Many people have asked me “Why Brazil?” and I don’t really know how to respond. I don’t know if I should mention the fact that I go crazy when I hear Portuguese with its words ending in ão, their ls sounding like “U” and their musical tone when saying words like balada or namorada. I don’t know if I should mention the fact that I got obsessed with Brazil when I was 17 or if I should rather say that I’m interested because it is an emergent Latin American superpower. Well, for now, I’ll just have to say that (as shallow as it might sound), Brazil is second in my “top ten favorite countries” list.
After a really harsh semester, tons of tears, challenges, and lack of hope: I’m here. Popular cliché sayings and mom words have never been so real; after the storm there always comes a rainbow. I tried not to have so many expectations since life has taught me that nothing is forever certain and that surprises are always around the corner. So even though I didn’t expect much, the past month in Brazil has been one of the best in my whole life.
In the past few weeks, I’ve learned so many things. I really feel like a sponge, absorbing everything that I hear or see around me. I learned that feijão is eaten everywhere and at any time, that the word ficar has infinite meanings, that there’s a brigadeiro flavor for everything and (what I love the most) that leite condensado is poured on top of every single dessert (making them magical). To my surprise, I have also realized that for the first time ever, I’m a gringa. Yes, even with my clearly Hispanic looks, and my clearly Hispanic accent, I’m considered one. It was hard for me to take at first when a tapioca vendor on the beach said: “Pois não, gringuinha!” and later on he explained that not only Americans, but every single foreigner is considered a gringo.
Gastronomy-wise I should add that paçoquinha and açaí have become my obsession, as well as pastéis, and caldo de cana de açucar. Also, going to a feira is my favorite thing to do on Tuesdays. In the past month I’ve visited beautiful parks, walked through crowded streets like Paulista avenue, gone to the Guarujá beach, and to several interesting and modern museums like Museu de Lingua Portuguesa, Museu Do Futebol, and Museu Afro. I’ve also experienced the night life that the city of Sao Paulo has to offer in Vila Madalena barzinhos and Rua Augusta baladas. And, most importantly, I’ve come to analyze and perceive how women act, how they are treated, and how they carry their own lives.
There’s something that particularly called my attention (and inspired the name of this blog) on how Brazilian men interact with women. Just walking down the street by one self, Brazilian guys stare intimidatingly and say something like “parabéns:” I guess to congratulate one for having such good genes. This is not a comfortable experience, as you may imagine. Although Brazilian women are all beautiful, I want to congratulate them. Of course, not in the way that random men congratulate them on the streets, but praising their qualities, strength, and the struggle they live and have fought against machismo.
I will be posting weekly about my gender perceptions as a foreigner woman in Brazil and about powerful Brazilian women that inspire me as I walk through the streets of the majestic and metropolitan São Paulo.