Its been 3 years since I've been home and in that time I've been subjected to a lot of strange faces and random places.
Right now (or when I started writing) I'm sitting in Starbucks writing while my computer is being commandeered by two Russians that were recently robbed in Lapa. I've been coming here a lot to work to an employee asked if could help them out, my services have been paid for in a shit ton of free sugar.
They sell this overpriced Red Velvet cake that looks pretty fake here but whatever its my favorite and I've only had 1 Red Velvet cake in the 3 years that I have been away (not counting the Easter cake that was made for me for with beets to make it red, if we count that then I've had two).
If anyone really knows me they know I love Red Velvet and White Russians... but you know... a different kind of White Russian.
My life is punctuated by random events like this one, but thats cool, I wouldn't have anything to write about if it wasn't.
When your really far from home, sometimes its the small things that make you feel better and the strangest people that save your ass. This blog is a shout out to all of the random people I have stumble across along the way. Its far from complete but I have training so if I left you out...sorry.
Mr. Xere... who was forced to cut his Dreads in pursuit of a job
Digo Xere is hands down the person that I know the least but has helped me the most. Digo is a native born Curitiban who I happened upon one day in a park in Sao Jose do Middle of Friggin' Nowhere. I was writing in my composition book and he arrived shortly afterwards with a joint and slack line. Digo is a skinny dude in his thirties with dirty blonde dreadlocks down to his butt. As I was getting ready to leave the park, curiosity got the best of me and I just had to ask who did his hair. I love and miss my parents dearly... but my hairdresser... god how I miss my Kimisha
Backstory: I moved to Curitiba last august 2015 to train with PRVT. Problem was I wasn't in the city I was living in the middle of nowhere. Then I got hurt so I was stuck in Curitiba for 5 months and couldn't train and didn't know anyone. Oh and I wasn't IN Curitiba. I was in some small random town close to the airport but far from the city... far from everything actually.
Anyway, a week later I was meeting up with Digo at 5:30 A.M so he could accompany on what would be the worst medical fiasco of my life. (I had my hair done by then too). That first morning (of many early trips to different hospitals) it was cold and rainy. I had to climb out of my house because there was no electricity to open the door to the car port. I arrived at the appointed corner all sorts of pissed to find Digo happily smoking another joint (is weed legal in Curitiba? no. no it isn't).
No one from PRVT asked to take me to the hospital. Not then. Not later. Not ever. No one even asked if I was ok. If it wasn't for Digo I would have been wandering around Curitiba blind with my hair in all sorts of disarray. I didn't even get to say a proper goodbye before the team picked up and moved to another city (well first they moved me to a favela so I couldn't really see Digo even when I was still there). I leave so much disappearing has become second nature to me.
A group of Germans that came back to Connection Rio
for a second time (I don't have pictures of the people I'm writing about)Next Up....
While exiled in Curitiba I also met a guy named John Smith. Mr. Smith hit me up via Facebook about the acquisition of some event tickets. I had no idea who he was nor did I really have time to find out between training and then subsequently getting hurt and wallowing in self pity. That did not stop him from sending me money for ADCC tickets a major submission grappling event that took place last year in Sao Paulo and of course I was recompensed for my struggles as getting anywhere in Curitiba without a car requires walking for at least 30 minutes or waiting for a bus for at least an hour!
I met Mr. Smith shortly after the tournament when we both found ourselves in Rio. Turns out he real name is Tavares and he is a big Terere fanboy. We talk often. He's from Alabama, has two young sons that wrestle, and often holds my kids down with money (like for Brazilian Nationals... and the next competition!)
Barbin and JayJay are two of the most interesting strangers that I met here in Rio. Jayjay is a friend of a former Connection Rio guest who was put in contact with me while I was in Curitiba. Before meeting JayJay in Rio I heard a lot about his escapades in Argentina and Uruguay. Jayjay is in the military and apparently uses all his free time to travel. He hit up a couple countries in a small amount of time before making it to Rio and is planning another trip soon.
I met up with Jayjay and Barbin one day at Bibi's sucos. Barbin... I can't remember for the life of me how I know him, but I know him... and it turns out JayJay practically did too. Barbin and Jayjay came to Rio on the same flight, they live in the same state, and that was not the first time that they had been on vacation at the same time in the same country. Instant Bromance was started. They can thank me later.
I don't drink a lot, but when I do, I go to my shitty sushi place and get Caiprinhas for r7! Barbin knows all about that and I plan on finding some shitty food places with good drinks when I make it to New York.
Last but not least there is Ze. Ze is the fake name of one of my favorite, friendly neighborhood lookouts. After several late night mishaps that compromised my living situation in Pavao (the other side of the favela) I saw myself forced to relocate to an area of the community known as the Gaza Strip (well it was known by THEM but not by ME at the time). Ze worked the night shift right outside of my door so he was always there to greet me when I got home from training. He made it to an orange belt in Jiu Jitsu before getting sucked into the life. Money and kids keep him from training. Ze is a straight up dude and we got along well except for nights were he would get bored and listen to music a little too loud a little to late.
A lot of people are scared of drug dealers because they have guns. I'm not. I'm scared of crackheads because they lack logic. Ze kept the crackheads off my door steps and ensured that I could sleep peacefully with no fears of home invasion. The day I was supposed to turn in my key and evacuate the Gaza Strip was one of the worst weeks of my life, I cam pretty close to spending the night sleeping next to him (technically this girl offered to let me sleep on her couch but she was trying to sleep with Ze so she had no intentions of going home before the wee hours of the night so... yeah). At 11:50 at night I was still in the strip with nothing but a fridge, my kimono, and the key that I was supposed to turn into another dealer (and my landlord) before 12 A.M.
Some of my kids on in the favela
I'm not about to tell you this whole story for free. But the gist of it was that in a city full of friends and people I pay for to compete in tournaments, when I needed someone the most, the only person around was a stranger slinging crack on the corner and a 16 year old girl.
There have been a lot of other random people that have come in and out of my life over the past three years. Sometimes its hard to invest time and energy in a person that you know is only around for a couple weeks or a couple of months, but at the same time its nice to be able to have a drink with a cop from the Carolinas (because when you live in the favela you don't hang out with cops), pick up some editing tips from a dude from Canada and I even met someone that delivered a baby with a headlamp... that last one blew my mind.
Ok I suck at goodbyes. and ending blogs.
I'm going to do Yoga at the project.