Yesterday was a beautiful day.
The sun was shining and due to a subway-strike in Amsterdam I took a day off.
My freedom however was soon gone. My ex-wife Letícia called me the previous day.
She asked if we could meet for a talk.
After being divorced for two years we became like strangers.
She made me curious, so I agreed to meet her.
Letícia, the long hair brunette, spoke only with me during the monthly exchange of my daughter.
The signature of the divorce in Leiden was for me a sad event.
The only moment worth remembering was the encounter with my old schoolfriend Timothy, very nice on a sad day.
We sat down at a small table in a coffeeshop.
To be with her was a surprise.
The service of the coffeeshop was pleasant and fast.
Soon we were having coffee with apple pie.
Very dutch Letícia pointed out.
She still had to get used to the local traditions.
I reminded her of her origin, from Brazil.
I asked her about the reason of this meeting.
She avoided the question.
So I decided to behave like a gentleman and keep my mouth shut until she was willing to talk.
Slowly she got more relaxed and she began to talk about her problem.
She said : “As you will know I have been with my boyfriend over the last years, but our daughter dislikes the guy, as you will remember our daughter is fourteen years old.
When something annoys her it is impossible to make her change her mind.
My friend once asked to choose between him or our daugther.
He felt Monica would be better off at your place.
That was the last drop for me, last Sunday I had enough of him.
Now that I'm looking back on my life I think what am I doing here and I feel homesick.
Eightheen years ago I moved with my brother to the Netherlands, that’s enough!”.
I looked surprised from her cup of coffee into her dark eyes “You don’t mean, Letícia, you are really leaving?".
She nodded “Sean, I had it for now and to say the truth, another man in my life after our marriage is so odd, I can”t cope with it.”
She pointed at my chest ”our relation was my whole life, I feel lost”.
I stared now in my own cup of coffee.
The last thing I wished was to air my own feelings,so carefully I answered “What a pity, I regret it, but what does this have to do with me?
We are divorced and you wanted to take care of Monica and I agreed with this to avoid any fighting with you and Monica.
I was afraid she could some time blame me for the divorce and she would never forgive me”.
Monica,was born in Wales during our first holiday at my british parents.
She became a dutch citizen when after we returned.
We lived and worked in the Netherlands up till now and here we were married
Letícia could get her brazilian pasport back.
This would however be more difficult for Monica, her mother owned already a dutch pasport when she was born.
Letícia hated red-tape, she would always leave it to me, now she asks me to sort her paperwork out.
She was worried and was afraid that Monica would dislike Brazil.
“Letícia, what a situation!” I answered.
It was annoying but I expected a very different conversation
I was already prepared to tell her how my last two years went.
I reasoned quickly, if I would help her to return to Brazil it would make my life easier.
“Have you already spoken with Monica?
Is she staying here?
Will she stay at my place?
This is not a problem for me.
About your friend, is he out of your life?
Have you got still contact with him?
I don’t want any trouble with someone I never met.
He could loose his temper because I am having a coffee with you.
I don’t need that, you understand?".
Letícia gave me no answer, she looked in my eyes , she almmost seems to burst into tears, but she kept herself brave.
“I don’t want to be a burden, but I just want to leave and take Monica with me.
Without my presence in her life, I am afraid she will not do anything.
Just forget it.
She will stop studying.
It was a big challenge after our divorce.
I felt several times tried to send her to you, but each time she stopped with her nonsense at the last minute and admitted she could not live without me.
I’ve never bothered you with this, the idea of keeping her with me and let her stay with you each month, was really the right solution, for which I am grateful for you.
My request is simple ; Sean, are you willing to help me with this removal, I can’t cope with it on my own.
I am afraid it would take me too long.
Monica can go this year to a brazilian school, but next year it's not possible anymore".
Letícia looked deep in my eyes, she could read me thoughts so well.
“Letícia, you know what my feelings are, I will always help you whenever it is needed.
It is still painful for me that you’ve got caught in your emotions and broke up our relationship.
You pushed me out of your life, because you could not control your own life”.
I succeeded quiet well to keep calm but inside I was full of emotions, I should keep this calm otherwise I would behave the same way she did during the separation.
My worry was however with my daugther, just the thought that her mother would go away, would break her hart.
I decided to make a proposal.
“Letícia, let me talk with her and see what her feelings are, a bad decision could not only damage her life, but yours and mine too”.
She nodded with her head,she knew this would be necessary.
The waiter came with the bill.
Letícia gave me a goodbye kiss on the cheek.
Due to the subway strike I had to walk home, but that was very pleasant, and it gave me time to let my thoughts wonder .
In my front garden I could hear a sputter of a motorbike.
I spoke to myself.
"Great, I’ve got company”.
Over the last months I've learned not to plan in advance anything for the weekend with Monica.
She would come every time with an idea which she considered of course better.
She entered looking cheerful.
We speak dutch amongst ourselves, but she always greeted me in my native language.
“Hey Monica, how are you?”
She threw herself on the couch, stood up, gave me a kiss and fell right back on the couch. She looked at me smiling and asked “What are we going to do this weekend, daddy?”.
“Monica, your mother contacted me for a talk.
I spoke with her a couple of days ago.
Do you know why she contacted me?”.
She looked thoughtful and answered : “No idea, she’s finished her relationship with “you know who”, and the last weeks she has been rather quiet, sometimes she asked me if I enjoy school.
Another moment she talks about how life was in Brazil, oh yes, she also said she missed her family”.
“Daddy, you want a beer or a tonic?”.
She went to the kitchen and came back with two cans, tonic and beer.
“Just give me a tonic , Monica, I am really thirsty, today we must have a serious talk, so let’s keep it easy”.
“What’s going on, daddy, is something wrong with mom?”.
“Monica, listen carefully, I think you should know a little more about us”.
I considered her old enough to know more about our marriage.
”Forget for a moment the problem of your mother, I come soon back on that”.
“As you know, the marriage of your parents was excellent.
We met at the Fair of AHOY in Rotterdam, I worked with spare-parts of boats, my hobby was sailing.
I was often in the Netherlands, a place where sailing is very fashionable.
During a visit to the AHOY Hal, during the Waterfair, a group of friends we had in common introduced me to your mother.
We had a great day, everybody loved sailing and the fair offered a sight of beautiful yachts and ships.
Your mother I found sweet and cute, we exchanged our telephonenumbers.
She lived and worked in Utrecht, your uncle Vinicius convinced her to leave together Brazil.
He was registrated at the Vrije Universiteit at Utrecht, she started to work in a fashionshop in the centre where she still remains, as you well know” I blinked my eye “that was for her a quick way to learn to speak dutch.
Fortunately she spoke fluent english and that made all the difference in the Netherlands”.
“But were you in Utrecht?
I was convinced you met mom at the lake of Loosdrecht?” interrupted Monica “You told me once that you started making out with her in Loosdrecht”.
“Yes, you’re right, but a little bit more respect, girl, we were just friends” defending myself".
“Well, ok” smiled Monica with a guilty face “you know what I mean”.
“A sailing competition was being organised in Loosdrecht, I put down my name for this match.
I felt that her presence would motivate me to reach a good result, so I invited her to join.
Her brother owned a car so she would be able to come to the Grote Plassen (Great Lakes).
We had an enjoyable day and a lot of fun.
After a couple of months we became engaged and soon after we celebrated our wedding.
After about two years, you were born”.
Herewith I completed the first chapter of my story.
“The years went by and your mother disliked social life in the Netherlands.
I was always busy with my work and my hobby.
My group of friends due to my sailingactivities increased every year.
All those years I did not find a chance or a reason to make an expensive trip to Brazil to meet her family, I think I was wrong in never considering to go.
Letícia got depressed about the time you left primary schoool and you became more independent.
You biked to school and to your girlfriends.
You didn’t need her that much and you shared your problems with her less.
That’s normal,however I wasn’t aware of her depression.
About that time she met some people from Brazil in Utrecht.
It made her very happy.
She said every time “It can”t get better, music, brazilian food and gossip for hours in my native language".
This group consisted of Claudia, Carmen and their husbands Fábio and Davidson.
Once she took me with her, but they couldn’t speak much english or dutch, so the conversation was difficult.
After a certain time she started to sleep during workingdays in Utrecht with these friends, she slept on the couch, it was close to her shop and she would come home in the weekend.
To keep her happy I agreed with that arrangement, it was to be for a short time she explained.
Well, I always went sailing in the weekends.
I knew the two brazilian couples, sometimes they would stay here during the weekend or holidays,and your mother was in a better mood .
I didn’t see any complication, untill mister “you know who” showed up and moved in at their flat.
He was brazilian and single.
He took his chance at once.
Before I was aware of it, your mother filed for divorce.
Not only because of “you know who”, but she felt happy in Utrecht not Amsterdam, this being her excuse.
Monica paid attention to my story but she was bored, she still didn’t know what she would do that weekend.
She really wanted to avoid being at home watching TV or being on the internet with her girlfriends, she was doing that already the whole week.
She stood up and sat down next to me and asked “And what is her problem?
Did she talk about it?
Daddy, don’t forget that we are going out, soon the shops will be closed and then you will only care for a beer”.
I smiled because of her spontaneous reaction.”Is that what you have in mind for the weekend?
Find something more interesting!!
Or you have no idea?
Monica, listen for a moment, this is important for you and your mother, and also for me, I will not forget going out, you can count on that!”.
The daughter looked satisfied, she would get it her way.
“Listen, your mother wants to go back to Brazil, now “you know who” is out of her life , I think she feels homesick .
Brazil can be a new start of her life.
I can’t blame her, sometimes I miss Wales, but Wales is not far away and I can go whenever I want to.
She can go back to Brazil in my opinion. You know I have not much contact with her so I will not miss her” Monica laughed “Daddy, you should not lie !
You still love her, why haven’t you got a girlfriend?
Or do you have one in secret?
I know that woman from Alkmaar, what’s her name?
Yes, she is crazy about you, but I know more women that look so kind to you.
Daddy, you're crazy".
That was going in the wrong direction, I tried to have a serious conversation with her, but she was having a laugh at me, she was right I still loved my ex and that made things impossible with other women.
”Monica, you know nothing about my feelings, sure I have girlfriends, that’s not of you concern, but I am not trying to find a new mother for you”.
”Daddy, I have only one mother, I don’t want a second mother, that’s too much” answered his daughter sharply.
“Can we continue our conversation, Monica?”
I asked her with rigid voice, she nodded, in the meantime I sat in a more relaxing position, and I started with the difficult chapter of the conversation.
“Your mother wants to take you with her to Brazil, she doesn’t want to leave you here, she thinks I am not going to pay enough attention if you are going to live with me, of course the judge has to agree with all this.
I have told her that I first have a talk with you and see what your feelings are about this.
If your mother goes to Brazil on her own, you would be without her and your uncle Vinicius.
As you know, he went back already last year.
You have your grandparents and the rest of the family there”.
Monica stood up, walked up and down the livingroom, turned to the kitchen, and after a few minutes came back with a can of tonic and a glass of applejuice, she picked up a chair placed it in front of me and sat down,she gave full attention to the applejuice.
She started talking with long pauses “Daddy, I would see you no more, and how will I get along in Brazil?
I don’t speak brazilian” I corrected her “Portuguese, girl, they talk portuguese in Brazil”.
“Yes daddy, I know, mom always say in Brazil they talk brazilian, but your right,it is a more a cheerful portuguese.
My mother is my support, my shelter, without her, I have no idea what would become of me, I love you, daddy, but I talk with mom, woman stuff , it doesn’t mean I love you less.
You shall never join in and gossip like mom does”.
She took a deep breath, and continued “ The secondary school was a big change.
My girlfriends from primary school I never see, and the new girlfriends from secondary school are only a few, we communicate through whatsapp or twitter. Can I chat with the girls here when I am in Brazil?
And what about school?
I would have to learn first portuguese, I do understand a lot, sometimes mom talks in portuguese with me".
Then she looked at me trying to fool me “if mom had married a dutchman, she now could talk fluent dutch, but no, she had to marry a funny englishman, ha,ha!
“ Welsh, girl, welsh, I am not english, but welsh.
But you are right, portuguese is different from dutch and every one talks english in the Netherlands.
The need to speak dutch in a good manner was never a priority for your mother and now she found brazilian friends in Utrecht, the need to talk dutch has become less important, so she will really feel at home in Brazil”.
I was surprised with her reaction, Monica didn’t run away crying, she did not react in an explosive manner because she had to move, and she tried to find solutions for the future.
That pleased me, but I was not going to repeat the whole story, so I asked if she would like to travel to Utrecht and we have all three lunch.
“Daddy, what a surprise!!!
Have a meal with my mom and daddy, may I choose the restaurant?.”
”Girl, yes you may choose the restaurant you like, but today I really fancy a pizza, what do you think?”.
She jumped up and said “Very well, I am going to change clothes, at what time we will leave?”.
”Just sort out yourself, I will have to call your mother and see if it is possible for today” I picked up my mobilephone and used the speed-dial, her name I didn't delete yet.
Letícia attended right away and asked “Hello Sean, how did the conversation go with Monica?”
I apologised for disturbing her during working hours.
She said it was quiet in the shop and she was sipping a nice cup of coffee.
Once she understood I wished to continue the conversation with Monica in her presence, she accepted the invitation
She warned me however she did not want to have pizza at lunch.
Within twenty minutes the waitress came with three steaming pizza’s, followed at once with the ordered drinks, a cola, tonic and apple-juice.
Monica got her way again, well, I also fancied a pizza.
Fortunately Letícia accepted the defeat in silence and even complimented the waitress for the delicious four seasons pizza.
“Ladies, it is nice after some time to be together again for a meal, it means much to me.
Letícia please excuse me, I felt it would be better to analise together this matter.
This way it is easy to reach the right decisions, it is worse to correct decisions in the future if they were not suported by everybody”.
Letícia and Monica nodded and looked at each other, they felt on top of the world that I was so concerned, this was really a point in my favour.
“Letícia, I propose that Monica starts first, so we understand what is on her mind.
I have already warned her, that....."
now I smiled and joked with Monica “she only goes shopping after we sorted out this matter”.
“Daddy, you’re bad!"
replied Monica with big eyes. Letícia agreed with me “Sean , you make her life much to easy, all that shopping is becoming unaffordable”
We smiled broadly at the table, I missed that, because making jokes only with my daughter at home, never reaches the same result at large.
Monica was in a rush to go shopping, so rapidly she exposed her feelings “Daddy, I have never travelled before, I see how many students leave school and stay at home for years because they can’t find a job.
If I would go with my mom, I might get behind one or two years at school, but that doesn’t make any difference, in those two years I will learn so much, my schoolfriend would not even dream about.
I am curious about the neighbourhood of my grandparents in Brazil, mom always mentioned her neighbourhood. I never paid much attention, it was too far away.
I was born here, well in Wales, daddy, but in the Netherlands I grew up, my school, my neighbourhood with my girlfriends, my tv programs, my moppet-bike.
But if I go with mom I would not miss her. if it doesn’t work out I can always stay with you”.
Letícia was in tears and smiled with emotion at her daugther.She dried her tears “Monica, I am glad for you, I love you very much and I think if I would go on my own, I would miss you so much.
I am homesick of my birhtplace and I would miss you too, so I would be twice homesick, your mother’s hart can’t cope with this.
I really think that I will be happy again in Brazil, with my family, but without you it would be very hard”.
She hugged her daugther and gave her a big kiss.
“It’s a jump in the darkness, Letícia, you take away everything Monica cares about, except yourself.
I will always receive her with open arms if she goes back.
I will stand solid for her like the rock of Gibraltar.
Keep in mind if she comes back, I am however not going to make changes in my life-style.
We will still need the blessing of the judge,she’ll get a key of the house and she will have to take care of herself
I always will make time for her, but I know very often she doesn’t have time because of her friends.
Can you both agree on that?".
The ladies were aware if something would go wrong I would have to rescue them.
“But I have a proposal, I haven’t slept much and the idea I will not see my daughter for years to come,doesn't feel pleasant.
I did google to know a little more about life in Brazil, but the information I gathered was frightning.
Did you know that a average income is 200 euros a month?
The livingcosts are similar to here, except the rental of a house.
They have many strikes, the poverty pushes the youth into violence, addiction and casual rape and even incest is common.
I can tell you, I slept bad after reading all this information”.
Letícia stood up to get in defense, she wanted to explain how things were in her town, her family never suffered any violence, suddenly she kept her mouth shut.
And she said “I do understand you, Sean, I remember the situation of twenty years ago, but I heard the same stories, but I still want to go back. But you talked about a proposal, tell us what it is”.
All attention was placed on me, although I was not sure of my proposal.
I want what’s best for my family.
. The idea that I would not see my daughter, only on Skype, made me even more keen in helping.Visiting her would mean I had to travel to Brazil, I hated travelling by airplane although I would do it for my daugther.
Visiting her would mean I had to travel to Brazil, I hated travelling by airplane although I would do it for my daugther.
My fear was something could happen in Brazil and they would need my protection, so I came up with the plan to travel with them righ away.
I would make part of this event of my daughter.
This would have its advantages, I would handle all the necesary documents, I would meet the family of Letícia in person.
The divorce didn't change anything, they continued to be family of my daughter.
This event will be part of Monica's life. I don't want to miss that.
If Monica decided whenever to travel back to the Netherlands I could participate in the conversation.
I told them that my firm has plans to send a representative to South America to market our products.
Until today I have I refused this because I hate flying.
I have told them today that if they would invite me again I would accept it.
The possibility that I would travel with them to Minas Gerais, Brazil was they considered fantastic, but I demanded to stay in a little hotel and not with her family.
Afterall we were divorced.
On google I had already found an accomodation in her town, for a real bargain, and it would include “Cafe de Manha”, this means : breakfast.
That was reasonable, but hiring a car was expensive, so I still had to find a solution.
Two months passed by after this family reunion.
The Courthouse did not see any problem Monica travelling to Brazil.
However both parents had to fill in some forms in case she would go back and live with me.
We were now only waiting for the confirmation of the firm to send me to South-Amerika.
This confirmation I received in person from the director last Wednesday.
The management of my firm did not only aprove the plan, they were happy to have me on board.
They were convinced, thanks to my brazilian connections I knew everything about South America.
During the journey it didn’t seem like that, fortunately they never found out.
“Letícia, I am officialy invited to represent the firm, I am really going to South America”
I told her with proud on the phone
“The trip can be booked right away, I don’t need any further documents, the firm sends me for the maximum of two months”.
My ex-wife was happy with the news and a few minutes later I received an enthousiastic reaction of my daughter on the mobilephone.
She was delighted to know that I would go with them.
She felt safe this way and she wanted however an open return-ticket.
Her school suggested she should continue to do her homework via the internet.
The journey was booked to São Paulo with the royal flightcompany from Amsterdam.
We flew often to my parents in Wales, so the ladies were used to fly but I everytime had to get used to.
The check-in and delivering of the luggage was routine.
The car I left at home and my friend Timothy was willing to take us to the airport.
Since our last meeting at the Notary Office two years ago we kept regular contact. Two welsh men in the Netherlands made a solid friendship, but he was afraid of water, so he did not like sailing.
“Sean, don’t you dare staying in Brazil, my friend” he warned.
His son Richard,unshaved, sitting in the backseat of the car between Monica and Letícia agreed with his father. “You will find another brazilian girl and you will be lost for the second time, sir”.
Everyone laughed but Letícia and Monica.
“Is it still far away, mom?”
started Monica complaining after four long hours sitting in the chair of the airplane.
The trip was going fine, but the distance seemed forever the same.
Continuosly we checked the flight details on the screen, we were flying at 9800 metres hight, it was frozen outside and we still had to go another 7 hours.
“Just enjoy the film or play a game on your tablet.
Relax, don’t make a hell of your worldtrip” whispered the mother.
I observed , mother and daugther, busy talking about everything and nothing, I missed that at home, hearing their voices chatting away.
During the morning hours we arrived at São Paulo, a mega-city.
When we reached the landingstrip I looked all around but the city was never ending. buildings and even more buildings, I’ve noticed that many houses were unfinished.
Shortage of labour?
Later I found out,due to the tropical climate nobody was in a rush to finish the construction of their homes, or it was of little concern.
The customs were an absolute nightmare, we lined up for over an hour at one desk and Letícia stood at another desk for brazilian people.
When it was Letícia’s turn she called on us waving,as family we were attended at the same desk.
Letícia still owned an old brazilian identitycard, she handed it over with her dutch passport plus duplicate of her application for a brazilian passport.
She submitted this application at the Consulate in Rotterdam,Netherlands.
Old fashion rubber stamps were used together with a computer and passport scanner. and the clerk enquired if I travelled for business or toursim
The clerk enquired if I travelled for business or toursim
Letícia answered that question in portuguese, I didn’t understand a single word but a few minutes later we stood officially in Brazil. I was surprised to see so many people in and around the airport offering all kind of services.
Taxi, hotel, shoe shine, carrying of luggage, you name it , somebody whould be at your disposal.
My firm hired a vehicle during my entire stay.
We left Sao Paulo airport and started our journey to the South of Minas Gerais, a few hundred kilometres North of São Paulo.
Travelling by car was an adventure on it’s own.
Travelling by car was an adventure on it’s own. I have never seen so many people on the street, an enormous crowd on both sides of the road, the petrol-stations were packed with old trucks and crowded with people.
Letícia helped me with everything, she warned me to be careful with any servies and not pay what I did not ask for.
The temperature was a surprise to me,it felt like a warm blanket was layed on us.
My body had some difficulty, but I could cope with it.
Letícia warned us the further we travel north, the hotter it would become, but the tropics were more to the north in the region of Bahia.
I knew the name of the old capital Salvador of Bahia,
She was suprised about the increase in vehicles, it was a revelation for her.
The traffic was hectic, but the roads were in general poor.
Our journey continued late in the afternoon and Letícia was counting the remaining kilometers to reach her family.
Still a few more hours and she’ll arrive at her little town.
Monica was charmed with the environment, many little houses a vegetation, like banana-trees and bamboo-bushes, and people all over the place.
She noticed many stray dogs walking around.
She looked surprised to see an old man with a big bag with beercans.
”Mom, what is that man going to do with those cans?” She asked her mother.
“That’s a way of earning some money for a living”.
Monica replied “ But nobody looks after him? Those cans can’t be worth much”.“Mom, look one more over there.
A woman, what happened to her leg?”.
A woman was bending under a big bag with cans and pushed her leg forwards, it was a dreadful image.
”Monica, you have to get used to this, here is a lot of poverty but they recicle a lot, these people collect, bans, paper, bottles, this will give them money”.
Monica looked distracted on her mobilephone, she tried to chat without succes and watching through the window was no fun either, suddenly she started to miss her live in the Netherlands.
“mom, I start to miss the Netherlands”.
”.“Girl, why are you complaining, when we arrive I will buy you a chip for your mobilephone,be pacient !”.
Monica got on her nerves, I could see her thinking, she thought going back was easy, life twenty years ago was easy.
Now she lost track on things.
She looked at me, and smiled “Yes, I never expected such a change, it was all very unprofessional here. Take the petrol-station and on the road at the restaurant.
they didn’t have a menu, you had to go with your dish to a balcony and serve yourself.
I am glad it was delicious,but the service was very slow.
I answered “Well, I have googled a lot over the last weeks, and I verified that things really are different here, let’s go with the motion, alright?
We just have to accept this,allright.?
Is it still much further, Letícia?”
The number of houses on the road seem to increase and closer to each other.
We were entering a city.
Letícia couldn’t believe her eyes and kept on saying “Meu Deus”.
She saw tremendous changes after been away so long.
“Look!” she shouted suddenly “Look, Monica, that is my neighbourhood and our street, Rua Gomes da Silva”
She stared at all the faces in the street, she called several names and the people smiled at Letícia, they knew she would be arriving today.
But she was shocked with the older faces and got now aware that every one was twenty years older!!
We drove slowly through the street and after a few meters with stood in front of number 58, we reached our destination.
The entrance door was open, but it seems nobody expected us.
I thought to buzz my horn but Letícia warned me not to do so.
Suddenly a couple came out of the house, those were the parents of Letícia, I could see the similarity.
Everyone embraced Monica and Letícia, and pointed in my direction, I nodded.
Now I met finally her parents, who were not anymore.
This is of no importance, I thought, I go to my little hotel. The father of Letícia however made gestures the moment I started to leave.
He called me to come inside “pai Monica, pai Monica” he repeated several times, and that was right, I was her father, the remainder of the conversation I couldn’t understand and there was nobody totranslate, Letícia was too busy with her mother and Monica.
After a opulent dinner in the house of the parents-in-law and having separated the luggage , I started to make my way out,
but Monica ran to me and asked why I was leaving for the hotel,there was plenty of room in the house to stay.
“Monica, It was an exhausting journey and your mother has only attention for you parents which I do understand, just let them talk. I am going to have a rest and tomorrow I’ll be back to see how things are here.
You have to be a little more patient
Have you tried your mobilephone?”
”Yes , Daddy, I have already been chatting but I feel sorry you are not staying with us.
I was starting to getting used to see you together, I don’t understand what my grandparents say, but I find them nice”.
This was the moment to say goodbye of my daugther after two days travelling
I hugged her.
She is young but already tall like me.
”Tomorrow morning I’ll be back, I have to find out if I can send a e-mail from the hotel. The director of my firm wants to know of course if the journey went well”.”
Daddy, they have a computer here.
Did you know that mom talked with her parents on Skype?
I think you can send e-mails from here, they’ve got internet.
It was difficult to find the hotel.
I booked in advance to save time by check-in.
This was better, because the recepcionist did not speak a single word of english, except “thank you”and “very good”.
The room was comfortable but small with few furniture, a bed, a chair and a little desk.
An old fashioned tv set gave a fainted picture, I counted only five channels.
I was tired and went straight asleep.
Not far away from the Hotel I heard loud music, someone was having a party. I however tired and went to sleep.
I however tired and went to sleep.
The “Cafe de manha”, consisted of coffee, bread and cheeseballs.
The cheeseballs were very populair in Minas Gerais, wearing the name of “Paam the Keishou” (Pão de Queijo), that’s the way it was pronounced.
After a lot of searching and missing several times the street, I found myself the following morning back on the street of Letícia.
Again they offered me breakfast, but I only accepted a cup of coffe, which was strong and extremely sweet.
Letícia showed up in the livingroom and kissed me on the cheek and told me how nice it was to be in Brazil again, her parentes were threating her like a princess.
Monica was still asleep.
She pointed at the computer, and said to send my report to the firm.
The connection was slow but after a couple of minutes my e-mail was sent.
Now I had time to sort things out with Letícia. I needed to buy a chip for my mobilephone and a pendrive so I could go on the internet at the hotel.
The appointments with my customers I wanted to organise as soon as possible.
My GPS-computer would help me further to find directions.
It took me some time to get used to the different time-fuse compared with the Netherlands, I was literally five hours behind.
When I was having my breakfast, in Amsterdam they were having lunch.
The weeks passed by quickly, a month has gone by since we arrived, the hotel where I stayed I booked for another fortnight.
Within a few days, I would be travelling to São Paulo to visit my customers,and I would have to book a hotel.
I have tried to make appointments by phone and e-mail but without any result, I decided to visit them in person.Also my boss considered this better.
I was loosing my pacience with the endless waiting, I started to question if they really would be interested in our products.
I was not reaching the right people, leaving messages doesn’t work in Brazil.
Monica found a woman that gave private portuguese lessons.
The woman gave lessons at home and spoke a little american.We could not find any school to teach her portuguese, she also regristrated her name on the internet for an english course, but that was disappointing.
My ex, Letícia, found work in a big shop, but she stood with a dozen other young women waiting the whole day for customers.
This was on commission.
She couldn’t understand it, she really made sales, but the customer would only pay on credit.
She told me the amounts were not big, even amounts of about 10 euros, even those were paid in instalments.
I knew she was right, even at the petrol-station I found a pump, which said “on credit”, charging a little more money in this case.
Letícia came to the conclusion that her earnings would barely cover her own living, she could forget it to rent a place.
She already decided not to touch her savings to pay rent.
Her parents were happy with the presence of the daughter and granddaughter at their home and it was of great help for Monica to learn portuguese, but then what?
She was independent in Utrecht.
Her domain was her two bedroom flat, her privacy was important and everything was so easy.
She kept an eye on her income,but never needed to count her money.
It was never a problem.
It was never a problem. If she bought something expensive, she would not worry, pay right away and during that month she would go out a little less, and everything was the next month in order.
Now she understood that people had less in Brazil, so they valued more social events: football, samba, barbecue, etc.
In the Netherlands she worked very hard and obeyed the rules, and things always went smooth , and the dutch girls in the shop were very social.
Now she understood that having parties with her brazilian friends in Utrecht was kind of escape of reality.
The questions popped up one after the other.
What did she want?
Who was she?
Was she really happy when she was younger or wasn’t she aware of all the problems.
Were her parents happy?
They were always cheerful but their faces showed a troubled life.
She grabbed her handbag, gave her parents a kiss and said she had to go out.
She picked up the first bus that stopped.
She stepped out after a few kilometers and began to walk through a shoppingstreet.
She entered a bakery to buy a cup of coffee, she finished up with a caju-juice and unexpected she missed an apple-pie with cream.
“Don’t be a fool, girl” she talked to herself “It does not go with caju-juice!”.
Inside she laughed, what a situation, what have I done?
She looked outside and watched a car being parked on the other side of the street.
. The driver got out of the car, she found the man atractive.
But then see recognised me.
Suddenly she stood up and walked to the door of the bakery and waved at me.
I turned most surprised, who knew my name in that neighbourhood?
With a smile I recognized Letícia.
“What are you doing in this neighbourhood, why are you so far from home?”.
“Can you sit with me, Sean” she gave him a kiss.
I nodded, they entered the bakery and sat down at a table.
I joked “You care for a coffee with apple-pie?”
“Sean, I owe you so much.
I try to find myself but it works out it even worse then in Utrecht .
Everything is so different here but on the surface it doesn’t show.
I have not a clue how people live here, they must make lots of sacrifice to able to survive, it was so easy in Utrecht, I am almost forty years old, I have dreams , here I must battle to survive.
I have been with my old friends, they are married or single mothers, nobody has any spare time.
They only worry their income and watch tv the whole day or surf on the net ”.
She looked deep in my eyes and said “I’ve blamed you for my depression, but you brought happiness into my life and I wasn’t aware of this.
We had a regular life, but now I know happiness is not automatic you have to fight for it every day.
You’ve done this for me and Moncia because you really loved us.
Sean , how can you ever forgive me what I have done to you?”.
I took a deep breath and I looked at my parked car, I sat on the other side of the world in the company of Letícia.
She left the Netherlands for good with my loving daughter, within a month I would see them both no more and now she is apologizing?
”Letícia, I only know one way I can forgive what you have caused to me over the last years” She look with big eyes “Would you do that, Sean, would forgive me?".
She took my hands and said with relieve “I feel ashame, Sean, I wasn’t aware that our simple life was made of love and respect”.
I smiled, suddenly it seemed so easy to forgive her.
Was it worth it?
My job was just right for me, the weekends with Monica are fantastic.
I had a simple live but no worries.
“Baby, I love you despite all our trouble, it would be easy to hate you, but I am not that kind of person!”
I started full of emotions, for the fist time in two years I named her again baby, and yes, even after the separation I was still in love.
“The moment you mean it, Letícia, I don’t need to forgive.The moment you feel this from your heart and regret what happened, we can start a new fase in our life and the past holds no more value.
The encounter we had in the coffeeshop will be our anniversary for I hope many years” Letícia embraced him with love and placed her head against his chest and said “This is marvelous!!
I love you, Sean!".
Then was a moment of silence, suddenly we got aware that we stood in a bakery in the middle of a little town in Minas Gerais, but everyone only wondered what language we were talking.
I brought Letícia home.
I didn’t get any messages from my customers so far.
Within a couple of days I would drive to São Paulo and find out what was going on.
At the arrival her parents came right away to us and asked Letícia to find out what was going on with her daugther.
They told us she was the whole day in her room and she was very bored.
Letícia entered the bedroom and after an hour she came out with Monica. Letícia did not mention to her about our encounter.
“Daddy, I didn’t know you were here, how are you?”
“Hello Monica, I am fine, but my business is still not moving, I will have to travel to São Paulo to achieve results.
And how are things with you, sweetheart?”.
Monica stared , her father’s voice was different.
“Daddy, I am so bored I am not succeeding in talking with anyone, grandpa and grandma are patient and I do understand what they say, but I can’t answer them. The portuguese lessons are difficult, the sounds are unknown to me.
But that’s not all, I have been at school.
The secondary school is almost similar to the primary school at home, I can’t see myself study here, what can I do about it?
I am glad we’ll go back soon and I will stay in the Netherlands”.
“Monica, you don’t mean that” the mohter laughing her ears off.
She laughed again loud and walked into the kitchen.
Monica looks puzzled at her mother “What’s going on, daddy, why does she laugh, I am so troubled with this move to Brazil and she just keeps on laughing”.
I looked serious at Monica and said “Monica, I don’t believe you are telling everything, you knew beforehands how difficult it would be.
Not knowing portuguese would make it hard at the beginning but you will certainly overcome this difficulty.
There must be another reason,what is it?”
Monica was used to exchange secrets with her mother.
She felt now she could tell a secret to her father.
Anyway she was planning to go back to the Netherlands and she should have a good reason.
“Daddy, can I tell you a secret? But don’t tell mom, I think she will get mad if you tell her. I have now my doubts”.
I nodded, what a day, I still had four weeks to go,and no result achieved for my firm and now I had family problems on top.
When Letícia called me from the bakery I finally found someone I could speak to in english.
I cancelled that appointment with a textmessage, at the time I thought maybe I would be able to meet her in the future.
“Daddy, you remember when your friend Timothy took us to the airport and I sat in the back with his son and mom?”
I nodded my head .“Well, we have been chatting over the phone, over the last weeks, and I am very found of him!!”.
My face changed from relaxed to angry “Monica, we were only half an hour in the car, how is that possible? Are you already into boys at fourteen years of age?”.
“Daddy, we exchanged contacts. I have no plans yet, but I like him”.“Monica, wait a moment” I turned around and called her mother who stood still in the kitchen.
“Letícia, please come here, I think you want to hear what your daughter is telling me, and it’s not amusing”. She came quickly out of the kitchen with a puzzled face “What’s going on?”.
“Your daughter wants to go back to the Netherlands, but that has nothing to do with Brazil, but something very different, tell her Monica”.
"I can’t trust you, I thought you could keep a secret!!!” “That is what I’m doing" I grinned "but you are going to tell your mother”.
“You have no choice, otherwise she’ll be convinced you don’t like it here”.
“Mom, can you recall Richard?”
“Richard, who is he?”.
“Mamma, act normal, you sat next to him in the car when we went to the airport!”.
“You mean the son of Timothy, ok, what about him?”.
Her eyes went suddenly wide open “Monica, you’re not telling me you have something going on with that boy?
You don’t know him at all!”.
“Mom, the last weeks we’ve been chatting, and now he is a great friend of mine, I like him.
I want to go home, mom, but if I leave you will be on your own, what a drama,mom, but here I will never be happy”.
Letícia started to laugh and this time she bursted out in tears. Monica looked at me puzzled.
“Daddy, help me, what is going on with my mom?”.
I couldn’t get one single word out of my throat, I looked to me daugther and I looked at my wife, my wife laughed, and then she made a step in my direction and stopped.
Monica didn’t get a clue, Letícia made one more step in my direction and another and then we hugged.
“No!” screamed Monica excited “No, you don’t mean that !!!”.
We nodded with tears in our eyes, and I said “We had a talk again this morning, this time without apple-pie”.
Monica jumped in the air of joy, she gave a hug to her mother, kissed her a lot and hugged me, and she said “Thank you, daddy, I love you!”.
The parents of Letícia looked at the whole event, they couldn’t understand what was going on, but they saw that everybody was happy and that made them satisfied.
It was a relief for me to be able to talk with the customers in São Paulo.
With the customers in Rio de Janeiro the reason was similar. It was of a brutal simplicity; it slipped their mind, but they said they were seriously planning to call on me.
To import was a problem, but I got to know how the system worked, the firm received my report through the e-mail and the management was satisfied with the result,
In short, to import was very laborious, but Brazil had unlimited number of customers and they were prepared to pay higher prices for our products. In the future I would have to travel at least once or twice a year to South America.
Letícia would like to travel with me so she could visit her parents and enjoy the brazilian life-style.
The weeks before leaving to the Netherlands I stayed with Letícia’s family. The little hotel I swapped for a bedroom with Letícia, I had nothing to complain about that.
They were so pleasant and the language barrier became a lesser problem , I could even repeat little sentences and I communicate through my tablet.
I could on a civilized way already greet them and say hello.
During the evenings there was a constant flow of relatives, at a certain moment I felt it would be just easier to invite the whole town, everyone seems to be related with Letícia.
Monica became a better person, the rebound in the relationship of her parents gave her such a boost she spent that energy with her brazilian nephews and nices.
Letícia booked her open airplane ticket on the date of Monica’s and my flight, we would travel back together.
We felt like having a very long holiday.
In the meantime the e-mails flew forwards and backwards to the Netherlands,Monica got confirmation she could return to her class at school,
Letícia before she left the shop in Utrecht negotiated a couple of months suspension, she got her work and dutch colleagues back. My boss delegated the project South America to me with a staggering increase of my income.
Our lives changed for the better , Letícia flew to Brazil for happiness.
However by leaving everything she has built up in twenty years, she realized that her far past would never come back, and her life in the Netherlands wasn't that bad at all.
Her brazilian friends in Utrecht believed that they were still young and couldn’t be bothered with the day of tomorrow.
She now admitted she tried to ignore being grown up, now she understood this would never lead to anything, as a result families would fall apart.
Monica gain a lot experience by travelling. She decided not to stop with her study of portuguese so she could communicate with her grandparents.
She missed the relaxed and simple life in Minas Gerais, Brazil, she missed her nephews and nices, the neighbours and mainly her grandparents and uncle Vinicius.
She can now talk about her mother’s birthplace.
She wishes I fly soon for business again. She warned me last week that I should stick to my old Ford and keep the money for the next trip to Brazil.
As far as I know Monica and Richard are just friends, but that is up to them, she is now fifteen and he is sixteen.
I would never have travelled to Brazil if Letícia didn’t need my help with her removal.
Now I have a different look on matters, my horizon used to be of the size of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands,now I have become a real worldtraveller .
I enjoy my work and living in the Netherlands.
But I give now less attention to my sailing and more to Letícia and Monica.
I am glad I have overcome my sorrow and got back in a serious relationship.
This really has become a happy end.
The friends of Letícia find me now less of a pain and I participate more often with their “confraternização” , a beautiful word for brotherhood.
I don’t worry so much and I have more fun, it sounds like I am brazilian!
Now that I talk about Brazil, next month I will visit a Water-Exhibition in São Paulo,Brazil.
I’ll look forward to this.
Guess who’s coming with me?