Second Half Kick Off

Several people have asked me where I’ve been for the past month.  The best answer is that I needed a little half-time break, which included a break from the blog as well as some time in the US.

Return to Modern Civilization

After I returned from my 28-day survival school experience, I cooked, ate, and drank myself back to a reasonable weight and spent some much needed time with Cris.  Then my brother and his family came to town, which gave me a rare and wonderful opportunity to hang out with these guys:

Burning Man

After that, Cris and I joined a bunch of our friends from LA and Brazil at Burning Man, an annual festival that takes place about 3 hours north of Reno.  What is Burning Man? To crib from the official website, “Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind.”  That’s about right.  Also from their site, however, is an attempt at it: “Burning Man is an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada.”  Here are some pictures to give you a bit of a visual:

Burning Man was a lot of fun and a unique experience.  Much has been written about it, although nothing I’ve read has really done it justice.  Let’s just say that an entire city of 50,000+ inhabitants is built in the middle of nowhere and it exists for a week with surprising ease, general good vibes, and almost no exchange of money.  For a sense of its scale, here’s a picture of what emerges in a completely flat and barren desert during the summer each year:

Beer, Of Course

After making it back from the depths of the Nevada desert, Cris and I recovered a little bit, and then I bottled this beautiful creation.  Not to toot my own carboy, but it’s my best work yet.  Truly delicious.

(If you can’t read that, the label says “Johnny Shenk’s Summer Saison Surprise.”  A few bottles still reside in the fridge at the Shenk Ranch in Pasadena if you happen to be in that area.)

Deciding the Next Step

Then, and only then, were we ready to discuss the second half of this Sabwavique.  Granted, we’re probably more than halfway through this, but we’re at the end of the pre-planned phase.  Our only concrete actions toward the next phase were to purchase plane flights to Bangkok, book a session for Cris at some famous spa in Thailand, and assume that Brazil and the rest of Latin America would wait until after we spent a month or two in Southeast Asia.

This has now all changed.  While Cris was in Brazil for a week in July, she met someone who said he would love to get my help in developing a US legal training course to add to his company’s offering of courses that prepare Brazilians for US graduate schools (like preparing them for the SAT, GMAT, etc.).  He was hoping for someone to take the lead on the project and said that he expected it to require about 3 months to complete.  Furthermore, he considered me to be the ideal man for the job.

We mulled this over and it seemed like a good chance to spend some quality time in Brazil, for me to take my Portuguese to the next level, and for Cris to pursue some of the ideas she’s had for Brazil in the mental health field while seeing family and friends that she misses.  Plus, it meant something other than tourism – of which we have had more than our fill.

The idea was difficult to swallow, however.  We both had our hearts set on a rich adventure in Southeast Asia, with hopes of finding a small village in Myanmar or Cambodia where we could settle for a while and work on our meditation skills.  On the other hand was the vibrant, bursting metropolis of Sao Paulo, calling us with its abundance of energy, momentum, and excitement.

Ultimately, we could not resist the temptation to see what it would be like to live and work in Brazil.  It was one of those decisions that you make in part because you’re afraid of wondering later what your life would have been like if you didn’t at least give it a shot.

So, we decided to go for it, and adjusted our bearings toward the southeast of the Americas rather than the southeast of Asia.  That was about a week ago.  Since then, we have managed to find a place to live in Sao Paulo and ironed out a few of the other details.  Meanwhile, I’ve begun putting together a curriculum, which is an entirely new and daunting activity for me.  Wish us luck!