The Shawshank Effect

Posted by in Travel

Parole Society Man: Your files say you’ve been out of the country for over one & a half years of a life sentence. Do you feel you’ve been rehabilitated?
DB: Rehabilitated? Well, now let me see. You know, I don’t have any idea what that means.
Parole Society Man: Well, it means that you’re ready to rejoin society…
DB: I know what you think it means, sonny. To me, it’s just a made up word. A politician’s word, so young fellas like yourself can wear a suit and a tie, and have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?

Connection Rio House

Most people would probably consider The Shawshank Redemption one of their top ten movies within the last 30 years. It’s such an iconic movie loaded with a ton of rememberable lines. If you haven’t seen this movie, STOP READING & GO WATCH IT NOW! This may seem strange for me to say, but during my time in Brazil I felt like I was in a Shawshank type realm or mood. Stay with me, let me explain. For the first 3 months that I lived in Brazil, I stayed in a hostel/home mainly for people that wanted to come train in the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). At one point, there were upwards of 25+ people in the house, granted this was during the World Cup, but still that’s  a lot of people in a small space. The great part about being locked away in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with these 20-something people is that we were all guilty of committing the same crime. Most of us were all fugitives to society’s natural order of business. As for me, I had been on the road traveling for almost 9 to 10 months until I landed in Brazil. Sure, I was in & out of home during this time to repack my bags, see my family & friends, and to get some good old comfort food in my system.

So by the time I made it to Brazil, I don’t even know how many different beds I slept in. I was always on the move. I was looking forward to my time in one place, to set roots, and be grounded even if it was temporary. No more living out of a bag (kind of a big deal). When Franc & I arrived in Brazil, we were the new meat, fresh fish, if you will. Most of the people we met had been there for weeks before we got there.
After several days & weeks, the concept of what day or date it is goes out the window. You pretty much realize that if you have your days right & its during the week, you go to practice. If not then you can rest, which is very relative since you are in Brazil where the partying starts late & ends even later. By this time our numbers in the house start to go down as people get released back into society. The new guys become the old guys as the cycle continues. I think one of the hardest parts about this whole situation was saying goodbye to some really good people. You start to depend on each other to make it through.

Red: Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.

Eventually, after months passed I was one of few people left from the original group from the first day I stepped foot in Brazil. We had long left our title of being the new guys. We now did our part to show others the ropes & how to get by as if we ourselves were locals. And then the day that seemed so long ago when the journey started, was approached ever so quickly as time spent in confines of Brazil drew closer to an end. You know my whole journey was mapped & planned out. But now it was time to go back into the unknown of going home. Most people would be excited & I was to a degree, but just like the convicts released after a long period of time, you start to wonder how can you ever go back to living the same life before you came to this place. It’s a strange feeling. I had been traveling for over  a year & a half with Brazil being my home for 6 months. How do you say goodbye? I had just started to make actual connections with Brazilian friends and then it was time to be released back into the real world.

Red: These walls are funny. First you hate ’em, then you get used to ’em. Enough time passes, you get so you depend on them. That’s institutionalized.


Now that I’m back home, I look for plane tickets in hopes that one day I will return.