The first time you visit a place, the spirit of adventure manifests itself in every encounter. Each new person you meet, each new taste and smell, each new sight and sound leaves an indelible impression that can be positive or negative and which always informs your relationship to the place. It’s that sense of wonder that ensnares you, the newness of everything, the exhilaration of expanding horizons and deepening understanding.
My first time in São Paulo, five years ago, was full of that wonder. I’d never been in a city as imposing, as energetic, as “real.” There was action everywhere, various planes of movement by various objects: people, airplanes, cars, helicopters, trains. Even the architecture seemed to move – the serpentine Copan Building waving like a flag, endless rows of skyscrapers sprouting with every turn like out of a pop-up book. Add to the mix hours-long conversations with new friends, nightlife that ends at 11am, and the sound of a strange, sexy language entering my ears and, increasingly, coming out of my mouth.
At times, I feel like I’m losing that awe, that constant stimulation that I’d become accustomed to as a traveler. That I’m becoming jaded. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m working my first non-education-related job since leaving grad school (Lawd, how I’m missing those Summer, Christmas, and Spring breaks, and leaving work by 4pm!). It’s easy to succumb to wanderlust – eyeing fares to Paris and San Fran, making mental note that I still haven’t been to Barcelona or Cape Town – forever looking, yearningly, out of my existential windowsill. Yearning to have more moments of wonder and discovery. To experience that high, just one thousand more times.
The challenge now is to see my current environment with new eyes. The challenge now is finding wonder where I am.
Can you find it where you are?