To the exchange students who went on the South of Brazil trip, March 2016:
This morning I cried and cried and cried. Last night it was tears of happiness when we were dancing and singing together and this morning it was tears of sadness when we were hugging goodbye.
These past twelve days have been the best days of my life. We did so many things that people all over the world never have a chance to do. We went to one of the seven natural wonders of the world, we rode a boat into said wonder of the world and got drenched by the catarata, we drove in a bus for days and days to different cities, we freaked out together over the European-ness of Gramado, we all became Mexican when we joined the huddle during the mariachi serenade at a restaurant, we had nightly shows on Bus 1, we sang happy birthday over and over again when it wasn’t anyone’s birthday and then again when it was. We listened to more than enough Mexican music on the bus and had rap battles and had wars over who’s speakers were the loudest often enduring listening to two different songs at the same time in two different languages. We learned songs in Taiwanese and Spanish and Portuguese and English and French and German. We went to amusement parks and churches and botanic gardens and the beach and ran through the rain to buy acaí. We went to Argentina and Paraguay and are now very familiar with shopping malls all over the south of Brazil. We pushed each other into swimming pools and played Uno and 99 and Mafia and went to a chocolate factory. We ate cake for breakfast and learned cusswords in a dozen different languages and bought keychains and postcards. We made everyone in every hotel and restaurant that we visited hate us from being too loud. We laughed so hard that we were doubled over with tears streaming down our faces. We took thousands of photos and gossiped together. We danced to Italian opera music and ragged on our host families and went to a bird park. We went to a wine and cheese tasting store and didn’t taste any wine. We listened to Brazilian pop and funk music together and all screamed the lyrics and danced. We signed flags and signed journals and exchanged business cards and exchanged pins. We went to Foz do Iguaçu, Paraguay, Argentina, Lajeado, Porto Alegre, Gramado, Canela, Florianópolis, and Curitiba.
And even though we did so many amazing things and went to so many amazing places, it is the people I traveled with that I will remember for the rest of my life. I have never felt so happy than I felt on this trip, and it is all because of the friends I made. Last night my face hurt from smiling, but I couldn’t stop. Words cannot express how much I love you guys and how much I will miss you. I already miss you.
Before coming on exchange, they tell us we will make great friends, but I didn’t comprehend just how solid those bonds would be until now. And the hard part about these trips is that you never know if you will ever see any of these people that you just gave a part of your heart to ever again. Now I have seventy-four pieces of my heart spread around Canada, Switzerland, Russia, Australia, the United States, France, Mexico, Taiwan, England, Germany, Japan, Belgium, Poland, Hungary, and Denmark, India, and, of course, Brazil, because that is where I met you.
My heart might be spread out all over the world, but I have no choice but to think that I will see you again or my heart will completely shatter. (So expect hosting requests in the future so I can avoid hotel costs, haha. I’m already planning my trip to Europe.)
Até mais, gente. Te amo.
“It’s been a long day
Without you my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it
When I see you again.” – Wiz Khalifa
9 comments / Add your comment below
I miss you already ! That a really really beautiful text! You are amazing, change nothing Claire ????
I remember Iguazu. Not 19th century kitsch like Niagara, but raw power in a believable setting with borbonetas (mariposas), families o coatis, toucons, eagles, great dusky swifts nesting behind the falling waters, flocks of egrets soaring to nighttime rests over the falls. And there with the Argenine, Guille Salas, who had stayed one very memorable year, on the AFS program in Illinois, and with Edison Santos Santana from Santos,, Brazil and his future wife, Selene, who had come down from Santos, another AFS student from Illinois. Glorious scenery, Glorious friends.
And AFS friendships do indeed last,
Wilson and Jennifer
Aww. I don’t what else to say, except: “Awwww!” Love you. Love this post.
You made me tear up with your beautiful report of such a life changing experience. So happy for you.
What a beautiful message to your friends, Claire. Reading about your strong bonds gives me hope for the world during these crazy times…
This was beautiful and I cried
Claire,so happy for you. Thanks for shari g the memories. Love you!
How amazing, to have one of those “mountaintop” experiences in your life and to know it as it happens. Thanks for sharing this with us!
Such a beautiful way to share your story and your love