by Niall Doherty

Daily vignettes from Belo Horizonte, Brazil…


Outra dia, outra feira. They happen eight days a week here in Belo Horizonte. This one is a big Italian dealio, just a short walk from Casa Gringo, a dozen or so blocks full of beautiful people and overpriced pasta. I spend a couple of hours wandering into conversations, swapping dance moves, and butchering the local language. Pode deixar!


Do things even when you don’t want to do them, even when it’s easier not to. I reckon that’s a big key to kicking ass right there. I didn’t want to go workout this morning, easier to stay in bed and avoid the mud. But I went anyway. And I didn’t want to cold call those clinics and do idea extraction this afternoon, easier to busy myself with freelance work. But I made those calls anyway.


The Portuguese is coming along slowly. I’d love to immerse myself in it 24/7, but I don’t have the time or the mental energy with all the balls I’m juggling. Speaking practice is the big thing, and I’m aiming for at least fifteen solid minutes a day. Unfortunately, Brazilians are quite flaky. Four out of five Skype chats have either been late or no-shows.


Waiting for the man, find myself alongside uma gatihna. I know I’ll regret it if I don’t say something, so I tap her elbow and say hello, you look nice, wanted to meet you. Just then the man goes green. She gives me a frightened glance and accelerates across the street, while a chemical reaction in my brain produces a slight feeling of embarrassment.


2am right now, and we have to be up in five hours for a parkour workout. Spent a good stretch at the feirinha tonight, then hanging at a bar with a bunch of Couchsurfers. I can’t wrap my head around the dating scene here. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern, any best way to go about it. All I know is rapid-fire approaching isn’t getting me very far.

After three years and 30+ countries, I finally ditched my Patagonias

After three years and 30+ countries, I finally ditched my Patagonias


“Is this going to take much longer?”, she asks. I throw one more question at her, the one I should have thrown first, then request an email address so I can keep her updated on any solutions I come across. “No thanks. I’d rather not.” I thank her and hang up, then spend a few minutes reflecting. Some good lessons learned, I conclude. All in all, a successful call.


I’m at a low point right now, can’t say I’m a happy man. Money worries are exhausting. Trading time for money is exhausting. The dating game is exhausting. Client management is exhausting. Trying to learn Portuguese is exhausting. Living with other people is exhausting. Feeling like I was having the exact same struggles three years ago… exhausting.


My first ever job was at a hotel in my hometown. I was seventeen and legally not supposed to work past midnight, but they had me mopping up wedding puke mixed with broken glass at four in the morning. I remember my mantra: “Everything comes and everything goes.” Those shifts always came to an end. This too shall pass.


I was trying to move away from hourly rates. Charge by the project they said, not by the hour. It’s much better that way. But as I’ve learned in recent weeks, it depends on the client. Those who get distracted by shiny objects and seem intent on throwing new requests at you every six minutes? Charge by the hour, stay sane, make a fortune.


Another 36-hour fast completed, my second in a fortnight. This started out as punishment, but I may keep doing it once a week just for kicks. The body is getting knocked into great shape, and this seems to be helping. Plus, I’m a sucker for a self-discipline challenge. Oh, and not eating is by far the best cure I’ve found for flatulence 😉

First day of the World Cup, on the way to a watch party.

First day of the World Cup, on the way to a watch party.


There’s a sign in the park, right at the spot where we practice Parkour, that says you’re not allowed practice Parkour. It’s probably my favorite type of exercise. You build a practical skill — it isn’t called “the art of escape” for nothing — while getting a kick-ass workout. And you feel like a bit of a ninja all the while. Now if I could just crack that kong vault.


World Cup, full moon, unwelcome advance. I thought a peck on the lips would humor her, but she wants the full-on make out. Kissing culture is weird here. She was just eating face with another dude two minutes ago. Now she wants an explanation as to why I’m not game, becoming insistent, dragging a friend over to help with the interrogation. The truth will hurt.


This is my best shot to get my money right, these few months in Belo Horizonte. Once I leave town at the end of August, I won’t be stopping in any one place for more than a month or two until I get back to Ireland. So if the choice is between kicking back and enjoying the Copa, or working hard so I’m not treading water for the next eighteen months, I’ll take the latter.


Cheat day consisted of two big bars of chocolate, half a chocolate cake, two chicken and cheese pizzas, a bowl of oatmeal mixed with muesli, two ice creams, half a batch of french fries, four pão de queijo, another bowl of muesli, plus my regular breakfast of lentils, tomato, spinach, chicken and egg. I’m probably in the best shape of my life right now.


I didn’t go outside today. I just stayed in and worked. All day on a Sunday. I’m now twenty four hours over on one project. That’s twenty four hours I didn’t foresee and didn’t charge for. At my minimum rate of $50 an hour, that’s $1,200 I’ve lost out on. Nobody’s fault but mine. Poor salesmanship, poor client management, very little self-respect right now.

A common scene in Brazil during the World Cup. Windows boarded up and riot police everywhere.

A common scene in Brazil during the World Cup. Windows boarded up and riot police everywhere.

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

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