The Good Guys: Part 2

Traveling is awesome. Can you imagine trying to fulfill your wonderlusting desires in 1915? In just 100 years we have technological advances that allow me to book a flight to London while in Munich boarding a flight to Paris. From the internet to credit cards to flat bed seats, things are really looking up for us.

And that brings me to the latest edition of the Good Guys. Man, I have really, really been blessed to have such wonderful people walking across my path! These GGs that I’m recognizing today have been integral parts of my travel success and enjoyment.

Let’s start with my last night in Brazil. I needed to go to a Brazilian Steak House becuase who goes to Brazil and doesn’t go to a Brazilian Steak House (side note: The one I went to was JUST LIKE Fogo de Chao). I was seated next to this table of four and heard American accents…well, Texas accents to be specific. I remarked to them that I was nice to hear familiar sounds, to which the deepest Texas accent said, “Well just com’on over sugar. You can hear even more if you’d like.” And this was the first step into one of the best nights I had in Sao Paulo. The group turned out to be my flight crew for my flight home. After dinner, we went to listen to some live music and the pilot took care of me and the girls all night! On a night that I thought I would be getting to bed early and just having a tame ending to my first Cescapades stop, I ended up hanging out until 2 am having the time of my life! Thank you American Airline good guys for inviting me over to sit. Not only did you majorly boost my opinion of your airline, you also pulled this girl out of her shell on a night that I really needed it! You are officially on the list of Good Guys!

Moving over a few continents, we come to Brenda in Dubai. Man, I adore this girl! We met thanks to the Etihad Airlines glitch flight (Chicago to Abu Dhabi round trip, $200). My mom and aunt were with me (the original GGs) and we have some plans to hang out with members of the Nomadness Travel Tribe, of which Brenda and I are both members. Well, long story short, Brenda became fast friends with my family and within one day, I knew that if Brenda was there, the girls were ok. She honestly took better care of them than I did and it was awesome to see the ladies get to interact with my friends. When I told Brenda about my travel plans, she went out of her way to send a list of Paris hotspots and even paid for me to take a guided tour with a company she loves. Brenda, you’re a GG, and I cant wait to fall in love with your favorite city!

But being a GG doesn’t take much. Like Christine, the woman across the aisle from my on my Frankfurt to Berlin flight. So many delays caused everyone to be testy, but when we got off the flight we shared a laugh about the nature of German businessmen and she made sure to take me in her cab to get me to my location safely. Or there were Elodie, Diego and company in Munich who invited me to tag along with their oktoberfest festivities. Or the WONDERFUL airbnb hosts I’ve had in Berlin and Amsterdam who every so graciously made sure my stay was awesome!

Being a GG isn’t hard. We can all do it. So next time I’m home, I’m going to escort some lost tourists to Times Square. On second thought, I’ll just help them buy a CTA card.

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Ode to the Good Guys Part 1

Before I begin, I want to talk a little about this series. I recently met some of the most wonderful humans ever. I was in Sao Paulo having my last meal in Brazil when the folks at the table next to me saw me eating alone and invited me over. Turns out they were my flight attendants on my flight home the next day. I can not tell you how wonderful that night was, and how equally amazing my flight was, all thank to THEIR random act of kindness. So that meeting inspired me to just want to say think you to all the people who are wonderful or do wonderful things, just because. They are the Good Guys…and they deserve a little love so here’s my shout out/recognition/thank you to some of the Good Guys out there! And the first edition is my Mom and Aunt!

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Hello there from Dubai!

This week I’m traveling to the Middle East and I have my mom and aunt, Valerie and Cessalyn, along for the ride. Every few years we hit an international destination for their birthdays (Sept. 1 and 3) and it’s usually a pretty good time although we all have completely different travel styles. Mom wants to sit somewhere, preferably in air conditioning or at least with a major breeze, and read her book. Auntie wants to see and be seen, but with major breaks for resting and napping in the middle and I would be happy if I never sat down until it was back in the airplane seat to come home. Needless to say, we drive each other nuts. I’m always barking about tomorrow’s agenda, mom is looking for a place to sit down and auntie is ready to go back to the hotel.

But I wouldn’t trade these vacations for anything.

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Do you have any idea how cool it is to be able to travel the world with your family?

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To be able to see and do things that I’ve never done and will hopefully never be coerced into doing again (I’m looking at you desert dune ride) with the people you love. I have to say, it’s pretty awesome. Now I’ve been married a time or two so I’ve definitely done trips with a signifiant other, and that’s great too-don’t get me wrong. But mom/aunt/daughter time is great because it after 15 years of not living in the same city, it gives me a chance to just hang out with my girls. There is no worry about the Christmas dinner menu or the birthday party for uncle so and so or whether or not we’ve got tickets to see my show and what she’s going to do while I”m at work, it’s just us. In a neutral place where I don’t know anyone or anything and you don’t either and to make it out with some fun stories, we’re all in this together. Sometimes I get short with them because we’re not on the schedule or they don’t have a seven item want-to-do list prepared upon arrival in Abu Dhabi. But the truth is, I love these ladies. I love these trips and the fact that I can still be 100% myself around my other friends here and my mom just smiles and laughs (and sometimes video tapes) is awesome. And after the after party turns to the after after party, I still want to go home with my family instead of hitting turn up Part 3. Just so we can get up early and do it all again tomorrow.

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Ladies, you’re great.

But I hope you set your alarms. We have a lot to accomplish tomorrow!

Joyful Julie!

I pride myself on usually being a pretty positive person. It just makes things easier (side note-I’m also ridiculously sensitive at times so dejected broodiness doesn’t count). But one day in Rio was testing my powers of patience.

Before arriving, when I told anyone my plans to be in Rio staying on Copacabana Beach alone, I got nothing but “that look.” You know the one that says, “poor American girl, didn’t do her research. She’s going to bet mugged.” Even my own mother said, “we’ll just pray that you’ll be ok.” Geez mom, thanks for the comforting words!

After almost getting got by the taxi folks in the airport, I was whisked into the city by a cab driver who apparently thought I was casting for Fast and Furious part 17. Considering my driving habits are most akin to a 45 year old soccer mom with 3 kids in the back, I was terrified.

But thankfully (and as they always do) my travel group came through. There was someone else visiting from California staying literally one block from me and she was hanging out with a “local.” I put that in quotes because this woman is the definition of worldly. Calling her local seems to minimize her story! Born in France, raised in Martinique, grew up in Canada, moved to Brazil to translate and is just a hostess with the mostess! Anyway, I digress-she took us to Lapa and I was able to settle my nerves with conversation, pepperoni pizza and a giant beer.


The next morning, I was feeling a bit braver with Rio.  I had a tour planned to see Christ the Redeemer and St. Teresa and all the touristy stuff and it was going to be a great day! #liverejoicing and all that….well it was a bit tougher than I thought it would be.

9am is the meet up time and I’m pumped! I get there at 8:55-just in case. But after about 10 minutes of waiting, nothing. Thinking I may have missed it, I called the company…9:30 they said. Ok. No problem, time to get breakfast! REJOICE! So I get back at 9:25 expecting to see a group of some sort. No such luck, but I’m not too worried.  Ten…fifteen minutes later I call again. Oh, we’re just running late. We’ll be there. Well, at least I’m not late! Rejoice!

Two. Hours. Later. The guide finally shows up with a flurry of profanity and life stories about his 2nd divorce and how his 10 year old has tits; it was enough to make anyone a bit uncomfortable. Add in him telling a story peppered with the N word left me not too thrilled with this particular tour. Not to mention, it was so cloudy, there was no way we were going to see much of the monuments and city anyway.

But thank goodness for Joyful Julie.

Julie was from Belfast. What a relief to hear such a familiar accent! It made me think of my family in Derry, Ireland and gave me such a sense of peace! As we approached the day, she laughed off the (really bad) jokes and comments of the guide and came up with a positive response all day! Her phone was stolen on her first day in Rio but now she has more time to experience things instead of keeping her nose in a phone. As we drove up and the concern was that we wouldn’t be able to see Christ the Redeemer, she said, “it’s probably better this way, since no one really knows what he looks like anyway!”

And when we got there, as predicted, Jesus was covered in clouds. You could sort to make out his form but that was about it. Julie quipped, “everyone comes on a clear day! We’re the lucky ones who get to experience something different.” God, I needed that girl.


I took a breath, thanked the universe for my presence and my day. Looked up at this amazing wonder of the world and started my descent when people started shouting. And as all horror movies teach you, I, the one Black girl, headed straight towards it!

Thank goodness I did! Literally, the clouds parted for exactly 15 seconds. I got my picture with Jesus! By the time I looked at it, realized I looked hideous and tried to redo, the moment was gone. He was back in the clouds.


REJOICE!!

We left and went to see a few other places in Rio. What an interesting city. The rich are really rich and the poor are really poor. It seems to me, from the outside, that it’s really hard to move up in class-if you’re born in the favelas, you’ll stay in the favelas. It’s equally beautiful and heartbreaking.

I got back to my hotel and tried to wrap my head around all that the day was. And smiled. Thank you Joyful Julie (and Fun Fran). You got me through that day!

#journeyon