16 July 2012

Three Things We Would Miss If We Left Brazil For The Next Place

I'm not sure why I'm thinking along these lines, really. Neither Mark nor I plan to give up the view from our terrace anytime soon. But you never know, so many of our friends and acquaintances have come and gone these last ten years that I'm beginning to feel a bit like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz — "My, people come and go so quickly here," she observed repeatedly. It's made me feel ever-so-slightly restless. Anyway, the what-we'd-miss game is fun to play, even if the reality is still distant.

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
3. Our doctors — I remember my New York doctors only vaguely. There was our Belgian "gate-keeper" with her thick French accent ("Zo, watt eez zee prawblem?"); there was the very chic Downtown Women OB/GYN Associates in Soho, more memorable for their location and design sense than for anything else. But if I left Brazil I would really, really, really miss our doctors. I'd miss Dr. Paulo, my hefty, Tennessee-Mountain-sized OB/GYN, who stands well over 6 feet tall (1.8 meters), with an almost equally large circumference. Dr. Paulo is always full of tips on new restaurants (no surprise) or eager to discuss the newest movie. I'd miss Dr. Anderson, a cardiologist who doesn't mind our using him as our "gate-keeper" and, in contrast to Dr. Paulo, probably the tiniest adult this side of the equator. I'd miss Dra. Eiko, Dr. Joaquim, Dr. Henrique, Dra. Tété, I'd miss doctors I haven't even gone to. I'd miss them all for their extraordinary good humor, for their caring and for their diagnostic skills. It's not inconceivable that even if we left Brazil, we'd plan yearly visits back to coincide with our annual check-ups.


  1. In my opinion, for obvious reasons, this one is the best post by far.

  2. Well, I wrote it mostly with YOU in mind!!!

  3. Lovely post Barbara! I'm so glad to know that my country has been good to you and your husband.
    I left Brazil 5 years ago and moved to England. Miss it all everyday.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  4. Thank YOU for reading and enjoying and commenting! Beijos!