The first thing I did in Natal was to sign up for two of these popular “passeios” day-trip tours. I found this trick last year—it’s the best way to explore the region if you’re travelling alone and renting a car isn’t an option.
Brazilian “passeios” are pretty laid back. It’s nothing like these guided bus tours. Most of the time, they use a van or a car, for a start, so smaller groups. It’s also very informal—you get dropped off at various places, mostly beaches, and you just have to show up at the meeting point later. Meanwhile, do whatever you want, just enjoy.
This is my kind of tour.
And I really needed a tour com emoções.
I’m a lot more anxious now than I was before the pandemic and the subsequent series of world events that may or may not be blamed on COVID.
I mean… weird times, eh?
Of course, like most of us, I’m losing sleep over the economy, our future as human beings, conflicts and violence reported (or not) in the news. Strangely enough, I didn’t develop an extreme fear of germs and I got rid of my mask as soon as it became optional, but I do worry about the healthcare system.
Okay, I was worrying about the world in general and the people I care most about long before COVID. But now, multiple times a day, I’m also having these “OMG, what if…” worst-case scenario moments about… well, pretty much anything. It’s really random. “What if I forget to pay my AMEX credit card bill because I never use my AMEX, it’s my backup card, and shit, when did I last use it, it is set on autopayment, MUST CHECK RIGHT NOW!” (Turn the computer on, log in, balance is $0, all good) Or maybe “Shit, I didn’t check the supermarket opening hours, what am I going to do if it’s closed, I don’t even have pasta, I think the only food I’m carrying right now is a pack of instant oatmeal, is there a gas station nearby or a convenience store?” (Never mind, of course, the supermarket is open on a Monday at 6 p.m.….)
I can’t explain why my brain automatically jumps to the worst-case scenario. The only psychology 101 explanation I can come up with is that the pandemic and associated measures taught me I couldn’t take anything for granted. I never thought schools could close for months at a time. I never thought I would ever have to wait in line to enter a supermarket. I never thought you could get fined for just being outside. I never thought I Canada wouldn’t let me back in.
The only moment when I’m not worried about stupid stuff is when I’m too busy living to worry about stupid stuff.
I should be more anxious when I’m travelling because, well, travelling can be scary. But in fact, it’s the opposite. I feel better, happier, and more confident.
First, it’s a learning experience. I’m constantly discovering new places, new practical tricks, improving my language skills, and learning from people and cultures, so I feel better prepared for just about anything. Second, it gives me a sense of control because everything I need fits into a backpack, and I find this thought strangely comforting.
But travelling mostly gives me a sense of purpose. When nothing makes much sense and when I feel powerless about solving big issues, I just go back to the basics—I try to connect with fellow human beings and find beauty in the world, then I put words on emotions and I share it all because it made me feel good to say it, to see it, so maybe it will do the trick for you as well or just inspire you in some way.
The passeio helped. Sure, I had to get up at 7 a.m., but I saw amazing places and enjoyed a few thrilling moments.
“Love it!” my mum said when I sent her a short video someone took without telling me.
“I know, pretty hard to comment on your 40-year-old daughter acting like a kid…” I joked.
“You’re not even forty yet!” she replied. “It’s your enthusiasm I like. It matters.”
Maybe she’s right.
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