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Travel Writing 2017 Application

Let us travel subservely 2017

Out of my comfort zone

Olivia Scarpari Bressan


While in a trip, we are convened to go subversive: dislocation opens up in order for us to look around using different lenses, almost as if we glanced at a mirror for the first time. The unknown scenario reflects into us how much we are willing to get in contact with the New and to be challenged by it. That by itself it is a push to go further common sense and comfort zone. But there is more to add: personally I don't think you know a place until you discover it through your feet. It is by walking that you can really feel the textures of the streets – their temperature, their noises, their flukes. Walking nowadays it is a way of resistance (and re-existence), an opposition to the facilities cars can provide, it is a way to implicate our body into the experience of recognizing the surroundings. My first sketches in travel writing were scribbled during a trip to Ouro Preto, a mythical city in Brazil. My goal to visit the place was simply to have no goal at all. The only means of transportation I could use? Walking, but not merely walking, I was going to actual be a conscious rambler, so that I could become a real flâneuse, a female writer trying out the world and its risks. And also its gifts. Through the method created by Baudelaire and later rescued by Walter Benjamin, wandering without any purpose triggered intense meetings along the way. Chance gave me moments I could never imagine, such as my encounter with mr. João, an elderly man that I found seated in front of a closed church. A former miner, João never received his compensations after leaving the mining company he worked for more than thirty years, so he was praying fiercely for his retirement money to be finally available. He was a man of faith, despite Brazilian Burocracy. I also met Emanuel Arcanjo, an idly clown who just happened to be told his girlfriend was pregnant, even if he was in love with someone else. And Henrique, a street painter who has illustrated for free the pages I wrote about Ouro Preto. During the stroll, though my body hurt, my soul was enlightened – men and their contradictions – and I never forgot neither João, Emanuel, Henrique nor so many others. Those stories are worth living since they produce intense mental pictures and unique memories – and everything only happened because I was eager to take the first step towards the world.

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