No doubt that many of you will agree: in any experience abroad, the first night is always the hardest one.

You are in an unknown place, where no one speaks your language. You’ve travelled for an indefinitely quantity of time and finally you realize, laying in this new bed for the first time, that it will be your home for the weeks to come.

And for me it was exactly the same.

The morning after my arrival, I woke up ready to face this new challenge. A long night of rest and some reflections on Mariel’s talks (our Bolivian mate) about the power of the positive thinking, had helped me.

The first two days, surrounded by the children of Alcanede, a small city near Santarém, have been the perfect way to start. They made me feel at home, encircled by my pupils, making the immersion in this new reality more gentle and soft.

But the third day was the most incisive.

Virginia and Anna, two friendly persons related to the project, had arranged for us the visit of an institution that works with people that have physical and also mental disabilities. After a long and deep walk into the structure, that opened my eyes about how much it is possible to do in the social field with resolution and persistence, we were taken to the embroidery room, where some patients with mental illnesses work all days on wonderful hand-made carpets.

There I’ve met David, a 24-year old guy – just like me – with borderline and autistic syndromes.

After having shown me the piece on which he was working, the conversation moved on music. He told me about his tastes, very polished, and he showed me his wide music library.

After some talks about Beethoven, Pavarotti, Chuck Berry, the Vandals and an ironical critique of the Rolling Stones’ iconic symbol – according to his opinion, offensive and stupid –, it was the moment to show me a special Chinese mirror, that, he told, is able to drive away bad vibrations. Then the farewell.

I went out of that room with just a question: What could I do?

Carmen