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“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

Whispering voices from the past drifted down the historic cobblestone streets.

Tales from a golden era unfolded - long-gone days in which the village was the export harbor for gold. But sadly, these glorious days were clouded by inhumanely stories about slaves entering this same port to work on the gold mines inland.

The Woman listened to how pirates hungry for gold invaded and scared the people of the village. The port fell in disuse because of vicious pirate attacks, which led to the decline of the city.

In centuries to come, the city's economy revived through coffee beans, *cachaca, and finally, tourism.

The Woman was charmed by the preserved colonial architecture of the city. Colorful geometric panels on the façades, exotic pineapple-shaped lamps, and small balconies decorated with rails of detailed iron lacework celebrated the era from which it originated.

That evening the full moon allured the ocean to admire its beauty from nearby. The ocean rose to its highest tide to get closer; seawater poured into the historic district's cobblestone-paved streets. In the moonlight, the roads were flooded, though for a short time only, until the tide dwindled.

At daybreak the next morning, her bare feet muddled the colorful reflections in the remaining water. The Woman ambled towards the canal. Under the protective branches of an enormous indigenous tree, she sat down on the canal's grass bank. The water's surface is like a mirror, reflecting serene scenes of village life.

"Time to take a moment to reflect on your soul's well-being is comparable with the time a traveler takes to examine his map. In both cases, you are lost if the safeguard is neglected. Like a traveler who explores the world, a human being should delve into her thoughts, behavior, and emotions." As delicate as butterflies, these words slipped through the air and entered the Woman's mind.

"Self-reflecting," she mused. The Woman did not know who sent her these words.

"Yes, you avoid the idea of self-reflecting," cascaded more words into her mind, "because you are too harsh. Instead of being kind, you always blame yourself for not being good enough. Self-reflecting is an on-going process to plot yourself on the map of your life journey. A process in which you should be true to yourself, but also appreciative and forgiving."

The Woman pondered on the words, still unaware of where it came from. She looked down in the crystal-clear water of the canal. Then she saw the image of a woman, her lips forming beautiful words.

With a flash of recognition, the Woman’s eyes lit up. In her heart burnt the desire to pursue her journey.

*a Brazilian white rum made from sugar cane

(Photo: Historic Centre, Paraty, Brazil)


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