by Niall Doherty


Two weeks ago I called myself a pussy for not making faster moves on a girl. But I’m not going to do that anymore. I wouldn’t put up with someone else speaking to me that way, so why should I accept such abuse from myself? Instead, I should look to uncover my feelings and needs. Two weeks ago, I was feeling frustrated because I had a need to be assertive and dominant.


My sex drive is back in full swing, spontaneous erections, waking up in a tent… feeling more self-assured of late. What changed? My best guess is diet. When I went paleo last year I cut way down on carbs and that’s about when the little fella started having trouble. Eating more bread, rice and pasta seems to have righted the whip.


You take more risks when you’re about to leave a place, try to leave nothing unsaid or undone. Why not, right? You’ll be gone soon anyway. And so my last week in a town is usually the most fun, the most honest, the biggest rush. These final days are the deathbed of a vagabond, but a death made sweet because he’s certain to be reborn.


Back of a cab and we’re having a threesome: me, her and Google Translate. “I want you to make love to me all night,” she writes. Sorry, I reply. It’s my time of the month. She smiles that mischievous smile and taps back, “No problem. I can do you from behind.”


I’ve invited her over tonight. No, not her. A different girl. We’ve been exchanging flirty texts all week. But my conscience has me conflicted. Should I tell her she’s not the only one, that someone else shared my bed just a few hours before? If she asks I’ll be honest, of course. But if she doesn’t, should I be the one to bring it up? I’d feel sneaky keeping quiet.

My first Capoeira class in Belo Horizonte

My first Capoeira class in Belo Horizonte


I lie awake until the birds chirp watching weepy YouTube videos. My last night in Belo Horizonte, and I’m lonely. I want to feel. I want to cry. I’ve gotten close to some beautiful people in this town, and now I’m leaving them all behind, starting over, once again. It’s been three years of this. Hurts more than it used to.


Twenty minutes into a 24-hour bus ride, just typed a thousand words in my lap to try unjumble the mad mix of thoughts and emotions running through me. We’re out of the city already, moon in full bloom. Leg room is lacking and my tired mind is annoyed by everyone around. Put your seat up. Stop being fat. Change your goddam ringtone.


I’m a little envious of the gringa I met on the bus. She’s less self-conscious, quicker to engage with the locals, even though her Portuguese isn’t much better than mine. Plus, her time is all her own. Right now she’s out on the balcony chatting and making new friends while I try catch up online. That’s the downside of this lifestyle. I’m never fully traveling, never fully working.


Somewhere in Barra, over a shared dish of moqueca de camarão, she’s telling me about the Brazilian political situation and upcoming elections. I’m trying my best to pay attention, calling upon my training, resisting the urge to imagine what will happen when we leave here, blinking back that glimpse of a first kiss.


A self-confessed sex addict, father a pastor, mother a professor, still living at home. I ask how many guys she’s slept with and when she last got laid. She’s worried I’ll judge, but if anything I respect her more for living true to her desires. Though it’s easy for me to feel that way when we’re locked away in a hotel room all evening, fucking each other’s brains out.




Moving fast through traffic and crowds, the bus to Fortaleza leaves in ten. I’ll make it with a minute to spare, somehow quick but unhurried. “What will you do for the next 20 hours,” her text reads. Sleep, meditate, write a bit, listen to some podcasts… but most of all, I’ll think of her and smile.


Winging it can be fun, but it can also be risky. Don’t roll the dice when it comes to safety, especially if you’re a woman traveling alone. One woman I met recently was asking for trouble, arriving in a strange town after dark with nowhere to stay, no map, no plan and low funds. That’s not adventure. That’s danger. Be responsible, plan ahead.


All alone in Fortaleza, and I try fight it for a bit, but soon settle in and embrace the solitude. I lay in my bunk for hours, recharging batteries and reading the bones of two books. I take a walk at sunset and find myself eating street food by a stage on the beach, surrounded by a thousand yellow shirts all singing seu nome é Jesus.


Not in my pocket, not in my bag. Mind racing. I think back to the lady on the city bus earlier, how she cuidado’d me with my phone out and I yeah-yeah-yeah’d her back, finding her caution overblown. I think she was telling me she’d been robbed twice on that bus, but I didn’t want to hear it. And now… fuck. Those kids a minute ago, right alongside and me distracted.


A 26-hour bus journey ahead. I usually don’t read on the bus because of motion sickness. Twenty or thirty minutes and I start feeling woozy. But I’ve been thinking, surely that’s something that can be overcome, like seasickness or a shortness of breath at high altitude. The body can adapt. So today I’ll train my body.

6am beach workout in Fortaleza

6am beach workout in Fortaleza

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

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