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A Tale of Two Emotions

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Each day for the past two weeks, I would lay in my bed trying to sleep overcome with two emotions — pure excitement and creeping anxiety. Night after night, these feelings have intensified coming to a head last night with my departure imminent today. I awoke this morning with those emotions flooding back right as I left them last night. Never before have I been nervous about travel; but then again, I've never traveled like this ever before. The idea to visit Brazil in the summer of 2014 has been on my radar since I returned from New Zealand in 2010. New Zealand was the first time I had ever traveled internationally on my own, and it could not have been a more rewarding experience. I made lifelong friends, tried things I never would have attempted on my own at home and grew as a person. But, that was a pretty easy trip because New Zealand is one of the safest countries in the world for travelers, and everyone speaks English. Furthermore, I was only on my own for two weeks before embarking on an active, guided adventure tour of the South Island that was totally turn-key: for one lump sum, Active New Zealand took care of transportation, lodging, meals and our activities, which really made the trip a breeze.

Rio is one of the most dangerous cities in the world, everyone speaks Portuguese and I'm on my own for more than a month. Sure I'll be there working on a subject matter for my documentary that's close to my heart (covering a group of citizen journalists trying to establish a truly free media in Brazil), and it doesn't hurt that as a life-long soccer fan that has wanted to travel to South America for years, Brazil is hosting the World Cup during the time I'll be there. The prospect for adventure brings about the excitement; going to a city as dangerous as Rio on my own with no Portuguese skills brings about the anxiety (mostly because I'll be carrying lots of expensive camera equipment around with me and really don't want to get robbed...). It's like the scene in Armageddon, a completely underrated movie in my mind, where Owen Wilson's character is describing his feelings before being launched into space:

Overall, I'm more excited than anxious, but that anxious feeling is definitely still there. But, this could be the trip of a lifetime, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let a little healthy fear overshadow a trip I've been planning for half a decade.

I have been saving all of my credit card miles for almost five years to fly to Brazil for the World Cup this year; I have no interest in going to Russia or Qatar for either of the next World Cups, which means I'll be well into my thirties before wanting to go abroad for this purpose again. And, the likelihood that my career or potential family situation would allow me to just pick up and spend a month abroad dwindles with every passing year. Ever since visiting my third continent in 2010, South America has been next on my list. So, this is my one opportunity to knock out two birds with one stone: South America and the World Cup in one trip. The fact that I'm receiving funding to work on my master's thesis project is just icing on an already-delicious cake.

I have a lot of work ahead of me in the weeks leading up to the World Cup. My main contact within the Midia NINJA has been flaky as dandruff for the last two weeks. It's understandable because the NINJA have published a TON of stories about protests, marches and killings that have been going on over the last couple of weeks, so I get that he's busy. But, it does make me a little nervous about getting in touch with the NINJA once I get on the ground there. And since I don't really have any other contacts there, that could be a problem. So, that gives me a little anxiety too. But whatever, I'm sure it will work itself out once I'm there.

Anyway, I have to go finish the last of my packing, eat, do some writing for my job and then head to the airport. Stay tuned to this blog over the coming days and weeks as I will be posting all of my updates here. Wish me luck and send some positive vibes my way. Hopefully I'm right for being excited and silly for being anxious — we shall see soon enough...

BrazilAndrew Stern