I am now presenting a reflection of things I did not know until I began living here in Brazil.
So! Here it is:
1. Exotic Fruits
The next time you walk into an American supermarket, notice all the different fruits they have to offer. It may seem like a lot. The truth is that those stores carry but a mere decimal of a fraction of all the kinds of fruits that exist in the world. That’s right: America does NOT have everything. In Brazil alone, there are many native fruits exclusively found here, and the most popular of those fruits is the guaraná – ever heard of it? It is used to make the most delicious soda I’ve ever tasted. Maybe you have heard of it, but I am positive you never heard of cupuaçu. You say you have? What about the jeninpapo!? Pitomba? For sure you never heard of the maracujá! (I’m fooling you. The maracujá is actually a variation of the passion-fruit). I have only begun to list all of the uncommon fruits found here too, and these new tastes are even more surprising than the numbers.
2. Language Barrier
In the United States I am categorized as a Hispanic “minority.” I am one of the first in my Mexican family to be born on the north side of the Rio Grande. Spanish is my mother tongue, but even still I don’t remember crashing against a language barrier with English. The majority of the curriculum in my elementary school bilingual classes was taught to me in Spanish up until the 4th grade, meaning that my teachers practically finessed away the struggles and challenges contingent with learning an unknown language. And even still, in a hometown like Houston (or Texas in general), Latinos thrive and make up a solid majority of the population. When I was in high school I would say that ¾ of all the students were Latino. It is because of this that I never truly felt like a “minority” until I arrived here in Brazil, and wow, let me tell you. Very few Brazilians I know can fluently speak English or Spanish – only Portuguese. Being at ends with a language was actually a foreign experience to me – even though I am practically a foreigner in the United States at large. During my first couple months here, I had finally felt what it was like. It was crazy.
3. TV Antennas
I would’ve preferred to live the rest of my life forgetting the horrors of ever wasting so much of my sanity and time fidgeting those metal wands just to get clear reception. But no – they still exist, and along with the annoyance that has slept quietly in the darkest corridors of my memory for all these years, they will not be going away anytime soon.
I am the kind of guy who enjoys Rap and Hip-Hop. I like rock/nu metal/electronica music as well. None of these genres are too popular in this corner of the earth though. What you will find here are the roots to universes of music known as Axé, Fogo, Bossa Nova, Samba, and Pagode. Ah yes… the Pagode. Every day here in Bahia I have been treated to Pagode in truckloads (literally, because some trucks have large speakers strapped on their roofs, blasting bass-heavy music at maximum volume that can be heard for miles), and the Bahian hunger for it is insatiable.
Here is the thing about the Amazon: it actually breathes. When I stepped off the jet as I arrived at the center of the Amazonian jungle, I immediately felt covered in an invisible, warm blanket. Have you ever looked at the sky and wondered what it would be like to walk right through a big, soft, puffy white cloud? Take a stroll alongside the largest river in the world, and you’ll know what it feels like.
There you have it. I could say more on behalf of these subjects, and I have learned many other things throughout my life in South America. If you want to delve into a deeper conversation with me though, take me out for a fresh mangonada when I fly back to Texas, or perhaps to dinner at a Thai joint anywhere in the United States and let’s talk about it over a steamy dish of Pad Thai and a medium serving of pan-fried dumplings (any meat) to start – it has been a long time since I last had a taste.
My time in Brazil is indeed running out.