Around the World - Brazil

Hi from the other side of the Atlantic!
My name is Tayba and I am a 26-year-old Spanish lady who finds herself in South Brazil, in the Region of Rio Grande du Sol and blessed to be near the beach. We all have a story inside us, and I find my own rather fascinating. When I look back, I can’t quite believe that it was me that survived and thrived by following my passion when others told me not to. I am so glad I followed my heart. Here’s why.  

According to my friends and family I was living the dream. I had been living in London for about three and a half years with an amazing career and was situated in a wonderful part of the city. I travelled extensively for work and even managed to travel home to Spain whenever I wanted. Facades are interesting and my mask fell off after experiencing a burn-out and a depressive episode. 

One day the world stopped spinning for a precious moment, and I realised by the grace of God, that I had everything to live for and decided to take charge of my life. I decided to quit my job and follow my passion by joining a four-week work-away programme that asks you to provide time in exchange for accommodation and meals. My passion is horses and the programme allowed me to reconnect with nature in beautiful Brazil. I flitted back home to Spain for a brief time to be with family and then onwards.  

I came to Brazil at the beginning of March 2020. The COVID-19 Pandemic was still considered a joke then. Italy was already struggling though. And, as I remember, my mom, a tourist guide in Spain, had received numerous cancellations from the neighbouring country. But when I left Spain on the 3rd of March barely anyone was wearing a mask at the airport and it was, as I said, not a big deal at all. Little did we know back then. 

I arrived at Haras, a ranch that specialises in the breeding of Arabian Horses. The weather was amazing because Autumn was starting so it was not extremely hot just pleasantly warm. I was surrounded by nature and animals and pretty much isolated in the farm-ranch with five people. But isolation was a choice back then and had little to do with the Coronavirus. I started my adventure. 

In a matter of two weeks, things started to get pretty nasty back home in Spain, and when I still had over a week to go here in Brazil, the consulate advised me to leave the country or be prepared to stay indefinitely as my flight scheduled for end of March was going to be cancelled at some point.   

Mom and Dad freaked-out and asked me to come back, everyone did. I am proud to say that for once in my life I did what I had been missing for a long time and chose to listen to myself. I was not ready to leave Brazil; I had much more to learn, to enjoy, and time to heal from myself.   

Travelling back implied a trip involving three airports with the inherent risks just to land in my flat to do nothing but being in lockdown in a closed space with my family. I love them. After three weeks in wild nature and without a job I knew that being locked-in would drive me and them crazy quicklySo, I arranged for my insurance, had a chat to my boss and stayed.  

To be honest I cannot talk too much about the development of the virus here as I was isolated and doing my own thing. However, as it was to be expected, as things improved in Europe, they worsened in America. 

One would think that these countries that had been hit later, would have learnt the lessons from others like mine, Spain. But I doubt this was the case. Their President made controversial statement about how seriously he took the virus, which is close to nothing. And this was just a reflection of a part of the country, who just thought they wouldn’t suffer from it. As said, it is a vast country and I am not sure I can speak much about it, this is just my impression.  

I am in a rural region in the south, and although the virus is spreading very slowly here, you can already see many measures in place. I left the ranch a few days ago and rented an apartment by the sea for the last week before I go home, and I can see very few people on the street, not in big groups at least, and most of them wearing masks.  

In the supermarket and stores, the use of mask is compulsory, and they seem to keep distance and insist on the use of alcohol gel when you arrive and leave. I can’t imagine what lockdown must be like for families with children, to lose their jobs, not being able to go and care for your elderly.  

I have been living in a bubble. 

COVID-19 trapped me in paradise in a time that I needed my head to stop, and the fact that the world stopped helped me massively to focus on myself. Yes, it’s been hard at time. The thought of anyone from my family getting it and me being this far away is just horrendous. But I tried to forget about the outer world and make the most of staying here.  

Call it selfishness but I have learnt to call it self-care. What was the point of stressing about something I could not control? However, this opportunity allowed me to completely concentrate on myself and I have had the perfect environment to do so. 

Now that things are going to get worse in here, are slowly improving at home, and Winter is on its way, I am embracing a 30-hour journey to get back. It’s time to leave the bubble, and I know it’s going to hit me hard as I am not used to all the prevention measures which I must take into account at all times above all when travelling. 

To end on a positive note, and aware of this being a very subjective opinion due to my lucky situation, the Pandemic has surprised me with many blessings. I would say the key to harvesting a positive attitude is to be realistic about your options and avoid stressing about things you cannot control or change. Focus on yourself and pay close attention to how your body and mind reacts to different situations. Because today it’s a pandemic, but tomorrow might be something else which forces you to change your lifestyle and you must embrace it positively and always see it as a new opportunity to broaden your mind.  

Thank you.