|Photo credit: www.listenlearnmusic.com|
What is my favorite thing about Brazil? It's kind of impossible to choose (though BH is probably pointing at himself--of course you, honey!!). But yesterday, I realized what makes me smile the most and laugh the most and enjoy the most. It is the daily interaction with the people. And here I am most fortunate--I am fluent in Portuguese. Without that fluency, a lot of the humor and good will and plain old fun back-and-forth would be lost.
Now, as an aside (I see my dad rolling his eyes as I go to an aside), I say I am fluent in Portuguese but I still make many mistakes. This makes the interaction even more fun. A couple of days ago I posted on our neighborhood security site what I thought was a sentence saying that we needed to find out more about what was going on in the crime wave in our neighborhood, with the help of the local police. What I actually wrote (as explained to me by a kind neighbor) is that the local police was responsible for the crime wave and I was demanding an explanation from them. So we all laughed and I edited that puppy before getting hit with a defamation suit by the boys in grey.
Back to where I was. The fact of the matter is that I will talk with anyone here. And I have learned so much and laughed so much with these small snapshot conversations. On Monday, leaving my kids' school, I saw one of the security guards staring fixedly across the street. I stopped next to him and looked too and said "E aí?" (So?). And he told me that they were unloading Emerson Fittipaldi's Formula 1 car and that he had an office there, and he remembered.......and so on. A security guard with whom I had traded only good morning and good afternoon proceeded to tell me a little about his life. And it was interesting, and we laughed a good bit about how the flatbed truck had a problem getting the car down, and how Emerson was going to show up and start slapping people.
Two weeks ago I had had another neighborhood interaction near my kids' school. I was walking with my two kids to the car when we saw a little red-brown dog run down the sidewalk and almost into the street. We were worried it would get squashed and we whistled and called to her. As we whistled, an older man strolled out an open gate and started calling "Foxy, Foxy!" and she ran inside. As we pulled even with the gate, he thanked us for trying to get Foxy back and explained to us how he had rescued the dog from the middle of a highway and she was still seemingly more comfortable "on the road". We chatted for a while, and he told me about the famous actresses who used the sign-less spa next door, and other nothing topics. And now, every time we pass by the place and the kids start to call Foxy, he opens the big gate and lets them pet and play with her.
One of my favorite experiences here is taking a taxi. I remember when I first moved here how I hated it--I couldn't understand the accents, didn't know where I was going, and really could not converse at all. Now I sit back and, depending on the garrulousness of the driver, talk about the World Cup, the arrival of gringos, politics or the traffic. I have learned from them that "embananado" traffic means that traffic is in a banana--no, that the traffic is a complete mess. Ditto "empepinado" which is in a cucumber or pickle. I am always pleasantly surprised by Brazilian taxi drivers--dressed in button-down shirts and slacks, polite and responsive almost to the very last one. I can count my "bad" trips on one hand. Try that in New York or Miami, where I can count my good trips on that same hand.
Some time I will talk more about taxis here. They are so completely surprising. Clean, regular cars. No plexiglass separating you from the driver. Men (though there are a couple of women at our local taxi stand) who are part of a neighborhood and can give you advice about where to go and how to get there, and many of whom are firmly middle-class. Many have traveled abroad, to the US or to Europe. They all have fantastic stories. They will all tell you if you ask.
If I had one wish for the expatriates here, it is that they could speak fluent Portuguese. You find a whole new side of life here--of friendly, fun people with incredible stories of getting where they are today. Yes, I am going to generalize but Brazilians love to talk. They love to interact. They love to laugh. In all my posts of security and crime, I don't want you all to lose the overall love I have for Brazil and its people. Though not in traffic when every Brazilian turns into a horrible beast. True story.
So, that is all I have today. A happy view of nothing and everything in daily life. One of my favorite things.