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Slightly Confused, Alone Again, Totally Back in the Nordeste

I felt sorry for Mark—I can’t imagine celebrating Carnival in Rio for two weeks, then flying back to Canada on a Saturday, landing on a Sunday, and just resuming school the day after.

None that I ever had this problem as a ten-year-old kid.

But Mark was in a good mood when he called me Sunday evening.

It was strange to see him on Skype and to hear him complaining about the cold, because just 48 hours earlier, he was in a hammock on the balcony of the São Paulo Airbnb complaining about the heat.

“At least, you can have a fun snowball fight at school tomorrow!” I said in my best cheery mommy voice because Feng had mentioned in our private conservation just before that “it fucking snowed again” and that the snowbank was taller than him.

“It’s banned.”

“WHAT? Are you serious?”

What’s the point of a Canadian childhood if you can’t spend recess throwing snowballs at your friends? In France, students would have started a strike and protest. I mean, come on.

But Mark just shrugged. “You know, my school isn’t exactly fun…”

I sighed.

No, it’s not.

Well, it is in a way—school emails are hilarious, full of typos and political correctness.

We took Mark through Rio Centro, to Carnival with millions of half-naked people, I showed him what favelas and poverty look like, just to have him sheltered in fucking Ottawa.

And I’m saying this as the kid who totally would have been hit in the head by snowballs—multiple times.

“Do you have a hammock in your Airbnb?”

“Nope, not this time. Okay, you can read me the next chapter of Lord of the Flies tomorrow… we’re all tired, I’ll talk to Daddy for a bit.”

Feng reported that he woke up completely confused from a nap, wondering why it was so dark outside and which Airbnb this was. “More snow coming. This is crazy.”

We didn’t chat long—they had to rest and unpack after the flight, and I also had to rest and unpacked after my flight.

I picked the trip up when I left off. After Recife, I would have gone to Maceió, so on Sunday, while Feng and Mark were landing in Canada, I was flying to Maceió.

The three-hour flight from Congonhas was pretty straightforward but it was a bit late and I had forgotten that the airport is far from the city. It was close to 7 p.m. when I finally arrived at the Airbnb.

“Are you going to be okay arriving on a Sunday night in Maceió?” Feng had asked me.

“I survived Maceió as a Nordeste newbie, then as a stuck traveller during the pandemic,” I laughed. “I’ll be fine, I know the city pretty well.”

Except I had somehow forgotten that as lovely and friendly as Maceió is, the state capital of Alagoas is a “small town” by Brazilian standards. In the past few weeks, in Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, grocery shopping was never an issue—supermarkets close late or not at all. Hell, on Saturday night, I suddenly felt like removing my nail polish at 2 a.m. (I needed to focus on something to stop crying!), and I just went to the nearest pharmacy to buy acetone.

My favourite bakery with the awesome comida por kilo was closed, and so were the two biggest supermarkets.


I ended up walking all the way to the one and only 24/7 supermarket across the city.

Not to self, forget about next-door conveniences for a little while.

Last night in SP, Rua Peixoto Gomide, 596 143 B, São Paulo
Last night in SP, Rua Peixoto Gomide, 596 143 B, São Paulo
Takeoff in Aeroporto de São Paulo/Congonhas
Takeoff in Aeroporto de São Paulo/Congonhas
Takeoff in Aeroporto de São Paulo/Congonhas
Takeoff in Aeroporto de São Paulo/Congonhas
Landing in Maceió
Landing in Maceió
Late-night arrival in Maceió
Late-night arrival in Maceió
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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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