Camila has bought a bicycle recently. At first, she felt a bit insecure, but now she drives through the city of cars Miami like a flash. She loves to drive across the ocean, on the large bridge that leads to one of the many islands off Miami, to Key Biscayne. She is polite, gentle, her blond highlighted hair is tied around her neck. Camila is from São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil with about 12 million inhabitants. She loves her hometown and has a very close relationship with her family. She never thought she'd leave Brazil once and not knowing if and when she'd come back. But life takes its course and leads it to unknown ways.
When she meets Augusto on the housewarming party of a friend, she doesn’t know anything that will happen. He sees her before she notices him. He doesn’t know that she has just passed a painful separation. After two years of planning, her ex-fiancée left her three months before the wedding. He does not know that she has been trying to forget the pain, to meet with friends, to go out, to dance until the morning hours, to start living slowly the life she used to live, and finally feels stronger than before. She dances at a window, her friends are standing around her and laughing - Augusto sees her from a distance and asks his friend who she is. "I'll marry her," he laughs. After the party the two start texting through phone, suddenly Augusto emerges randomly in the park, where Camila is with her running group. Augusto is waiting for her, in a suit with a briefcase. Augusto is quite different from Camila. He is quiet but knows what he wants. Around Christmas day, they go out together some friends and he takes the italian pastry Panetone to a bar and eats it there. He does not care what others think of him. It is January 2009 when they get to know each other, shortly after they become a couple. But the differences lead to many discussions. Camila likes to go out, she works and celebrates hard. Augusto likes to stay at home or go to a bar. He's unpunctual, Camila tightly organized.
She tells him her story and makes it clear that if he is serious about their relationship and wants to live with her, he has to marry her (Camila still lives with her parents). But if he wants to marry her, it has to be as soon as decide for that, because she will not make the same mistake again and wait. In September, a year later, Augusto's family invites Camila's family to Bahia. Bahia is a state in the northeast of Brazil, on the coast of the Atlantic. Augusto's father and his wife are good hosts and organize a great party. There are many guests, music, and a stage. When Augusto suddenly takes the microphone and aks Camila to marry him the crowd starts to cry. Nine months later they marry, buy an apartment, move together with their Golden Retriever Jessy and are totally happy.
During this time Camila, who has studied Computer Science, is changing the company and feels comfortable in the new company. She is a respected project manager, the benefits of the company are enviable, she has a good salary and her years of hard work with numerous overtime pays off at least. She has the life she always dreamed of.
Augusto is a studied physicist and economist. He studied and lived in Italy for 1,5 years. He dreams of new ways to learn more, to live somewhere else and do his Ph.D. Camila is amused by his dreams, she does not take them too seriously, because she has everything she wants and going away is not questionable for her.
One day, when she is on a business trip, she has to go constantly to the toilet. Her work colleague laughs and asks her if she is pregnant. When she arrives at home she makes a test. It has expired - and it is positive. She gets scared. Augusto and she have always talked about children, but it was not planned. Somehow, it was never the right time. When he comes home, she tells him the news. He looks at her and says quietly: „ You have to do another test again." This is not the reaction that she expected. She is hurt. She does a second test, which is also positive. She begins to cry, overwhelmed because she does not know what to think, disappointed because Augusto shows no emotions at all. She knows he's more rational, but so? She asks her neighbor a prescription for the test, crying. Two days later she has the result - she is pregnant. Augustos big reaction is still missing, after a few weeks they inform the family - everyone cries and is happy for them.
The pregnancy is difficult for Camila. Physically she is fine, she has no nausea, but she is tired. She feels how her body changes. Previously she went into high heels in the work, now she wears flip-flops and yawns frequently. Again and again, she has to go to the doctor, she fights with a bladder infection for months, the doctor prescribes her antibiotics until her due date - Camila refuses and changes the doctor. Her mood often fluctuates, she is sad. She feels pressured, there are a thousand rules during pregnancy, everyone knows it better, everyone expects she would be happy, even though she realizes how her life changes. Augusto is still neutral, she is afraid that he does not want the baby, it stresses her and she cries a lot. Two weeks before birth, he suggests going to the doctor. When the two sit in the examining room and Augusto tells the doctor about her crying all the time, everything breaks out of her. She cries, she tells the doctor of her fears that Augusto does not want the child - now Augusto is also worried. "When I look back now, everything feels so stupid, but I was feeling very bad at this time." The doctor listens to her, soothes her and prescribes her finally an antidepressant drug.
Two weeks later Rafael is born. It was supposed to be a natural birth, but after fourteen hours of labor, it is clear: the baby is too big and not in the right position. When Camila is being prepared for the operation, Augusto is pale in his face. The whole family has come to the hospital and is now waiting for the baby in the next room. When Raphael is born by a c-section, 4kg and 53cm, the family can see through a window. Augusto holds the little one and accompanies him to the examinations. In the meantime, Camila is sewn by the doctor. The doctor sends the family home, then he comes to Camila's bed and tells her that she can not imagine how much Augusto cries. When he has his child in his arms, he understands the miracle and cannot hold his tears.
After two days, the three of them go home together. The dog and the cat, her sister, her godson and goddaughter are waiting for them home. The first three months, Camila is of constant concern, Augusto goes back to work after a week, but he spends all free time at home. In the night he gets up and swings the crying baby to sleep.
After six months, Camila returns to her company. In Brazil, four months of maternity protection are legal duty, but Camilas company gives her six months. Rafa gets a babysitter. It is hard for Camila to leave him with someone else. For six months she was only with him, barely let him out of sight - now she has to leave him all day with another person. It does not work well with the babysitter, Camila cannot rely on her and finally, they find a school for him. Knowing that they take good care of him, she realizes how important her work is, how much she missed it. She knows: her son is little, but he will live his own life sometime and she must do the same.
When everyone got used to the new family life, Augusto is back on the road again. Often he travels to other cities of South America, regularly he flies to the US. After the birth of his son, he has not given up his dream of living somewhere else. They apply for a Canadian visa. Camila's brother also lives there. Camila still does not take him seriously. For her, everything is far from their reality, but now and then, she too considers what is best for her family. She has everything she wants. A family, a child, her work and her friends. But she also thinks about the bad moments, she thinks of how Augusto and she have been attacked. She thinks about when she was sitting in the car, pregnant with eighth month - a gun on her head. How the men took everything - the wedding bands, money, cell phones, and, thank God, spared the most important thing- their child. If she follows the rules of the city, the rules of a life in São Paulo, then she is relatively safe. But she is not free. How should her child grow up? In what kind of society, with what kind of fear? She does not feel insecure, she has often been attacked, that's part of living in Brazil - but when she has her child in her belly, it's different.
Augusto talks frequently about the possibility to work somewhere else, his company tries to move him to Canada. It does not work. His company considers the United States. One of his colleagues is supposed to be in Miami anyway. Suddenly Camila suggests to try it there, to go to Miami. Miami, she thinks, is not so bad. Beautiful weather, close to Brazil, a tourist destination for Brazilians, visits from the family seem reasonable there.
But what kind of life will they live there? What is Camila going to do there, where will they live - all these questions are unclear. Shortly after they have an interview in the American Consulate. The visa is approved. The decision is made - they will go to Miami.
For Camila it’s not obvious yet how difficult it will be. As Augusto's wife, she gets a visa to come with him, but not necessarily a work permit. We will find a solution, they think.
Camila tells her family about the plans, everyone is crying. She quits her job, they rent their new and lovingly furnished apartment. Augusto flies to Miami and looks for an apartment. It is not easy because Camila wants to take the dog and the cat with them - that’s the condition.
After two months of preparations, the suitcases are packed and they leave Brazil.
„When I was leaving, I didn’t think too much about it", Camila remembers. Everyone is excited. The dog is deep down in the belly of the airplane. Camila, Augusto, the one-year-old Rafael and the cat in the passenger cabin. Augusto has found a house in a gated community. They have no furniture, only a small bed for Rafael, the rest has to be organized. It's Sunday when the five arrive in Miami. Augusto has to go on a business trip on Tuesday.
After a few days, Camila's mother follows and stays for a few weeks. She helps her to buy furniture, set up the house and find a child care for Rafael. When her mother leaves, Camila has gotten used to the house and they have found a school for Rafael. Camila is still worried, the health care is different than in Brazil, it is expensive, good doctors are difficult to find, and she and Rafael were already sick in the first few weeks.
Rafael now goes to a school near Augusto's work in the center of Miami and Camila decides to look for a language school. There she finally finds time after the exciting weeks, she finds friends and feels safe there.
Still, she is shy and feels uncomfortable talking to the teachers of Rafael or the other mothers in English. Augusto organizes everything, they go shopping together, they go to the bank, to the school parties, to the doctor. He calls her several times a day. He never complains.
The time in the language school is Camila's time, in the afternoon she takes her son off the care and takes care of him. But Rafael is often ill, he often surrenders and coughs a lot. Camila has problems to get used to the air conditioning systems - she often feels groggy, has a cold and is alone, because Augusto travels a lot.
The city is insignificant to Camila, she can’t go out as before. If her friends want to go out with her, she has to cancel. She doesn’t have a babysitter, it takes her an hour to get to the city center, she doesn’t want to entrust her child additionally at night to someone else. When she leaves the language school after three months, she is worried. Here she felt good, here she had friends. But it can not go on forever - she leaves, fortunately, the friends remain. Often she feels alone, far away from her family and from the life in Miami as well. In the neighborhood there are burglaries in spite of security surveillance, cars are stolen, Camila is often alone with Rafael and feels unsafe. She left Brazil for feeling safer and now she fears again?
One year after their arrival they move to an area close to Downtown. Now she lives close to her friends. From the apartment, Camila can see the sea. Jessy, the Golden Retriever, loves the fresh sea breeze on the balcony. Rafael has been going to school for a year in Miami. He enjoys it, he has friends there and is every morning excited to go to school.
Because of a visa change from Augusto, Camila gets a work permit for two months, then Augusto gets a new visa and she loses the work permit again. The only way for her to work with authorization is an employer who assists them in the process of a work visa. Camila has made a career in Brazil, to find a job in Miami won’t be a problem for her - but to find a sponsor? Augusto is optimistic, he believes it is easier than it seems. Perhaps he just wants to be optimistic, but Camila feels under pressure.
All her life Camila was very organized. She has planned her life, she worked hard - now she suddenly has to start from the beginning. She no longer knows where she belongs, what life she is going to have. She does not know if she will get the opportunity to work here. What if not? What is she supposed to do? Should she study again, be a happy housewife?
When Camila tells about her doubts, tears run down her face. "Sometimes I tell myself: It's the best thing happening and we do not realize it's the best.“ When she wakes up in the morning and sees the ocean, when she walks Rafael to school and does not have to worry about moving on the road, she feels deep gratitude. But there are so many doubts as well. Camila has never imagined living this life. Now everything is different. She keeps hoping, is confident and once again she has become stronger.
„I’m dreaming to be with my family and to have a good job. I’m dreaming, that Rafael will become a good person with a good heart and that Augusto and I will have a calm and happy life together. I’m dreaming that we are all safe.“
Eventually, I ask her, what a strong woman represents for her. „We as women are often so underestimated. We have to be so many things in our society and we judge our selves way too much. We have to be successful with a good job, good looking, caring for the children, be good wives, still, we are the ones who mostly take care of the house. For me, a strong woman is someone, who is able to deal with this expectations without caring too much. The society expects that you are working and I’m currently not. Not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t - and I have to deal with it. I’m here, sometimes I fight against myself, but I try every day. People think about a party and sunny life when they hear that I live in Miami and I’ll let people think what they want. I don’t care, but I don’t give up! What matters is my family, my friends, my life with my husband - the rest is for them to imagine.“
*Camila and her family are continuing living in Miami. Camila still doesn't have a work permit..