canada now”

Foreign friend in a you-must-be-crazy-to-live-there tone: “Brrrrr, cold”

That’s it. No matter where they are from, no matter if they never actually been to Canada, everybody knows Canada is cold. And they are totally shocked when I tell them we have beautiful hot summers and that winter is not actually that bad.  I don’t think they believe me.

Maybe that’s why Canadians are generally nice to people from other parts of the world: wherever they are from, winter must be milder and shorter!!

But you know what? I think this Brazilian will miss the Canadian winter and its snow…

Snow in Queen's Park, Toronto

Moleskine City Notebooks

Today I bought the Paris, Lisbon & Barcelona editions of the Moleskine City Notebooks. I first heard about them last year and had been eagerly waiting their release. They are basically the travel guidebook that you write yourself – you can see what I mean here. I have already started copying some of my Paris info into the new Moleskine and collecting Lisbon info for our trip in december. Can’t wait!!

Moleskine

After we bought the moleskines, we stopped at a few camera shops – Alan is researching which camera DSLR to buy – and I got myself a new lens for my film camera. It’s a 50mm 1.4f autofocus lens, a great lens  with which to learn photography and a rare find these days. I got it for a good price at Casanova on C/ Pelai, an amazing photo store.

Camera lens

We then proceeded to Wushu for another amazing meal and a nice chat with Paula and Bradley. We started with a salmon tataki and I then had their house pad thai (amazing glass noodles with sepia) and Alan had the yakisoba with ternera. We finished it off with some great brownies and chocolate ice cream. Life is good…

Familia Trapo in Europe

After a whirlwind three-day tour of Paris and two days in Rome, my parents, brother, sister-in-law and three-year-old nephew arrived last saturday afternoon.

Familia in Plaza Catalunya

They were tired but seem to be enjoying their trip immensely. We were amazed at how well the little guy is coping – he basically sleeps every time they get into a bus or subway and has been quite a good sport in the many visits to museums and sights. They sometimes have to carry him – he doesn’t have a stroller anymore – but overall he’s pretty good.

Matheus

The art of travel

I’ve been reading Javier Reverte’s Vagabundo en Africa, a book that has surprised me in many ways. Reverte sets out to Africa to follow on the footsteps of other great writers to travelled the mythical continent – Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Mark Twain, to name a few. I really enjoy travel books but this book has turned out to be much more than a simple travel journal. Reverte is very interested in history and his book was very well researched. It’s part travel log and part a history of all the different bits of Africa he passes through: South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Congo… All I can say is: what a history! I wish I could discuss it with Andy or some of my other friends who study African history…

This is not from the book, but rather for an article Reverte wrote to the El País newspaper:

The art of travel, in any case, supposes an act of permanent humility, because you discover that you are wrong more than you could have thought. Your prejudices disappear one by one and your principles become fewer, although they become stronger in quality. A good journey is the one that changes something inside you, and that teaches you, through the eyes of others, something about yourself.

And more than anything, travel requires a good dose of humor. You have to learn to laugh, particularly at yourself. Because if you learn the value of making fun of yourself, you’ll have something to laugh at for the rest of your life.

Family on its way

My parents, my brother, his wife and three-year old child have just left Brazil on their wayto Europe. They arrive tomorrow in Paris, via Madrid, where they’ll spend three days before moving on to Rome for two days. They’ll finally arrive here in Barcelona on saturday. My parents were in Paris last year but my brother and his family have never been to Europe and are VERY excited. Looking forward to their visit…