O Brasil

Brasil

You smile,
and you complain,
and then you ask me why I came
here to this place,
‘O Brasil’
as we talk of how
“The price of sugar has gone up,
don’t you know?
It can’t be so
in the United States,
where giant homes
have perfect lawns
and picket gates,
no less!”

No more.
Then you ask me of war.

And too, we talk of movies
and then you ask me when I came
here to this place,
‘O Brasil’
“because you speak portuguêse so well,
don’t you know?
It can be such
hell, so many verbs and tenses,
no less!”

And more.

Out the open bus window
the mountain peaks and valley greens
pass by us
as we discuss
the weather
and whether it will rain or not
and that it is always either
too cold or too hot
here in this place,
‘O Brasil!’

At my stop
we share a thumbs-up,
your hand upon my sleeve
“Abraços,” you say as I leave
with a smile.
And that is how to explain
to you why I came
here to this place,
‘O Brasil.’

by Jason Weaver

“Abraços” translates into “hugs” in portuguêse, the national language in Brazil. It is extremely common to hear people say “abraços” when parting, whether among friends or strangers, regardless of gender. In fact, after 3 years of being here, it still sometimes takes me by surprise when a store clerk or a bus toll collecter says it to me!   In general, Brazilians are known for their openness and my experience here has been the same. The thumbs-up sign is given at any and every single opportunity. It is a friendly signal with many positive connotations, and can come in handy when you need to cross the street, since cross walks are otherwise ignored. Brazilians like to talk, often to anyone that will listen. This poem is of a conversation on a bus with a stranger. Strangers will often offer to hold your bags for you if you are standing, and will then use the opportunity to strike up a conversation. Oft-times it may include a complaint of some sort. Complaining is an art form here. It is usually in regard to time spent waiting for everything, especially in lines at the bank, and also to the prices of goods. Brazil is expensive and has a long history of economic crises including monster inflation in the recent past. However strong and stable the current economy is, though, Brazilians are always on the look-out for any price increases, no matter how normal or small. They learn a lot about American culture through movies and music and like to talk about the films that they’ve seen. Also, I always get asked about war. Always. It is the one thing about Americans that they just cannot understand. However, it is never confrontational, they simply want to know my opinion of it. Other than that, they (generally) love America, love Americans and endlessly put down the slow progress made in their own country in comparison to their idea of a Disneyfied-America that they see in the movies and on TV. I say that a bit tongue-in-cheeck, but not much.

I hope it is clear to the reader just how much I love living here. I do not show my love with praises and glamorization, but rather with observation and candor. Some may see slight criticism. I think it is important to be critical of the the places we love. I guess in that sense, I fit right in.

Finally, I use ‘O Brasil’ which literally translates into “The Brazil” The “the” article is used much more often in portuguêse than in English, especially for the names of place. As an American, hearing the ‘O’ placed before masculine nouns and names of places reminds me so much of the English “Oh.” In this instance, to my American ears, “O Brasil” becomes “Oh Brazil!” which leads me to the prompt which inspired this photo-poem post “Oh the places we live ” at dVerse Poet’s Pub. Come check it out!

Advertisements

25 thoughts on “O Brasil

  1. You are a lucky devil to live in Brazil. In fact we were going to move there before we decided on Mexico, however for financial reasons
    we changed course and I am happy with our decision. Nice write.

    Pamela

  2. Just through your poem (and your very interesting explanation afterward) I got a very warm and inviting impression of Brazil. The people sound very open and curious…a nice combination. I so enjoyed this…thank you.

    • Curious– yes, that is it, exactly! Thanks so much for the comment. I’m so glad that you enjoyed this as I really wanted to convey the right tone and message about my adopted home. ~peace, Jason

  3. i really like the rather conversational comfortable style in which you present this…like we are just going for a ride together…and love the parting that translates as hugs….that says enough to me right there…

  4. very cool…you seem to love the country…felt…love the conversation with the stranger in the bus..cool if people are so open..really enjoyed.. abraços… smiles

  5. Sounds just a superb place to live, a place where people are open is always comforting, love that they speak Portuguese, I don’t know why but I do love Portugal, never been there but have a Portuguese phrase book just in case… seems it would do well in Brazil too! Love the conversational style, and yes abracos! (a new word for me 😉

  6. Excellent write! Years ago (in my first college stint) I had a friend from Brazil. Your portrayal of Brazilian openness and good humor perfectly corresponds to my friend, one of the most generous hearts I’ve ever met.

    • In writing on Brazil, I had many wonderful– and some less wonderful– points to explore. But it is this that you said, the opennness and good humor, that most strikes me, most compelled me to share. I’m so glad it rang true to your experience as well. Thanks so much for the thoughful reply 🙂 ~Jason

    • Indeed, the natural wonders here will ‘wow’ anyone. But in the day to day of living here, the acceptance by the people here is my greatest treasure. Thanks for coming by~ Jason

    • As with anywhere, often the people here fail to see their own beauty. Where they see a mess, I see community. Where they see fault, I see soul. Thanks for commenting 🙂 ~ Jason

  7. I am completely and utterly in love with Brazil, although I have only been there once (and far too briefly). A country does not have to be perfect for us to love it. Thank you for sharing your love of it so eloquently!

    • Thanks! Great that you noticed the contrast– Brazil is such a place of contrast, at least to my American mind, and I wished to use it in this poem to exemplify that. I believe when I write of Brazil again, the contrasts will be my main focus. Peace ~ Jason

  8. I enjoyed this very much…I am eager to do some traveling and now Brazil is on my list. And your piece illustrated to me how we all assume things about other countries/ cultures. But in reality we are all the same. Humans trying to survive. Thanks for sharing !!

    • Thanks so much, dragonfly. You are so right, and I’m glad my post could convey this. That despite very subtle cultural differences, we are all so much more alike than not. ~peace, Jason

Please feel free to comment or offer critique

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s