Nueva vida

Personal

For those who have been reading my dribbles for some time, you might have noticed how much I missed the sea, the warmth, and the South. Last month I’ve made a turn and relocated back to Spain, after a long process of preparation. I would like to walk you through my n-th relocation in life, and probably the most complex one.

The complexity comes from the fact that I was indeed very torn between how lucky I am living in Berlin, the centre of the modern cultural world, being in a very comfortable position in one of the stellar music companies and with a loving boyfriend living quite a similar scenario in his industry. We’ve just moved in together to a place we made so much ‘ours’, yet we knew that our rent will not go for much longer than one year. This is where the first cracks started to spoil the image of perfect happiness. Was it really? Housing situation, even if you are pretty well-off, is dramatic in Berlin AD 2019. There’s simply too many people attracted to this city and too little space for them to live in, which makes the market ultra competitive. The cost of living rises, but obviously this is not met with the salaries. The companies come and go, or at least make you go through pretty harsh twists and turns, and there’s no such thing like stability offered anymore. You notice you work more hours or at least think and talk about work all the time. Your friends as well. You’re quite lucky if you manage to see them once in a month, even the closest ones. The winter lasts for about nine months – and it’s not the cold that makes you so miserable, it’s the lack of light, the constant greyness. Last but not least, it’s gloomy. Even if you love the black colour, the sadness of jazz, after 5 years it starts to affect you. Is this how I imagine my life to be for the upcoming couple of years? Do I have to spend my weekends flying down to Spain, Portugal or Italy and polluting the planet instead of just… relocating back? I couldn’t help but trying to plot how could this look like, if it happened for real.

I started tucking myself and preparing a plan. I need a job, which would be comparibly attractive with what I have, but offering more growth, preferably in a less gentrified place than Berlin or Barcelona, where life is somewhat easier and more pleasant. Where I speak the language good enough to understand the context and culture, and which makes me smile, not felt misunderstood. Where I can watch the sea and hike in the mountains. Where I can predict the weather will be sunny for most of the year. Magically, a person from my network tells me there’s a very good opportunity in Malaga, in a company that is investing a lot into their employees and is technically speaking, fantastic. I am pretty surprised that my scenario can be true, but would it hurt trying? I test the waters and enjoy conversing with my potential future leader, and in two weeks from then I am invited together with my boyfriend to spend a few days in the city to get the feeling how is it in January (the coldest month of the year, around 20 degrees during the day and sunny) and get to know more people from the company. At this point we really enjoy our time in Malaga, but don’t think that this would seriously happen… until I get the offer. With a relocation package and guarantee that my boyfriend would be able to settle down with me without the necessity of finding a new gig from the start, but to live life a bit slower, mindful while learning Spanish and focusing on his projects. My job sounds exactly as I wanted: a step up, with great degree of vision and strategy. We decide to make the move and then the process only starts. 3 months to go. We are as excited as scared.

As it happens with unexpected twists and turns in life, no one really expected us to relocate to Malaga. They would bet on Barcelona, Lisbon, maybe Valencia or Oporto which are considered more ‘modern’. We leave our comfort zone greatly, and face the initial disapproval coming from the family, which is simply worried about us going so drastically further away than Berlin or friends who see us as these cool guys who would die out of boredom on Costa del Sol. Not all of them though, some see it as a great opportunity. They just need some time to understand this decision and support us through the change. My Mom goes, in parallel, through another transformational time, selling out our family house and settling down in a flat in the centre of the city, to be more connected with friends and family, to cut down the costs and be able to travel and enjoy life more. I feel I will be missing her a lot (now being away by just 2,5 hours on the train) and worry how this will all go. I also talk a lot with my boyfriend, how different our life will be and how we can support each other. I feel we grow stronger through this process and that I have never loved him more than now.

At the same time, we create a project management tool to go through the shlepp of: resigning from work, from the flat, cancelling all the running contracts in Germany, finding a transportation company, deciding what to take with, sell the remaining things, look for the new tenants, and paperwork that sees no end. Finally, saying countless goodbyes to our friends, probably the most emotional part of letting go off an important chapter. Until the last day I can’t actually let the tears go by, but then I burst at every single memory from that important period of my life. Our flat is completely empty, after having packed the full truck with our stuff, and we have 6 suitcases to take onboard the flight. The day has come, it’s 31st May 2019.

The flight is blissful and the stress goes away, we are ready for the new adventure. The partner from the relocation company picks us up from the airport in Malaga and lets us into our temporary flat prepared by the company, where we will spend the next three months. There’s even a fridge prepared for us so that we don’t have to worry about the groceries, I feel really embraced. We spend our first weekend in between our favourite restaurants, the beach and hiking through the nearby mountains. I can’t be happier, but I am aware this is a part of the cultural shock and that difficult days may come up. At work I feel extremely welcome and trusted from day one. As agreed, I get a great sense of responsibilities and my ideas are very embraced. We get to know first people, both expats and Spaniards, and the friends and family we left behind are starting to plan the visits. We found our flat! We will move in on September 1st to a more residential neighbourhood where we’ll be still quite close to the centre and the sea at the same time, but further away from the tourist traps (that’s probably the most disappointing part of the relocation, but that calls for another topic).

It’s been over 3 weeks now and in the meantime, we note everything in our physical notebooks, day by day, not to lose the sense of the process. There are great days and more challenging ones, but I start noting the change in how I walk, breathe and talk. It’s been almost 5 years writing this blog and Berlinering, at the same time, and I am looking for a new way of expression, might be a longer form at some point.

So far, I can only say that I am surprisingly at peace.

 

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So… pack light!

Personal

Only partially related to travel, but here comes the story of my past month: I’m moving again.

After having spent almost five years in Berlin, like a bird craving the warmth of the sun, I’m heading back South and from there will continue reporting back on Lusofonetica, in the beautiful and sunny region of Spanish Andalusia!

There is a lot going on in my headspace, wrapping up my life from professional to very personal perspective. The change is constant but when such a big one happens, there is barely any time to think and reflect, so to be fair, I am sure the moments of saudade and retrospection will probably come in a few months from now.

I have learnt that it used to be easier to move around the world for me even a few years ago. Once I settled for good in places like Poznan, Barcelona or now Berlin, I grew roots and when moving to the new destination, had to leave a lot behind. Bureaucracy of changing cities, countries and continents is definitely painful but with a good deal of preparation it is bearable to go through it.

Even the most tedious, physical aspect of packing may be fun and gamified, as at the end of the day… these are simply the things. They are often heavy and may no longer serve us, but may bring joy to others. Just in a few weeks I’ve given away some books I love, winter clothes I will no longer (not so often at least!) need in my new home, and a bike which made my life in Berlin so free. I hope I also left a piece of me, not in a material sense in this special city.

Most importantly, I am grateful for getting to know such a great community and friends in Berlin. I will miss you all so dearly, I already actually do. So the most important luggage I take, is the quantity of love, trust and happiness I shared with my all these wonderful people.

Celebrate good times

Personal

I was pending to share two sources on the profoundness and richness of the Portuguese language – recently I’ve read a comprehensive book on the MPB genre: Claus Schreiner’s ‘Musica Brasileira’ as well as this article summarizing why is Portuguese the best language for music. I can recommend these reads to everyone interested in both music and Portuguese language, but also the art of celebration: just because when I think about the rite of joy, the most powerful association comes with the carnival. However, these publications are showcasing the history of the language and culture, also taking into considerations not only stereotypical ‘fun’ associated with the carnival, but also racial and class complexities of the postcolonial, modern Brazilian society.

Today is Sunday, just after the Carnaval 2019 which I celebrated in a great company of friends, without dancing, sun and craziness typical for more exotic parts of the world, but in a cosy dining room in Berlin. I reflected a lot about how lucky person I am to be living in a peaceful, loving environment and whatever may change, it will likely be for better. Never mind where you are based, I understood how important is to celebrate good times, regardless how you like to do it.

Often times, we take lifetime’s milestones for granted, and we hop from one achievement to another, not taking a break, reflecting and sharing our happiness with the nearest and dearest, only wanting more and more to happen. Other times, we forget to appreciate the great company of people and surroundings of places we live.

Carnival is about celebrating the moment, living in the present, often without a goal. What if there is no milestone, no higher bar, no rushing into the ‘next big thing’? Mindfully taking changes as the enriching part of the lifespan, collecting thoughts, emotions and observations into a big picture can make us more connected to ourselves and our loved ones.

Last week has brought me some great news and upcoming changes, not only for me, but also in the life of my best friends. After a long and dark winter, the sun is coming up, and our lives start to beam again. I was right about 2019 being transformational and it’s not magical thinking speaking through me. It’s being conscious about what life is and if you decide to make the most of it, you will. With that, I wish you all a great start of the month, and springtime, even if the carnival is over now.

Águas de Março em Funkhaus

Music

This month I’d like to feature an exceptional event which I had a chance to participate in Berlin’s emblematic concert hall, Funkhaus. Since last weekend marked the first spring days (at least in theory) after a long and dark winter, celebrating this fact with Brazilian music, and authentic caipirinhas, felt like the most adequate thing to do!

Berlin’s Funkhaus curates some of the most amazing concert sessions since good couple of years, and I am a regular guest returning for the wide variety of top-notch music makers they showcase, from techno to bossanova.

I was delighted to sit in a front row in front of the artists who made such an impact and influenced the years of MPB, as Funkhaus offers a very intimate stage experience if only you wish to come as close. The event was connected to a broader charity campaign for the cause of saving the Amazon forest, and contained of Daniel’s and Paulo Jobim’s band together with Vanessa da Mata who rarely have a chance to play together. It gave the show a very spontaneous friends & family jam feeling.

Once again I am thankful to be in Berlin, thousands of miles away from one of my favourite places I once lived in, and be able to experience Brazilian culture at its finest. With Águas de Março in this part of the world, I am very happy to welcome the brighter, sunnier and hopefully warmer days to come when Berlin changes its face and becomes more of an open air carnival festival.

Thirsty for sunlight, happiness and positive vibes I announce the springtime has arrived with the sounds of MPB! Even if we’re still to experience snow, and crazy climate changes throughout the year. Which makes us only reflect more about our place on Earth, how we treat it and how we can make the most of our local place we live in. Which is a different topic, so I’ll let the music speak.

It snows in Brazil sometimes

Music, Travel

I don’t go chasing waterfalls only, I deliberately look for paradox in life too. I got sunburnt in the Northernmost places of our planet, but I also managed to see a monkey covered in snow in Brazil. So while I am enjoying a balmy 20 degrees Celcius evening in Berlin, I do sympathise with the other hemisphere where it gets rather gloomy and cold these days.

So the photos above don’t come from Spreepark in Berlin, they come from MARGS – Museu de Arte do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre where I stayed for a couple of wintery days in September 2013.  This post is about breaking some stereotypes or attributions, and not the weather forecast though. Much as I love listening to MPB, drinking coconut water, or wearing Brazilian bikini, there’s more than that in the discourse about the complex, multicultural and huge country like Brazil. I am a sucker for its literature, architecture, art and fashion, and recently: techno music.

My daily Upload feature on SoundCloud suggest me more and more Brazilian artists who are producing really deep, industrial and groovy sounds. Last summer was definitely heavily influenced by the produced CoastDream whose dreamy house kick was constantly on my rewind.

On that note, the Brazilian community of producers and DJs is also abundant. I am very lucky to have met a very ambitious, open-minded and talented producer Pedro Passoni. Although he came back to São Paulo early this year, he continues to amaze me with his new productions, currently experimenting the darker side of the EDM.

Fortunately, I believe that the darker side of techno and house in Brazil is not as rare as the view of the aforementioned monkey in the snow. Electronic music represents the progressive, diverse, free space and rhythm – something that not only Brazil, but the whole world needs now more than ever. I stay connected and sending only the most positive vibes to all my Brazilian friends who make a positive change in their country. Against all odds, I plan my next trip to their amazing country within the next couple of months, when the snow will be back in Berlin. Stay tuned and vibe!

Jazz’aqui – o jazz português em Berlim

Music

I’ve previously written about the Brazilian influences on Berlin jazz scene, I’ve recently written about März Musik, but I’ve never mentioned about the Portuguese jazz presence in the beautiful city I currently live in.

As March is one of these weird, in between months, bridging the everlasting winter sleep with the springtime euphoria, a Friday evening with free jazz sounds was in line with my moods. That’s why I decided to get to know the Portuguese Jazz Festival: Jazz’aqui.

Jazz’aqui was also a good occasion to visit one of the most emblematic jazz clubs in Berlin – Kunstfabrik Schlot, situated in not-so-obvious location of Mitte.  I chose the night of a ‘minimal jazz’ bateria performance and Slow Is Possible playing mostly cinematic jazz.

I was enchanted by its playful and enigmatic dynamics – once very sleepy, then painfully intense, like lucid dreaming. Since I learned that the band consists of musicians coming from various parts of Portugal, I realized how their regional inspirations may come into play. I travelled in my mind to remote parts of Northern and Central Portugal, like the mountainous Bragança or Guarda region, where I spent two weeks during my first trip in 2007.

Then, the music took me on the way to the dramatic coastline of South-West in the winter, where I had a chance to travel in 2011 while studying in Faro.

Finally, carried by rather scary sounds, I landed somewhere in the tiny towns of Alentejo, maybe sneaking in to one of their traditional churches made of human bones.

And the concert ended up, leaving me wondering how little it takes to travel without moving, when the sound and imagination kicks in. As well as, that the music discovery is endless, without the borders of space and time.

 

Brazilian Jazz Carnival in Berlin

Music

Two years have passed in an Augenblick (like Germans like to define “the time that flies”) since I have moved to Berlin. I would lie, if I said I don’t miss Barcelona, Brazil, Portugal and my hometown Poznan from time to time. Travelling is relatively cheap and easy these days, at least to some of these locations though, so I don’t happen to be homesick too often to be honest.

Especially that I feel very happy where I am now, both personally, and professionally, and Berlin keeps surprising me every day with its amazing cultural offer. I even realised how I can cope best with the dark and cold days throughout roughly half of the year. Concerts and dancing are among my most powerful weapons!

It is also fair to say, that during these two years, I have met amazing people from all over the world sharing my passions and at the same time showing new perspectives, opening my mind and enriching my life.

More importantly, I keep speaking Portuguese. Be it at work with my Portuguese-speaking colleagues (or those wanting to simply learn and practice!), be it with my good old or newly acquired friends. Berlin has an incredible offer of Latin American movie festivals as well as concerts of all the music genres,  out of which I happened to see two of my Brazilian jazz gurus this year already.

I am very honoured to have seen Ed Motta earlier this year, and Azymuth trio only yesterday. There are very few artists which inspired so many DJs and producers much as they did. Actually, I can’t think of any dancefloor which wouldn’t go crazy if a DJ dropped ‘Jazz Carnival’, regardless of the location. As a consequence, their tracks have been often remixed and incorporated into legendary mixes. I was hoping to see them live for a very long time, especially when I noticed that they were featured at the Boiler Room session and announced their European tour.

A thought that occurred to me yesterday, was about the universal and timeless aspect of music. Even though Azymuth members could be my grandparents, and most of their tracks are much more older than I am, their sound is moving the crowds to a state of frantic trance.

Muito obrigada, Maestros and long live Brazilian jazz!

Que bandeira

Music, Personal

“Faz um ano, faz, que eu tenho muita paz
Quase um ano tem, e tudo muito bem
E se eu não voltar, não vá se preocupar
Todo mundo tem direito de mudar

Que bandeira que você deu
Que bandeira, não me entendeu
Caretice tua chorar
De maneira aqui pra brigar (…)”

These lyrics, coming from Marcos Valle’s ‘Que bandeira’ classic tune are one of my all-time favourites. The essence for non-Portuguese speakers boils down to being free to live wherever you want, being the owner of your destiny, choosing your future regardless of your origin.

“(…) Eu não voltei
E eu não voltei porque agora eu sei
Naquele papel eu ia pro pinel
E se alguém disser que eu me desmontei
Sou dono de mim e faço o que quiser

Que bandeira que você deu
Que bandeira, não me entendeu
Caretice tua chorar
Caretice tua brigar (…)”

So it’s been almost one year in Berlin. It’s good to make a retrospective of what I planned to accomplish, and what I actually did. The most important thing is that I feel happy, although the fact is that I am very free to travel and re-visit my beloved places. I have also started gathering my learnings and thoughts on my paralel blog: Berlinering, where I describe my current experiences and soon will publish some sort of essence of my first year in Germany.

‘(…) Sigo te querendo, te cantando, procurando uma desculpa,
Te querendo mais.
Vou te cantando, te querendo, procurando uma desculpa,
Te cantando mais.
Sigo procurando uma desculpa, te querendo, te cantando,
Te querendo mais
Vou procurando uma cantada, te querendo, me desculpe,
Te cantando mais

Tou sabendo de você
Tou sabendo, podes crer!’

I still love the places I lived or been to (like this heavenly beach of Joaquina in Brazil pictured above), but I don’t long for them. I know that if I want to come back, I would, anytime. This is probably why I am so happy here, about the choice and opportunity, and not the necessity. Because everyone should be free to live wherever he/she wants to. I would love this to be valid for everyone, in this crazy world we live in…

Glücklich in Brasilien & alegre em Alemanha

Music

There are definitely more links between Brazil and Germany than love to football (which can actually at times turn into mutual hate). Love for Volkswagen and music sounds like a safer bet. I would love to dedicate this post to DJ Rainer Trüby thanks to whom I discovered Brazilian classics and its modern sounds long time ago.

Alongside with Sonar Kollektiv in Berlin and Gilles Peterson in London, he was feeding the audience worldwide with the best of Brazilian sounds by releasing the Glücklich series with the record label Compost Records. Thanks to my colleague who sold me his sound system last week, I could come back to my favourite compilations on CDs (with the legendary fusca on the title page!) and casettes. It’s not that I’m one of those unbearable Berliner hipsters, it’s just that I still have my radioshows from the 90s/early 2000s recorded there. And Shazam does not recognize all of the tracks, and nor have my über-musical friends so far.

While researching a bit more about what he’s been up to lately, I’ve come across this interview which I find pretty interesting (even though it’s in Spanish, not in Portuguese!):

As days become more longer, warmer and simply: happier here, my soul needs more upbeat rhythms and to make this positivity to an unbearable level. Although Brazilian music seems to be universal, and especially recommended while being down, and facing worse days in life.

The unforgettable Glücklich compilations can be found here:

It offers a wide selection of the Afro-Luso-Brazilian, MPB, samba and most importantly, the contemporary fusion, also with the European producers. One of my favourites – “Bohemian” by MURO (in Bah Samba’s remix) is actually sung in English and was one of the first EPs where I discovered the overwhelmingly powerful voice of Alice Russell. “Direction? Changing myself, keep moving… all around the world”.

fusca – Volkswagen ‘Beetle’, extremely popular in Brazil from 60s till now.

Vou festejar!

Music, Personal, Travel

I know, the carnival is officially over. And I only realized it by now, maybe due to the fact that for the first time in 5 years I live in what is considered Far North Europe by the Latin standards. Where some of the best DJs (in my humble opinion) play every weekend (till Monday afternoon and beyond, depending on a place) and there is just not so much ado about it. But still, colourful pictures of my Brazilian friends remind me of that special time of the year when anything is possible!

I was lucky enough to spend the consecutive past years in locations such as Cadiz, Sitges, Praia do Pipa and Madeira which are famous for absolutely crazy festivities around that time!

I may miss the spirit of the sun, sweat and party abandon, making lifetime friends in an instant and simply ficar but to be honest, the party and cultural scene of Berlin pays off the chagne, being probably one of the most open-minded spots in Europe. Still, the city seems to be changing very abruptly from the creative hub to a business-minded city like London or Paris. I hope to grasp the best of it while I can.

When I miss the sun and Southern spirit most, I cling back to Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking friends and colleagues in town, OR I listen to various podcasts, such as Gilles Peterson in Brazil which gives a great insight into the Brazilian soundscape from samba classics, through funk to electronica. Or I secretly tap samba rhythm to the famous carnival anthem!