Friday, June 19, 2015

South Bound & Down II: Burning Bridges

Artic Chaga Tea is a new supplement sponsors... well no TEA 
sponsor that will is sending me some hand picked Alaskan mushrooms!!
Their tea has amazing amounts of antioxidants and helps speed 
recovery time by a ZIILION!

I couldn’t think of any good ways to inform Rio de Janeiro that I would be leaving the comforts of my beachside favela. After several hours of debating it, I decided I was left with only one logical solution. Facebook.

Social media has reduced human interactions to comments and likes. A definite plus for shy people like me.

So, in one quick and concise status update, I informed the world… Well, the Portuguese speaking portion of it at least, that I would be leaving Nova Uniao and moving to Curitiba at the end of the July.

I initially expected people to talk a lot of shit (people probably are talking a lot of shit they just aren’t posting it on my wall), but I was surprised by the amount of support via comments and private messages that I received. They were an unexpected, but much needed reprieve from people that generally act as if I’m slightly crazy… living in the favelas of Brazil and all.

Sunday training in Curitiba. I was supposed to be back in Rio But I missed my flight and ended up spending some extra days!!

I’m not going to lie, I’m definitely apprehensive about leaving the picturesque beaches and tropical climate of Rio. Not to mention, the safety net of friends and pseudo family that I’ve assembled here. The thought of burning bridges, whether they are useful or not,  is always unsettling to a certain degree. As a buddhist I'm well aware that attachment causes suffering, but as someone thats been living with little more than 2 suitcases for the last two years, abandoning everything that I have come to know is perplexing. 

Plus, Curitiba is one of the coldest cities in Brazil.  I’m not sure what the hell I was thinking.

Which brings me to my next point…

What the hell was I thinking?

I mean seriously... leaving Nova Uniao, one of the best MMA teams worldwide. No longer will I be training next to Jose Aldo, Renan Barao, or the umpteenth number of UFC fighters the adorn the gyms prestigious pedigree. They have everything an athlete could desire... physical therapists, and nutritionists, a pool, sauna, and a strange room that they claim is for pilattes, although to me it looks like it came straight out of 50 Shades of Gray. I'd be traded up my sports bras for sweatpants!! And then there's the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Front row for Carnival, New Years, and Christmas events. 

But, I came to Brazil because I wanted to fight. 

Although Rio is great, I’m not getting any fights here. It’s also a very expensive city. So after thinking about it, it just makes more sense to go to Curitiba where I can save money and fight more. So I'm trading up the beaches of Rio to train at Parana Vale Tudo (PRVT). Its relatively a small team compared to Nova Uniao, but they have a pretty big girls team with fighters from UFC and InvictaFC. 

Unlike Nova Uniao where there are about a million classes offered through out the day (wrestling, boxing, conditioning, Nogi, BJJ, Muay Thai), PRVT only has 1-2 training sessions a day. The week I spent in Curitiba meeting everyone was a complete 180 in my overly hectic training schedule. The team gathers in the afternoon and the coaches divide everyone based on what they need. The amateurs may practice a little muay thai off to the side while some of the girls roll Nogi to warm up a guy that has a fight coming up. Then switch to some work against the cage, muay thai sparring, and end with judo take downs. Its seems like a completely random, haphazard way to go about training, but in actuality it is tailored to the specific needs of each person. I was able to get more 1on 1 help from the coaches in their small informal setting than when I'm training with 30 plus people on the mats of Nova Uniao. 

Its definitely different. But it reminds me of my team MiKiDo from home. So in the end I think its a better fit for me!

On another note...I also got to travel to Sao Paulo with my friend who was giving a few seminars!

Shout out to Eduardo Castro owner of Half & Half academy for letting me Crash at his place!
Per usual, met some great people on the mats in Sampa. New friends and new places to visit on my next trip! 

They said I couldn't... 
So naturally I did!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Southbound and down: stressed and stranded

There is nothing like being in a 3rd world country with 25 dollars... No I'm sorry, worse, 25 Reais. Except maybe being trapped in your small favela "studio apartment" as rain pours down infiltrating the pourous cemenet that is your ceiling.

It was Sunday and I was furiously looking for my plane ticket confirmation in my email... Or at least the receipt to prove that I had dished out the money in the first place. Naturally I had waited til the lasy minute to realize I had NO CLUE where my ticket was for my 7 A.M. flight that was leaving the next morning.

I was pissed off and tired. I was beyond broke and extremely stressed. I had spent the better part of the weekend running around the favela selling a few odds and ends at the boxing gym and to the corner boys to accumulate some spending money. I had, in fact, been quite successful thanks to the fact that my boxing coach includes hustling and whoring in with my bag work and normal boxing training.

Note: by whoring I mean I have to look like a girl... Get my hair done, paint my nails, smell like Victorias Secret, and stop wearing clothes that make me look like a dude.

Well, he would also like if I would find a boyfriend and destress myself but... See last blog post for more on THAT issue!

So, I hustled up a little over R100 but had to immediately front it to pay competition fees for the the kids at Terere KidsCuritiba. The actual sponsorship wouldn't arrive until Monday, leaving me to fly to Curitiba with R25.

After an hour or so I was finally able to secure my electronic ticket and I surrendered myself to my sad excuse of a bed, curling up into a ball to avoid the water that was drip dropping down by my feet.

Cut to a week later
(Details of my black out week to come)

There I was crying in a corner in of the airport with $2.50 in my pocket and my last $150 in the bank. It was money for food and for the kids snack program... Money that would hold me over til i got paid next week.

It was however not nearly enough money to pay for the $200 rebooking fee and it was almost exactly what I would need to buy a 18 hour bus ticket back to Rio... Leaving me with no money for food.

Amazingly, my phone went off. My internet never works it takes all of 5 minutes out of wifi for me to reach my daily limit and my phone to be blocked. Whether im using it or not. Another perfect example of how Brazilian governement allows companies to rob and rape thw Brazilian people... And then you wonder why everyone is getting stabbed up! Im american and I can barely make ends meet. Poor brazilians are left with virtually no options so shanking and robbing comes naturally since the alternative is starvation...

Yeah, so, my phone went off and it was one of my former students from DC, currently unemployed and unloved by his less than affectionate mother. It was like the damned advising the damned and I had to admit that the irony of the situation turned my tears into laughter... And to any onlookers probably completed a portrait of a crazy gringa having a breakdown in the airport.

Then came that dreadful text...
"You have reached 80% of your daily internet and your about to be blocked"

So I grabbed my bags, said my goodbyes, and withdrew the last of my money
Before begrudgingly paying the R20 to return to the gym that I had been sleeping at for the week.

Everything happens for a reason!

That was the mantra that I kept repeating to myself as I fought back tears of frustration. There had to be a reason I was still hear, wasting money I didnt have. I told myself not to stress, after all Nicki Minaj says the faster you spend it the faster you get it back... And seriously, how can you doubt the infallible wisdom of one of hiphops biggest female MCs.

So what have I learned from this?
Nothing. Not a damn thing! Im sorry if you were looking for some bad ass wisdom on growth and personal enlightenment but nah... Im still waiting on that one.

What resulted from this?
Im moving out of Rio! The only (affordable) way for me to get back to Rio is to purchase a round trip ticket). I was planning on moving anyway, but I could have moved in with teammates in Rio and put it off for a couple of months, using my hatred for cold whether as an excuse to enjoy running around half naked on the picturesque beaches of Copacobana. (Curitiba is the coldest city in Brazil!).

What do I want now?
To move. Even though it will be hard to leave Rio, the favela, the beaches, and my kids (ill be working with them from afar).

To start fighting. Ive been at Nova Uniao for a year and half with no results.

To get my money up. Its time to get paid and get some major sponsors for the project. I dont want the work that Terere has started in the Cantagalo Favela to end when we are both gone! I want to go home this year, with some kids from the social project, to visit my family and compete.

In short:
Grinding is agonzing but gratifiying.
If you want to live the dream you have to expect a few nightmares now and then.