The scene is set.
We were driving home after seeing the fluffiest, poofiest, biggest dog I have ever seen. His name was Konan, and I was given the opportunity to visit him at his home at the end of a rickety road on the top of a mountain. After I had given him hugs and kisses to my hearts content, Yuri, my cohort leader, gave me a lift home. As we drove past people on the road, Yuri, would say “oppa”. This is a friendly way of saying “hi” as you drive by, an acknowledgement of sorts. He warranted responses from these strangers in the forms of “oppa, oi” and one enthusiastic “olå!” as we continued to drive by.
This being the year of firsts, I thought I should also try this friendly form of acknowledgment.
Clearing my throat and saying as deeply as possible I said, “ooooooppa,” as we drove by two men with their cattle.
The cows stopped and looked. The men stopped and stared, and I was met with a confused awkward silence as the car rumbled past. Written clearly on their faces, “Did that woman just say, ‘oppa?’”
I realized pretty quickly that they were used to men coming by and saying hi, but when a women did it? Wild. Unheard of. Reverse ‘catcalling’ status. Life lesson, men walking cattle on the side of the road in Brazil are not accustomed to women flying by in cars and saying, “oppa.”
I will admit I still do it to this day, whether I warrant a response or not. I am okay with being the odd foreign woman who says “oppa” as she drives by.