Tampa = Curitiba
By Rick T. Parnell
The following is a true account of how a guy from Tampa, Florida ended up here in Curitiba.
It began in 1997 when I was living in Tampa and met a Brazilian woman, Cleria, who worked in the same building as I did. Our eyes met several times before we dared to speak. One day a mutual smile and eye contact appeared in harmonic symphony.
My wife had passed away the year before, so I was mindlessly going to work and coming home to my cat and dog, just going through the paces of life. Little did I know God had sent Cleria to the US in 1996 as my new wife. We began dating with an English-Portuguese dictionary always between us. She knew little English and I knew no Portuguese. We wrote notes and drew pictures, which made everything more fun. I was thinking I was a tad crazy but realized life was meant to be an adventure. Had she not come along, there probably would have been three skeletons in my house (dog, cat and me).
Soon she was visiting often and helped de-clutter my house. Then she invited me over to her apartment to eat. It was food unlike anything I had ever tasted before. Delicious! I showed her some of Tampa culture and the landmarks, and she joined me for meals at my grandmother’s house as well as my mom’s — all good signs.
We got married in 1999 and traveled together to Brasil for the first time. As you can imagine, it was a huge dose of culture shock. We were met by some of her family at the airport, and they were ecstatic. I felt like a visiting dignitary! The next day they had a party for us, around 40 people — all relatives. I didn’t know anyone had that many relatives. I enjoyed the various food trays and cakes and ate until I was bursting.
Over the next few years, we settled into our life together in Florida, and we made annual trips from Florida to Brazil. Each trip I enjoyed it more and more. I thought to myself, What a great place to live! Most everything is economical and the way of life is similar to how it was in the States 50 years ago.
In 2004 my life changed, as I was baptized here, as my wife had been baptized earlier in Tampa. In 2008, my job was eliminated and I was having health issues, so we decided to make the plunge. Cleria and I moved to Curitiba with my mom in November 2009. Mom got to see the city before she passed way in March of 2010.
Since then I have grown to love the people in Brazil from around the world and now have my permanent residency. Now if I can just get used to not being on time!
Rick Parnell is a Consultant and Proofreader of American English. He can be contacted at Ricktparnell@msn.com.
[Photos are by Michael Rubin]