Dumb Mistakes, Selective Perception and Being with What Is

I generally try to base my posts on either clinical or personal experiences rather than on theory; they are easier and more satisfying to write and, ideally, resonate more with my readers. Thus, this week’s post (written on Monday June 20 in Porto de Galinhas, Brazil) is prompted by the decidedly mixed experiences I’ve had since I arrived.

1.) Don’t Beat Yourself Up For Your Mistakes, Learn From Them

Arriving at Recife airport mid-Friday afternoon, I went to the taxi counter to purchase a voucher for the ride into Olinda, a beautifully restored 17th century UNESCO World Heritage site. I was looking forward to sightseeing, and getting to hang out with the locals and practice my Portuguese (I’d arranged to meet and hang out with a couple of friends of an American friend of mine). While waiting for my luggage I checked my emails for the exact address, only to discover that I had scheduled myself to go to Olinda 4 days later in my itinerary. Turns out that when I booked this trip last fall I felt that starting it at the beach would be the smartest thing to do, so I reserved a pousada (similar to a B & B) in Porto de Galinhas, in the exact opposite direction from Olinda, for the start of the trip. My first reaction was to go to “How could you have been such an idiot?”. Quickly realizing that would get me nowhere, I went back to the taxi stand and explained my mistake. The agent was very kind, refunded the $40 I had paid and informed me that the taxi ride to Porto would cost $100. Once again, the “How stupid…..” narrative kicked in. I was able to recognize the uselessness of that almost right away, and switched to a more productive mode: “What should I do now, stupid?”

2.) Look At The Palm Trees, Not The Potholes

Upon arrival in Porto de Galinhas a fine rain had begun to fall, and it turned out that my pousada was several blocks away down a couple of dirt roads (which were quickly turning to mud in the rain). Fortunately, the guy whom i asked directions offered me a ride, and I checked in and unpacked. I had a bunch of emails I wanted to send, but the internet could only be accessed from the lobby, só I went downstairs with my iPad and was instantly set upon by swarms of mosquitos, who had been breeding copiously in the many rain-filled potholes that were omnipresent (it had been raining for several days, and the forecast was for it to continue). I focused my awareness on the frustration that I felt (I’m getting better and better at this) and decided it would be smarter to go back up to my room and chill by reading. I did that for an hour, felt much better, and hungry, so I ventured into town for What turned out to be a great meal, and I spent a fascinating hour watching The Brazilians laugh and horseplay despite being caught in occasional downpours. The Next day dawned bright and sunny and I spent it at a stunningly beautiful palm-fringed beach. THAT’S what I’ll choose to remember about my first 24 hours in Porto de Galinhas.

3.) Sometimes Almost Nothing Goes As Planned, So Throw Out Your Old Plan And Make A New One, Or, Even Better, Try Going With What Is

Porto de Galinhas itself is on a beautiful 2 mile long beach, but is also flanked by 2 other gorgeous beaches: Maracaipe (a famous surfer beach) and Muro Alto (a beach on which the most exclusive hotels and condos are located). My day at Maracaipe was fantastic – a perfect beach, uncrowded and full of friendly people; I even happened upon the awards ceremony for the Northeastern Brazil surfing championship. Muro Alto, though, was a different story. I asked a moto-taxi driver to drop me at the part of Muro Alto “where I can lie under an umbrella or sit under a thatched roof, have a drink and lunch, and read” (one means of transportation is to hop on the back of a motorbike and have the owner take you where you need to go). I wound up being left off on a road that led to a beach with none of those amenities anywhere in sight. At first confused, and then VERY annoyed (“After all, these people live here – they should know!”) I decided to take out my ipod, put on my headphones and begin the 5 mile walk along the beach back into town (there was no way of my finding a moto-taxi to take me back). I’d gone about 1/4 mile, listening to a very beautiful and relaxing part of Mozart’s Requiem, when I heard a whistle. Looking up the beach, there was a dune buggy and a guy waving me over asking if I wanted a ride somewhere. Now, the exact same ending to this little story would undoubtedly have occurred if I’d remained stressed and angry, but it was nicer to spend the time with Wolfgang Amadeus.