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Of all the airports I have visited during this trip, none was as chaotic and unorganized as the one in Geneva. The staff was fucking rude, on top of being completely useless, and I had a very hard time staying polite and understanding. I had arrived three hours before my flight, and yet, here I was with only twenty five minutes left -still with my luggage in hand. Literally everything that could have gone wrong had gone wrong. The machine that scan your luggage? Didn’t work. The line they told me to go to so I could talk to someone? Not the right one. The printer to print my luggage tag, when I finally spoke to someone? Out of ink. My carry-on even got stopped for a full check-up at the security. I was livid, when I texted Rali that I was probably not going to make my flight to Brazil, but she once again made me laugh by texting that it felt like life was telling me to stay in Switzerland. I took a deep breath. There is this constant fight within me, between being rational and just purely emotional -and although I would love to succumb to the idea of life being some fairy godmother trying to reunite me with my soulmate, I know that this isn’t the case. Christian might looks like Westley from The Princess Bride, but this is not a romantic movie. I do not fall in love with a stranger in one night, and I surely don’t revisit my whole plans for him based on airport staff’s incompetences. So, sorry life, but it’s not ‘as you wish’. And for all it’s worth, you could have bring back that prince at the train station, before I made my mind to continue my journey without looking back. I shook my head, to get out of these irrational thoughts. Logic has won the battle but I know I will feel bitterness and sadness in the coming days. After all, whatever we say and however detached and self-sufficient we believe we are -we are all looking for love.

I arrived in Rio early morning, after a red-eye flight that I passed between sleeping against the window wall and whimpering while watching ‘The Princess Bride’. I took a taxi and checked-in my hotel, a pretty decent building, five minutes away from Copacabana beach. It was raining outside and the thick grey clouds didn’t let any sunshine in, at all. Still, I decided to walk the boardwalk and relaxed on the beach, for the day. Bad weather was forcing me to take it easy, and I did it willingly, knowing that the week would be very eventful. I went back to the hotel, with the sun going down. This was my 5th month anniversary of travelling the world and I was not sure how I felt about it, still. I was very proud of myself, for making it to here, but a part of me felt like it went by way too fast. I remembered loving my life back home but I did love this one very much, now. I wondered for a while how I would feel going back, but then decided to focus on the present moment and live this last month to it’s fullest. I reserved myself an extreme activity for later in the week and felt asleep, longing for an extraordinary last month.

I woke-up and went for brunch, in a restaurant in Ipanema. This would become my morning walk, for the upcoming days. From Copacabana to Leblon - an hour and a half, one way. The sun was shining now and the temperature had already reached 28 degrees. This day was promising to be very hot and humid, but I was still excited because I was meeting a local in the Santa Teresa neighbourhood, for a photoshoot. I took an uber motorcycle to get there. I missed using that transport mode, I will be honest. This was one of the thing I really loved about Asia. I felt free, sitting at the back of it -the wind in my hair, the sun heating my skin. The ride lasted about 30 minutes, before I got dropped downtown Rio. My photographer, Mariana, arrived about ten minutes later. We both knew that we did not spoke each-others language, but we still agreed to meet and try our best to communicate. After five minutes together, we knew we would have no problem doing so. Language isn’t a barrier when you speak from the soul -or using google translate. We passed the day walking around Santa-Teresa, talking, laughing and taking pictures. Mariana had such a positive energy, I felt like we had been friends since forever. But, after hours together, it was time to part ways. I took a moto back to the beach, the sun already setting behind me. I went to bed early, putting everything on my side to be fully ready for my hike the next day.

I woke up and got picked up by a very friendly man that drove me to the entrance of Tijuca national park. My guide told me that hiking to the summit of Pedra da Gavea would take about 3 hours and would be a true pain in the ass. He wasn’t exaggerating. This hike was well-known as the hardest one in Rio, but the most rewarding one too. We started hiking around 9AM, in the shadows of a dense jungle. The path was sinuous and uneven, but nothing that I hadn’t experienced on previous hikes. After about twenty-five minutes, we reached a part where we needed to climb huge boulders, using only our hands and feet. We were all already out of breath, but this part actually gave me some power back. I absolutely loved climbing and using the lianas to pull myself up. Another twenty-ish minutes later and we arrived at a wall, with a chain hooked to it. We had to use it to walk up. This was an intro to what was coming, but nothing to be afraid of, so far, either. The vegetation was becoming a bit sparse, the heating sun now adding to our struggle. Another hour hiking up and we finally arrived to the real climbing wall. We had to be hooked to harnesses and ropes and pull ourselves up using it. The cliff was almost 90 degrees and it was plunging straight to the ground, about 2500 meters below. I was hooked and sent first, and let me tell you that I still have nightmares thinking about the whole thing. It was absolutely terrifying. And hard to do. I had never, in my life, climb anything with a rope. Let’s call it learning the hard way. After about 7 minutes trying not to die while pulling myself up, I finally reached the top of the cliff. The worst was behind me -so I thought.  We hiked about fifteen minutes more and we ultimately arrived to the summit. We were already out of breath but the view didn’t help to get it back. It was absolutely stunning. We were so high up, it felt like the view from an airplane. We could see all the beaches, the mountains, the ocean and islands. Even some people gliding in the wind below. We sat close to the ridge, forgetting instantly what we had to endure to reach that sighting. There is something about being on top of a mountain that always touched my soul like nothing else could. It just puts everything in perspective. I am so small, in the grand scheme of the universe. Yet, by managing to climb up this grandiose pinnacle -I am capable of anything I set my mind to. Nothing can stop me. I am free. “Can you take a picture of me?” There was about fifteen people at the top, from all over the world, but it felt like we were just old friends sharing the same experience. We stayed about two hours, admiring the view and taking pictures of each-others, learning about everyone and bounding over the same fear of standing near the edge. It was an exhilarating feeling, the one of defying our rational thoughts and feel a real, a visceral danger. It, too, put things in perspective. We are often so caught up in make-believe fears that we forget this feeling was once dedicated for real life-threatening situations. There is no point to feel like that if you life isn’t in danger. I promised myself to remember this feeling, the next time I would be in panic before a tech talk. It was now time to go back down and it would be an understatement to say how not ready I was for this. My shoes were now dirty and had absolutely no grip whatsoever, and I had no force left in me. My legs and arms were literally shaking. We stopped on the cliff, got our harnesses hooked back and I was honestly ready to die. There was no way I was going to be able to pull myself down without losing grip on the rope and plunging to my death. Eduardo (my guide) saw it in my eyes and decided to hooked me up with one random hiker that was also going down the wall. I didn’t knew the guy. I didn’t knew if he would be able to pull both of us down this wall. I was terrified, but I had no other choices. If you want to work on your trust issues, I recommend this hike without hesitation. That saviour of a man got us to the bottom of the cliff without any problem and we hiked down the full mountain with me sliding (but not falling) about three times on the way down. We said our goodbyes, I hopped back in the car and was dropped at my hotel about an hour later. That night, I had nightmares about all the ways this expedition could have gone horribly wrong. I am so glad it didn’t.

I wokeup, absolutely not rested and somewhat even more stressed than the day before, because I knew what was about to come. I was going back up on a mountain, today, to get launched out of it -only attached to a hang glider. I already did skydiving, back in Canada, but it was a while back and I had a fucking parachute attached to me. The hang gliding thing was a bit more scarier -also thanks to a viral video of a tourist that wasn’t properly hooked to it and had to literally hang by one hand, over the Swiss alps. A guy picked me up and drove me to the top of the mountain, where I met an older couple that was also about to jump. The lady kept saying she was not scared but when she saw someone run and jump out of the platform, I could see the colour of her face slowly turn to white. I have no shame to admit: I was fucking terrified. I was still gonna do it, but not before asking seven times the guy flying with me to verify that I was hooked for real. “If I am not attached, I will die. There is now force left in me. I will not even hold one second, do you understand?” He kept laughing and making jokes about catching me back, mid-air. It was now my turn. I got hooked and saw them verify my harness several times. I promised to thank Jesus the next day, when we would meet. I was now standing on the platform, with two guys screaming at me: Run, Run, RUN. So I ran. And before knowing it, I was flying above Rio, feeling more free than I ever felt before. It was like all the adrenaline I had bottled up in the past two days just vanished with my first scream. We flew over the bay for about seven minutes, sporadically yelling out of euphoria, before landing gracefully on the beach. This was even better than skydiving. I walked back to my hotel, a smile on my face, feeling light and happy.

Woke-up to another day of sunshine, the sound of the city coming alive reaching my windows. I was indubitably in love with Rio. It was musical, colourful -people were beautiful and welcoming. I was excited for another day of exploration. I got picked up at my hotel by a mini-van, direction: finding Jesus Christ. The rock one, i mean. Got there in the morning and it was already overly crowded. The view was also nothing to compare with the one from Pedra da Gavea. Nevertheless to say that I wasn’t impressed by the son of god. I am not a believer, but I still thanked him for being alive after these past two days. We then went to a few other sites, before I settled in a restaurant on Pao de Acucar. The view from this mountain was absolutely stunning and I decided to stay for the sunset, instead of going back to the hotel with the tour. I ordered a drink and a small plate of food and was waiting for it when I saw two man looking for a table. Most of the good tables were already taken and I had a very nice one, with a great view and some sunshine, so I offered them to join. They accepted, very happy to be able to enjoy a good spot. They were both from Chile, one was a lawyer and the other worked in mechanics. They were childhood friends and were in Brazil on holidays. They were older than me, but I felt very safe and happy to meet them. While we were all becoming acquainted, I was thinking that this trip truly thought me to not be so afraid of everything and everyone. Age and sex doesn’t matter -vibe does. These guys were super chill and the more I talked with them the more I felt comfortable. There wasn’t an once of malice coming from any of them. They were just nice people on holidays, happy to meet a fellow traveller. We had dinner and they ended up paying for me, as a thank you for me letting them sit at my table. We ended up walking a bit around the top of the mountain, before we part ways. We exchanged socials and they told me to contact them if ever I was in Chile or if I had any problems in South America. And that was it. A lovely encounter, without any unspoken intend behind it. It is meeting strangers like them, that gives me faith that there is more good than bad, in this world. Not everyone is after you. In fact, most people are there to help and to connect. I watched the sunset, took the cable car down and a moto back to my hotel. I felt asleep quite easily, feeling grateful to be in such a beautiful city.

My last day in Rio was passed walking around town, eating as much food as humanly possible and roasting my white ass at the beach. The latter wasn’t a success -I ended up half-white, half-red as a fucking lobster. It still hurt as I am writing these words, days later. I enjoyed the day, anyway -even the hour-long walk under the rain, after getting caught in a storm, on the other side of town. I felt asleep after a hot shower, hoping my time in the next Brazilian city would be as amazing as in Rio.


After four hours driving through the luscious mountains, I finally arrived in the small town of Paraty. It felt very quiet, at first, like it was filled with the silence left after a massive storm. My host greeted me with the news that I had arrived during their most popular event: The Bourbon jazz and blues festival. The silent morning was just a pause in the festivities -the weekend was promising to be nothing but filled with dance and music. I passed my afternoon walking in the old town, where festival goers were quickly gathering around the four different stages. The streets were made of uneven rocks and I remembered wandering if it was a good place to assemble drunk people -I had a hard time walking and I hadn’t even had one glass yet. It was a very charming town, though, and the music we could hear from every small alleyways and coffee shops made it even more whimsical. After a few hours, I decided to stay for the night shows and immerse myself fully in the festival. My first step? Find some people to tag along with. I found one of the most crowded stage and slowly walked to the front, analyzing the crowd to find with whom I wanted to pass the evening with. I found a group that I thought looked pretty fun and just stopped behind them, to analyze more. They were four guys and one girl, and it made me think about the dynamic I have back home, with my four best friends. I smiled, thinking of that, and the girl saw me and introduced herself. She was only speaking Portuguese -so were most of them, but one. Augusto was speaking English well and he took over the conversation. I remember thinking they all looked like fucking models -they were so beautiful. But there was something more about them, like a peacefulness -or some wisdom. They learned I was alone on this trip and decided to take me in their group, for the night. I learned about all of them, through Augusto, and particularly bounded with him and Felipe. I passed the night chilling, dancing, laughing and talking with them. I left them, after dinner, to go back to change because the temperature was starting to drop. I ended up falling asleep and never made it back.

The next morning, I woke up to a text from Augusto. They also had felt asleep and didn’t make it back to the fest. I laughed. I asked if they had already left town (they were suppose to go back to their cities, to work) and he told me that they decided to stay one more night. We made plan to catchup later during the day. I walked back to the old town, drank a beer in front of a blues show and had some Thai-Brazilian fusion meal for lunch. I found back Augusto and Felipe at the end of the afternoon. Rani, the girl, had already left town. I passed the most part of the night dancing and chilling with them, until I got hungry and went for a Pizza nearby. I had a very nice and positive vibe from them, but I decided to go watch a bit of the show on the second big stage -to make sure Augusto could enjoy his festival without having to speak english and feel like he had to entertain me. Like the night before, I was walking home to change for something more warm when I got a text from him. They wanted me to come back with them -apparently the show was super nice on the first stage. I went back home, change, and once again felt asleep before I could go back. I guess the exhaustion of travelling for 5 months in a row was starting to take a toll on me. That or the sunburn on my whole back.

I woke up to text from Augusto who was wondering where I was and if I wanted to take the car with them to go to their city, nearby. I explained that I felt asleep and that I already had plan to go on a boat today -which my host had reserved for me. I couldn’t really cancel last minute. I had breakfast, started to walk towards the port to get in by boat and heard someone honk at me in the street. I continued my walk, without turning -a pure defence mechanism. Honking noises again. I turned and saw Augusto and Felipe in a yellow truck. “We wanted to say bye before leaving”. Felipe gave me a seashell and they both send kisses my way. We talked a few minutes before parting ways. I walked to my boat with a smile on my face, playing with the little seashell with my hands. It is one of the first time in my life that I connected so much with people, without speaking their language. I could talk with Augusto, but Felipe and I were communicating through body language, smile and dances. It was amazing to feel linked to both, equally, and to reconfirm that you could truly like and understand someone, regardless of the language barrier. I arrived at the end of the dock and hopped on my boat. It was a massive pirate-like ship with a full kitchen onboard. I sat on one of the bed-like cushion and a few minutes later we were on our way. We sailed for about 5 hours in total, making a few stops to take pictures, walk on remote beaches and swim in the crystal clear sea. I also had a photoshoot and met a lovely couple from Brazil, that were on holidays in Paraty. I was back in town for dinner, which I had in a lovely restaurant by the port. I went back to my pousada (local home) right after, had a shower and felt asleep, texting with Felipe and Augusto.

The next morning, I took the rainy day to explore some of the coffee shops and restaurants downtown. I wrote for my blog and just chilled, watching some local concerts in the small places I went to. The day went by very quickly and before I knew it, I was sitting in the street, under the starry night, eating gelato and watching a street performance. I went back to the pousada quite late, feeling like I would miss this town very much.


The drive from Paraty to the airport was about 4 hours. It went by quickly, because it was early in the morning and I was half asleep, sitting behind in the car. I had time to skype my friends at the airport and seeing their face emphasis even more how much I missed them. I took my first flight that landed in Sao Paulo about two hours later, following by a sprint to my next gate. I managed to make it to my second flight only one minute before the gates closed. I passed the four hours flight drawing and listening to my music, excited to land in this new destination. When I finally arrived to my hotel, it was around 8PM. I had a quick dinner and went straight to bed.

The next morning, I was picked up in the lobby by my tour guide. It wasn’t supposed to be a private tour -but it was low season and you could still see the effect of post-Covid on tourism, here. My guide was an incredibly well-versed and knowledgable man that initiate political conversation with me straight away. We discussed his view on the former and current political party and the reason why he thought the latter had win because a rigged election. Our first stop was the Itaipu dam, the third largest hydroelectrical dam in the world. We had a panoramic bus tour of it and I was amazed to see such a grandiose (yet controversial) man-made structure. Our second stop was Igazu Falls, on the Brazilian side. We walked for about two hours to see all the different points of view and take the time to settle and admire this incredible force of nature. There had been so much rain in the previous days that the level of the water was three times higher than usually. The waterfalls were only more magnificent because of this. After the falls, we headed up to a bird reserve, in the national park. There, I was able to see several species of birds -some being re-educated, some born there to help save their species on the verge of extinction. You could feel that the birds were very well treated and that this family-owned refuge had really at heart their animals. I was very satisfied with my day, when my guide started another conversation in the car, on the way back. I got quite shocked hearing him say that he didn’t believe in climate change. Previous Steph would have instantly discredited every words that man had said before, during the day. I would have put his entire self on the “stupid” shelf. But, after taking a deep breath, I remembered that everyone had different education, believes and political views -and I just tried my best to explain why climate change IS a thing. I gave concrete example about what I had saw around the world, and we debated a bit on it. I don’t think I had changed his mind on the subject -it is not a one conversation thing, but he was receptive to hearing everything I had to say, so we’ll call this a win. I left him with a bit of stress for the future but still happy of the exchange we had during the day. I ate at the hotel restaurant, with the sound of an awful singer/guitarist playing in the background. I had to call it a night and leave when he started to massacre Shallow.

The next morning, I was picked up by another tour guide, but to go on the Argentinian side of Igazu Falls, this time. We picked up several other tourists and drove across the boarder to the park. There, we hiked around for about an hour after which I had to separate from the group to go do my boat activity. I had two empanadas quickly before -it was yummy as fuck. The boat ride was very nice and we got impressively close to the waterfalls. I am not a piece of clothing, but I am pretty sure it feels the same to be going in the laundry machine. We ended up completely wet but all very happy about the experience. I took a small train inside the park to reach my final sighting: the devil’s throat. It was the highest of the waterfalls of the park -and the most grandiose one to see. I stayed there for about twenty minutes, breathing the wind created by the power of the water going down. A driver picked me up at the entrance, we drove back to Brazil and I ate, shower and felt asleep quickly.

I woke-up with a headache, so I was already borderline about cancelling the tour I had to visit Paraguay. The final straw happened when I tried to pay for an extra luggage for my next flight and my card got declined. I went to the bank app and realized that someone had try to buy a 5 thousand dollar plane ticket with it, the day before. I had to wait that the card company open and called them to sort that out. Fun fact: it’s almost impossible to call an international number if you have a Brazilian sim-card. There is a shit ton of “provider number” and “out number” you need to find online and put before the international number in order for it to “work” and I say it with commas, because it actually never did. In the end, I had to ask the lobby to call for me. Fortunately, the credit card company was very quick and accommodating and the issue was resolve within the next thirty minutes. By that time, though, I had to cancel the trip to Paraguay. And my headache was gone, so I guess you lose some you win some. I decided to pass my morning drawing and writing in the coffee shop downstairs, before taking a taxi to my next stay. I was moving in an airbnb closer to downtown and was looking forward to explore the city. I was so disappointed, when I realized that downtown was actually a ghost town. There was absolutely nothing to do or see there. And I walked it all. Nothing. I went back to my airbnb, wrote and draw a bit more and watched a romantic comedy and very shitty movie about falling in love while travelling abroad. It made me cry but not really for the romantic part. It made me cry because the setting was in Vietnam and seeing all the places I visited nearly 5 months ago now, just threw me back to that chaotic yet incredible chapter. It is where I started to be honest, in this blog, after all. It was my lowest point of the trip but one I will forever remember as a key moment. It also reminded me that the end of this adventure was near -and that a part of me didn’t want to acknowledge it just yet. I had live so many beautiful experiences, saw incredible landscapes, met fascinating people that made me evolved as a person.. and most of all, I had learn so much about myself and how I see and experience the world... I think I am afraid to go back home and loose that feeling. Tomorrow is my last night in Brazil and I couldn’t be thankful enough for the amazing time I had here. I don’t know if it is because of the country itself, but it is getting harder and harder to leave. I am taking a plane in the morning, two days from now, for one of the most epic adventure I will have had in this trip- yet a part of me is reluctant to go because I know deep down it is the final destination of this one of a lifetime escapade.

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