When Second Chances Become Leaps of Faith

Leap of faith: story of my life, no doubt about it. As I continue my pet project of interviewing the taxi and Uber drivers of the world, I am completely and utterly humbled by the fact that there are others who risked so much more in doing so and grateful to be surrounded by family all over the world that has done the same (shout out to the cousins in the USA, Canada, and Australia!). Portugal has a rich history spanning three millenia of welcoming people from distant shores, making this country the ultimate gateway to Europe. This is where faiths, fates and paths converge and thus bestowing upon you the privilege of turning the page and starting over. Life here is more than simply embracing a second chance, because for some, embarking on a new life here is their third or fourth chance.

My Uber driver yesterday was the walking definition of second chances, having been born into a family that migrated from Japan to Brazil. The Japanese Brazilians or nipo-brasileiros as they are also referred to, are a unique cultural group consisting of Japanese migrants who emigrated to Brazil as early as 1908. Curiously, the Brazilian government at the time encouraged this migration in an effort to help the coffee industry that had experienced a decrease of Italian immigrants for the same purpose. A millenium later, you find the Japanese Brazilians now emigrating to other countries to start over, such as Portugal. Conversely, you also have the reverse migration in the form of the Nikkei Brazilians or Brazilians in Japan. Isn’t culture a fascinating thing?

The driver was initially shy about speaking English, prefering to speak Portuñol with me, but eventually I coaxed the English out of him, and he had no trouble expressing himself. I pointed out that it was is Japanese heritage that made him linguistically shy, to which he chuckled and agreed wholeheartedly. He would rather speak his imperfect English, he admitted, than his less than perfect Japanese. He cringes each time he has Japanese passengers that expect him to babble away fluently! Oh the ironies of life. Although he converses with his parents in Japanese, Portuguese is his mother tongue, and Portuñol a close second, having grown up close to the Uruguayan border.

He and his family moved to Portugal four years ago and have settled nicely. The children felt right at home here, whereas he and his wife struggle with the European cultural coldness. I raised an eyebrow at this comment and exclaimed that if he thinks Portugal is cold, he should try living in Germany! Catching my eye in the rearview mirror, he grinned and replied, “Actually I really want to move to the Philippines, I think that will be the closest to Brazil in terms of culture.” I couldn’t agree more and had to bite my tongue to say “Yes, politically as well.” I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side, and said that if he really wants to learn to appreciate the Portugese warmth, all he has to do is spend a few months in Germany and let’s if he doesn’t come running back to Lisbon in a flash!

The theme of the day was Second Chances and Leaps of Faith, and curiosuly enough, or perchance by fate, this was shared with me later on in the day (Muito Obrigada MA!):

Yes, Lisbon, you are my second chance, and I embrace this leap with every fibre of my being.

Related entries:

The Blessings of Second Chances

Transcendence and Gratitude

Lurking in the Shadows (aka 50 Shades of Diva)

My Inner Raccoon

The Midlife Recipe

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