I’ve been feeling vaguely uneasy all week. One minute, I’m happy and fine, and the next, I may burst into tears.
I’m not usually like this, and in Maceió, of all places!
Maceió was love at first sight when I first explored it in early 2020. The state capital of Alagoas is laid-back, very walkable, and gorgeous with many urban beaches that come with warm waters and tall palm trees.
Maceió was my haven in 2021 when I got stuck in Brazil. This is where I managed to extend my Brazilian visa and where I spent a few weeks wondering how I was ever going to go back to Canada (plot twist, I ended up flying to France).
I almost didn’t stop in Maceió last year because I thought I had already spent too much time there at the height of the pandemic. But I did anyway, and it was very enjoyable.
This year, I thought Maceió would be a good place to rest after Carnival.
And it is.
Maceió, it’s not you—it’s me.
I think I felt lonely. There isn’t much to do in Maceió except go to the beach. I know, poor me, right? Except that I’m powered by curiosity and a desire to learn about the world, about people, about anything, really, and I know Maceió too well to discover something really new and exciting.
Still a nice place, mind you, but my brain figured “eh, since I’m not busy right now, may as well go haywire…”
Everything felt a bit off, and I felt a bit raw as if suddenly I was no longer equipped to deal with life—or rather, it seemed to take more energy than usual.
I rarely feel lonely when I travel alone because, well, I’m not actually alone alone—I’m not in remote places, disconnected from the world. My life on the road is more structured than you’d think. I’m still working so I deal with clients, I keep busy, emails are exchanged and assignments are completed. I regularly email, text or call friends and relatives. And of course, I have a nightly one- or two-hour video chat with Mark and Feng. I’m also always around people—in the streets, at the beach, in tourist places, etc. Brazilians like to socialize and hang out in public places, and I’m always happy to join.
Honestly, I feel way lonelier in Canada where streets are empty and people drive everywhere or stay home.
But after Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Maceió felt very quiet.
I also suspect I miss having a goal. For the first time in ages, Feng and I had a plan and something to look forward—Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. And now, it feels like life is filled with uncertainties again. Where will I be next month? Not sure. Will I have work next week? No idea. Is there something exciting to look forward to? Unsure—I mean, not really, according to the news.
Some days, uncertainties can be opportunities. Some days, it’s just tiring to think that you just don’t know.
So, what the hell did I do in Maceió this week?
I explored the city centre, I went to the beach, I watched a few sunsets, I took the day trip to Praia do Gunga…
… oh, and I rode a motorbike for the first time in my life.
One evening, I decided to walk to the big shopping mall about twenty minutes from my Airbnb. I didn’t need anything but the idea of hanging out in a place with air-con felt appealing. And when I left, an hour later, I suddenly realized I was kind of tired.
I spotted the mototáxis just outside the mall. I don’t ride motorbikes. This is one of my rules. I’ve seen too many accidents all over the world.
But this time, I weighed the pros and cons. I mean, it was a short ride, 10 minutes maybe, a straight drive on a not-so-busy stretch of road at the time of the day…
“Okay… now, I have to tell you I’ve never ridden a bike before.”
“Never… like, never in Maceió?”
“Never in my life.”
The guy looked at me as if I was coming from another planet.
“And I’m kind of scared.”
I felt I had just disclosed I was a forty-year-old virgin.
“I’ll go slow.”
“Yeah, let’s do that.”
I ended up laughing the entire ride because at every red light, he would ask: “Are you comfortable? Should I keep on going?”
Must have been a really gentle guy in bed.
I made it alive but I hated the experience. He was a good driver but I was scared, not fun scared, but actually scared, and this is not something I plan to work on.
Still, it was an interesting experience.
I’m packing and travelling to another city tomorrow.
This is the great thing about travelling, just can just move on and get a fresh start somewhere else.
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