So this is how my trip ends. I’m leaving Brazil within the next couple of days which means this is the last blog I will be writing while I’m here… I am a bit taken back right now. I think back to the beginning of my time and wow….. I can’t go back to how things used to be and it’s better than way. This blog is going to be a little different though. I have a few updates I want to talk about, but then I would like to discuss some topics about the trip in general. So lets get started on the final chapters!

I arrived from Buzios to come stay at Thiago’s mother’s place until my departure. She has been an incredibly generous person to let me stay without hardly knowing me and I’m so thankful for everything this family has done. They are my family away from home and have received me in a way that has been the most telling of the Brazilian hospitality. I am going to miss them dearly…

Lots of people at the Connection house have been leaving for the holiday season, especially those who have been there a long time. There was nobody competing this weekend so we all decided to make one last night in Lapa to celebrate. Friends from all over the world came to meet there and it was such a great night of cheerfulness and reminiscing. Lots of the people whom I’ve gotten closest to we’re there. We told stories, danced, and drank to our satisfaction. Here are some pictures of what the night looked like:

The next day was the end of the year BBQ at the CR house, and though we were all fighting hangovers, we got it together enough to eat, talk and hangout with everybody at the house. The event was sponsored by Koral Fighting Gear and a raffle was held at the end. Only a few people decided to enter (and I was one of them) so the chances of winning a sweet prize was high. Turns out I won the big prize and left the party with a brand new Koral Gi!! I’m very excited to try it out for training. It fits well and is comfortable as can be so I think it’s gonna go straight into my main kimono rotation.

The BBQ at the house was a symbol of things coming to a close for me. I got to see tons of people for the last time and say my goodbyes. Dennis Asche was there and had a nice talk with him about future plans. He has offered that I can come back to the house and train next year as a sponsored athlete. This means free training, lodging and laundry for up to three months! I don’t think I can turn down such an offer which means I will be planning my next trip very soon! I’m not 100% sure on when, but I’m hoping to make it in October or September. Lets see how it goes!

And thus marks the end of my updates on my stay here. Wow! no more stories from Brazil. I will be getting on a plane and heading to California to visit family for the holidays. Afterwards I will be back home and ready to train at GGBJJ again. There have been many lessons learned while on this trip. Some have been easy to learn while others took a good deal of pain to figure out. I want to make this final part of my blog in Brazil about how this trip has changed my views and what bits of life I have uncovered while here.

People from around the world aren’t as different as some want you to believe

The Connection House is full of people from all over the world. I have met people there from Germany, England, Holland, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, Jordan, Chile, Sweden, Norway, Finland, USA, Israel, France, Kazahkstan, Russia, Austrailia, New Zealand, Brazil, Poland, Canada, Malaysia, Colombia, and several others I can’t think of right now. No matter where you were from, everybody in that house was able to meet and enjoy each other. We would talk, become close friends and understand each other because at the end of the day, we were all on the same path in life during our stay, despite where we were born. There were some differences, of course, but these were mainly celebrated.

Connection to Others is Most Important
The training has made the trip great but what I love the most is how well I’ve bonded with people. There is no amount of money or jiu jitsu success that could make me feel happier than having a great group of friends surrounding me. Those things are pointless without people to enjoy them with. The laughs, the hugs, the moments when others enlightened me and I them. Those are the best times.

I also realized how much my family and friends back home mean to me. I went through moments where I really missed them, especially my girlfriend. Being so far away from her was incredibly tough. We both struggled with it at times. I am so happy to see her again soon and without being away, it would have been hard to see how much she means to me.

Do your best to live in the moment

I have been known to always wait for things to come in the future to come and tell myself that moment will make me happy. Then when the moment gets there, I’m just waiting for another moment to come and have missed enjoying what I was originally looking forward to. The Brazilians know something lots of Americans seem to forget; this moment is one worth living in. They don’t fret about the future too much and they don’t dwell on the past. They enjoy what they are doing and you can see how much happier they are because of it. The culture here likes to plan on a day to day basis often times. Less worries. Less stress. Less baggage to carry. I need to work on this mentality a good bit.

By the time this is posted, I will be stateside. I hope you all have enjoyed reading. I will be heading to spend time with my family now but maybe I will get some time to train at schools there. If so then I’ll make sure to write about it! Take care. OSSSS!