By Robin Sparks
A list of 49 things the author (who doesn’t believe in stereotypical lists) now knows about Brazil.
1. Brazilians sing, all of the time, not always on key, but always with heart.
2. Brazilians know all of the words to all the Brazilian songs. And Brazil is one of the few countries that prefers its own music to American pop.
3. Brazilians dance whenever and wherever they can, and they do it well.
4. There is always a party somewhere in Brazil.
5. Public displays of amorous affection are common, especially in restaurants.
6. Brazilians are happy people. Or very good actors.
7. Traditional Bahian food is the soul food of Brazil and is very similar to the soul food of the southern United States. There are many similarites between the two regions actually – not surprising if you consider that the main destinations of slave ships were Brazil and the southernmost states of North America.
8. Brazilians eat a lot of fried food.
9. Fried manioc flour called farofa is served with every meal.
10. Bread is baked fresh daily, but served only at breakfast.
11. Brazilian breakfast: Slices of ham and cheddar cheese tucked inside a split white roll.
12. There is a bottle of fake liquid sugar on every table.
13. Brazilian salads consist of brilliant mounds of grated carrots, beets, and sliced cucumbers.
14. Brazilians love grilled meat.
15. Servings are huge in Brazil, each one more than enough for two.
16. Italian food is popular (and delicious) in Brazil.
17. There are lots of Italians in Brazil.
18. Same as in America, there are a quite a few overweight people in Brazil.
19. Unlike America, there is a disproportionate number of stunningly beautiful women in Brazil.
20. Brazilians have impeccable table manners. Like the French, they rarely touch their food, and between bites, they pause to converse with their dinner companions.
21. Unlike the French, Brazilians drink beer every day. They like their beer cold and go to great lengths to keep it that way.
22. The great equalizer in Brazil is the beach; it’s free and it is where everyone goes when they are not working.
23. Brazilians are lovers, not fighters. For the most part.
24. Life, as most of the world knows it, comes to a screeching halt in Brazil during a futebol (soccer) game, especially those in which Brazil is a contender.
25. Brazil is Argentina’s playground. Argentines treat Brazilians like their poor, country cousins.
26. Brazilians don’t care much for Argentines.
27. Brazilians are mushy and unrelentingly romantic – they like their music soft with lyrics almost always about love. And they can string words together in conversation to make the coldest heart melt.
28. Brazilians speak Portuguese in a rise and fall melody.
29. Loved ones call each other meu amor”.
30. Brazilians aren’t thrilled with America’s political administration – Not one Brazilian said within my earshot, “I sure hope Bush is re-elected.”
31. The rubber flip flop is the national shoe and my feet loved it.
32. One is not supposed to flush their toilet paper in Brazil; instead you drop it into a trash bin next to the toilet. Try not to get stuck in traffic behind the city garbage truck.
33. Brazil is age-blind. Generations mix in play, in life, and in love.
34. Men scratch their private parts in public places. (Sorry, but it’s true)
35. Women buy clothing based on how sexy it makes them look. (I bought a pair of low- cut Brazilian jeans; and they were great as long as I didn’t sit down.) Designer names are not big in Brazil.
36. Even store window mannikins have sex appeal in Brazil.
37. Gender lines are blurred in Brazil – bisexuality is common, or so I was told.
38. Brazil is a huge country, almost as large as the US with an even wider geographical range from rain forest to dry inland to 5,000 miles of coastland to mountains to the world’s largest river to wild flowers so brilliant they can not be reproduced accurately on digital cameras.
39. You cannot identify a Brazilian by his looks – A Brazilian might have the lily white skin and angular features of his German or Dutch ancestors or the deepest dark black skin of her South African forefathers or the olive skin and high cheekbones of their Indian predecessors or the curly dark hair and upturned noses of the Portuguese or a combination of all of these and more.
40. Graciousness, a soft lyrical voice, good manners, humility, generosity, and making the person you are speaking to feel like a million bucks – THESE are the important social skills in Brazil.
41. Doing something nice for someone else with no expectation of payback.this is everyday stuff for Brazilians.
42. Portuguese as it is spoken in Brazil is one of the most beautiful languages on the planet.
43. Brazilians understand Spanish, but few Spanish speakers understand Portuguese.
44. In Brazil “thumbs up” is the most common hand gesture and means “things are great”.
45. The words you’ll hear most often: “Obrigada(o)” – (Thanks) ; “Ta bom” – (Good!) the answer to “Tudo bem?” – (How are things?), “Tudo legal” – (Everything is good! legal! whatever!), and “Gostoza(o)” – (You sexy thing you.)
46. An important phrase to memorize (unless you’re lucky enough that it is not true for you) is “Eu nao falo Portuguese ” – (I don’t speak Portuguese.)
47. Brazilians cannot help smiling; the nonchalant scowl has not caught on here.
48. The cost of living in California is approximately ten times more than in Brazil.
49. The rumor about Brazilian women wearing thong bikinis is true, and if you like small breasts and prominent bundas, you will be very happy in Brazil.
This story was written by travel writer and photographer, Robin Sparks. Sparks has written about expatriates and the places in which they live for over 7 years, logging in time in over 23 countries. Read about her adventures at www.robinsparks.com and www.EscapeArtist.com. Although she has been published in over a hundred magazines and newspapers, Sparks concentrates these days on writing for online media, like EscapeArtist.com where she is on the staff.
Sparks also organizes travel writing workshops. The next one will be held aboard a Turkish gullet while sailing the coast of Turkey in a traditional Turkish gulet. The class will be taught by publisher and editor of Travelers Tales books, Larry Habbegger. If you are interested in being in the class contact Robin immediately as there are only 3 seats left in the class of 8. Sparks is presently in Argentina and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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