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Travel Hiccups and “Gentileza Gera Gentileza” in Action

Travelling requires a substantial leap of optimism. When you’ve finally “mastered” a place, it’s time to go and all you can do is hope that what’s coming next will be even better or at least offer an interesting experience.

I’m scared of the future these days so I often spend the last night before moving on questioning my life choices.

My next destination did require some self-convincing and positive affirmation, even though I had picked it myself—I was going to trade Cabo Frio, hot weather and gorgeous beaches for Petrópolis, nested in forested hills, and notoriously cooler and rainy.

Why Petrópolis? Well, why not. The “Imperial City,” former summer residence of the Brazilian Emperors and aristocrats, is worth visiting according to many Brazilians and guidebooks. Besides, it was a handy stop on the way to my next destination. Basically, I had the choice between Petrópolis and Rio de Janeiro, and Rio ain’t pretty right after Carnival, so Petrópolis it was.

I got mentally ready for four days of rain and I assured my Brazilian friend that my Airbnb was safe from landslides. I told myself I’d be okay with colder weather—come on, I’m carrying a Canadian passport here! And I remind myself that exploring a new city is a treat, that staying curious has led me to countless wonderful places.

So I packed and set my alarm, more or less ready for the adventure.

Actually, I didn’t have to set my alarm in Cabo Frio. The 2 p.m. checkout time was unusually generous and it worked great for me because I had the choice between a madrugada ride and a 3:15 p.m. bus.

I picked the latter, but it also meant I was going to arrive at 7 p.m. in Petrópolis.

“Are you taking any food with you?” Feng asked.

“I was considering it. Not sure what to do.”

“Let me check… well, supermarkets are open until 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.”

“I’ll chance it. I don’t even know what to take. I mean, either I buy everything I need to cook or I buy nothing. A pack of pasta won’t take me far.”

“A jar of pesto, maybe?”

I hesitated until the last minute but I boarded the bus without food. It was only a four-hour trip, after all, I’d find the same supermarkets in Petrópolis.

Around 5 p.m., the traffic started to slow. We weren’t moving anymore. I checked Google Maps—still a long way to go.

I texted my Airbnb host. Her dad was supposed to come to the bus terminal in Petrópolis to give me the keys.

“I’ll be late,” I explained.

I texted the dad and shared my live location.

“Have you made it past Rio yet? Some restaurants may be open, Patio Petropolis Shopping close at 10 p.m.,” Feng wrote. “I will call you late, after 10:30 your time.”

“Oh, I’m not even sure I’ll be here by then,” I replied.

I was starting to freak out. Arriving late in a new city isn’t ideal. Yes, I’ve done it before—in Santos, Maceió, Buenos Aires…—but this time, I was ready for it.

My Airbnb host’s father left me a message on my phone.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be here. I’ll help you out.”

We eventually arrived at 9:45 p.m.

The Airbnb host’s father was waiting for me, as promised.

“Come on, I’ll give you a ride. And we’re gonna stop at the supermarket on the way.”

I thought I was going to cry. I had just spent almost seven hours on the bus, it was pitch park, I had no idea where I was going and I was grateful for his help.

“Take your time! You have a car, buy the heavy stuff,” he encouraged. “Water? Some dessert? I don’t eat carbs, of course…”

“I do. Plenty of them. And yes, thank you.”

Feng called me around 11 p.m., I was just unpacking.

I cooked past midnight but I was glad to have dinner.

You’ll often see the sentence “Gentileza gera gentileza” (“Kindness begets kindness”) in Brazil. Apparently, it’s from José Datrino, known as prophet Gentileza.

I believe in it. I believe in karma. I wrote a late-night text to both the host and her father, and I’ll be happy to help anyone who needs it when I can.

Last selfie after packing in Cabo Frio
Last selfie after packing in Cabo Frio
Rodoviária de Cabo Frio, Jardim Excelcior, Cabo Frio - State of Rio de Janeiro
Rodoviária de Cabo Frio, Jardim Excelcior, Cabo Frio – State of Rio de Janeiro
My 3:15 p.m. bus to Petrópolis
My 3:15 p.m. bus to Petrópolis
Rodoviária de Cabo Frio, Jardim Excelcior, Cabo Frio - State of Rio de Janeiro
“Travelling with fish and seeafood is prohibited”, Rodoviária de Cabo Frio, Jardim Excelcior, Cabo Frio – State of Rio de Janeiro
Begining of the traffic jam on the road to My 3:15 p.m. bus to Petrópolis
Begining of the traffic jam on the road to My 3:15 p.m. bus to Petrópolis
Traffic jam on the road  to Petrópolis
Traffic jam on the road to Petrópolis
Terminal Rodoviário de Petrópolis, finally here
Terminal Rodoviário de Petrópolis, finally here
Late night dinner in Petrópolis
Late night dinner in Petrópolis
Late night dinner in Petrópolis
Late night dinner in Petrópolis
Cabo Frio to Petrópolis
Cabo Frio to Petrópolis
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Zhu

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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