Sunday, July 12, 2015

About Last Night

“Heroes didn't leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn't wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else's. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back.”

I’m writing this blog in response to some friends that expressed some hesitation about moving or visiting Brazil because I'm “struggling all the time”.

True story. The struggle is real.  The last month has been… difficult to say the least, but that’s life.

I live my life in the moment, bouncing from one crazy adventure to the next and seldom knowing what the next day, or the next week is going to bring. I just have this goal, this idea… this carrot on a stick in front of me that I keep chasing like a lunatic, and I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world.

Timing is everything.
I’m sitting on my roof drinking coffee now and a dealer just hopped over from the adjacent roof with walkie- talkie in hand, said hi and proceeded to jump to the next roof. I don’t know his name but he is related to Baby, one of the first people I ever met on my own in the favela. Baby has spent the last 8 months serving a 6 months sentence in jail.

My life is chaotic, but I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to roll with the punches than it is to try to impose structure and organization on something that is inherently uncontrollable.

Timing is Everything
David and Goliath
Foto by Dan Behr

Two weeks ago I had no money, I was eating with my boxing coach and training in the favela because I didn’t have bus fare. But I am a strong believer in Karma and what goes around comes around, so when shit hits the fan I just sit back and wait for the blessing to rain down. 

Over the last two days, I’ve accumulated so much money that I’m paying other people.

The social project is doing better than ever, I'm moving in a couple of weeks, and my last weeks here I've been teaching a ton of English classes and enjoying my last weeks in Rio with the people I love. 

On the way home from Lapa

Timing is Everything.
6 A.M this morning and I was rocking combat boots, bright blue pants, and a hoody on the beach. It wasn't long before we were running into the (cold) ocean water after night in Lapa.

Bronx Jiu Jitsu
B*&#$ don’t kill my vibe
Photo by BJJ Hacks

It’s wintertime in Rio, and I’ve been preparing to move to Curitiba, the coldest city in Brazil. Everyone else, however, is flocking to Rio to kick it for the summer. Last Tuesday, I found myself posted up on a street corner at 1A.M in the morning waiting for my friend Fernando from Bronx Jiu Jitsu. I met him last year when he came to Rio to learn more about social projects and brush up on his jiu jitsu. This year,  two days after schools in New York let out, he came back with his family and friends in tow.

Connection Rio @ Cantagalo 
(They're not in Kansas anymore)
Connection Rio is my go-to place to reconnect with my Gringo-ness, the nature, or just to find a drilling partner to spend the afternoon with. Located in the quiet, multimillion-dollar neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca, it’s the perfect place to hang out on the weekends and get away from all of the craziness here in the Favela.

This week though, I decided to pull the gringos from their comfort zone and take them to train at Terere Kids Project/ Academia Fernando Terere (only after walking them through the feared favela’s and taking them to grub at Terere’s favorite restaurant).  I'm so used to the favela and all of its dirty, drug infested, rat ridden craziness that I don’t realize how shocking it is to go from the beaches and bars of Ipanema to hopping over shit in the narrow, cement lined alley ways lined with graffiti from inspiring artists and death threats from the local gang (Red Command). I think some of them were pretty shocked at what they saw! After training that night the Bronx BJJ crew headed back up to the favela for some BBQ and Caiprinha's. 

BootJuice BJJ
My friends from New York aren't the only people that came to spend summer in Rio. My homeboy Moz is also in Rio for the summer escaping the crappy English weather in Hudderfield-or-something, England. I met Moz last year at the Connection Rio house and have been training BJJ and watching shitty movies with him ever since. I help him with almost everything he needs to do that involves the Portuguese language (which is a lot of stuff considering he lived here for a year...) and he helps me suck less at jiu jitsu (and he's generally down for helping me with manual labor around the favela). 

Timing is Everything
David and Goliath 

Moz wanted to film a technique with one of the sponsored athletes (that destroys everyone) from the social project for his blog Tales from Deep Half, so I figured I would take advantage of the opportunity and see if I could get HT from BJJ Hacks to film it for him and take some professional pics that I could use for my Fightland Vice articles. HT helps me out a lot with the "social media" aspects of my social work I always appreciate when he comes to the project to do some filming (or when he answers the numerous questions that I ask him when I could probably just google it). HT and Moz are two more examples of the cool ass people and experiences that I have gotten to acquire that make living so far away from my friends and family worth it. 

So long story short. Yeah, the struggle is real, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world, especially not a 9-5 job. 

How many people do you think slept in a room this size?

Kicking it with this dude that works as a doorman in the community before boxing at Nobre Arte.  He was talking about the 10 years he spent in jail. Sleeping on the floor in overcrowded rooms and no space to stretch your legs. Its humbling travel the world and get an opportunity to sit a hear people's stories. 


Caiprinhas in Lapa


Friday night in the Cantagalo Favela

Dude the Sell Caiprinha's friday
nights in the favela