I always find it hard to move on from a country where I’ve been teaching English. While I taught English around the world I built up a real connection with all the places I lived in. Of course there were a few things that normally did my head, but most of the memories I have of living abroad were happy ones. Here’s the next excerpt from my book about when I had to leave Brazil. I can’t believe that was almost ten years ago.
|Miss this place, Salvador, Bahia.
Photo by lapidim
Despite falling in love with Salvador and teaching, I had to move on. My visa was due to start in Australia and a new adventure waited. I had mixed emotions about leaving.
What made it easy? When the rain season arrived, Salvador was gloomier, as were the Bahians; they hate the rain just as much as we do.
Classes at P.E.C were too tense. Daisy was on the war path.
I was down to three hundred pounds. I’d enjoyed living a simple life, but my money was still vanishing. I hadn’t helped by making a huge cock up. I needed to get to L.A to depart for Sydney, but there was a special offer flight to Miami. I read that a Greyhound bus from Miami to L.A took eleven hours (Yes, I know I’m a plank). So I booked the flight with enough time to see some of Miami and L.A. How long does the bus from Miami to L.A? Three days and eleven hours = Muppet.
What made it difficult? My Portuguese was finally improving. On one of my last evenings in Pelo, I was sitting on the cathedral steps, remembering the fun I’d had, when a lout sat next to me.
“Hola, tudo Bem?” he said.
“Sim, Tudo Bem.”
“Chocolate?” He grinned.
“Chocolate? What, for eating or drinking?” I asked him in Portuguese. He laughed. The conversation continued in Portuguese.
“No, you know, for smoking,” he said, holding a bag of brown hash by his side.
“But how do you smoke chocolate, won’t it melt?”
“Your Portuguese is good, you sure you don’t want some?”
“I don’t smoke, but thanks anyway,” I said.
“Okay, man. Take it easy.” We shook hands. Three months before, I probably would have got angry and walked off.
I’d miss the music. Carnival style nights in Pelo were amazing, even after all my travels those nights were still the best. I was even lucky enough to see Olodum in Pelo, one of Brazil’s most famous samba reggae bands.
Mostly I’d miss teaching Brazilians. I haven’t met such fun, polite, and enthusiastic students since.
Charles and Marcus were fine about me leaving. I think the Witch was glad to see me go. When I told the female class, Daisy caused a stir.
“What? But why?” she said, getting angry. She was about to blow.
“I know, I’m sorry, it’s been fun though,” I said. She stormed out.
Saying goodbye to Anderson and Junior was emotional.
“Man, when I’m in London we can meet up, you need to stay in contact, mate,” Anderson said as we hugged on the cathedral steps.
“Yeah no worries, keep practising those expressions, you never know when a fit English bird might pop through Pelo.”
“Yeah I will, keep safe,” he said. We shook hands and they disappeared through the crowds in Praca da Se. They were good honest lads and had showed me the highs of Salvador.
On my last day I was sad. Two lizards watched me pack my rucksack and clean the cell. When I left, a small pile of ants waited outside, as if waving me off. I’d told Murphy the time I was leaving, but he wasn’t there.
“See you in the World Cup one day,” I said to Fabrizio as he crashed about with his matchbox cars. The King was asleep on the couch, and Buck Teeth and Small Head were playing cards. I gave Big Breasts a hug (yes, they were firm) and thanked Frizzy for everything.
As I paced up the road, I bumped into Teddy Bear.
“Good luck man, take it easy with the landlady,” I said, winking.
“What? How did you know?” he said, laughing. I waved goodbye to the ladies working in the supermarket and the Prince and Princess came out of an internet cafe in Pelo to say goodbye.
While I strolled through the plaza that I’d been frightened of, taxi drivers didn’t give me hassle when I declined their lifts, homeless lads who had asked me for money nodded their heads knowing I was leaving town.
“Not running today?” said a Portuguese voice, a policeman.
“No, not today.”
“Good journey,” he said. I’d never noticed him before.
As I reached Praca da Se, I stopped for a second to watch a group of lads practising Capoeria and I saw my oldest Bahian friend.
“Hey King Barry, I thought I was going to miss you,” said Murphy, sweating and panting.
“Give me your bag, I’ll help you. I can’t believe King Barry is leaving. This is a sad moment for me. You will go now to hit some Australian women, you are a lucky English man.”
“Not really,” I said.
“Yes you are! I want to get out of this shit-hole; when you are in London, you can be my sponsor okay? Get me a job and things.”
“Yeah sure Murphy, if you ever come over.”
He walked me to the bus stop.
“Don’t forget about London man, tell me when you’re there and I’ll come over,” he said as I got on the airport bus.
“Sure mate, thanks for everything; you’re a diamond geezer.”
“A diamond geezer, a good man.”
“Okay you too, diamond geezer,” he said, laughing as he shook my hand for the final time. “Good luck King Barry! Hit those women!”
“I’ll try.” The driver ushered me on.
As I waved goodbye to the tall lanky man who’d helped me, I felt a lump in my throat. Murphy was a kind person with a good heart and if he was ever in London, I’d repay the favour. I glanced at him one last time, was that a tear in his eye? Nah it can’t be, I thought, but it was.
As the bus travelled along the coast, I thought back to the hard moments. Brazil had taught me to be tougher, more street savvy, and less naive.
I checked in and browsed round the duty free section. A soundless video of the Carnival played. I put on the headphones.
“Zoom Zoom Zoom Zoom, Zoombaabaa Zoombaabaa.” I smiled.
The chapter in Latin America was over and a new one was about to commence. That was the beauty of being a travelling TEFL teacher.