Tuesday, November 11, 2008

going our of brazil

It is so sad. (is there a better word than this?) 2 more days we would be exiting Brazil, towards Argentina.

21st September 2008, we entered Brazil from Bolivia. We did ride through the exciting Patanal but did not stop for a visit because Hope Too’s Pakistani battery was not working well. It would be a risk everytime I switched off the ignition of Hope Too. Our goal at that time was to reach Sao Paulo (SP) to meet Simone as she was back from Italy for vacation. We were very lucky. Simone arrived at SP 5 hours before we did. We stayed at her mum’s house and visited a garden and landscape exhibition. I wanted to get more contact for my business and she helped me for all the translation including conversation and all the phone calls.

Since day one when we met Simone, she gave us the Brazilian visa within 3 hours instead of the 3 days. Then she knew that we had problem with Hope Too’s seat, that was hurting our arse. Simone made various phone calls around to look for a remedy. she also brought us to some places during her working hours to enquire about the modification of the seat.

2 days later we stayed at her house in Roma with her loving husband. Enrico. We would never imagine that we would have a chance to stay in an Italian’s house. Both of them brought us around Roma. They cooked us marvelous meals, gave us all the information we needed, tried to link us up with their friend along our route and try to help us to travel smooth.

We left their house just by saying ‘bye bye, keep in touch’.

In Brazil, Simone chatted with us about our travel plans. Frankly speaking, we do not have, just had some ideas but it isn’t realistic. We told her we MAY want to go to the Amazons. Later, she made lots of phone calls around, trying to link me to enjoy Amazon in a cheaper way. Her best friend, Cida, printed out many information that were useful for us. Simone also linked me up with her ex neighbour, Felipe.

Felipe was staying 200km away from SP. He wanted to come to SP to fetch us to his home with his truck with Hope Too on it but we went there by ourselves. Simone borrowed his brother’s (TuTu) car, guide us to Felipe’s house.

In fact, Simone was on her 45 days holidays in Brazil but she was so busy with us, making plans for us, making us comfortable in Brazil. Everytime we chatted on the dinning table with the family (her mother in law from Italy and her mother), she had to speak with us in English, explain the topic to her mother in Portuguese, translate to her mother in law using Italiano.

Simone’s mother was old but active. She was actively in charitable works. She knew about our travel and tried to like us up with all that is related. She called up a few reporter to fix interview with us. Despite of her busy schedule, she drove to a Honda motorbike dealer, asked the person at marketing department to come to her house, take a look at Hope Too and ask for sponsorship for us. Though it was unsuccessful for the sponsorship, we were really touched by her actions. A Singapore woman at this age would never do this!

Felipe was one year younger than me. He was a horse rider and been to England for numerous glory riding. He gave up the Olympic games because it was too expensive for him on the logistic side to participate. Felipe went back to Brazil, gave horse riding lessons and at the same time, his cousin (Fabrico) and him set up a coffee trading company.

Life at Felipe’s town was easy going unlike the busy city of SP. He was married to Iara, had a daughter of aged four and a loving farm dog (Fly, not a fly but her name is Fly) from England.

At times, Felipe would be busy with work and we would stay at his mother’s (Mage) house.

Mage was incredible. She was a pottery drawing teacher. Sam translated some Chinese characters for her student’s name and drew it on the porcelain plate for her. At time of visit, Mage’s husband, Chico, was away for work at Angola.

Mage tried to give us all the comfort we needed. Though we could not speak good Portuguese with her, we still could understand what she was trying to say.

We felt that Mage was like our second mother. Where in the world would you get this kind of unconditioned love?

You think that they are so nice to us because they wanted the same treatment when they come to Singapore?


Sam checked the air ticket from Singapore to Brazil. It was near SGD$5000.00 per person. Brazilians would rather travel to USA or Europe.

Felipe stopped professional horse riding. He fell in love with horses. He told me if he was paid to ride a horse, he would not dare to look into the eye of the horse. Just fix the saddle, do the usual stuff and leave.

Do you understand what is he trying to say?

Other than friends in Brazil, the strangers on the road were worth a second look.

In Singapore, if you had eye contact with another person, the most they would smile back at you. The worst would be the question ‘WHAT THE F#@K are you looking at?!’

In Brazil, it is more than a smile. The worst is to get a thumbs up, which meant good or OK, otherwise it would be a conversation about anything.

There are lots of strangers observing Hope Too when we stopped. Observing in a more ‘respecting privacy’ way and not the ‘India’ way, then will try to have a polite conversation with us.

Though we looked like a Brazilian (the Japanese community), they would still be interested in knowing us. Not because we are foreigners but as a human.

It’s a way of life here. Walking down the street, a punk smoking by the roadside would say ‘good day’ to us.

Even in businesses, they have the best etiquette. If we do not buy from their shop, we would not feel that they would be unhappy. If this hotel is out of room, they would recommend the one that is equivalent to their nearby. If we try their sample, like roasted peanuts and does not show a single sign of interest in buying, they would not be angry!

Other than Pakistan and Iran, the next country in our ‘best memories’ would be Brazil.

What about Carlo?

He inspired me.

Carlo was an Italian, married to Simone’s sister. He was a cook, a culinary teacher and a motorbiker.

When we first met him, he was limping on the walking stick. What could be the first impression???

As any person by the name of Carlo you would know, he had clean cut moustache above his lips, straight down to the chin. His jokes would always kept our hands holding on to our stomach and there would be endless topic on his ‘forum’.

His Harley Sportster 1200 was kept in Portugal for the past 5 years untouched. He could only start the engine to warm up.

Once, Carlo and I were at the balcony of his apartment, he told me,

‘your trip was really nice. I had a dream. I wanted to ride the pan-American highway from the south to the north. I saw the pictures, it was soooooo beautiful!’

If only Carlo could write a book about his life, it would be the second after Titanic.

He had multiple sclerosis.

Carlo, you can make it. I want to ride with you. Do I have the honor to ride with you? I want to be the first few to buy your book. The book that is about your life and your true self.

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