by Niall Doherty


It’s a white-walled room with three beds covered in tiger print and stains on the ceiling tiles. But I don’t notice all that as I’m busy hyperventilating, feeling like my heart is being crushed with each inhalation. Nurse to my right gets me lying down and covers my groans with an oxygen mask. Nurse to my left ties a band around my arm and flicks the tip of a needle.


The price of getting what you want is getting what you wanted. This dream I’m living ain’t so dreamy anymore. Yes, I can travel indefinitely, working from my laptop. It certainly beats working from a cubicle, but it’s far from ideal. 3.5 years into self-employment and I’m still trading time for money. This needs to change.


Fifth try out of a taxi trunk and we finally step foot on a dance floor. It’s two a.m. in Bolivia and my new British buddy dares me to approach. I quickly flame out, dos veces. Mad at myself now, not because I can’t pull, but because I fast forgot how unlikely it is to find what I’m looking for in a place like this. What the fuck am I even doing here?


About to board my third bus in four nights, say goodbye to Bolivia. This town is a bit of a shithole. Trash and barbed wire everywhere. I stand and watch at the scummy station as a man smiles and blows kisses at his young daughters leaving on a top deck. They flash back hearts made of hands. He’s about my age, that man right there.


I want nothing more right now than to get settled, so fuck Campo Grande. I decide to blow right through, catch a sleeper direct to Rio. Make that four out of five nights on a bus, eighty-plus hours in six days. I grab a sandwich at the station, go shirtless in the restroom to wash away the road stink, then climb back aboard.

Instead of touring the salt flats, I spent a day in the hospital in Uyuni :-(

Instead of touring the salt flats, I spent a day in the hospital in Uyuni 🙁


I tag along in a taxi to Copacabana with two Germans, a white blur in the western sky. Nothing planned ahead, I end up booking into their hostel for the night, my nose eighteen inches from the ceiling. But it’s four hours’ catch-up before sleep, eyes glued to a screen as other guests buzz about, chatting and drinking and laughing.


I already like this town. There’s character here, and warmth. Walking the streets you see families and friends like a favorite scene from that movie that made you love movies. Kids playing, dudes skateboarding, chatter spilling out of the corner deli, beers after work. All shades of people in all states of dress. Everyone seems to have a dog, a tattoo, and a body from a magazine.


$1600 a month for a spectacular 3-bed in the heart of Ipanema. The agent is pushing for me to send payment in advance, even before viewing. Sounds too good to be true. I go walking to check out the address, and find it doesn’t exist. Scammers looking to cash in on the World Cup madness. They’ll probably get some hits, too. Might have worked on me if I wasn’t already here.


My first real exercise since getting off the cargo ship almost two months ago, happens atop a sandy rock at beach’s end, seeing stone loaves rising beyond the palms and cacti and skyscrapers. Fuck me, this city is beautiful. I’ll be leaving for Belo Horizonte tomorrow, but I decide right there and then, mid-stretch, that someday I’ll come back and live here.


There’s that familiar buzz stepping off the bus: new town, new opportunities, new adventures dead ahead. Add to that, I’m just glad to be staying put in one place for a while. I’ve crossed an ocean and six nations since the last time I felt settled. Here in Beagá, the focus will be work and fitness and relationships, all things I’ve let slip in recent months.

4,000 meters later... breathing easy on Ipanema beach in Rio

4,000 meters later… breathing easy on Ipanema beach in Rio


I submit my first $5k proposal, take a breath, and go mingle with random heads at the hostel. Diego just moved here from Chile for the startup scene, has a promising software business with paying customers in eight countries. Tim is on a six-month sabbatical, tells me how easy the dating game is in this town. I think I’m going to like it here.


Watching LeBron go off for 49 while drafting 60+ emails destined for travel companies. The goal now with the software biz is to validate one of two ideas I’ve stumbled upon within the next four weeks. Should one pan out, month two will be sketching the solution and pre-selling. Month three will be building a minimum viable product. I want this so bad.


I remember back in Spain three years ago, my first foray into language learning, and how I’d get panicked when someone said something I didn’t understand. Which was quite often. I’ve learned though that feeling and appearing panicked only makes the situation worse. My default reaction nowadays is to smile and shrug when I find myself lost. I usually get smiles back.


Success in business mostly comes down to getting out of your own way, avoiding self-sabotage and overcoming limiting beliefs. Right now I’m aiming to charge at least $50-60 per hour for my work, but I track all my time and see that I’m earning closer to $30 per hour. I regularly sell myself short on price, put in extra time that I don’t bill for, my own worst enemy.


An elevator in Oscar Niemeyer’s sixty-year-old edifício, a beauty in decay reminiscent of that city on the ‘sippi. There’s an elderly lady who’s probably a lifer here; a young guy dressed for the gym, reading texts and trying to suppress a giddy smile; and the Kiwi on the phone to his young daughter, speaking words like apple pie in a language I don’t understand.

New friends at the Samba Rooms Hostel in Belo Horizonte

New friends at the Samba Rooms Hostel in Belo Horizonte

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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