My city’s ‘birthday’ is coming up on March 26. 243 years old it will be. I think I’ve mentioned this before but I’m only leaving Porto Alegre to move outside the country. In Brazil there is no other city I’d rather live in than this. Heck even if or when I move away, I’m going to miss it like crazy. Now, lately I’ve been seeing a lot of comments around the internet from Brazilians hating on Brazil. I don’t blame them, although maybe I should since they elected the President they’re threatening with impeachment on a daily basis… I mean wouldn’t it have been easier to just… I don’t know… Vote for someone else, you guys? But I digress…
The point is, I’ve been seeing a lot of these comments… On a Buzzfeed video I watched (which to be fair was riddled with stereotypes, but at least they were good ones) about what Brazil is about people on the comment section were saying things like “you forgot to mention the violence” or “don’t move to Brazil it’s a horrible place to live”. I was a little bit pissed, I won’t lie. Maybe I shouldn’t be offended lest I set off WW3 with my opinions, but it got me thinking. Brazil is not a horrible place to live. I don’t think I have once, not even my worse days, had that thought cross my mind. I know I’ve complained about the heat plenty and other things (like mandatory voting, because fuck that), but I don’t think I could hate my country.
So here are 10 awesome things about Brazil:
1 – We are the Nation equivalent of that weird friend that has no filters or common sense (yes, that’s a good thing)
In 2002, during the FIFA World Cup we had one of our most famous soccer players (not Pelé, the other one) called a fatty by our president. He then responded to that by calling our president a drunk. Everyone had a good laugh. That was the extent of it. We won the shit out of that World Cup.
I think one of the greatest things about Brazil as a country is that we have very high tolerance when it comes to certain things. We are incredibly chill people. I mean, I myself have mentioned how amused I am at some of the stereotypes some people imagine when they learn when I’m from.
We are not easily offended which makes us prone to some really offensive shit on a daily basis, as though it was okay, and you know what… Why the hell wouldn’t it be?
Brigadeiro is a national treasure. Here in the south we call it “negrinho” a word which can very easily be used as a racial slur. Like wise we call french bread “cacetinho” which… can also be used as a word for… Penis. People who come here from other states are thoroughly confused by this. And we have a ton of fun with that too.
When I was a kid I liked squishing these before I ate them. I’d flattened them between my palms into the shape of little chocolate pancakes. My aunt, from São Paulo, was appalled when I told her I smashed some ‘negrinhos’… She totally assumed I had randomly beaten up some black kids. I mean, yes, we’re chill, but racial violence in the playground is still a no-no.
2 – Summer is horrible… But it ends.
The end of summer is approaching and I’ve never slept better than I have the past couple of nights. Never mind that I was up until 6am watching Game of Thrones… Again… I slept WELL. I could breathe… and I had to hide under the covers because I was COLD. Yes, I was cold with a giant fan aimed at me, but hey… Just a week ago cold was a distant memory and that fan felt nonexistent. Fall is my favorite season of the year. It’s cool, but it’s not as humid a Winter or allergy inducing as Spring.
3 – State Rivalry is a thing. We’re elitist. And we still have fun with it.
I took a trip to São Paulo in 2006 and everywhere I went, the moment I opened my mouth everyone knew exactly where I was from. We spent four days there, my brother and I, and in two of those days I wore shirts that had the name of a beach near Porto Alegre where my brother vacationed. People who saw those shirts knew where I was from without me ever having to speak a word and they poked of us at random on the street. It was ridiculous and funny to watch random people messing with us and not giving a shit that we were strangers. A man in a business suit did a mock impression of one of our traditional dances as he passed us… On a busy street… It was the most fascinating thing I ever did see.
Basically he tried to do this:
Likewise, if you come here from Rio or São Paulo we’re going to mock your accent, we’re going to use words we know make no sense to you just to mess with your head, we’re going to let you drive in the city assuming that it’ll be easier to find your bearings here than in a larger capital… When we know it isn’t. We’re going to give you hell, little outsider, and the worse of all is that we’ll do it in a way that’ll still make you love us for it in the end of the day.
4 – REAL soccer fans are lovely human beings
A lot of people talk about soccer causing violence and animosity and that’s true to some extent, but it’s not the whole truth. I mean, I can attest to the fact that rivalry can be done without insults or violence and not just amongst people who know each other but complete strangers. There are two major soccer teams in Porto Alegre: Sport Club Internacional (Inter) and Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense (Grêmio); my team. I live pretty close to Internacional’s stadium and that means that on game day there are insane amounts of rival soccer fans littering the streets of my neighborhood. Back when I was a kid I constantly had something (most often a hat) with my team’s logo on it. And I’d more often than not find myself in a bus filled with these fanatics all in read and me wearing blue. 99% of the time I was left alone. The one time I wasn’t, this one guy tried to steal my hat to throw it out the bus window. He was berated so harshly by the rest of the passengers he actually moved as far away from me as he could.
A friend of mine once wanted to celebrate his birthday in the members area of that stadium. I went. Only I went clad in blue, wearing my team’s jersey because I said that was the only way I’d step foot in there. I was applauded.
Soccer fans aren’t assholes, or violent people… They’re regular folk. Assholes are assholes and violent people are violent people. Soccer is to them an excuse to get riled up and start fights. And they’re not real soccer fans.
5 – Guaraná
I’m a heavy Cola drinker and that’s without a doubt my favorite soda, but… Guaraná is sooo fucking good. We have Antartica which is the nation-wide favorite. Coca-Cola released their own stuff (Kuat), but that’s not guaraná, it tastes like medicine… It’s gross… And we’re not talking about that.
Antartica is the most common brand, but it’s not my favorite. I like our locally produced stuff better (elitism, bitches! :P)
And in São Paulo we had this guaraná from a brand called Xereta… which was just… horrible stuff. A while back we had Brahma which had this weird banana after taste which was really not that pleasant, but was so weird we just couldn’t stop drinking it. Polar was supposedly the best, but I don’t remember how it tastes; it was before my time. Now they just make beer. lol
6 – We look up to the US in hilariously endearing ways.
Just the number of people doing that Ice Bucket Challenge thing without knowing why should totally prove my point, but I’m still going to elaborate on this a bit further.
Brazil likes to imitate the United States a lot. In things that are just… Silly, I think is the right word. Like Black Friday. We don’t have thanksgiving, but we have Black Friday. We have Halloween parties at schools, but we don’t do trick or treating… We don’t know what any of this stuff is, we just know the cool kids are doing it. Why do we use snow in our Christmas decorations, folks, if there will NEVER be snow here on Christmas? EVER? We don’t know. We stopped thinking about it ages ago, we just pretend we know what we’re doing.
7 – ALL the genes.
My mom grew up in a neighborhood full of immigrant families. Our state alone was colonized by Italian, German, Polish, Spanish and Portuguese immigrants, it was also populated by Indigenous natives and African slaves (of course). My mom’s neighborhood also had Jewish, Japanese and French families.
My mom’s family is of Portuguese and Italian origin… Although at one point down the road some African got in the mix too.
My dad’s family… Well that’s where it gets complicated… Apparently part of it traces back to Spain, but we don’t descend from them… Our heritage was more recently traced back to New York; which you may recognize as a place that has possibly seen immigrants from more places than the entirety of Brazil. So the truth is, beyond that we have no idea exactly where we come from. I also don’t know why we came to South Brazil from NY (perhaps we were running from the cops and got lost on the way to Rio :P). My point is… I don’t know what exactly I am. I call myself Caucasian, but I’ve heard Brazilians referred to as Latins… Technically I’m also African descendant… I DON’T KNOW. And I love that. What’s not to love?
8 – Folklore
Our folklore includes stories of a pink dolphin that turns into a man and goes around impregnating women.
Then there’s the Curupira. He’s the protector of the forests and of forest creatures. So if you defile the forests or slaughter its animals… It will fuck you up.
There also a headless flaming mule. Seriously. Legend has it that the mule is a woman cursed with the form of a headless mule due to doing some evil shit… Like a werewolf curse only of the headless equine variety.
Anyways… Those are examples, but there are a great deal of stories and depending of where in the country you live, when you visit different regions you can always learn more of them. They are all awesome. And as you all know I’m a sucker for stories.
9 – Food
Have you ever ate a chicken’s heart? No? You should, it’s fucking delicious. Especially on a pizza. Chicken heart pizza is the yummiest thing in the world.
We here in the south pride ourselves in our barbecue actually. Which involves giant cuts of meat over an open flame… and if it’s not like that, it’s not the real stuff (did I mention elitism is a thing here?)
I’ve mentioned brigadeiro before, which is basically cooked condensed milk with chocolate powder and chocolate sprinkles.
Pão de queijo (cheese buns) are a personal favorite of mine as well.
I could list more and maybe I’ll make a separate list just of stuff I like to eat, but these be my favorite things right there.
10 – Some stereotypes are true. And that’s okay
Look, not all stereotypes are bad, and some of them are true. We are happy folk, most of the time. Our women are freaking beautiful, although not always in the ways you’d expect, Rio is amazing; even the favelas if you know where to go… We may not speak Spanish, but we understand some of it. And you know what, we should speak Brazilian. Ask Portugal and they’ll tell you that we’re far from the language they taught us back in the day… and you know… Ours is better. >.>
A great deal of us love soccer and carnaval and would be able to teach you samba. And most of us who don’t care for soccer or carnaval would not allow anyone to dare speak ill of it. We’re allowed, you’re not. Deal with it. That’s how we show pride in our nation, that’s the best way we know how.
We’re a great big nation and no one should expect to just come over and see beaches and bikinis everywhere, obviously, but we’d be lying if we didn’t admit that there are plenty in certain places. What are we afraid of? That the world won’t take us seriously? I think the world can take itself way too seriously sometimes. Who needs that kind of stress? 😛