One fateful night during my stay in the funkadelic Northern Brazilian town of Olinda, I found a spider building a web around my toothbrush (gah!) only a day after Ayaz was nearly pummeled by a bat (ack!) in the living room of our sublet. A sublet, I might add, that was tucked into an art gallery chock full of colorful work and quirky characters — including a mutt puppy named Fofo.
In retelling my tale of the vermin on Facebook, a bit of hilarity ensued in the comments: there was even a cry for a reenactment of the Great Bat Debacle starring Ayaz which could this time be caught on film. But amidst the “lol’s” there were also a few cries of the “get home now!” genre.
Of course, I’ve gotta assume this reaction to be in jest because of the obvious, right? That anyone would think a bat and a spider to be indicative of some sort of Bazilian squalor apparently has never heard tales from suburban Baltimore, where my sister and her friend have both had bats take up residence in their decidedly un-squalor-like homes.
As for the spiders, well, who hasn’t killed spiders in the unlikeliest of places across their homes or apartments?
Olinda — bug, bat and all — was far from the sort of place that would make me want to end my travels. I want to offer a closer look at this quirky town, filled with artists and other creative types. Doing so is important to me, because Olinda completely captured my heart and exploded it.
My stay here was one of the few times on this trip I felt utterly in awe of a place. Not because it was so vastly stunning, like Rio, or brilliantly cultured, like Buenos Aires, but because in Olinda I felt a pulse that was entirely, and only, Olinda’s.
The narrow streets and colorfully painted colonial-style homes with sloping, tiled roofs made me feel like I lived in a postcard. Only it was a postcard that also had some damn fine street art, a killer capoeira culture, and a tangible love for good samba music and drinking ice-cold beer on the sidewalk on a sweaty, hot night. Surrounded by friends and neighbors. Dancing a bit.
Spending 6 nights in Olinda, including the Easter holiday, while living in an art gallery in the midst of a world of artists left me breathless.
But even more specifically, it left me as much in love with travel and exploring this great, wide world’s nooks and crannies as I’ve ever been.
Olinda stoked my fire.
By even being here, by living this lifestyle I realize I’ve made a choice to look convention in the eye and holler, “Fie on you, convention, fie on you! I want to live on my terms! I want to see the world — the entire world if I can — and be touched by lives and places across this gorgeous globe!”
I know a life devoted to exploring isn’t for everyone, but it works for me. The way I see it, if I’ve gotta deal with life’s annoyances somewhere, I’d choose screaming after a bat or squishing a spider along the coast of Brazil in a one-in-a-million town like Olinda.
These collected moments and places cement and form a travel tale I’ll now tell and laugh about for years and years.
It’s all part of the journey, of the narrative I’ll create along the way.