Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Brazil: Can’t live with it, can’t live without it

I truly love living in Brazil.  The focus on family, friends and enjoyment is SO MUCH MORE pronounced than what I experienced in the USA.  The expression: “You work to live, not live to work” nails it. [OK, I know, I’m out of the loop.  Young Brazilians are working their butts off, chasing money. But I’m among the old school folks who focus on qualidade de vida.]
It makes me smile on the inside and out when complete strangers walking down the street catch my eye and say good morning. I have more than one story to tell from San Francisco when I was scolded by a parent for saying hello to a small child on the street.  Here – never.
Fresh, cold, coconut water (nectar of the gods), on the beach, with a view of Rio de Janeiro – with no reason to rush home for anything, ahhh. Sit and feel the bliss. Whatever else you have to do – it can wait. Trust me; it can wait. (Note: if you rush home to make that appointment, you will be the first person there and will wait another twenty minutes for the others to show up.)
Children rule. Everyone reveres children. Children are everywhere, smiling. Everyone looks after everyone’s children. Children get a pass. I don’t usually like children (I didn’t, much, before I moved here…now I have had a change of heart), but here – the relationship is somehow more authentic, more direct, more personal.  I can see the little person.
Some of the cultural differences between the USA and Brazil are so amazing. So sweet.  So inspiring. But of course there are other differences that rub me the wrong way (but I keep my glass half full).
Like when I go to the grocery store and never get eye contact or friendly chatter from the checkout lady. She’s allowed – she gets paid sh*t.
While I love my mother-in-law, daily visits are just not in the cards. Over about 24 years living in San Francisco I saw my own mother face-to-face maybe 8 times.  Visiting my MIL DAILY is just not fathomable to me.  But she cannot understand why I would not want to visit and eat her wonderful food. Different worlds. We have found our balance point.
It never fails. I’ve seen it a thousand times. Perfectly nice people become myopic and maniacal when they get behind the wheel of a car. Pedestrians are dismissed. Traffic laws are optional. Faster is better. [Is this true in Bahia as well?]
There is no question that I love living here.  But differences bring on irritations.  Call me normal.  I feel them.
Marginal critiques aside -- do come visit us and I will make you feel at home with love and a perfect caipirinha.


Jana @ Paper plains said...

I agree, I try not to dwell on my frustrations too long, its just too damn pretty here! But the way people drive has been the hardest to adjust to... Nowhere is perfect though and weighing the pros and cons Id pick here anyday right now!

Luasol (Jane) said...

I would like to think I am not living to work, but easier said than done, when starting a business:) I am working with my husband about not living to work so much. At times, I have to remind him to not talk shop when we are out to dinner. I just keep reminding myself of the long term payoff, not living to work.