About Pandemic Prowling: In this series, Pandemic Prowling, I share stories about my travels across 4 continents (Asia, N. America, S. America, Africa) amidst the outbreak of Covid19.
Proceeding As Planned
Things change, plans change. Especially amidst a pandemic that led to government shutdowns. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from pushing on ahead with my plans. Said plans were delayed and shortened but continue nonetheless. One of those plans was to pick up an instrument and busk in the streets of Latin cities. It was going to be my own impromptu rock tour, just another experience to check off another box.
Of course things got complicated when moving from city to city wasn’t so easy. This culminated with the fact that most Latin countries were locked down making travel not so easy. I decided to go to Brazil, not my intended destination but one of the few South American countries open to tourism. Things were cut short, the only two cities I hit were Sao Paolo and Rio de Jinero, but that is just the way life goes.
It was a bit of a scary prospect because:
- I was obviously a foreigner in this country
- I would be singing (well shouting) in a foreign language
- People would be staring at me
- I’d feel a bit humiliated if I didn’t pull in any money
- I’d be vulnerable to harassment by passerbys
This was culminated by the fact that during this day and age:
- People would frown on me for not wearing a mask
- Many people are unemployed and would have little to offer in terms of busk money
- Foreigners would be looked upon by many with suspicion
None of this was going to stop me though. Feel the fear and do it anyways. So after a month of practicing the acoustic guitar, I went out there and beated the streets, ready or not.
Not to my surprise, I was stopped a few times by police mid song (rude) telling me to put on my face mask. I understood why, but it didn’t stop it from being annoying.
One of the most memorable moments though, was not someone dropping a $20 bill equivalent in my guitar case (though I admit it was nice), it was when I was singing, “Numb” by LinkedIn Park when I saw a boy on a scooter staring at me, I smiled at him (even though it is a sad song) and he smiled back. I didn’t think to much about it until I was caught off guard by that same boy when he jumped onto the same bench I was standing on. He told me in Portuguese (through my broken Spanish, sign language and context I understood enough) that he didn’t have any money, but he wanted to give me his jade bracelet. He put it in my hand, jumped off the bench, turned back around to give me a thumbs up and left.
Now when the rich give you something, it means very little, but when the poor do, that means the world. And it showed me that even when times are tough (as they were in 2020) human kindness still exists.