Jan, São Paulo
Jan, 36, a kindergarten teacher, hosted us in São Paulo. She has three excellent cats including the formidable Bran Kelly, a true diva of a creature. Jan has a beautiful warmth and generosity which made us feel cosy amid São Paulo’s concrete jungle. Her passion and incredible zest for life was made more potent when we heard her happiest moment.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I would like the power to turn things that I don’t think are nice into nice things. For example, the weather or people. I did think about choosing the power to fly but I can fly in my dreams. Most things that annoy me are about people. To fly would just be escaping.
If you could have dinner with three people, dead or alive, who would they be?
Chico Buargue – his lyrics and the way he writes is amazing for me. Van Gogh. I lived in Holland for a while and learned his story. I liked him before but feel even more connected to him now. He suffered so much. And finally, Angelina Jolie. Its not because she’s glamourous but because she seems like a very strong woman. I think she is the model of an amazing person. If I had money, I’d love a family like hers.
Describe your perfect day.
I’d be at the beach doing water sports, eating amazing fruit and cheese, surrounded by great friends and music in hot weather. That’s it.
What’s the best lesson life has taught you?
It’s not really a good thing, and actually makes me sad. Life has taught me that you can’t be yourself if you want to survive. If you’re yourself, you suffer and people try to destroy you. You have to make a fake self to be in the world. It starts in high school. I fight against this. It’s why I’m a biker, a vegetarian etc.. I can be myself with friends but it is painful for me to fight to be myself in this world.
What characteristic do you most admire in yourself and other people?
In myself, I admire that I try to be true to myself. I am not afraid to have an opinion. In others, I admire respect.
What characteristic do you most dislike in yourself and others?
I find it very hard to focus. In others, I don’t like prejudice.
When was your happiest moment?
When I was very young, from my teens to my twenties, I had an illness and no-one knew what it was. When I was 20, I met a girl who had the same thing. I started treatment and within three months I was better. I found out it was panic attacks. I was a rare case as it started so young. I often couldn’t leave the house. I have a tattoo of a phoenix that represents the moment I got better and could start living again. Sixteen years later, I stopped medication. Coming off medication was like being freed from prison. It was very difficult for me, but it bought such happiness. That was my most happiest moment.
What is your greatest fear?
Having to go back on the medication.
What is your greatest love?
Life – to be alive and enjoy everything. I am so excited by such simple things – cheese, cats, everything. I am passionate for life.