Kissing Frogs in Brazil

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During the summer of 1995, I spent the most unforgettable four months in Brazil. I was with my uncles and cousins in the city of San Pablo for two months first. Then, I spent two months with my cousin Desiree and her sons, which at that time were 6 and 7 years old, in a small village in the State of Minas Gerais called São Thomé das Letras.


She had the intention of moving there so she enrolled her children at a school there, however she changed her mind and they all went back to San Pablo. I stayed a little bit more. The thing that surprised me the most about the country–in addition to the beautiful green landscape–were the general happiness, kindness and trust of the people.


Since I was a foreigner, it was enough for me to seat on the sidewalk or at a bar, so that I would get close to different people and at rare times, we became good friends in no time and they would tell me the story of their lives.


I lived the most “hippie” time of my life in São Thomé das Letras. I walked around the barefoot in the village, which was mainly made of slab, I sometimes slept in the small house that we rented but I also slept on the mountain in the open air, just on stones, I showered in the rain or under nearby falls and I always ate with friends, each contributing.


It was a little village among those considered magical, where many people believe are spirits, particular energies, OVNIS and more. It was quite the touristic place, but for hippies, travelers, young people, spiritual people.


I heard that the police wasn’t very present and that there were a high consumption of drugs, the only activities of the village I didn’t participate in. I however very much enjoyed the numerous parties, live music and long walks in the woods and on the mountain.


With my cousin, we traveled during a few days for a lady who owned a restaurant and a business of retail sales of precious stones and gems, incense and decorations in that style. Other of my friends showed me how to do handcrafts that we would sell at pubs or on the street, especially macramé bracelets made of raffia.


Two months were enough to learn about the life stories of many of the village people: our friends were musicians, tattooed artists, travelers and some families with children who decided to move there. Also, I was kept up-to-date of the love affairs of each one of them and witnessed how relationships are made and undone at a vertiginous speed.


One night, while I was walking down the main street of the village, I saw a group of small children in circle, looking at something on the ground. I got closer to see what caused their agitation since they were shouting and jumping around… It was all because of a frog, and of course the children were as curious as they were afraid.


Since one of my goals is always to educate people on nature and I didn’t want them to keep on being afraid–but at the same time I didn’t want them to think of hurting them. So I grabbed the frog, told them that it didn’t do anything, I even kissed the frog a few times as a demonstration.


They stared at me completely astonished. Then I let the frog go a little further and continued my way. The funny thing was that for the rest of my stay they would scream whenever they would see me: “It’s the girl who kisses frogs!!!”


After living that lifestyle for a few weeks, I decided to move on from my hippie phase, go back to San Pablo, where I spent a little more time, and then go back to Cordoba to resume my studies.


My return was a whole other adventure. I used a relative’s truck to go to Porto Alegre, where I spent hours at the bus station, so many that I made friends with members of an


Andean music group that were selling their cassettes, in fact I even helped them. Then, I headed to the municipality of Uruguayana, where I crossed the Brazilian border in a taxi, praying that they wouldn’t stop me, since my visa had expired more than a month before and that was going to get me into terrible trouble.


Thankfully, I was able to cross without going through control. I waited several hours in the Argentine city of Paso de los Libres, I paid the fare with the cash I had left and finally, I arrived at Córdoba…


I’m reading my diary from that time and I find it very funny to see this written: “My feet are so swollen, I’m so dirty and my hair is so tangled that I think that as soon as I arrive in Córdoba I’ll really just pour bleach on myself, and this time it’s for real”.


That 4-month trip was incredible and at the end, the return was so long: three days spent in a truck, a taxi, a bus and a lot of waiting. But I was lucky, everything went well.


The moral of the story is that I can guarantee you that frogs do not turn into princes, however guardian angels do exist… they do!


Author: Helena Arroyo 

Amelie Delobel

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