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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
today?” said a Portuguese voice, a policeman.
“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.”
“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
“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
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