The Dark Clouds of Brazil

I’m going to be honest.  It’s not all rosies.  I began cycling Brazil feeling very low.  And that hasn’t changed.  As I pedalled away from Rio de Janeiro’s sunshine, the sky grew dark, the rain storms came and Brazils’ winter weather matched my own inner world.  In a country where I didn’t understand even five words of the language, I was left with my own thoughts.

I cycled along Brazil’s coastline of beaches and tropical palm trees to reach the Amazon jungle some 4000 km north and I wondered.  Was Brazil too dangerous for me to cycle alone?  Had a solo woman actually ever cycle toured the regions I was heading to?  Was it true what they said?  Would I be robbed?  Even worse; would I be raped?  I was in turmoil as to whether it was too dangerous or not too dangerous.  My confusion came from a thousand memories over the last three years, of people in different countries telling me it was too dangerous to do what I was doing.  But here I am, sixteen countries on and still cycling.  This confusion caused me anxiety.

But more than this I was struggling to make sense of my own world.  Brazil was in a state of desperation and so was I.  As I pedalled past mango trees and slums I didn’t seem able to do anything to stop myself sinking further down into darkness.  I had been so happy when I thought I would have a family again.  I ignored friends warnings.  I am strong.  I can deal with anything.  It’s worth the risk I told myself.  I rejoiced when I read the words, ‘lets meet up’, as I cycled Turkey hitting headlines.  But then in February this year I heard the words, “It’s over, it’s finished, it’s done” and in those moments I wished FaceTime didn’t exist so I would only hear the words and not see them being spoken too.  Discarded once more like I am nothing but trash.  I didn’t wish to regress but perhaps I wasn’t strong enough or wise enough because the wall around my heart returned and once more I felt nothing for no-one.  Detached on my own island of sadness as I had been before meeting Lucy the street dog in Turkey.  Somehow I felt like I’d let Lucy down.  That I’d rejected everything she had taught me.  But in reality I’d let myself down.  To allow life to affect me like this as it did all those years ago.  I wished I had listened to my friends.  I wished I had realised I’m not super strong at dealing with life’s obstacles as I am on a bicycle around the world.  Thoughts that consumed me all those years ago returned.  What was it about me that was so difficult and so horrible my parents didn’t want me?  I may be cycling Brazil with a new postcode each night but I’m waiting.  Waiting for time to clear away the dark clouds.

In the meantime I am lucky to be immersed in a cause bigger than my own self and needs.

My project documenting the life of Brazil’s street dogs and those who rescue them keeps me motivated and moving forward.  To speak for the animals that have no voice of their own.

[ilink url=”” style=”note “]Dogs in Brazil Blog Post [/ilink]

I’ve cycle toured over 25,000 km of the world and I like to keep things real in my blog.  It’s not always going to be blue skies and sunshine yet there’s a part of me that feels the need to apologise for a blog post which is not written with happiness.

Ishbel xxx

Ishbel, creator of World Bike Girl, has spent her life on bicycles, from road racing, to velodrome sprinting to cycling the world. She has pedalled across 20 countries solo and promotes commuting by bicycle. Much to the dismay of her friends, she is an avid wearer of socks and sandals.

45 Replies to “The Dark Clouds of Brazil”

  1. I agree completely, it’s important to keep things real. I have been doing the same in my own posts. It’s easy to write how fluffy things might be and how the sky is always blue, but things are not always fluffy and the skies are not always blue.

    Happy posts get more likes, which is why most blogs are simply one big smile, even if the reality is very different. But like you, I like to keep it real, and if a post gets less likes, then so be it.

    Sharing honest feelings and experiences is the best way to help others and keep true to yourself. People are watching with interest and maybe planning something similar, and masking dark clouds with sunshine could put those people in harms way.

    Keep keeping it real. Steve

  2. Wow, Ishbel, reading that post made me think you are human after all! I’m sure you know that’s it’s not always roses and even the best of us suffer at times. However, great adventure makes a little suffering worth while. Life is never fair, so let’s not expect it to be. Let’s control the things we can, and accept the things we can’t and better yet, let’s dance before the storm.

    1. Love – love – love … ‘Life is never fair, so let’s not expect it to be. Let’s control the things we can, and accept the things we can’t and better yet, let’s dance before the storm.’
      Thank you so much! 🙂

  3. Hi there, thanks for sharing in your blog it is very real and we can relate in our own ways to your challenges and be inspired to follow our dreams despite our personal problems. Feelings are like the weather always changing…….hope the inner sun shines for you again soon!
    Good wishes

    1. Hey – thank you so much. Being real is so important for me in this blog. Like you said … following your dreams despite your personal problems. Great things are happening just now all around me and I’ve had so many great and thoughtful comments relating to this blog post they’ve reminded me of things I already knew but lost sight of. So thank you so much Sunshine 1125! 🙂

  4. As someone previously said, ‘The dark clouds will pass and you’ll find the sun again.’ You are wonderful inspiration to us Ishbel, keep it up. Perhaps Brazil is not the country for you, maybe take people’s advice and move on to Uruguay. Keep safe. xx

  5. Hang on in there Ishbel! You’re a wonderful strong woman who is doing amazing things and is an inspiration to those of us who lack your courage. As many other posters have said, you have a huge virtual family around the world who love you and are rooting for you. Take care, Hugh xx

  6. Ishbel, as you know from this last year my life has been torn, and I can relate to things you question about yourself or your experience. I still believe that confidence returns, as long as we take time to look deep inside ourselves. Every challenge or circumstance makes us stronger as long as we choose to act and move forward. I can promise you, your experience will grow deeper as you work through moments when things are difficult. It will carry you into the future, and when you get there you will look from the other side with depth of understanding about who you are and what is important. One thing is for sure, you are not alone…we are with you in spirit. Peace to you my friend…

  7. You got this! Brazil is not that 7 heads monster everyone tells about. There’s also very nice people. Ok, You went to a bad experience. But don’t let it got you. Keep going 🙂

  8. Dear Ishbel, well done to you for not turning back when perceived fears were challenging you. You show much courage on your explorations into the unknown, not knowing what lies ahead you manage to continue with determination. You’re a Champion! Let your heart guide you and may the spirits protect you. With love and blessings, Chris

    1. Hey Chris! Such awesome words thank you 🙂 I didn’t realise how scared I was until setting out on these adventures. I do overcome fears by charging on ahead anyway but always there are new environments to be explored and encounter stories be had and new fears replace the conquered. Much love and thanks again xxx

      1. Hi Ishbel,
        There are plenty more words for you whenever you need them.
        Keep confronting those fears and soon fear will have no meaning.
        Let me know if you have a mood challenge and I will get the spirits to conjure more good words 🙂 Take care, be happy. Big love to you intrepid explorer….. Chris x

  9. Truth of the matter is, with every pedal stroke you assert yourself and gain your strength back. With a little help from your friends near and far, you will find the next ray of sunshine l, of that I am sure. Just like you will find the next animal that has no one looking out for them.

  10. Ishbel,
    No one ever said life was full of sunshine and dark times exist to show us rainbows and test our strength. You have chosen this ‘nomads’ life to share your strength with those people especially women who lack their own inner strength through oppression.
    The world is now your family and we are all believers of your constitution and fortitude. Then they are others who will challenge just to see if you will fail.
    Just like Lucy who fought the street dog pack and looked to you for guidance, so your widely family fights for you with words and support.
    We all love you, believe in you, & here to ‘guide’ you even in the dark times.

  11. Ishbel, dark clouds don’t hang around for ever and sometimes when they pass they reveal something even more beautiful………I watch you from afar back here in cold, damp, dreich Scotland!! I remember the day I met you splashing around in Scalpsie Bay running from seals in the water!! You are an inspiration to many who can’t ‘jump in’ because the dark clouds are hanging around for too long. Your community of followers are your family who are urging you to keep safe but most importantly keep those pedals turning, Anne McGowan

    1. Beautiful words Anne thank you so much! Well … I’ve ran away from pretty much everything else in the animal world so why not the seals ha ha ha!!! Hope you are well. All my love xxx

  12. Hey honey you have no need for apologies. Just because you’re not across the table doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear about the real you.
    Wishing I was there to give you a hug, but sending a virtual one. Hang in there honey and keep talking. I for one am more than happy to listen. Loads of love xxx

  13. Just know Ishbel that your strength and resolve inspire so many. You have earned some cloudy feelings. We are all behind you and are grateful for all you do!

  14. Your “chosen” family are here at home, waiting on your news & hoping your safe! We all miss your enthusiasm and madness when your not here 😉 Keep pedalling, keep safe and we will do the Blue Chair catchup once your home. Lots of love, Eleanor ♡ ♡ ♡

  15. Life is always going up and down, but even in the darkest hole you”ll see a single sun beam that “ll guide you to your new happiness !!!
    Good luck, positive inspiration and a very SAFE ride.

  16. Dear Ishbel. You do have a family that loves you very much (and worries about you…) and that family is growing all the time. I was happy when Carlos picked me from the airport, not sure if I had even had to courage to take a bus in Brazil (a tourist couple had just been murdered in one of the mini-buses in Rio when I was there 2013) and I’m sure things have only gotten worse there. Maybe Uruguay next for you? It seemed such a lovely laid back country. Be safe! Hugs from Finland.

  17. Life is life – you feel what you do when you do – don’t ever apologise for how you feel. Don’t make any big decisions for 3 days when you are feeling low. Give your sub concious time to process the information. BIG, BIG hug from Turkey to you special lady xxx Georgina and Scruff (Marmaris)

  18. A huuuuuge virtual hug for you Ishbel. ❤️ Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t dwell anymore on the past….the past is in the past and your future is what matters now. You have people worldwide who love you and what you do so you are not alone. Get yourself to the nearest pub and get a bevy in you hen….you definitely need cheering up xxx Shirley xxxx

  19. Hi bike girl, please don’t fret, there are thousands of people in the world who go through the same emotions as you. Sometimes we just need a bit of inspiration from somewhere to get us going again and I know you will find it. We all love you and pray for your safe journey to fulfill your dream.

  20. Ishbel. The Dark clouds are one of life’s way of reminding you that are still being tested. Nobody human is ever totally invincible and i guess this is a glitch. Being robbed won’t have helped but you have the strength to pick yourself up and carry on. Take care and GOOD LUCK to you. xxx <3

  21. ❤️ Love an hugs roomie xxx hang in there the clouds will lift an you can enjoy once more, your care family are here for you xxx

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