When did you receive your last handwritten letter? No matter if something is written on a tissue, a postcard or anything that fits into an envelope, messages written by hand and by heart are one of the best souvenirs to me. In times of constant digital expression of our daily lives and stories, they always take pride of place. While living in Argentina, I received a letter from Vietnam, one from Romania, and from Brazil, and I love the moment when I open one, imagining how long the letter would take to cross the continents until it finally reaches my door.
Some of the most meaningful letters I ever received were written by my best friends from university. They gave them to me as a present for my Bachelor’s degree, before I started the journey to South America. “Open when you have a crush” said one. I already opened it, and it made me grin. “Open when you are stressed because of a big challenge” was the second one I read and it made me feel better immediately, giving me a boost of self-consciousness. However, there was one I was always staring at, never knowing if I would truly and honestly wanted to open it;
It was the last one to read, and I decided to carry it with me while backpacking all over Brazil. Somehow I anticipated that a little paradise would be hidden somewhere. After experiencing the stunning northeast of Brazil, Jericoacoara, an alluring small town, lively and peaceful at the same time, was the place everything just felt right. Once watching one of the most beautiful sunsets of Brazil with a coconut in my hands, I could not imagine how I managed to survive all my life without a beach close by.
Its good vibes reminded me a lot of Roatán, an Honduran Caribbean island where I used to work and live two years ago. Both towns host beautiful and loving locals and welcome people from all walks of life. Roatán was the first hiding place I could truly imagine to settle down. The memories of Roatán, welling up in Jericoacoara, made me understand something vital…
This is not one of those catching stories of a girl cancelling her flight, taking all the risk and leaving everything behind. Finding out what the letter revealed felt so right in northern Brazil. The words, noted down in the familiar style of my dear friend, conveyed that there is just way too much left to see to get stuck in this paradise. Comparing Jericoacoara to Roatán, I realized that I would need thousands of those decorated, colorful letters to do justice to all those places I am blessed to visit right know. After heading to a new direction, to see so much more of Brazil, the jungle of Rio de Janeiro was another place where I could “stay forever”. But in the end, this is just a saying, at least for a 23-year-old traveller. I couldn’t settle yet, sorry Roatán, sorry Jericoacoara…
Because of the letter I appreciated the rare fortune of freedom in decisionmaking. If I really wanted to cancel my upcoming travel plans I could have done it, but being a person of constant transformation and strengthening, I just couldn’t stay at any place for longer in this period of my life. Still planning to see much more before heading back to Vienna for a new job, I am seeing my former hometown Vienna as an occasional return to my roots on a lifelong journey. Neither am I seeing it as giving in my venturesome features as I know that after some months I will be drawn to new corners of the world. Opening that letter and not following its instructions, but turning my back on Jericoacoara instead, is part of a journey that is not supposed to end yet. The best is yet to come, and the discovery has just begun. This is how much a letter can teach you.
Thank you, my dear friend and writer.