I will fulfill a dream that I have for years: go to Brazil at Carnival! More specifically in the city of Rio.
Brazil is very famous for Carnival. Carnival is a popular festival of the Brazilian people. It is a party without a specific day, but it is before Easter. This party happens in the whole country, and in each locality a type prevails.
Old Street Carnival
The best known is the street carnival. Since earliest times, people had come together in groups, called blocks, that were characterized by fun and funny clothes. They went out with their “batucada” groups, dancing, singing the carnival marches and having a lot of fun.
Juggling, acrobatics and frevo dancers
Another festival well known worldwide is the Olinda and Recife Carnival, in Pernambuco, with presentations of frevo, a dance of electrifying rhythm. Dancers do acrobatics and juggling dancing with umbrellas, showing great skill with their legs. There is also the dispute for the gigantic dolls, characterized by political characters, who make great joy of the population.
Street parties and a lot of love
The carnival of Salvador differs from these others by having the electric trios, who walk the streets of the city. The trios are trucks mounted with large sound systems, very powerful, to be able to propagate in the streets. Famous singers feast the people, singing and dancing on top of the cars, pulling large crowds.
Rio de Janeiro, the Carnival stage
In Rio de Janeiro there is the predominance of sambas, “pagodes” and the sambas themes presented by samba schools. This carnival is known worldwide because of the beauties of the fantasies, such as the “baianas”, master-room and flag-bearers, passers, besides the allegories, decorated cars, varying according to the plot or theme of the samba school.
But as I prepare to travel and enjoy the Carnival, I will make a post about the differences between expectations and reality in relation to Brazil and Brazilians, especially Brazilian women. This is based on the times I ventured myself into Brazil.
But before anything, let me explain. Brasilia is the capital of Brazil and my father, who is a diplomat, was transferred to live in Brazil for one year, in the city of Brasilia. So I lived in Brazil for a year and then I went back to the United Kingdom.
But how was the beginning of my experience in Brazil?
A shock. At first it was a shock. Out here, when you hear things about Brazil, you think about that stereotype of samba, football, cachaça, caipirinha, beaches, happy and lively people all the time. I expected to find this when I went to Brasilia. A city very different from that cliché that is known from Brazil around the world. Brasilia is a mixture of everything. There are people from all over the country there, and I can say that the culture there is still in the process of formation. Arriving as a foreigner in Brasilia is the same as to receive a bucket of cold water when your expectations are to know the Brazil of the TV commercials!
In the early days, I wanted to know the city on foot, as it does in any other city in the world! So I realized that in Brasilia you can not know anything by foot! I couldn’t leave my neighborhood to take a tour in the center of the city, to know the neighborhood, to see something different. To get to know Brasilia, you need a car, or at least to bet that one day some buses on public transportation will appear. In my first week in Brasilia I stayed 40 minutes waiting for the bus to pass, and nothing. To this day I still don’t know the timetables of the public transportation there.
And what else did I experience on my arrival in Brazil?
Over time I came to understand more of the culture and the way of the Brazilian. The country is beautiful. It was in Brazil that I saw the most beautiful sunset of my life. Among friends, I was always welcomed and many people who knew me in my group of friends ended up taking to parties and to their lives. They showed a little more of life in Brazil. So I tasted, for example, some foods that Brazilians should export to the rest of the world: cheese bread, catupiry and calabrian sausage! The Brazilian in general is very cheerful. See life positively. People joke, talk, even without knowing the other person. They have fun with the accent, they ask from where we are. In general, the Brazilian is a people with an up attitude. But this is when you are already inserted in their culture.
At first I found it very difficult to make friends, to meet people. Maybe because of the language I had not mastered yet. Overall, I felt that Brazilians are not accustomed to listening to foreigners trying to speak Portuguese. The tongue barrier is still something strong and this surprised me because I did not expect it. Even after taking a class in Portuguese, I felt that people did not understand me, which causes a bad feeling when we are trying to communicate in another language.
But what about the Brazilian women?
The Brazilians women are wonderful! But they are not easy women, as many may think. To win them, you have to work hard.
European women are extremely polite. The whole ceremony of seduction is tedious, bureaucratic. Most of the time I go anywhere here in the UK, the difficulty in the game of conquest is incredible. The game here is a constant draw. No one can handle a good conversation, or maybe they don’t want to. Women are traditional and conservative. There is rarely a table with only women in a bar. And if there are, they are usually foreigners.
In Brazil is different. Probably to European looks women are sluts and men are troglodytes. My ex, for example (French, lived 4 years in Brazil), said that the Brazilian man is very direct, doesn’t know how to seduce. So straightforward that most of the time the interest is lost because the seduction hasn’t developed enough to move on to the next level.
I don’t agree with this. I think we (I include myself in this because I'm a Brazilian descendant) know how to work closer to the signs of approach, body movements, looks, gestures with hands, etc. They are visual signals, subtle, and you need to know how to read and send them. That means that when you go to a woman / man you don’t know, half the way is already done, because looks, smiles, gestures have already been exchanged. Obviously, I mean in a propitious situation, like a bar for example. A European who doesn’t know how to read these signs, thinks that in Brazil every man / woman is a troglodyte / slut, but you actually spent the night looking straight into the person's eyes. It is normal for a direct approach to happen! After a few positive signs, we move on to the next step. If the woman / man is not interested, just send the negative signs.
I will now list some things I love in Brazil:
The parties in Brazil may even start later, but they will definitely last longer. In countries in Europe and North America, there are laws against selling alcohol after a certain hour. There are bars that open from 2 AM, for example, but these are much more expensive.
I love the party time in Brazil, where you go back home at 6 AM or 7 AM. In Britain, pubs close at 11 PM or 12 AM. Everyone drinks as much as possible until this time, and they get too drunk.
When I went to Brazil, I thought it was great not to have to rush to drink until a certain time, as in the United Kingdom. The only way to continue the night is to go to a nightclub, where drinks are more expensive and often they charge for the entrance.
This habit is very common in Brazil. You have the embrace between men, and the most affectionate embrace, with the women. In my country it’s very rare, maybe just between the family. I liked it. It may seem insignificant, but it greatly changes the relationships between people, be it between family, friends or strangers.
The hug is very good. It can improve relationships among people. The British don’t usually show so much emotion, especially with regard to body language. It's a huge difference.
The Brazilian way
The much commented "Brazilian way" won’t be left out of this list. Brazilians always believe that there is a way to do something, and this leads them forward.
When I went with a friend to Brazil, I was able to better understand how Europeans really stress when something goes wrong. The Brazilians, on the other hand, are calm.
Searching on the internet, I got a definition of the Brazilian way by the American philosopher Allan Taylor, who summarizes:
"The Brazilian way explains the success of almost all Brazilians abroad. Improvisation is the great art of the Brazilian. In music, for example, as in “chorinho” or samba, there is plenty of room to improvise. I think that's why the Americans doesn’t know how to dance samba or play football".
Another custom of Brazil that could be exported is the habit of sharing drinks. Sharing beer, caipirinha or “chimarrão” says a lot about the Brazilian's generosity. At first, I had trouble getting used to it.
The first time I went to Brazil, I became embarrassed because I didn’t know this custom:
A friend came to visit me when I lived in Brazil and we went to a nightclub. They gave us a glass of caipirinha at a party. We thought it was just for us. Long time later we realized that it was for everyone.
It is a very cool habit, which works also with beer, which is bought for everyone, and with chimarrão, which is much consumed in southern Brazil.
Foreigners are treated well in Brazil
I believe that foreigners are well treated in Brazil and Brazilians are willing to help. I remember once that I was in downtown, looking for a bank to get some money and I asked for information for a woman in the street. I thought she might be able to explain the way, but she took my hand and led me into the bank! I was very happy to receive such a nice help.
When I lived there and the times I went to visit, everyone was very friendly and helpful. This is very important for foreigners, because we feel a little lost in the beginning. People always gave me information with a smile on their face.
The natives' hygiene habits surprised the Europeans when they arrived in Brazil for the first time. One can’t say that the Brazilians still bathe as the natives of Brazil did at that time, but this characteristic is one of the 10 things that I miss. The Brazilians are very clean. You don’t find so many Americans or people from northern Europe who take a shower a day and brush their teeth after every meal.
I was surprised to see all my friends brushing their teeth after lunch. It's a very cool habit. Brits, when at work or other places, usually chew a gum after lunch.
Something impressive for foreigners about the Braszilian people is the practice of physical exercise and care for good physical form. But it is only a good example if it is not excessive. At any time of the night or the day, you see people walking, running, playing ball or riding a bike. Brazilians are very active in sports, whether in search of health or in search of beauty.
I thought it was great when they closed the streets for people to exercise on weekends. This restlessness of exercising needs to be exported to several countries. In my country people don’t take care of their bodies so much.
Offering a ride
Another habit that I like a lot in Brazilians is the habit to offer (and receive) a ride. The practice can be planned by phone or even in the bars or restaurants, when a ride is offered even for someone who they just met.
It is such a simple thing, and yet I don’t see it in Europe. Everyone has their own cars, and the ones who doesn’t have car, go on foot. Even if people go to very close places to each other In Europe, this does not occur even among colleagues. Nobody thinks about this possibility.
Lunch as the main meal of the day is an example for a British like me. My country could benefit from this habit. British workers tend to swallow a sandwich at work, and have a heavy meal at night. But a lighter dinner is much healthier.
In Brazil is good because you usually eat something warm at lunch. I also really like the buffet a kilo and the carvery, which is a show apart.Well, I already talked too much. Have you visited Brazil before? What did you think of it? What did you like more? And if you never visited it, what are your expectations? Leave your comments below and let’s share our experiences and opinions.