I started blogging in November 2004 while volunteering for the year on bochur shlichus mentoring and teaching students in Sao Paulo. Without a doubt, I got back 100 times everything I put into those efforts.
In May 2007 I was studying to earn an MBA. As someone who had spent a year in Brazil and could communicate with a passable Portuguese, a professor invited me to join a school trip there. The school was flying on a Friday (arriving on Shabbos), so I flew by myself on Thursday.
When I arrived in Sao Paulo I took a quick stop in the AMEX Centurion Lounge and then hopped in a cab to the ever-hospitable Basch family in the Jardins neighborhood.
While driving on the highway I noticed an explosion ahead of us. A riot broke out among the favela residents, protesting police killings in the slum. They took over the highway and started torching cars.
I had a Nextel walkie-talkie that allowed me to instantly communicate with my mother.
I told my mother that I loved her and said my goodbyes as a pole came flying towards us and shattered our windshield.
Front page of the Sao Paulo Newspaper the day after the violence:
It took me a few days to recover from the situation, but life went back to normal.
In the 10 ensuing years I’d move the blog over from ctownbochur to DansDeals, get married, finish my MBA, have a couple of amazing kids, and travel the world many times over in first class and in 5 star hotels thanks to the mileage game. We even took our kids to Brazil in 2014.
I don’t know the reason I was in that situation, but it was definitely one of those wake-up moments where you realize that you aren’t invincible and realize that every day is a gift. And it gives an opportunity to thank G-d for that gift.
At any rate, happy Mother’s Day. Sure, every day ought to be Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but American Greetings’ and Hallmark’s marketing departments thought that might be a bit much. But just be sure not to forget to take the time to express your love to the precious people in your life and to make sure that you would be happy if every conversation you have just might be your last.
So, a very happy Mother’s Day to my Mom, my grandmothers, Mimi, my Mother-in-law, and all of the other mothers out there. And thank you to G-d for allowing me to survive that harrowing experience and for giving me the best 10 years a man could ask for.