I’m finding it quite a challenge to walk the line between being a tourist in a new city and being in Rio to work. I am no longer eating all my meals out (although it’s fair to say the majority), paying for everything with large bills and drinking Caipirinhas at every opportunity. But at the same time I can’t help but marvel at the sights of the city and still have a long list of places yet to visit. My days have more structure, with client meetings, personal development sessions and Portuguese lessons three afternoons a week, plus homework! Then there’s the morning workouts and the evening group workshops – I’m finding myself rushing through the metro station, raising my eyes at anyone who’s dawdling and blocking my way, checking my watch and beginning to feel some of the stresses that I thought I’d left behind in London. This has to stop and I need to learn from the locals on how to take a more relaxed approach to life – especially when it comes to timekeeping – although anyone who knows me will confirm that this is not going to be easy! Read more
In life we can often feel as though we’re trapped in a revolving door. Where you could once keep moving, something happens and you’re stuck, unable to go either forward or back, trapped. Ever experienced this? If not, and you’re wondering how it feels, then let me enlighten you. I’m not talking metaphorically here, I’m speaking literally. Yes, trapped in a revolving door, of a bank, with alarm bells rings and security guards shouting at you in Portuguese, not able to understand a word, and unable to move forward or back. It’s actually quite scary, in fact very scary, but once freed from my glass prison and escorted from the premises, it caused much hilarity among my team mates. Seems that I had tried to enter via the wrong door, unable to read the signs, and that had triggered the major alert.
After ten days or so of being a tourist, it’s time to work. I have come to Rio to volunteer as a Social Impact Consultant with _SocialStarters, a startup company set up to match volunteer career breakers like myself with talented social entrepreneurs in India, Sri Lanka, Brazil and the Philippines: six weeks working alongside creative and cultural youth and community projects, providing business mentoring and transferring business skills, while also enjoying the fun and cultural experience of being in a new city. Perfect – travel with a purpose!
I’m not very good at travelling light. Normally it’s the shoe dilemma that stumps me. But when I found myself packing Havaianas to take with me to Brazil, it was time to have a word!
In my defence this is a longer trip that usual. Two months that will start with a week or so of pure vacation and then onto six weeks of volunteering to mentor young entrepreneurs who are starting up social enterprises ahead of the 2016 Olympic games. I’ve never done anything like this before and I am both excited and nervous in equal measures.
Don’t rush through your 50s. Take your time, enjoy. They’ll be over soon enough.
Words of advice from my Uncle Ronnie on my 50th birthday. I wish I’d acted on them sooner. But here I am, on the wrong side of 55, and a testament to the perils of working alone from my kitchen table for far too long. Sitting for much of the past three years has meant that my behind has now spread to fit the shape of my dining room chair, my waist has expanded to the point where my Pilates teacher has something substantial to hang onto as she corrects my postures, and my shoulders are permanently tensed up around my ears. It’s time for a change. Time to shake things up. Time to get moving.
Notice period complete, I am excited to start this new phase of my life. Why Rio, you may ask? Quite honestly, when I think of Rio I think of fun – samba, smiling faces, carnival – and I feel as though I am ready for some of that. Add to that the challenges of volunteering and travelling with a purpose and it feels like a pretty great way for a solo traveller to become immersed in a whole new culture and way of life.
I’ll let you know how it all turns out – warts and all. I’ll be sharing my experiences, tips, tricks and anecdotes along the way. If my camera doesn’t get stolen in the first week (yes, I’ve been warned by many people about staying safe and avoiding being mugged) I will also be sharing photos of my travels.
I’d love to read your comments and thoughts on my posts and any tips that you may have on getting the best out of Brazil. For now, it’s back to my packing. I think I can probably remove that sixth pair of jeans. After all, I’m pretty sure they have shops in Rio.