Friday, June 11, 2010

Re-post (reply + post) to Ken's "10 reasons why I love Brazil".

Brazil. Such a short name for such a huge country and so much hidden behind it. Ken has been here ten times and I've lived here for 10 years. I thought it would be interesting to compare our impressions. 10 times, 10 years and 10 impressions or reasons to like it. Here I go:

1. The north east. That’s the place where I’ve lived in for nine years. It is very different from the other part of the country. I’ve heard, there were even plans to separate the north east from the rest of Brazil in the past.

Recife, as it was in Ken’s case, was the first place I stepped on, when I left the plane that took me from England to Brazil. It must have been the same flight Ken took, because even the time of arrival was similar, 2 am. It was a different year, of course. When I left the aircraft I wasn’t prepared for the heat that welcomed me. In Europe, we associate a night with cool weather and I was really surprised with the sensation of a sticky humid cotton candy surrounding everything late night. I had an impression I could get the air in my hands and make cotton balls out of it.

Things moving slowly here? Oh, yes. They really do. People in Bahia mastered the slow lifestyle to perfection. I think I’ll never get used to it.
Beautiful beaches on the coast? Definitely.

2. Brazilian Portuguese. There are so many different accents in Brazil, that it is impossible for a foreigner not to get lost in nuances of Portuguese language and impossible for a Brazilian to hide their origin. Thanks to this, people mistake me sometimes for a Brazilian from the south of the country. I live in the north east and the way I see it, Portuguese language here is sung, not spoken. It's beautiful, however unnerving, if you try to use it in TAP plane (Portuguese airlines). I'm not sure, if Portuguese flight attendants understood me, but I had a hard time to understand them.

3. São Paulo. I've never stayed there for a long time so, I can only say I got impressed by sky scrapers I've seen on my way from one of the airports to another.

4. Denise Stoklos. She comes from Paraná, which is one of the states in the south of Brazil, where Polish colony has its biggest concentration. I have the feeling she may be a Polish descendant. Her Polish name would be: Denize Stokłos.

5. Florianopolis. Well, it has something in common with Teresina: the energy problems. Not even the smallest drop of rain can fall without a power cut. Sometimes it's enough some street dog decides to pee on a lamp post.

6. Santos Dumont airport in Rio. I'm heading to Rio for the ABCI conference in July and I feel the urge to take the same photo Ken has placed in his blog. Awesome! Can you imagine to land on a small piece of ground surrounded by water from all three sides?

7. Astrud Gilberto. Ah, Brazilian singers... There are so many of them. Speaking of Gilberto, there is one Gilberto that I learned about, when I lived in London, before coming to Brazil. Gilberto Gil.
I had a friend in UK, June Darling, whose husband used to surround himself with various artists. June told me, there was a time, when Gilberto Gil had to leave Brazil because of political reasons. He fled to London, and was received with open arms by June's husband. I had no idea who he was, when I heard the story. I only learned about him, because I stayed over for the night, after a nice dinner June cooked. My friend put me up in the same room and the same bed, where Gilberto stayed some decades ago. It was also the first time I heard  Caetano Veloso "London, London". Lovely song.

8. Caipirinha. It's definitely one of my favourite drinks here. As Ken said – the best to drink on the beach, which I did, few months ago in Parnaiba. There is a modified option of caipirinha made with vodka instead of cachaça. It is called caipiroska. I must admit, there's nothing better than the original taste. If you prepare your caipirinha in Europe, using vodka and lemon instead of cachaça and lime, it's not caipirinha anymore.
Talking about Brazilian famous drinks, I can't forget to mention coffee. Coffee here is what rocks the world. It's drunk in small cups (takes about 5 sips to “dry the cup”), various times a day. It's actually offered for free in almost all bigger shops and offices (at least in Teresina). As black as hell and as strong as devil. "Pretinho que satisfaz" :-)

9. Socrates. I've never heard of him (I'm football-ignorant and Ronaldinho seems to be the most popular football player nowadays), but as we are on the subject of sports, I have to say that football in Brazil is a religion. World Cup has just begun and people here went nuts! Lots of noisy gadgets are being sold everywhere, lots of Brazilian flags are stuck to cars, windows, apartment doors and every second person on the street is dressed in a yellow T-shirt. The world here turned green and yellow. But what amazes me the most is the fact, that on the 15th and the 23rd of June, the days of the Brazilian game, everything will stop. Schools, banks and offices will be closed. Some of the places will remain closed even after the match, just because people will be drinking to celebrate the victory (or will be crying after the defeat). Days off! Brazilian calendar is stuffed with them.

10. Foot volley. I prefer hammock swinging.