1. O jeito de ser brasileiro — The Brazilian way of being. Easy to translate, more complex to describe. And I don't want to get lost in national stereotypes, either, you know, the French are this, the Germans that, the Argentines the other, the Japanese . . . and so forth. Putting aside the stereotypes, I still have to marvel at the jeito brasileiro. It's a remarkably seductive warmth and generosity of spirit, an ease and comfort in one's own skin that's contagious, an ability to relax and enjoy life, with and without life's adversities; it's an ability to break into song to make a point in the middle of the supermarket, it's a way of laughing and gesturing, of walking and talking . . . and speaking of talking, Brazilians also have another amazing talent: they can talk and smile at the same time. How do they do that? I've tried it, and it's not easy if you haven't grown up doing it. And it doesn't work with English at all, the neurons that control the mouth movements of English speakers just aren't programmed the same way as for Portuguese speakers.
2. Our friends — I left family and friends back in the States, and I miss them. I knew I would, and I do. But people were always so damn busy up there that the truth is I never even saw them that much. But I'm not too busy here in Brazil, at least not in the American way. I have lots of time for friends, and they for me. Perhaps the challenge and intensity of life in another country has deepened my new friendships, and made me hold on tighter. I sure would miss our friends. And it's not just our friends I would miss, but the style of Brazilian friendship, the curiosity they have about you without their being too intrusive, the ease with which they become your friends. I'd miss the way people come for lunch and stay for dinner, and how that seems perfectly normal. One thing I know for sure, all the friends we've made here would visit us in a nanosecond, anywhere we went, so Mark and I had better make sure the next place has lots of guest rooms!
|My Dr. Paulo|