segunda-feira, 28 de março de 2011

reflexões da segunda-feira

Silenciosamente se move
Penetra as barreiras
Entra,entra entre as copas
das árvores.

Erva daninha
Sonho desnudado
Palavras são trocadas.

Um sinal.

A euforia aumenta, grau a grau
Ainda não sinto a mão tremer
Nem temo me perder.

Eu e você.

Segredos e trivialidades
Um bom começo.
E a esperança, meio de perto
meio de longe
Tenta estabelecer contato visual.
Mas antes disso eu ouço seu
Ha ha ha

domingo, 20 de março de 2011


The retelling of the trip I have recently taken made me wonder about an aspect of my life. As I was recreating the places, the situations, I became a character of my own story. I was narrator – selecting, cutting, flourishing. I was making past present. I let out a part of myself I normally do not encounter: me as a nostalgic person. Liar. I am the most nostalgic person I have ever met. Today I was cleaning my bookshelves. I would take all the books and dust them. So there were so many stories I had within reach but I have never read. So many other I have read long ago, when I was a child, and I would just love to reread and feel now I was really grasping what they meant for now I know better. I felt like a pervert, leafing through all those books, ones virgins who had never been open and others as old as my grandma, jackets torn and yellowish. They must be so wise, the way they have been sitting there, in other shelves before mine. How many pairs of hands have had them? Loose sentences, are they giving me a message now? A paragraph of page 7 there, page 245 here, some paragraphs of philosophy. I am a drifter then. The books back to where they belong, I went to the photos and by chance I was looking at delight and wonder in moments of bliss. There were also hugs and kisses that will never come back. What the fuck was that haircut? And that one? My god, how could I go outside with that nest in my head? And the places and people I tend to believe I will never see again? What are they doing now? Our memory is really selective. Why? I had done that? Is it really me covered by mud, feeding ducks, wearing earrings? I wish I could talk to some of these people, hey you in the picture, talk to me! We lived so much together. Now I just have to get rid of the willingness to be with all of you again. Past is past. What was untouched should remain so. What was their denial must go. Grudges eat you from the inside. I feel so ready, but sometimes I feel my shoes are too tight and I don’t remember how to dance anymore. Some alive are already dead. Some friends just don’t care anymore. Some dicks are never going to be seen. Why don’t you believe that? Why bother? Nostalgia, can you just vanish and let the future and its construction here be hegemonic? Set me free.

domingo, 13 de março de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 4

Day 4 Brussels

Again, the plan was to wake up early. Some people say travelers should sleep at home, not in their trips. So we woke up early and did not have to do a lot of planning since the day was supposed to be spent walking around Brussels and Louis would be there with us. The first place we were going to was the Museum Magritte. I am not a very artistic person, who can interpret any painting as he sees it, but the experience in this museum was fantastic. There was a movie about the artist before starting the exhibition. The movie was in French with subtitles in Dutch and English. After that, we got access to the works of art and they were just amazing (you can have an idea by taking a look here. We spent more than 3 hours there, talking, laughing and after that buying some gifts in the shop. Totally recommended to anyone visiting Brussels. And it was nice to see that even people from the city hadn’t been there since the museum was opened some months ago. Even our host had never been there so it was quite a discovery to all of us. After that we went to another museum nearby, the museum of musical instruments. in a few words, it was another very interesting experience. The building is very beautiful from the outside. As you enter, you are given a set of headphones and every time you approached a certain set of instruments, you would listen to their sounds. It was not watching only. One had a chance to know the sound it produced. That was music, or music was in the air.

After this we left the museum and it was snowing a lot. It was good because, apart from the time we were running in gare du Nord to get on the train, we hadn’t seen that much snow coming down, in little flocks - it was a spectacle. It was the moment we felt children again, like in our snowball wars. So we headed for a Noël fair in order to eat something. Strangely, everything was very expensive. We had some durums and some huge waffles. We learned then there were several types of waffles and we chose the one which is soft.

After that, we needed to go back home because it was time to get ready for the party. As Louis’s brother had arrived home after a year abroad, they had planned to have a special party to friends, before the one for the family and we would be lucky enough to be there by then. But Carol was worried since she had taken a dress to the occasion but no shoes and she wanted to find some boots. We went to a street of stores but most of them were closed. We managed to find one and she went on choosing one but we were late already and she felt very bad because she thought she was the reason why we would get there late. In the end, everything was fine. We arrived back home, took a shower, got ready and went downstairs.
The party was an amazing situation. There were about 40 people. Good food, different types of drinks. I felt we would profit more if we split and I left Carol to herself while I tried to approach some people. I made friends with a girl who was their neighbor and we talked for more than 30 minutes. I tried to keep the conversation in French with some English in the middle. It was funny because this girl was with her fiancé and I imagined he was a bit jealous I was monopolizing his girl. In the end, he was looking at me and laughing but it was not probably out of jealousy. I heard after the party everyone was commenting about us, Carol and her stunning dress and me and my (so-they-said) undisguisable gayness. This sounded so amusing because I had forgotten about it myself. I did not flirt, did not do any queer comment. Anyway, maybe it is the French. The lip thing might drop my (inexistent) mask. After most of people left we took one of the rooms, with some of Louis’s friends from college and we kept on talking (in English, thank goodness). One by one they started leaving and only a few remained. It was then we had a nice talk with a wonderful boy, Jonathan. He was so attentive and he was one of the most good-looking guys we met on the trip (some people would say in our lives =D )
Then we went to bed but kept on talking and talking till we fell asleep at 3 am.
(we were so nervous we didn't take any pictures in the party, we forgot our cameras upstairs, but the hosts were taking pictures of it and told me they are sending the ones we are on anytime soon).

sexta-feira, 11 de março de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 3

Day 3

Some overlooked details:
Day 1: my friend Márcio was also helping me pack. Not very helpful as he hadn’t had any experience in cold winters then, but the important is the intention.
Day 2: the name of the fancy square with the fancy chocolate place is Sablon. Also, the museum was the African museum in Tervuren and it was the palace of King Leopold II.
The following day we, as good adventurers, woke up quite early because we wanted to enjoy the day as much as we could. So, we got up at 8 and had breakfast. Louis would not travel with us because he had just discovered he would have an exam in the first days of January and he had some studying to do. But he was going to help any way he could. We decided to get a plan of the city we would visit that day and it took us 3 hours to decide and plan where we would go. We chose (in fact Louis mostly recommended) 11 places to see in Antwerpen (or Anvers). It was a city near Brussels. Louis took us to the station and our big adventure started.
We were a bit insecure about our French skills, but hadn’t we been preparing for months? We bought the tickets, quite expensive ones, but as i had no idea how long we would stay there, I decided to buy only one way tickets. I had the impression that choosing a time to be back would limit us and supposing we were having a lot of fun, we would have to run to the station and come back. First big mistake. We got to the platform but were unsure if it was the correct one. So Carol said she was going to ask for information and she chose the right person to do so. It was so much so that I started playing the tourist just to take a picture of whatever was moving and make a context to take a picture of the guy she talked to.

Then, there were few people with us in our wagon we got to a city which was not Antwerpen but almost everybody was getting off. We got worried and asked a lady who was getting on. She didn’t speak English, nor French, she asked if we spoke Dutch and the train started. Too late. So I told Carol we were going now wherever the train was going but the woman asked us in Portuguese ‘Oh, do you speak Portuguese?’ It turned out she was a Brazilian woman who had been living in Belgium for some years. I don’t remember her name, but we talked to her for half an hour. She would get off in Antwerpen just like us which made us comfortable we hadn’t lost the stop. And she was the one to tell us we should have bought the round trip ticket because it was a special day of the week and we would pay almost the same we had paid for one way. And she explained the trains would leave every 15 minutes and we could take anyone we wanted. There was a certain code, however, to the express ones and the slower ones. Have this in mind as you keep reading.
We finally arrived in Antwerpen, and the central station there does justice to what they say about it - it is one of the most beautiful in Europe.

We started walking around. It took us some time to get used to the map. Yes, we got a bit lost even with the map. It was colder than it had been since we arrived and Carol was afraid her hands would freeze and fall off.
The first place we went to us Rubenshuis, or the house of Rubens, a painter of the 17th century. It was the first contact with paintings and it was funny to discuss about still-life (yep Carol, it was not dead nature) and two funny things happened as we were leaving the museum. Near the exit two girls were on a table and asked us if we could help them in a research. They were studying how people reacted to the museum and there were some questions about what we had seen and learned from the booklet. So, after the museum, a test! But the nice thing is that we got a postcard to make up for the stress of a test. And in the garden, where we could take pictures there was a boy who resembled the guy who plays Harry Potter, and paparazzo Elton was there to very discreetly register the moment.

The day followed and we were getting hungry. We found one streetmarket and there were a lot of cheeses and candies and nuts and whatever and the hunger increased, but Carol wanted a warm place to eat. So we decided for a restaurant similar to a bakery in which people would choose the bread and the stuffing. A kind of local Subway. But when it was our turn, the attendants did not speak French, nor English, but one tried and was kind enough while we were making a certain confusion in the line. Food, drinks in hand, let me go to the toilet, but even inside the restaurants as it was in the museum, everywhere you had to pay 0,40 to be admitted. And it was how we got one of our catchphrases in the trip - I can easily pay 0,40. (At first, we thought it was an absurd to pay “so much” to use the toilets, but in retrospect, it was one of the cheapest places wherever one had to pay).
It was almost 3pm and we had visited ONE of the 11 places we had in our plan. So we decided to hurry up a bit and visited the cathedral and the main square.
We then found the Fashion Museum. And although none of us was a big fan of fashion, we were in one of the most elegant and fashion-oriented cities in Europe. So we asked for a very friendly guy and he told us there was a hat exhibition. Perfect. So let’s enter. 10 euros? Wow, we hope it is worth it. Well, crazy hats apart, in 10 minutes we had finished all the floor. Is there another one? No, that’s it. 10 euros for 10 minutes. We were so frustrated. That’s why in Portuguese we have a saying that when someone is deceived he or she is “taking the hat”... we tried to see one or other museum but they were all closing or closed. It was almost 6pm. Louis was worried what time we would be back, so we returned to the station. There was a fast train leaving. Let’s buy the tickets. 10 min, the train was gone and we were still in line. A big family buying, the cashier closed, one guy starting yelling at the cashier, the other came to intervene. And almost half an hour later and some trains lost we managed to buy the tickets (that we should in fact have bought in the morning). Running and running to the platform and we got on the slowest train out of all the options. And to make it more adventurous - or horrible for two exhausted journeypeople - it stopped somewhere in the middle of the way and we had to wait in the cold for another one which would finally take us to Brussels.
After this funny and adventurous day we had a cool night with dinner at Louis’s and he offered some wine. We were not very picky about it, but he wanted to be sure it was the correct wine. We had never heard there were correct wines and incorrect ones. We had already finished eating, so any would be the most suitable, proper, adequate but the word he used ‘correct’ was exotic and funny (the linguists would say it was not collocational). So we had some correct wine and went to bed.

quarta-feira, 9 de março de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 2

Day 2

During the first night nothing happened but it numbed a little bit our senses and we were slow as we decided to take the train to go to Gare du Nord, where we would take the Thalys train. We received a new Ticketless card, so we had no paper telling us what time our train would leave and then we had to try to recover from our subconscious what time we had to be there. Carol had no idea we had to take a train and would arrive in the station only half an hour later. First obstacle, which ticket to buy. There were some machines but were the more expensive ones the tickets to take us from the airport to downtown. 8 euros or 2? (a friend told us later we should have bought the cheapest one and if we were stopped we should say, well, we didn’t know.) Then we got the train and we saw it was snowing. The day was still dark and there were only some more people in the same wagon with us. The funny thing is that there was a blond guy and he was talking to an Asian girl and though they looked like a couple, he could not help staring at us (especially at Carol). Strange, dear, but true, dear.
As soon as we got to Gare du Nord, Carol kept saying it was too late and too late and I told her we still had time. But I could not be sure. So we gave our cards to the guy with the funny uniform and he read it with a machine and he told us what we most feared - our train was the previous one, so we had missed it. I felt devastated. And if we didn’t think fast, we would miss this second option. The guy was very nice to tell us we should enter a specific wagon and wait for him there. We were nervous and pissed we had missed our train. We boarded and waited for the guy and then I looked outside the window and realized it was snowing a lot. A lot of snow and we hadn’t even paid attention it was snowing at all.After some minutes the train left the platform and we felt good for going to where we should be but how much this lack of attention would cost us. In the end it would cost 88 euros each, the double of the smallest fare but the guy was sympathetic to our despair and he charged us 98 for both tickets. Not so bad, but we should not have missed anything.
Half sleeping and swimming in a mix of self-punishment, self-pity, we arrived in Belgium in no time. Off the train, we should try to call Louis for him to know we had arrived. This, however, was not necessary. As soon as we arrived at the hall of the station I could see him looking around, looking for us. Carol almost went past him because she did not recognize him, he had shaved and had his hair cut short.
The first thing we did was to have a glimpse of Brussels. It was all white with snow. And there was a not so serious traffic jam downtown. I guess it was for us not to feel homesick. The first place we went was a bakery. It was so interesting to see all those different types of biscuits and breads. The shapes and the colors (and very likely the tastes), everything reminded us we were definitely far from home. The streets to get to Louis’s house were surrounded by trees. And these trees were so full of snow on them that we could not help thinking we had just entered the kingdom of Narnia. Although we had seen it in pictures, the quantity of snow, the light of that time of the day, everything worked so as to give us a sensation of magic, of exoticism.

After this we headed to the place which would shelter us in the following days. Our friend’s house. As soon as we arrived, we were taken to have a tour around the house. It was a big but very cozy house. It seemed one house we see in movies. And it was the moment to get to know some members of his family. They turned out to be very nice and warm people, who made us feel totally at home. The funny thing was that, in a different place, we should have been more than eager and ready for adventure, but a night at the airport had made us tired. We had to take a quick nap and a shower. And we did so for half an hour. (Ok, it was more than that, but the new beds were so inviting). We woke up and it was still day. We had not forgotten we would have less hours of light so we should leave soon. So, Louis took us to a museum and a park and we had a lot of fun there: the first thing that happened was our first snow fight. We had a disadvantage over our host because we could not make a ball out of snow - it would collapse before hitting the target. So he taught us how to do it and the balls were better. After that, we were walking in a very white park and suddenly Louis started yelling at Carol because she was stepping on the “grass”. In fact it was covered with snow so he knew it was grass over there because he knew the place. And there really was grass under the snow, but with all that cold our steps would be the least of their problems. Finally, another funny thing that happened was that we had a lot of snow on the ground but it hadn’t snowed since we arrived there. So we tried to make it snow by shaking some trees. The effect was not exactly what we expected as it was difficult to control where it would fall, but we tried.

Then we got hungry and it was time for our first Belgian meal. We went to a stand and bought some fries with some other fried things. Some traditional sauces to go with all that fat. But it was just delicious. We had what Louis called a “poor Belgian meal”. Then we did more. We were taken to a walk downtown. It was a bit cold but we could see some interesting spots. We got to a street market and had some hot wine. But then we went to a fancy place, a type of restaurant to have some chocolat chaud. It was a top one, expensive indeed but worth every cent of it. Louis was eavesdropping the next table conversation: it was a couple arguing in a very polite way. We could not understand what they were saying but he was translating to us and we were commenting in Portuguese. The attendant realized we were speaking Portuguese, we felt embarrassed she might have understood so we decided to mind our own business. =) Afterwards, we saw a show of lights in a building and finally went to a bar - Delirium is its name - with about 200 types of beer. Of course, I chose a girlish one, with fruits and very sweet but this is just me, into sweet drinks. And we went home. We tried to watch a movie, one about the singer Claude François, but I guess none of us saw it more than 15 minutes. It was dark, it was warm. So let’s go to bed.

quarta-feira, 2 de março de 2011

Travel log - Europe - Day 1

Day 1

Well, as I had promised some people I know I would, here it goes the first log of my adventures in Europe in December 2010 and January 2011. If you search this blog you are going to see I have already tried to tell my friends and some strangers about my adventures there in 2009. Unfortunately (for some readers), the other entries are all in Portuguese. It comes easier to write in my own language and most of the people who had shared experiences with me there would understand. But this time is different. One thing that happened in the other series of texts is that I never managed to finish them. It took me about six months altogether to tell people about what had happened in those 18 days and I never managed to get past the day 15 or 14 I guess. Anyway, one should take advantage of a certain period of inspiration and written production and write as much as possible here. The task is harder now since I spent 27 days there instead of 18. However, I can use of some help in the first days because the trip is not mine in fact. It was a dream of someone, a very special friend so I went along with her, sharing her dream and she will definitely help me here in the first part of the trip because there was a puddle in the way. You will hear of it later on. Be patient, fasten your seat belts and read.
The first day was kind of busy. There were some documents to be taken if we had problems at immigration and my printer was not working properly. So I had to take the bus and go to the university in order to print all the papers. Well, no problem as to that, you would say, since the flight was at night. But I had to start and finish packing (yep, I am a last minute person - a procrastinator). I had no idea what to put in the suitcases so I asked the best PEOPLE: those who had NEVER traveled to Europe in the winter and for that long. My friend Marcio went to my house and I also started a videoconference on skype with this friend of mine, Carol, and we were packing simultaneously and one was helping the other with all the packing while Marcio was always reminding us of something or suggesting what could be taken out and all. Of course, hindsight we took a lot of stupid things we never worn and forgot some important things, but it served us well as a lesson for next time.
Then, with the bags ready I headed for the subway and Carol’s family would take us to the airport. She had to tell her father we would take off one hour before the real time so he agreed we should get going. He likes to cut it thin but we did not want to try our luck.
At the airport, the lines were a bit long, but my parents had called and told me I should wait for them as they wanted to give me hugs and farewells. Besides, my computer was with me (as I would leave it with mom), Carol’s family had left as they couldn’t wait for embarking. The clock was ticking and it seemed they would never make it in time. I would have to carry my heavy computer to Europe and would not hug anyone. They finally arrived a bit sad as they thought I wouldn’t be able to be there on time and luckily the gate line had reduced considerably.
So security check and all, first of many, there we were boarding the plane towards Istambul. It was quite strange to imagine we would go so East before coming back to Paris, but by then I had already stopped trying to understand the (illogical) logics involved in airline schemes.
The flight itself was quite an adventure. First of all, we hadn’t been able to get seats together so we had to keep waiting the boarding finish and try changing seats. We did so, and we sat on some very nice places, but a huge family boarded late when we thought no one else would and we had taken their places. So, back to our seats. I told Carol she could sit next to me because there was an empty seat. So she did. But the screen of that seat was defective and she would not be able to watch any movie and it pissed her a bit. She sat between me and a guy she later discovered was a member of a band of a very popular Brazilian singer. I slept a lot and would wake up sometimes only to gobble whatever they were serving to go back to sleep some seconds afterwards. At a certain point over the Atlantic the plane got into a very turbulent zone and it would shake and shake. She was awake and we, the guys beside her, weren’t, and not even a lady crying she was going to die nor the bumping made us wake up. She had to suffer the turbulence, the lady crying and a strong desire to go to the toilet all on her own (as she was kind enough not to wake any of us to go to the toilet). OK, one has to admit she did sleep as well, and her book tried to sneak out (making a lot of noise), but the guy took it from the middle of the aisle and she couldn’t believe the book had fallen from her lap onto the aisle making a lot of noise and she had not perceived it.
So after some hours, big meals (I ate mine and whatever Carol wouldn’t), TV series and a lot of drooling we were landing in Istambul. The point more to the east I had ever been to. Of course, we were so excited about getting out of there that we barely paid attention to what the pilot was saying. And of course this turned out against us. As we landed and went through immigration, I told her we had less than 20 minutes to go to the other gate to get our flight to Paris. So we started to almost run to the gate. When we got there, what a surprise. It was empty. Too late? A very impolite attendant informed us: It will open only in half an hour. So we realized we were 1h10 earlier. We had run for nothing. During the flight we had remembered that with all the fuss about having the documents ready we had forgotten to write down the addresses of the people we would be with when we were not in hostels. We had everything on emails but nothing on paper, no telephones, zero. The solution to this would be to use her cellphone or my netbook to access our emails to write down the addresses and phones. We found out that a café would give us wi-fi access so I had a Turkish coffee in Turkey while Carol tried opening her email on her cellphone. After almost half an hour we had managed to write down all the data on napkins. It was precarious indeed, but we had time to write on better sheets of paper in the flight. By the way, I guess it was there I realized I had lost the baggage claim ticket somewhere in Guarulhos. Problems looming?
Well, at least no problems flying to Paris, the next curious thing happened when we were going through immigration. The previous trip, the guy in Amsterdam had asked our documents and asked some questions, but he released us quite briefly. Carol was freaking out because of this. She was afraid they would send us back to Brazil or would say the documents were not reliable. It turned out that they barely looked at us, kept talking, stamped the passports and told us to go on. It took less than 2 minutes. And I told Carol that was that. She was in shock. After all those butterflies in our stomachs, the possibility of being extradicted or held at the airport, he had barely talked to us. We walked about the airport and I felt very sad because we had planned spending the night at Charles de Gaulle Airport and I had done that before and it had been awful. But things changed this time. We found a place with some armchairs, really cosier than the benches of the last time. And it was not only us. A bunch of people were there, sleeping or reading, and waiting for the other day. We were not so tired so we took turns sleeping and staying awake. At a certain moment of the night someone even turned off the lights of the part we were. An old lady kept reading in the half-dark but we were glad we had no problems through the night. Well, this was so until we decided to head for the station to get our train to Belgium.