Opus 6

terça-feira, 7 de abril de 2009

“Why are so many Non-Brazilians so passionate about Brazil? More than 70% of the annual foreign visitors to Brazil are doing so for the second, third or plus time and . . . some how . . . can’t seem to stop dreaming of their next visit or move to this famously enchanting tropical paradise. This is as much for the pure enjoyment of the natural beauty that has blessed Brazil, as for reasons of thrift and lasting friendships.

Opus 6

“I know not what other may say, but as for me . . .” this “homing pigeon” phenomenon occurs for as many different reasons as we have for everything else we love in life. Whatever it is that Brazilians do, they do it with compassion, love, prejudice, excitement, happiness, celebration, spirituality and expertise (not necessarily in that order).

“The people are the country.” Brazilians . . . as individuals . . . are constantly evolving into something else and most of the time into something better than the last time. They are generally loyal and faithful to close friends and family and despite their constant “fault finding” with their politicians, sports figures, and anything else that traditionally is fault-ridden (including friends), they have a passion for their relationships in all areas of life. They have no time for racist attitudes and little patience for those who have that mentality. Brazil is the only true “melting pot” of the world. Other nationalities contribute to the diversity that we enjoy about Brazil.

Unlike the typecast image of most Latin American countries, Brazilians are anything, but lazy. Most of the many citizens of this internationally loved country (with a land area equal to the continental United States) have more than one occupation and . . . frequently . . . this is a result of necessity and the love of achievement. Also most Brazilians cannot get enough education and generally take courses throughout their lives. Age seems to have no bearing on this.

They work hard and play harder yet. Humor is the common ground they all seem to share and this is conveyed in their version and style of the television novel and satire. When I lived in Brazil regularly, I could not get enough of those “Novelas” and for just cause. The ones I recall are “Pai Heroi,” “Roque Santeiro,” “O Gato Comeu,” “Brega e Chique,” Que Rei Sou Eu,” “Ti, Ti, Ti” and many others.

These novels also became international successes without the advantages of the internet and what made them so special and different was how the writers would incorporate current events in pieces that were set in different eras or times. “Inflation” might have been a news-worthy topic and as such became the subject in a story about a king in mid-evil times and if the president of Brazil were in a scandal, you best believe it was made a part of the novel to keep it germane and current, but most of all “satirical.”

This is the Brazilian sense of humor. Each character in a well produced “novela” would have his or her own theme music and the music was perfectly and specially made for one them by some of Brazils greatest songwriters. The “novelas” have beginnings and ends (unlike soap operas) even though both are video taped and have similar video quality; I will take the Brazilian telenovela over any soap at any time. Two ingenious comedy minds, Jo Soares and Chico Anísio, were tremendous proponents of political satire and became famous for their weekly television shows with their twists on politics and life in Brazil. As a North American, I doubt if political satire would go over all that well here in these trying days. Brazilians have survived so much more and still know how to laugh and complain creatively. That’s why traveling to Brazil is always a way to escape from the negativity of the rest of the world . . . to live on this “Fantasy Island” of a country, if only for a few weeks.

The Brazilian sense of humor is in their slang, music, poetry and the way they live their lives. Even in their sports. Brazilians are such show-off’s in soccer. Any professional team in Brazil could beat any other professional team at any time, just because of the raw talent seasoned with an absurd level of training and dedication. Sometimes sports are like a novel unto themselves with all of the characters playing the game. There are bad boys, generous stars, stars who serve as tremendous examples of overcoming impossible odds, stars that are sold to other teams to fund the clubs owning their contracts (Brazilians hate that) and most of all . . . there are the fans.

I’m a fan of “Vasco de Gama” which automatically places me against the majority of the fans of other teams . . . especially in Rio. The most famous of these is “Flamengo.” The first time I was in Rio de Janeiro, one of the poorer teams at that time, known as “Bota Fogo” had been losing all year long, but every time they played against “Flamengo” they rose to another level of play. This time they had beaten “Flamengo.” There was dancing in the streets of Copacabana and I couldn’t contain my own excitement as I watched improvised yet organized parades of banner toting enthusiasts. Have you ever noticed how this type of crazy celebration is contagious, even if you don’t know why everybody is so happy? I don’t want to divert from the topic too much, but all of these things endear Brazilians and their country to the rest of the world.

As for the working gringos who bring their families to Brazil while they fulfill multi-annual international contracts; they enjoy the luxuries that Brazilians take for granted . . . the inexpensive live-in maids, the live-in cooks, the fresh food fairs right at your doorstep, incredible bargains on the necessities of life and the ever prr own under-priced tropical home near some isolated beach where they would probably hire a “caseiro” (a well-recommended guard/caretaker) who receives a free place to stay (normally a hut near the house), a penance to buy supplies and a small patch of land to plant a garden for the rest of their needs.

I find one thing very strange. Although most Brazilians whine about not having the money for the luxuries they covet, they always seem to have their own “go to” place on the weekends . . . either near the beach or somewhere in the countryside. They call them “sitios, chacaras, granjas, fazendinhas, barracas de praia, etc.” There they will spend the weekend barbequing, fishing, bathing in the sea, listening to soccer games on the radio, and drinking their favorite beer or “pinga. If they drink enough they actually might try a “fat man’s version” of soccer. “O time dos barrigudos” (The team of the big bellies).

There’s nothing quite as hilarious as watching good-natured potbellied middle-age clowns, who have been drinking and eating most of the afternoon trying to pull off (waddling) moves that they used to do so easily during their miss-spent youths.

It’s easy to explain why unmarried young gringo men return to this country. (I am experienced and extremely prejudiced.) It’s simply because of the beauty (both externally and internally) of the famous Brazilian women. I know why the girls here are so beautiful. They know how to enhance the parts of their appearances that are their best features. They distract you from the flaws, if any. A certain highlight in the hair . . . a way to make up the eyes to take your attention away from an ear. Perfect teeth keeps your mind off the over developed hip area. Perfectly fitted jeans enhance a great lower body build and so on. Throw in their natural curiosity about this new foreigner who can’t speak her language all that well; and now it’s her chance to use the little bit of English she learned in school several years ago . . . when she wasn’t paying attention. It’s the trying! Trying to impress actually impresses more than the quality of the attempt. Not speaking a language makes one vulnerable. Vulnerable is good! A young or even older gringo on his own is already at third base when he gets up to bat. The young lady is interested, but the game has changed to the visiting team’s advantage. I’ll leave it there, but one piece of advice to single gringo men visiting Brazil . . . don’t bring a date! It’s like trying to take snow balls to Alaska during the winter. The same advice goes to gringo ladies. Brazilian men will fall all over themselves to meet a foreign girl. “Curiosity” is the secret ingredient.

Good used cars are very inexpensive and generally always look good, because Brazilians never let their cars get dirty or funky in any way. There’s always somebody (generally a small street urchin) who makes small change for cleaning and keeping and eye on your ride while you shop or take care of business in town.

Also, there are numerous body shops (casas de lanternagem) that specialize in rebuilding fender benders and repainting the vehicles like new. This is a lost art in other parts of the world. Why buy a new fender, if you can fix the old one like new, repaint the car and all for less than the cost of a factor bought fender? Oh yea! The reason why there are so many body repair shops is because Brazilians are not as respectful of traffic laws as we are in other countries. More accidents make for more repairs. Nobody’s perfect!

It’s like going back in time for some things. There are tire repair places along every semi-busy highway and one actually still finds places where they will recap old used tires for the economically minded. One other thing about tires . . . even though Brazilians may buy tubeless tires, they will still put tubes in them. I was told this because the ride is smoother. I have no opinion on that one. I personally have hypothesized that, if there is a hole in a tubeless tire, it might well be on the side and not safely patchable, but with a tube you have an automatic option to repair or patch the tube without losing the tire. That makes more sense to me.

To close this section out, for the well acclimated gringo, Brazil is almost always less expensive than living in his or her own country of origin. The more money I save, the more I have to help me enjoy the more interesting adventures of this life.

This gringo, Dean Weston, misses Brazil tremendously, but more than anything else, I miss my old friends, ex-students and the chance of making even more friends from this pool of fantastic characters we call Brazilians. For this reason I too am a “homing pigeon.” This is the Brazil I know and love. Come back!

Everyone else will!

Autor: By Dean Weston
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Existe 2 comentários para esta publicação
terça-feira, 14/4/2009 por Andreia Miranda
Great article!
Mr.Weston, I am brazilian and I loved to read your article. How sweetly, passionatly and beautifuly you wrote about my country...if only all gringos could see Brazil like you, with this tenderness... Congrats!
segunda-feira, 13/4/2009 por NayLauton
Porque essas matérias escritas em inglês não são traduzidas para o português? Acho que vc deveria pensar nisso.
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