Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Brazilians like Obama

I´ve now been here for just over two weeks and I think I have a grasp on daily occurrences as well as the culture. The sounds of the city are often in tune with one another; from the banging tools of construction workers to the sweeping brooms of the cleaners to the brushing and polishing of the shoe shiners, everyone has a rhythm. It´s very easy to find yourself tapping your feet to no artificial sound at all. Men and women even walk to the beat, oftentimes looking as though they´re dancing down the sidewalk as they sway their hips and dodge passersby. Recently there have been many young men and women who paint their bodies and faces and walk around the city asking for money from people for college, and though initially you might think it´s a scam, they really are raising money for journalism, medical, and trade school (I donate coins maybe once or twice a day). Every street is lined with lanches, or mini cafes, and other vendors selling fruit, candy, coconut milk, pastries with meat and cheese (sounds odd but really good), sunglasses, watches, and sometimes even old knickknacks or used shoes. Outside the lanches there are always plastic chairs and tables where you can find people sipping coffee or sharing a bottle of beer at all hours of the day. And no matter where you go or how little Portuguese you speak, a smile and a bit of effort go a long way.
Last night I stopped at one of the lanches for a three dollar dinner while I finished another book (four on this trip so far, which is about how many I read in my four years at college), and I happened to meet the owner´s son who spoke English fairly well. He was very eager to meet a native English speaker, so I asked him to sit down with me and we talked for a couple hours about life in the states and life here. Besides praising me for America´s newly-elected president, one of the things he said which was somewhat funny was that Brazilians believe everyone and everywhere in America is all about sex and how casual it must be there. I laughed and told him that while there are stereotypes for a reason, this wasn´t applicable to all places. When I told him I was traveling alone, he was very surprised and called me crazy, and really couldn´t understand why I hadn´t bothered to learn any Portuguese before coming. I said I had learned a bit, but that I mainly came because I love the city and the people. And maybe you can get a slight understanding of why I love it so much from my description above. I am meeting with him again tonight at the same place to help him practice his English in exchange for company and maybe even a bit of help with my Portuguese.
Tomorrow I´m traveling to Buzios, a resort town about three hours north of here, for a weekend getaway (right, as if I need to `get away`). I´ve heard that the beaches are the best in the country, so it should be lovely. Maybe I´ll even get in the water...

1 comment:

  1. I asked your mom once when we were on ships...if she wanted to go snorkling? and she said "do I have to get wet? - So just remember if you go in the water - you do get wet! Love ya mean it!