This is the end…

13 de Julho, 9:30 PM
Somewhere over Southern Brazil, 28,000 feet

São Paulo stretches vast across the entire night horizon, a city so sprawling and varied that the mere scope of it boggles the mind. And believe me friends, my mind is a tough one to boggle. After a frigid, miserable dawn in the rodoviária, we stowed our crap and ventured out into the sprawl on the Metro. We spent the rest of the day wandering the praça da Se section of SP, near the central cathedral and theatre, effectively seeing upwards of 1/1 gazillionth of the entire city. LA and San Francisco combined make up only one neighborhood in SP. The entire concept of a “city”, at least as a metaphor for human habitation, deteriorates after a certain threshold. Specialized sections of the city can no longer serve specific purposes, because the city has grown too large. SP has no “center”, no “down town”, only endless, teeming streets, markets, and plazas. Such a monument to humanity must hold many treasures, and many secrets. I’ll be back here some day.

Exhaustion and insanity loom dangerously close at this point. I’ve effectively been awake for almost 30 hours, with no sleep in sight. At this altitude it’d be a miracle for me to stay normal even if I was well-rested and not hung over. Flights at this height have strange and poorly documented effects on the inner ear and human perception in general, that’s why they take away your fingernail clippers and match books, and feed you MSG-loaded chicken and soda water. Take away the sharp shit and let fly the tranq darts, like a damn mental institution.

All is not lost, however. Bleary-eyed and mentally decayed is the only way to return from a trip like this. If I hit the ground with a spring in my step or a dip in my hip, something’s gone terribly wrong. A trip like this takes a horrible toll on people of my constitution. Diets consisting purely of fried foods and hard liquor, tap water filled with parasites large enough to put on a fish hook, brutal, vicious street rodas where everyone wants to spill some American blood… I’ll need several months of spiritual sabbatical, rehab, and chiropractic adjustment to get myself back in working order.

Working order. In order to work.

Right outside that sterile, nationless no-man’s-land of SF Intl. Airport awaits the Old Life. Responsibilities and debts and guilts and bills, they await like slavering red goblins in the baggage terminal, holding up a sign that says “TREVOR”, written in piss and bile. Such an ironic name, the “baggage terminal”. How could I have never recognized that before now? Running from your problems never works, they say. Well it damn well worked for me, and now the credits are rolling and the house lights have come up, and I’m trying desperately, pathetically to hold on to the joy and freedom of the last month.

All that’s left now, besides a ten hour flight watching Will and Grace or Miss Congeniality 2 in Portuguese is the post-game show.

We know what happened, friends. We know how the story ends, who makes it out alive… But what does it all mean?

Is a trip like this just some hedonistic fuckoff in distant lands? A frantic and pointless orgy of adventure and depravity? Or is there some higher meaning to it all?

The material gains are negligible. T-shirts, some books, a bunch of Bahiano jewelry for assorted cousins… No, booty obviously had little to do with it. Mind the pun, friends, it’s a doozy.

Perhaps it was a more spiritual journey, a testament to the triumph of the human spirit and the purity of nature, a tour de force of blah blah blah cliche cliche horse shit horse shit.

I don’t know.

For me, I suppose, two things really stand out, as accomplishments or treasures or whatever.

The first is success. Fortune favors the bold, and bold we were. Are. With nothing but a guidebook, a dictionary, clean underwear, and sharp wits we navigated across one of the largest and most varied countries in the world. Time after time, we’d jump off a bus with backpacks in hand and not a damn clue what to do. But we figured it out.

It’s one thing to survive a journey, another entirely to flourish on the road. In cities where no one for miles speaks English, where things like baseball and warm water and paved roads are ethereal, mythical concepts, taken with a grain of salt as foreign lies, we rocked. Tearassing across the interior in a bus full of farm workers, pursued by armed bandits and junk vendors, we handled our business. And if this success in the face of non-existent planning and absolute, 100% freedom doesn’t bring a tear to your eye and a lighter to your raised, swaying fist, I don’t know what will. Such a confluence of forces I have Never seen, the universe itself holding our hand and lighting our way. Today, as we stumbled off the metro and bought tickets for our bus to the airport, the tickets cost exactly the amount of Brazilian currency we had left between us. Exactly. Talk about tying up your loose ends, that’s some mindwarping shit, friends. Such luck approaches divinity. The Force must be strong, with these two.

The second miracle (One away from beatification, kids) was the people. There are those among you, life long friends, vague acquaintances, or simply random fucks, that know me to be somewhat… jaded. If I were a breakfast cereal, some would call me Cynic-O’s. If I were a president, I might be called Bitterham Lincoln. And yet…

Our talent and ingenuity, as well as the universe and luck at large, can only account for a small percentage of our trip’s awesomeness. The rest, the rest comes straight from our friends. Everywhere we went, we met awesome people. Everywhere, like clockwork. Elizabeth and Meitol and Fatima… Mosquito,65lbs of fury in the capoeira roda… Willamy and the Four Lovely Sisters… Renalto and Bruno, his repressed homosexual brother… Antonio and the Evangelical Crew… Mestre Raimundo Diaz, old school Angolero at large… Thaís, Ana, the rest of the Brasília chicks who have set my standards for girls so damn high… Christ, does the list go on. Everyone one of them, complete, whole-hearted friends, without exception.

What did a morbid, ruthless gringo like me do to deserve such folk? I worry, friends, that sealed away behind our picket fences and liar’s eyes, back in the good old U.S. of A., we (myself included) will forget what people like our Brazilian friends do for us, and for humanity at large. The best I can describe it is like this: Imagine L.A. Everyone you meet, should you even be in a context worthy of their attention, is a two-dimensional sycophantic ass hat. Now imagine that degree of bold-faced enmity, but 100% in reverse. Imagine being invited into someone’s home, to stay, before they even know your name. Imagine treating someone you’ve known for a three hour bus ride like a long lost brother. Can you imagine it?

I hope so, kids. Cuz some of us don’t have to. Some of us know.

All these tearful goodbyes and shoutouts and grammy speech cliches… I’ll bet you scum think I’ve really lost it this time. You think the Grinch is coming to Christmas with big kisses and dime bags for the whole family. Not a chance, ladies, not a chance.

The black blood runs too deep in my veins for that.

It brightens my day, though. It brightens my life; to know that in a far off land, where the R’s sound like H’s, the doorknobs are all broken, the food is all fried and the showers are all cold, there are people who are genuine and friendly, kind, and loving in ways shitheads like you and I will never know.

Now it’s time to go home.

Até logo, meus amigos. Obrigado por todo.

-T.

11:20PM, over Venezuela

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