It’s now time to experience a different Brazil. One that reminds me of Australia. Not in terms of culture, politics or society, but in terms of the senses.
When I go out for a walk in the morning, there’s this particular spot in the bush near my place where there’s a gumtree. The earlier I go, the stronger the fragrance, and it feels like I’m walking around some parts of Adelaide. (Fun fact: In 1914, Brazilian botanist Navarro de Andrade brought 144 species of gumtrees to Brazil from Australia – there’s even an “Eucalyptus Museum” in the town where I grew up!)
The cicadas singing all around take me straight back to Mangrove Mountain and the ashram that was part of my life for so many years. The sound of the cicadas there was deafening and intense during summer, and they’re just starting to sing now in Brazil. This video below was recorded on 31 December 2017 at the ashram (not a great video, but the point is the noise you hear. I even say something in Portuguese along the lines of ‘I’m just arriving here and the cicadas are singing’ but we can’t barely hear my voice because the cicadas are so loud). (Side note: It was a great practice to do our yoga/meditation sadhana when the cicadas were singing so loudly – to learn to withdraw from listening to the outside world and go within.)
Another sound that takes me back to Australia, particularly to Manly Beach, is the sound of a helicopter hovering in the sky on a warm, sunny morning. I can almost feel my body lying down on the sand at North Steyne, contemplating the ocean, the calm, and hearing the helicopter, possibly taking people on a tour to see Sydney from above. (In Brazil the helicopters are the military police, but let’s just not focus on the reason why they’re taking to the sky…)
Now to the sense of sight. The suburb where I’m living in is very green – lots of trees, some bush and a creek. Such a green environment is so reminiscent of my life Down Under. I look around and the sight of trees and wildlife (loads of birds, including beautiful green parakeets, and lizards) simply reminds me of my connection with something bigger, which I used to feel whenever I was in nature in Australia. Both my dad and uncle when went to Australia to visit me, made comments about the Australian landscape and green areas reminding them of our Brazilian countryside.
What I’m finding interesting is that I had never had a strong awareness of the cicadas, helicopters, fragrance from the trees, the green, the wildlife etc. while visiting or living in Brazil. I don’t think I had ever connected my senses to my Brazilian experience. Now there’s not only an awareness, but there’s also acceptance, and I marvel at the idea that I can link both countries (or the memories and experiences of them) through my senses. It’s heartwarming, and I feel connected.