The Astounding Travel Adventures of a Miraculous Fellow

God’s Favorite Country
August 14, 2008, 8:53 am
Filed under: Brazil
So, Brazil has thus far presented me with a noticeable lack of curious Venezuelan experiences such as explosive diarrhea, military encounters, and insatiable eyeball thieves.  This has created a relative lull in my terrifyingly interesting travel stories.  This is not to say that Brazil isn’t an amazing place, it just does a pretty f’ing good job of simplifying the life of a traveling fool.
However, what Brazil lacks in feces-themed or bodily-harm focused stories, it makes up for in strange customs and culture.  These I shall attempt to outline below:
1. Portuguese — this language is difficult.  It’s mainly difficult because I don’t speak it, but others continue to wish to speak it to me.  My conversations here generally begin with “Como vai voce” (How are you?)…and actually pretty much end right there, because I don’t really know how to say much else.  The response I receive is a cluster of verbs, nouns, and sentences (at least that’s I think they are) followed by a long pause in which I begin to realize I was asked a question.  I then continue this “conversation” by speaking an illustrious mix of Spanish with my faux-Brazilian accent (which is basically an odd conglomeration of Italian accents I have heard from pizza restaurants, Russian accents I heard from watching “Spies Like Us” numerous times in the 1980s, and a little touch of Jeff Wheeland accent, which is generally kind of a slurred gibberish that is composed of fake English words) and pray to the Lord in heaven that I satisfied this person with my response, so that they will leave me alone. 
It never works this way. 
Generally, they continue this catastrophe by asking me another question which I do not understand.  After trying fruitlessly to stare at their mouth intensely enough to try to change their spoken language to English by using old Jedi mind tricks, I again try to answer their “question” (which was most likely just “What is your name?” or “Which devil did you bribe to alter your hair to such a strange color?” or possibly “Would you like me to give you stimulating pleasures or maybe a lot of free money…oh, you don’t really speak Portuguese, do you…ok, nevermind”) by mumbling a few words, none of which are understood by my conversational counterpart.  Finally, we both end the conversation with the universal symbol of Brazil, and more or less the only thing that both I and Portuguese speakers understand: the thumbs up.
2. The Thumbs Up — I love this thing.  While the greatest passions in Brazil revolve around futebol, partying, futebol, and extremely friendly women, these all pale in comparison to their love of the Thumbs Up.  Literally, every encounter in this country ends and/or begins with this little gem.  For example, the other day, Pat and I bothered our lovely Posada receptionist multiple times for towels, toilet paper, and questions about this and that (mainly just to watch her delightful mouth speak her language).  Upon returning, Pat tried to ask her jokingly “if she missed us” while we were gone and not bothering her.  Now, a quick language lesson: in Spanish, “nos extrañaste?” means “did you miss us?”  (nos=us and extrañaste=did you miss)  However, in Portuguese, this is not quite the same translation: extranar=to be strange.  Alas, while Pat’s Portuguese is infinitely superior to mine, instead of saying:
“Did you miss us?”
he said
“Do you find us strange?”
She looked a little confused, but answered with a simple Thumbs Up.  Such a polite way to say “Thumbs Up to the Weirdos.” 
Moreover, literally all of my questions end with a questioning Thumbs Up, just to get an answer I understand with a clear affirmative or negative:
1. “Do you serve food here (Thumbs Up)?” 
2. “Hello Brazilian woman, do you like how I suggestively sway my hips back and forth while I erotically dance around you in circles (Thumbs Up)?” 
3. “Do I look fat in this speedo (Thumbs Up)?” 
Thus, the Thumbs Up makes life so much easier, even if I do get the occasional Thumbs Down, mainly in response to question two in the previous sentence.
3. Açai — For those not in the know, açai is a dark purple fruit that grows deep in the bowels of the Amazon forest.  Brazilians harvest this fruit, then magically turn it into the most delicious sorbet that is mixed with granola and bananas.  Thus, Açai and pizza have become the staples of my diet.  It, like Lucky Charms, is magically delicious.  And it’s extremely healthy, so it counterbalances all the beer we consume.  However, there are a couple of downsides: I have a hell of an açai gut; and, it turns my poop black.
4. Camarão — Portuguese for shrimp, and a very humorous way our friend from Sao Paolo describes the women from Pará state in Northern Brazil.  Another quick background information session: shrimp, here in Brazil, aren’t quite like the ones we see in the USofA that come de-shelled and without the head; here you get the whole animal, head and all.  Moreover, women in Pará are notorious for their absolutely flawless female bodies, and somewhat flawed facial features.  Thus was spawned the name of “camarão”: like with a Brazilian shrimp, with these Brazilian women, you pull the head off, and eat the body.
5. Brazilian Women — Ok, time to address the elephant in the room.  Now, undoubtedly, most of us have heard the stories of the…hmm, how should I put this?…predatory nature of Brazilian women.  Well, from my experiences thus far, I can say that it seems to be more or less true, although I sadly do not know from pure fact.  Here in Northeastern Brazil, there are few blond people, and the locals tend to have darker skin than their Southern countrymates.  Thus, upon walking around, blond-haired white foreigners such as myself and Pat tend to attract an odd, stop-what-you-are-doing-even-if-it’s-open-heart-surgery-or-landing-an-airplane type of look from Brazilians wherever we go.  This is only intensified at clubs and bars, where locals dance and imbibe watery Brazilian beer.  For example, I was doing the Gringo Shuffle (the only passable dance I am coordinated enough to do — which is oddly similar to the Roger Rabbit) around a bumping club, when something hooked me from behind, impeding my progress.  I tried to shake myself loose without turning around to see what it was, but I was trapped in its death grip. When I turned around, I was pounced upon by a dancing Brazilian woman, who wished to employ me as her dance partner.  I obliged.  After three minutes of Gringo Shuffling and breaking nine of her toes, this little number made an agressive attack move.  Like a roundhouse kick from Chuck Norris, it was impossible to defend, and I found my face being inhaled by my new friend.  This was surprising.  When I finally managed to wrestle myself away from her so as to alert my friends to keep an eye out that she wasn’t a cannibal that had plans on dining on me, I told her I’d be right back to continue our “discussion.”  Sadly, when I returned, she was gone.  Nonetheless, it was quite a learning experience.
One more fun little anecdote about Brazilian women.  We had arrived in Sao Luis, a city in the Northernmost parts of Brazil after a 14 hour bus ride and were exhausted.  We had to get up the next morning for another one, so we were taking it easy, eating pizza and discussing topics of interest, mainly that Brazilian women are really, really aggressive.  Our conversation was interrupted by our waitress who handed me a note.  It said, in broken written, English: “I like you.”  I turned around and there were two Brazilian girls staring us down, with that look in their eyes.  We quickly wolfed down our pizza, not sure when they would descend on us and wolf us down.  We were able to finish eating, then just before we left we stopped by their table and told them our situation of exhaustion, and that we were glad they liked us.  Their disappointment was deeper than the Grand Canyon, but they held back from sexually murdering us.  We barely escaped.
So, to make a long point short: Brazilian women are aggressive.
6. Sand — There is a lot of sand in Brazil.  While known worldwide for its abundance of trees in the Amazon rainforest, Brazil is regrettably unknown for being the Greatest Sandbox on Earth.  We’ve covered over 2000 kilometers of ground (only halfway through our trip) in this country, and all of it has had beaches or sand dunes. 
People here are born of the sand.  They all seem to have 4×4 trucks, dune buggies, sandboards, and streets that are made entirely of sand.  Yesterday we did a crazy dune buggy trip which included us being flung over huge dunes at speeds in excess of 400 mph.  All the while we were sitting basically on top of the buggy.  It was fun…but, as is normal nowadays, I pooped in my pants a little bit.  In the middle of our tour, we got to experience this sandy culture by zip lining off sand dunes into clear natural lagoons, sandboarding off the dunes while plummeting into the water, and…um…doing…other stuff involving sand…sandcastles?  Sure.
But, regardless, these people have a lot of sand here.  We’ve even seen multiple towns that need to be moved to escape the relentless approach of omniverous sand dunes eating their buildings and reclaiming what is rightly theirs: the sand.  I wouldn’t be surprised if these people drink a shot or two of sand just to pick them up in the morning.
7. Flip Flops and Board Shorts — Ah…this is why Brazil is wonderful.  In Venezuela, a gringo toting flip flops and board shorts, even on the beach, was a strange sight that could invite death, dismemberment, and kidney theft from the local population.  Even when it was 210 degrees outside, people there wore pants and shoes. 
This is not so in Brazil.  Here, everyone wears flip flops and board shorts all the time.  The President most likely wears them to important staff meetings, which are probably held in a sand dune lagoon.  I haven’t worn shoes or pants in weeks, and this makes me happy.  Shoes are for squares and suckers.  If you wear them here, it’s so foreign that Brazilian women will not give you the time of day, and people will not give you the Thumbs Up.  So beware.
And that, my friends, is the list of “Interesting Things About God’s Favorite Country.”  I’m a big, big, big fan.
Thumbs Up.

3 Comments so far
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Let’s assume you and Pat are walking around Brazil in speedos and havaianas. If you make yourself look brazilian then you will naturally develop portuguese speaking powers. try it.

Comment by Lisa

[…] God’s Favorite CountryHowever, what Brazil lacks in feces-themed or bodily-harm focused stories, it makes up for in strange customs and culture. These I shall attempt to outline below:. 1. Portuguese — this language is difficult. … […]

Pingback by Brazil » Gilberto Gil steps down as Brazil culture minister (Yahoo - World)

Jeff Wheeland for Vice President

Comment by Marc Wrinkle

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