The project in Rio de Janeiro


I was picked up at the airport around noon on a Saturday, and from there I went to my mom’s place for lunch and shower.

The plan was ambitious, a remodel to be done in two weeks, from start to finish! Two weeks! The homework was done before my trip, researching for cabinets, appliances, furniture and other small items for the apartment. The work was supposed to be easy, to move smoothly, I wanted to be self-sufficient or almost it. And so I packed one carry-on bag and left for two weeks.

Arriving in Brazil for the first time by myself felt light and productive. In the beginning felt just right considering that I had no time to waste and had to move at the speed of light to have this place ready to be on the market as an AirBnb. Little I knew that I had a huge project on my hands. And this is one of those moments in life when it’s better not to know, or not to have preconceived ideas because if you fall on that trap of feeding your fear then you accomplish nothing.

Arrived at the apartment just a few hours after landing at the airport, still high on energy even though the night on the airplane was neither comfortable nor relaxing.

Checked the place, took pictures, measurements, made a list, and went down to the reception area to say HI to the doorman. So this is the moment when real magic started to happen, because I had never met this man and suddenly we were talking like good old friends, showing family pictures, and talking about subjects that I have no idea how we got there. I told him about my ideas for the apartment. I realise now that he was probably laughing inside his head at my super highly ambitious plan. I laughed with him and asked “Are you available to work for me? I am going to be here for only two weeks and I need you!” My words were powerful and probably squeezed his lungs like when you squeeze a kitty or puppy and don’t want to let go.

We went upstairs and I showed him what I wanted to change and fix, he added a bunch of other remedies that I needed to do in order to bring the apartment up to code with gas and electrical installations. That was the first “BANG!!” to my head just imagining the cost of all of this, and would he be able to finish it in two weeks? My thoughts were on an override mode, when the computer inside your head is working way too fast and it’s hard to find the words to go with the thought.

Then I asked “Can you start on Monday? I will let you put the numbers together on Sunday and Monday we meet again and start.” He shook his head saying yes. I’m not sure if it was for real, at this point the whole trip had become so surreal!


Since there was nothing else to do that day, my brother and I left and went to a restaurant on the beach, ate and talked about my plans. It was past nine when we headed home to get ready for the next day.

Around day 4 into the remodel I felt lonely with my plans, wishing everyone and everybody could see the final product the way I saw it in my head. Wishing everybody would move faster and be motivated. Then I called home to the one who knows me best and he assured me I had a huge lemon in my hands, BUT if anyone could do it, it was going to be me.

Got my gear on 4-wheel-drive mode, up hill and overloaded, and kept going. I had no doubt that everything would be done, done right, and finished. Hack! I let no one rest, even got some unexpected extra help from some friends who jumped in last-minute and donated some decor, took me out for lunch on a crucial moment when the pipes above the sink were bursting. I had to install backsplash for the first time in my life. Had to teach everyone to read instructions before installing cabinets, and the list goes on. But two weeks later we all had a happy ending. Everything was working.

Mission accomplished!

Now you can visit my place here in Rio and if you stay as my guest you will remember all the hard work I had to go through.


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