An Accidental Journey

Some journeys happen by accident.

I thought I was moving to Salvador. Like moving moving. I packed art to hang in my new place. Bought an inventory of vintage clothes to sell (because that would be my second hustle). Packed ALL the hair supplies. This time around I was going to really establish myself in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Teach english and sell clothes and continue to freelance. Pay my rent on my freelancing. Date a lot and travel and live my dreams. Make more videos! I even got a new credit card. It was a glorious 6 months in a place that is really a second home, but I came to find that the common expression about comfort and growth not being friends is true. As much I love Salvador, I found myself stagnate there. Unfocused. Barely getting my artistic endeavors done. Chasing the wrong people. Having too much fun. And so when the opportunity to go the Ecuadorian Amazon and help Bani Amor shoot some B roll travel footage for their documentary arose, I took it.

It came at a really interesting moment in my life too. I had recently gotten a reading done by my good friend Jasmine Cain, and some repressed sexual trauma came up. It put me in a bad place. A place that I’m still processing and will probably spend most of the year trying to writing about. Suddenly, a trip to Ecuador looked like an escape. For a long time traveling has been my primary method of self medicating. If I was feeling anxious or bored or even uncomfortable, I’d start planning a trip somewhere. A change of scenery always did the trick, until it didn’t. I spent most of January alone in my apartment, crying non stop and feeling worthless. Friends took care of me and helped wean of the small suicidal thoughts but I saw a trip to Ecuador as a potential life saver. In it’s own way it turned out to be just that. I drank ayahuasca in the Ecuadorian amazon with Teresa an indigenous healer and environmental activist who also dealt with sexual trauma in her own life. My decision to leave yet again, seemed like a step in the right direction.

From Ecuador I decided to go Colombia, as I heard of it’s high percentage of African descendant people. I was very close geographically to the country so I felt I had to see it. Cali, Colombia turned out to be harder for me. It’s really developed so I couldn’t rely on “magical” architecture to make feel like I was some place “foreign”. A lot of the Spanish I had before living in Brazil became Portuguese, so I was anxious about talking. On top of that I knew no one. In the past, I’d see it as a challenge to reinvent myself and dive fully into a new place. But I was and still am mentally exhausted. The trauma I’m holding is no longer suppressed. It’s actually on the tip of my tongue at all times. The deep realization that I can’t travel my trauma away emerged and cemented itself in Colombia.

Today, I’m getting on a bus that will take me to Quito, Ecuador and from there I’ll get on a plane and land in San Francisco, California by Wednesday afternoon. I’m in the last leg of my accidental journey. After a month on the West Coast dealing with the same problems that have followed me across continents I’ll make my way back to where they all started; home. And then the real adventure will begin.

 

 

 

Set Claiming in Ecuador

Apparently, I’m trans ethnic. Because I feel Brazilian, and people assume I’m not American when I’m abroad, I leaned in like Rachel Dozeal and claimed Afro Brazilian ancestry in Ecuador. LOL. What actually happened is that, my Spanish (the second language I learned) has been transformed in Portuguese ( the third language I speak). So when I went back to Ecuador and visited my friends in Esmereldas, everyone was like “You’re so Brazilian now!” Luckily, the languages are similar, and honestly, I’ve always spoke a mixture of the two.  I spent about a month in Ecuador, filming with a person I deeply admire, Bani Amor a dope ass travel writer and good friend. Puto2

As well as catching up with play cousins on the coast. Now, I’m thinking of returning an making a documentary about the black Ecuadorian experience. As I only spent a weekend there, I just wasn’t prepared to add an episode specifically about ESM to this season’s GLOWINGPAIN travel series. But there is always next year. But I did manage to take some cool portraits of friends. It’s been three whole years since I first visited ESM and somethings changed, and others didn’t.

My Ecuadorian mom Betty Veliz, is still just as beautiful as ever. btq

The amazing Henna Brown told me the story behind her burns, and it fuels my desire to learn more about environmental justice.Hb1 The kids have all grown up, everyone is tall and acne ridden, it’s surreal.

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If I’m Brazilian, I’m Ecuadorian too, because ESM always feels like visiting family, and I’ll be sure to be back sooner than 3 years. There’s so much to do!

Marcha de las Putas

Yesterday in Quito, Ecuador I celebrated Marcha de las Putas aka Ecuadorian SlutWalk. It was amazing and I got to wear makeup! This is the first time in a month that I’ve gotten to indulge my femme side. I’ve been in the Amazon, filming for my travel series and drinking Ayahuasca (more about that later). Anyway, it was nice to be around men and women celebrating their aesthetics and sex. The chant of the march was “more sex, less violence”; a phrase I can really get behind. If only women and female identifying people were allowed to be beautiful and feel safe. Can you imagine how much happier WE ALL would be?

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Like most marches of today, the signs and the outfits really steal the show. Here are a few of my favorite looks from Marcha de las Putas.

I didn’t ask what the inspiration was behind this, but the male side of her is carrying a baby and the female side of her has a briefcase. So I’m going to assume this look is about gender equality in action?

The signs speak for themselves.

It was also a family affair! It was great to see whole families out and about amongst the queer people and sex workers. Made it feel like a march for the benefit of humanity…maybe because it is.

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The girls were out honey. I always forget how amazing it is to see drag queens and trans women existing in safe spaces. They always inspire me to indulge in my softer pretty side. I was so happy at the end of this march (although it got rained out) that I went home and had a party by myself. I played Destinys Child and took too many pictures of my glittery face. You can see it on my IG story @_NIAnderthal

 

until next time!