Shut Up and Go

My “Me Date” in Miami

By November 17, 2015 Life Stories, Motivation, USA

Picture this: a giant pineapple, some live Jazz music, Salsa dancing, and a couple of Europeans; Alex from Spain and Anna from Sweden.

I was out sipping an incredibly overpriced Mojito, (if I paid $15 for one damn drink, you know I’m gonna maximize the evening), at a quaint Cuban lounge called Ball & Chain in Miami when the world stopped for a few moments so I could appreciate every little thing the night had to offer.


Let me backtrack for a second.

This was my first time in Miami, and although I wasn’t solo, Damon and I split up at night after we we were done exploring to do our own things. Let’s face it, going “Kale hunting” isn’t exactly my go-to activity when traveling, and finding the best live Salsa music to bailar isn’t his. After five years of traveling together we’ve acknowledged that it’s critical to “do you” every now and then.

I spared no moment doin’ me during this Miami trip. On our last night, Thirsty Thurzzz, I made it a goal to dance and mingle with strangers in Mr. 305’s favorite street: Calle Ocho in Little Havana.

Despite preaching the whole “Going Out Solo” concept, I admit that I haven’t done the most adventurous things on my own in the last few months. After moving to LA, I got too excited with having my own room for the first time in legitimately 10 years. Confession: I consider snuggling up with a teddy bear in bed on weekends and watching Spongebob the best time ever, *doing that exact activity right this minute.*


But, since I didn’t pack Jiggly, my beloved teddy bear, I challenged myself to be a big girl and strut out the door into the mystery of Miami. And come on, when will I ever have the opportunity to Salsa dance as close to Cuba as you can get without leaving U.S. soil? Exactly, never. I put on strappy Salsa-proof wedges, and the most Rico Suave looking shirt I owned. I flung my purse on my shoulders and felt a tingle of confidence, empowerment and even nervousness for my “Me date in Miami.” The only difference between this and a date with someone else is that I knew the evening wouldn’t end with the sour taste of crappy conversation, or an awkward attempt of a kiss Goodnight.

I know how to treat myself right.

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By November 16, 2015 USA

Miami. Honestly, it was never a city that screamed to me. Never a city I felt like I must visit before I die. Never a city I heard that much about. Yet guess who just got back from a four-day work vacation in none other than Miami? Lil’ ol me.

Miami, for me, was both surprising and at the same time, not at all. The people of Miami’s South Beach, really are exotic-looking, beautiful, and if described as a food, would legit be chili peppers, or if an object, fireworks. You know how sometime you spend your Sundays just watching early 2000s RnB music videos with like Fat Joe, or JLO, or…Sisqo? Ok, just me? Well now you have that visual for your next trip to Miami. Yeah, Miami, to me, is just like the music videos (Down 4 U, to be specific). The girls are smiling and wearing thongs and sarongs, and the men, well they just look like nicely-moisturized ballers. Still trying to figure that one out since personally I spent 105% of my time in Miami sweating my ass off.

What people know of Miami is South Beach – a remote island where most of the hotels are located, as well as most of the “tourist attractions,” and nightlife destinations. It’s a must-visit. Because of the Art-Déco style of all the buildings, the island of South Beach feels like a Disney Village. And I ain’t mad about it. South Beach is in fact the largest concentration of Art Déco buildings from the 20s and 30s in the world, mainly because it was around that time that the island grew in popularity.

Then you have the other note-worthy Miami neighborhoods like Little Havana and Wynwood, which I really don’t know why I’m mentioning since I barely have any photos of either.

Little Havana is the closest thing Americans could get to anything-Cuba. Walk down Calle Ocho, eat at El Exquisito (we ate lunch and our total for 2 people came to $15), and go salsa dancing at Ball & Chain. Uber over to Wynwood – the hipster neighborhood centered around industrial buildings, where you’ll find coffee shops, independent shops, and the best part of all: murals and street art, everywhere. After traveling the world and seeing the hipster neighborhoods in each city, nothing, and I’m telling you nothing compares to Wynwood’s art. Literally every street in the neighborhood is decked out with street murals and quotes spray-painted on the sidewalks. We stopped in Warby Parker Miami and sipped on iced coffees from Panther Coffee.

Miami was everything and nothing that I expected. It’s a city where English truly feels like a second language, where you feel like you’re in Europe, Latin America, and the United States at the same time, and where, honestly, you sweat your ass off all day long. Enjoy!
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Everything I Ate in Hungary

By November 6, 2015 Hungary

Traveling to a country named Hungary, I figured I would be faced with a lot of greasy, fatty food.

And I was..

What was surprising, though, was that in a world of beef gulyás and heavy pörkölt, I actually found it very easy to find vegetarian food – well, after a vegan at the front desk of my Budapest hostel gave me a post-it note with all her favorite recommendations.

Omelets and cappuccinos at Grill & Chips


These kürtőskalács from Central Market Hall

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Neither Here, Nor There

By November 5, 2015 Life Stories

There’s an expression in Spanish that I once heard: “Soy ni de aquí, ni de allá,” meaning “I’m from neither here, nor there.” Welcome to the life of almost any immigrant child living a dual life in The States. Despite the USA glamorizing the concept of being a melting pot composed of various cultures, no one talks about the internal identity confusion immigrants face when they adopt a new culture, and in turn lose a bit of their own.

Here’s the reality: you can’t be in two places at once; well, not until Apple designs an update for that.

Whatchyou talkin’ bout Jo?

When I first left my city life in Rio to move all the way to North Eastern Connecticut as a five-year-old, I remember being many things, but the main feeling in my mind and heart was confusion. “Wait, we’re on a country?” “I’m leaving mine to go to someone else’s?”

It all happened so fast.

Before I could even process all of that information with my five year old brain, I was wearing my favorite red shirt, with a blue crochet hat sitting in a window seat of a plane en route to the new world.


Before I knew what Brazil or America was

A few months prior, my mom broke the news that she was thinking about moving us all to “Os Estados Unidos.” She began explaining what that would mean for us and our lives, and my eyes lit up as if I was a little adventurer or something. She would get a new job, we would go to new schools. The highlight of it all was that we would have endless opportunities to accomplish whatever we wanted, but it wouldn’t be easy. I was excited for the challenge.

My older brother and sister had a sour feeling because they’d have to leave behind their school friends, while I was just starting to build friendships, so I couldn’t be upset, just confused. There was also no notice on if or when we’d ever go back to our homeland where our entire family stayed behind. I knew this move was going to be something big when I witnessed my aunts, cousins, and even father crying while saying goodbye at the airport.

We landed in JFK, and got a cab all the way to Connecticut, where we’d plant our new home base. Of course, within hours we found ourselves roaming the aisles of Walmart – the only outing that really makes you feel like you’ve ARRIVED in the USA – to buy my very first (and last) wool sweatsuit with stretchy cuffs at the feet. Felt so fly in my brand spankin’ new American outfit.

We lived with a family friend the first few weeks to get adjusted before finding our own apartment. My initial reactions were that everyone lived like they were rich; having built in carpets was such a luxury in my eyes. Other observations that crossed my mind were the extreme flourescent lights everywhere, trees looking like huge green cotton balls, and how crazy the language sounded with all the arrrss and theess that I thought my mouth would never be able to make.

Getting smacked with the reality of “I’m Different”

A few days later and I was already going to school with a bunch of Americans who had no idea where I came from.


Let’s play, “where’s little Jo at?”

When I finally learned English, I understood their questions. They’d asked if I swam to The States, or if I used to live in a Tipi in the Amazon. They touched my curly hair and asked to cut it off to keep for themselves. All questions that became normal to me as the only foreign kid in the entire grade. Doing homework was always a nightmare. Despite barely speaking English, I was still expected to write a paragraph about a new book each night. Picture this: me, my mom, an English-Portuguese dictionary, and tears of frustration. This painful scenario lasted for at least three years, at least until I learned how to fully speak English after HOURS of studying flashcards, watching Barney, and attending ESL (English as a Second Language tutoring) taught by a teacher who only spoke Spanish and English, go figure.

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Using Kim Kardashian to Learn About Your Own Life

By November 4, 2015 Motivation

I’m scrolling down Facebook and I’m annoyed.

Annoyed at what people are posting and annoyed that I’m still “friends” with these people on Facebook.

For the past few months, we’ve all noticed the Trending News widget Facebook updates instantly on the right of our dashboards. Win-win, I thought. Users are more informed about what’s going on in Politics, Sports, Entertainment, etc., and Facebook benefits from the engagement and media buzz. Personally, I feel more in-the-know, and this is something I now actively look for every time I log on to Facebook.

But then I see my Facebook “friends'” responses to the news stories – which, as you’ve probably experienced yourself, are never the most educated, kind, or charming status updates. Kim Kardashian, for example, in any headline, is enough to spark a strong reaction from anyone on Facebook.

It’s 2015. Kim Kardashian is everywhere. Her family is always in the headlines. We know this. The latest headline and Facebook frenzy revolves around Kim wearing $300 Givenchy sandals, which leads me to something I think many people are missing.

She’s allowed to do that.

And let me explain to you why she’s allowed to do that. Kim Kardashian can go to dinner in $300 Givenchy sandals, because it is her life. She can also go to dinner in $3,000 Givenchy sandals, because it is her life.

Why this may cause outrage to you is understandable. $300 is never something I, or you, would ever spend on something like sandals, because we’d rather spend our money elsewhere – and also because we don’t have much disposable income (yet). For someone like Kim Kardashian whose net worth so far in 2015 is over 52 million, she doesn’t have to buy $20 Nike sandals just because you think that’s what sandals should be worth. Read More

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Falling for Central Park

By October 31, 2015 USA

No doubt that Central Park tops every tourist’s must-do list in New York, and unlike Times Square, this one’s actually something real New Yorkers love, and love to brag about. The park spans 776 acres from Midtown’s 59th street to Harlem’s 110th street, although tourists mainly tend to visit the Southernmost part, where you might recognize some of the pathways from movies from this list (they don’t call it the most filmed urban park around the world for nothing).

Both visitors and New Yorkers love Central Park so much that recently, there have been issues with the construction of new skyscrapers near the park’s border, only provoking the fear that one day Central Park will have very little sunlight.

For you though, as a visitor to New York, there are a thousand other iconic experiences to be had in Central Park that don’t require $18 for a pair of skates at Wollman Rink or another $18 for an entrance ticket to the Central Park Zoo (both great things to do by the way). Instead, spend your day swinging at the Hecksher playground, pick-nicking in Sheep Meadow, walking the Central Park Reservoir, or strolling around the Conservatory Gardens. Ahem, I literally did all of these things last week.

But for now, let’s just enjoy the fall foliage found in Central Park.




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