Day 210 - Beatriz (2nd person I approached)
July 29, 2014 - On a hot day, there’s nothing like finding an air-conditioned location to seek out a stranger. Beatriz was in the same frame of mind, at least with regard to cooling down. She had bought some frozen yoghurt from a store down the street. Knowing she was going to buy lunch here, she came inside to the nice cool place to enjoy her nice cool treat. And eating dessert first - that is living. Amazing!
Beatriz was born in Sào Paulo, Brazil.
“I have three older brothers and one younger brother. I am the only girl. My brothers were always very good to me. People might think that being the only girl in a latin family might be difficult. But there wasn’t any problems. My brothers respected me and helped me whenever they could. They would be the ones to say to my parents ‘you should let her do that’ or ‘she will be okay.’ If I was going to be out later than my parents wanted for example, my brothers would tell them not to worry. It was safe in our neighbourhood,” says Beatriz, adding “back then.” She smiles and shakes her head.
“We were a close family. I mean maybe not as close as some typical latin families, but when I look at some families here in Canada, I think we were definitely closer."
After high school, Beatriz went to university.
“At first I was thinking about an arts degree. Maybe to be in communications, or to be an actress. But about six months into it, I realized it wasn’t for me. We are too young at that time to know what we want. I took Computer Sciences instead, and loved it. I like to think about things and figure out how things work. I had always like Math, I’m good with numbers, so computer sciences was good for me,” she said. Beatriz completed her university program in four years. While in elementary and high school, Beatriz had learned to speak a little English. In university she continued to study English for a year on top of her other classes.
“After I finished university, I got a job working with the computer systems in a bank. They hired sixteen people and then there was a year of training. It was like another university course. But there was a lot of planning they had to work out before we started. So I had eight months off between university and starting this training. It was nice to relax and not have to do anything!” she said.
Beatriz went on to become a systems analyst.
“I had been doing that for a while and a friend and I both decided it would be good to try something new. I got a leave from work and we went to San Diego to learn to become database administrators. The idea was we’d take the database program and study English as well. The database course turned out to be a lot of work and studying. We didn’t get much time to practise English. I worked at an ice cream shop in the evenings to help pay for things and so my days were very full,” she said. Beatriz returned to Sào Paulo, and started working for the document management company, Xerox. Before coming to Canada, she had spent the last ten years working for HP, the information technology company.
“I was ready to try living somewhere else and the choice was between Australia or Canada. I came to Canada for a vacation to see what it is like. I went to Toronto and then came here to Vancouver. I liked both, but I decided on Vancouver. It reminded me of San Diego,” she said, smiling.
“My friends thought it was a crazy thing to do. I didn’t have a job and I didn’t know anyone that lived here. But life is short and I wanted to do it. So I quit my job and moved here,” she said.
After moving to Vancouver, Beatriz got a temporary contract with the government in the Department Fisheries and Oceans.
“It was a good job and I liked it. After the contract was over, they posted a permanent position and I applied for it and got the job,. I enjoy the work I do, and i hope that I'm making a valuable contribution to the department and the country. I'm grateful to be here,” she said. Beatriz has been in Vancouver for four years now.
“I like living here. I know most people who live here think it’s a big city, but Sào Paulo has a population of twenty million people, so this is paradise for me. I can ride my bike and go for walks and it’s not crowded. And it’s so beautiful here, everywhere you look. Sure it rains, and I need to find something to do in winter time. The activities I like are all outdoors, riding my bike and walking. Maybe this year I will learn to do that thing with those big shoes… “ and she uses her hands to demonstrate walking.
“Snow-shoeing! I’m not going to learn to ski, not at this age. We’ll see.”
Her mother is now eighty-four and lives by herself back in Brazil.
“It worries me that something might happen to her and I am here. My father passed away two years ago when I was here. My brother called me and I got a plane there, but my father had already gone into a coma and never woke up.” We spoke about knowing that he was aware that Beatriz was there, and had waited for her to arrive. That brought her some comfort.
“I speak with my mother every day, on Skype (Beatriz said Skype-ey with her lovely Brazilian accent). After the call, it feels almost like being there without actually sitting next to her. We talk about every thing; what she had to eat, what she did today. We’ve always been very close and I’ve spoken with her everyday. Always.” I asked if her mother lived in a place where she had someone to assist with her care.
“No, it’s not like that in Brazil. She lives alone. But it is easy to have someone come in and help. Everyone back home pays someone to help with the chores. She has a maid that comes in every day to help her at home,” says Beatriz.
“Even when I lived there, me by myself, I still paid someone to come in and do the things I didn’t like doing. I would rather go without a new item of clothing to not have to do all the cleaning,” says Beatriz. I tell her that I know if I had the money, I’d gladly have someone clean my floors and my bathroom.
“Yes!” she says in agreement.
“That was actually one of the things I missed about Sào Paulo. I’m not rich but I still pay someone to come to my home three hours a week here. It’s just nice to have some things taken care of.” #notastranger