Over the years, I have been so fortunate to meet so many amazing people on my travels. This has been the greatest gift of travel for me, and I think about my times with these wonderful people all the time. From time to time, I’d like to share some of these tales with you.
It was December of 2012. I was in Florianopolis in the south of Brazil. We were on the deck of a beach house at Santinho. The moon and the stars were out and it was a bright night–so bright we could see the whitecaps of the waves breaking on the beach. I had a drum between my legs, and recalling my high school concert band experience and my mother’s tutelage from when I was a child (she went to Jiulliard back in the day), I was focused on getting the rhythm right. My beautiful friends’ father looked at me and said in Portuguese, which his daughters translated for me: “No, with more feeling!” In a moment that was straight out of a cheesy movie a shooting star swept across the southern skies and soon we were saying our good-byes, and I had more than a little bit of moisture in my eyes.
The story began on a night I ventured out alone to the Confeitaria in Floripa, one of the most famous, classic nightclubs in Brazil. I had been waiting about 30 minutes and the line stretched out around the block behind me. Two beautiful young women sidled up next to me and said something in Portuguese. I replied back sheepishly, “Desculpa, no fala Portugues.” The elder, blonder sister (as I found out later they were sisters) smiled and said to me in English, “We are here. Okay?” And that was the start of a beautiful friendship.
The next day, the sisters invited me to Santinho beach with them. After nursing my hangover, I went to meet them and to my horror, found myself being introduced to their uncle, aunt, mother and father. I thought to myself even though I had done nothing to warrant his wrath, what must the father be thinking about this foreigner his daughters befriended the night before?! Imagine my horror an hour later when they asked if I like churrasco and I replied in the affirmative, thinking we were going to a restaurant, when I realized they were taking me to their house where they were going to skewer and grill the meat themselves on swords, gaucho style. The father made it a point to show me exactly how to skewer the steaks, so that I could do it when I got back home. All I could see at the time was him making a point to me in a demonstrative way.
I was completely wrong in my fears, by the way. More than a few beers later and world’s best barbecue done (open pit, meat-on-a-sword BBQ beats anything I’ve ever had in that genre), we were all playing music together into the temperate Southern Brazilian night. I will tell my full story about the magical island of Florianopolis one day, but suffice it to say, the most important part of it all was the love and the spirit of the family I met and how much I miss them to this day. They know who they are, and I think a lot about the time I will get to see them next. Perhaps when I go back to Floripa, but I hope that one day soon they will come to visit New York as well.
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