This morning, after I dropped off my kids for their last day of school, I went to my favorite spot-an outcropping of rocks in between Ipanema and Copacabana. I like to stop there halfway through a run , turn off my Ipod, and just sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery while contemplating life.
Brazil's been a tough place for me. I've spent a lot of my time feeling lonely and like I'm just not quite apart of things. That's not to say that I don't like it here, it was just hard. On the upside, I feel like I've gained a perspective that I didn't have before-one of what it must feel like to be an immigrant far from home; that will make me more sensitive to people in those types of situations in the future. I've also used my free time for running, piano, and reading, so that's been good.
I was sitting on those rocks thinking if I had to live permanently in one of the 4 places we've lived out of the United States, I would choose Mexico City, but if I had to choose one of the places to actually be from, I would choose Brazil. Does that sound strange? I felt like I personally fit in better in Mexico City, but if I were a Brazilian, I would love Brazil and find it very hard to leave my country for another because the culture is so rich here.
Some things that will stay with with me through the years about Brazil and Brazilians:
...I appreciate how much Brazilians love children. They have a patience and affection for kids that I haven't seen anywhere else.
...I love that no matter what problems they may have in their lives, they are for the most part very happy. They seem to know that there is much more to life than a paycheck.
...They spend their free time with their extended families.
...Speedo's aren't just for swimming.
...There's an ageless attitude here-people are physically and mentally active from childhood until death-there's less of an "I'm too old" attitude.
...They smile easily and are very inclusive.
...They LOVE, LOVE, LOVE soccer! It's different than with our sports teams in the States-it goes almost all year round and there is always some tournament going on that people are excited about. Rio has 4 teams and you must be affiliated with a team-that's sometimes the first question you are asked when meeting someone for the first time. And once you have your team-there's no switching, that's a cardinal sin around here. I've actually had a conversation with a seemingly reasonable woman about how her son actually changed jobs and moved his family out of their town and state just because his wife's family was putting pressure on their kids to join "their" team!
In the States you'd say, "I'm a Bronco's fan" but here you'd say "I'm a Bronco"-there's a lot more ownership.
Soccer adds a dimension and diversion to their lives that we don't have.
Speaking of the which, today's Brazil's first game in the World Cup. It's practically a holiday. The kids are getting out early from school and Guapo's 7:40 am doctor's appointment was cancelled due to the game at 3:30. Everyone (with a capital "E") is dressed in yellow and green, including the dogs:
A couple of Brazilian customs that will stick with me:
After living here, I will never be able to allow a departing guest in my house to open the door for themselves, it's considered very rude and a guest will wait all day until you open the door for them.
And I will never be able to set my purse on the floor (it makes me uncomfortable just looking at this picture:
Purses and bags must be placed upon something, otherwise you are destined to lose your money. If you, without knowing this, put your bag on the floor, believe me you, someone will move it for you in a jiffy!
On the other hand, I won't miss feeling uncouth when I grab french fries or pizza with my hands instead of using a fork, or when I drink directly from a can of soda instead of using a straw. :)
I'm ready to go. I'm happy about the change we're making- my kids will get to experience living in their own country and won't have to worry about moving anytime soon, and we'll be near family (and a million other things I'm looking forward to-let's not forget about Target). I think having observed the richness of Brazilian life as an outsider has increased my desire to be back in my own country, enjoying everything life has to offer there.
Life is really good.
Time to pick up the kiddos.