In this interview, Maiza Lima discusses her journey from rural Brazil to America, staying positive, and being a woman in the rock climbing community.
Têra Kaia (formerly Arêt Basewear) since: 2016 | Location: Washington & On The Road | Trade: Badass Brazilian Climber | Basewear: Low Cut Orchid
“If you have big goals fight for them, but don’t wait to be happy until you achieve them. Be happy right now, be happy in the process.”
Meet the ultimate Brazilian badass: Maiza Lima. As one of our very first models, Maiza has been with Arêt since the very beginning. She’s currently living the dream on the road with a home base in Washington. Vibrant with gratitude and a passion for adventure, she brings her A-game to the outdoors with a smile on her face.
Your TOURA of choice?
My favorite TOURA is the Low-Cut in Orchid because it hugs me super well and I look good in it 😉
How about your rock of choice?
My favorite rock to pull on is Limestone. I didn’t have a chance to pull on it until I started my trip in April and I climbed lots of it. I learned that I had so many skills and I put them to use. I learned that I am more technical then I thought and had more endurance than I expected. It’s beautiful, bomber and long. I fell in love with Utah Hills and I hope to make many trips there.
Who is your femmespiration?
My number one female is without a doubt, my mother. She has worked hard her entire life. She grew up working on farm day and night, getting beaten and after she got married she had to support our entire family and deal with my Dad’s alcoholism and gambling addictions. Today she still works hard and provides us with more than we need. I don’t know anyone stronger than my mom.
“My mother and her desire to give us a better life brought me to America from Brazil. Growing up, we struggled.”
Tell us about life in Brazil, and your move to America.
We ate squash for days, we didn’t have enough food. My mother struggled with getting us through public school, we didn’t have enough clothes and no good shoes.
I was always told that I’d be pregnant at 15 just like every girl in the small village I grew up. They didn’t have a future, not an exciting one at least.
They’d quit school even before they graduated High School. But I felt different, I had dreams of going somewhere big, having a car, living in a nice place.
I always had A’s in school, but I knew I didn’t belong there. I wanted to be a model or something like that, but I learned soon that I didn’t have a chance. Either way, life was better here, I could buy shoes and drink soda, eat chocolate until I got sick. I could even have more than one pair of clothes a year. Sometimes I feel like I have way more than I’ve ever deserved. What a life-changing opportunity. It’s no secret, I love it here. My heart is filled with gratitude. I’m welcome here and I love the people who don’t look down on me.
What do you miss the most about Brazil?
I miss the simplicity of life there. Having our door open all day, playing in the mud and going swimming every day after school. Mostly I miss the fresh food, fruit from my backyard, milk straight from my grandparent’s corral, grass-fed and organic everything.
The future is listening, what ethical struggle are you passionate about?
Modern-day issues are hard to talk about. I’m passionate about people, even more about strong women. That means any of us.
As a female, I’m always intimidated by men. They’re always stronger, they climb harder and sometimes I feel like they look down on you. None of these might be true, but it’s a struggle. A struggle to be equal in the outdoors.
I don’t want to be stronger than anyone nor better, but I want to feel equal. I don’t like the looks I get when I tell people my goals. It’s too reachy, it’s too far, it’s too powerful, it’s scary, you can’t do it.
That’s the feeling I get. Is it in my head or is it a truth that exists in our society?
What do you wish you could tell other women everywhere?
Unfortunately, some women don’t know their strengths. I wish I could let all of them know that they’re beautiful and so strong. That we have more power than we think. That it’s okay to be feminine and sensitive. That doesn’t take away anything.
I want them to know that if they have big goals fight for it but don’t wait to be happy until you achieve them. Be happy right now, be happy in the process.
We’re humans and we’re never satisfied. Don’t wait to have a perfect body or a perfect smile, a bigger house, a better job. Be happy right now and they’ll appreciate life so much more. I wish I could see more positivity and less complaining. More generosity and less selfishness. More recycling, reuse and less abuse.
What is the biggest cultural shift you have experienced?
I had to get used to lots of different things here. If you meet a Brazilian, they’re going to wanna hug you and give you two kisses in the cheek right away. We’re friendly, loud and open. We can be best friends in 10 minutes. I had to learn to hold myself back, wait to give that hug later and no kisses haha!
I used to walk on the streets hugging my friends, holding their hands, we like to touch, we like to connect and Americans are not that way at first.
They hold back until they really get to know you well, even then, still feels a bit distant sometimes. That was the biggest cultural impact for me.
What might be something Americans don’t know about Brazil? Surprise us!
Something that Americans don’t know about us:
- We’re Latin Americans but not Hispanic, therefore WE DONT SPEAK SPANISH, we speak português.
- In Brazil, we don’t call it a Brazil nut, it’s called Para’s nut.
- The big butts you see are real and not plastic surgery.
- We take showers two times a day and bring our toothbrush to work for the lunch break.
- Brazilians are addicted to soap operas and at some point, the entire country stops to watch the last episode.
- We also have a famous drink called caipirinha, made with Cachaca (an alcohol made from sugar cane that has 51% alcohol per volume). It sells all over the world now but we started making it because it used to be cheap and gets you drunk pretty fast.
What is your adventure rig?
My adventure rig is my favorite. A hard top tent! The coolest thing I own, ha! It sits on top of my car and it pops up in a minute. It’s where I feel privacy.
What’s your favorite adventure food?
My favorite food is toast with avocado and eggs before going out to climb. I also love it after because breakfast for dinner is the best!
You’re stranded in the wilderness, what 3 things are your can’t-live-without?
If I’m ever stranded in the wilderness I’d bring my Aeropress, a chicken to lay me eggs or if I could bring the eggs I’d do that instead (haha!), my phone for sure. Everything else I could care less 😉
→ Maiza Lima | Brazilian On the Road
Maiza is documenting her outdoor adventures as she hits the road in search of new heights. You can find her on Instagram or you might just run into her at your local sport climbing crag. Be sure to say hi, and ask her about her life in Brazil. She’ll greet you with a warm smile, and a great story to tell.