Just over a week ago, I squeezed (and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy) all my belongings back into my very modest sized backpack and closed the door for the last time on my home for the past 9 months.
So that’s it, my AIESEC internship in Bonito is over. Saying that they were the fastest 9 months of my life doesn’t even begin to cover it. I hit a few snags over my time working in Brasil, mainly due to the huge difference between the English and Brazilian mentalities when it comes to work. This is a huge thing for anyone considering working abroad to take into account. Although you have to be a bit flexible and understand that, obviously, you won’t be under quite the same working conditions as in the UK (and that’s all part of the experience), make sure you know your rights, what you’re willing to compromise on and what you’re not. Come prepared, armed with your contract, and figure out where the line is for you and what your priorities are.
Saying that, personally I wouldn’t have changed the last 9 months for anything. I came to learn Portuguese and I did just that, having come out with an ability to have a chat with just about anyone, regardless of accent, about just about anything in a fluid manner (especially after a few caipirinhas). I’ve also had the privilege to explore Bonito’s beauties for free, spending everyday descending the waterfalls and rapids of the Formoso (beautiful) river as a tubing monitor and my days off under various stunning waterfalls or floating down various crystal clear rivers. There is no way I could have done all that without working in the demanding tourism industry, (Bonito is fairly pricey- check out my review of it as a backpacker’s destination) so all in all I’d say it was a fair trade.
Far and away the best thing about my time in Bonito was the people, gorgeous inside and out. If you’re reading this (and understanding it), you know exactly who you are and I hope you know how special you are. I met so many amazing characters, both other aiesecers and people living and working in Bonito. I’ve never been surrounded by a group of such incredible individuals, everyone of whom has so much to offer and so much personality. You all had an impact on me and between you have moulded me into a different person to the one I was when I boarded the flight to Brazil all those months ago. Stay wonderful, and you all have a house in England whenever you need it (I can’t promise I’ll be there but my Mum loves visitors…right mum?!).
My last week in Bonito was free and so I was able to spend it enjoying a last few say trips with my friends and generally getting my life together for the big trip, and so it was a week divided between sunbathing, snorkelling, giggling and the equally glamorous clothes washing.
On mine and Ruben’s (the wonderful Mexican who was there for the same 9 months as me) last night, we were joined by so many of our lovely friends for a wonderful send off. Everyone signed our Brazilian flags and there were, inevitably, tears. Thank you so much to everyone who came! When I had to say goodbye to Tie especially, I completely broke down. I met him on one of my first nights in Bonito and we were inseparable ever since, bonding over a mutual interest in gossip and alcohol, and so it’s going to be very strange not having him around for regular catch ups over caipirinhas!
Anyway, the next day a few of us set off to the big city for a taste of civilisation (if a shopping centre can be called civilisation) and an attempt at a decent night out. We had a cracking time because we were in excellent company, but the attempt to go anywhere that didn’t involve sertanejo (Brazilian country music) failed when the other band in the club was cancelled, the electronica room was dead and the sertanejo was packed. We made the best of it and amused ourselves looking at the skinny lead singer in cowboy boots, tight jeans, a floral shirt with one too many buttons undone and a large cowboy hat over shoulder length hair. The only dance move he seemed to be capable of was a very pronounced hip thrust from side to side.
At 3am we had a teary goodbye with Ruben who was off to catch an early flight, and the next day it was my turn. The first stop was Florianopalis, where the lovely Charlotte is doing her year abroad. There I met Laura, who is working in Curitiba and would be the next to accommodate us, and Megan, another linguist that found herself with a spare month and scraped together the cash to come and be my travel buddy for the whole of March.
Tales of our adventure so far will follow. We are now in Rio and will be spending the weekend in Paraty and Ilha Grande before heading further north to Salvador for the last stage of the trip together. From there I will head to Bolivia with Victor and once we’ve seen all here is to see we will move on to Peru! That’ll take me up to the 23rd of May when I will be boarding a flight back home, just so you can all start stringing up the bunting in advance! Now I am going to stop a caipirinha headache and a comfy bunk bed from distracting me and go and explore the wonders of Rio and make more memories to share with you guys next time around. Até mais tarde!