How I fell in love with Brazil

7 months ago

How I fell in love with Brazil

Today, I bring you something different. I have fallen in love with Brazil and its culture and today I want to share it with you. 

I can say with all my heart that I went through a wonderful journey I never though I would.

A month ago, Brazil was just another country on the globe. But it changed drastically to me.

I have met a few Brazilian people here at my chat parties, and I started talking to them. I knew Brazil was home to the largest rainforest in the world which provides me - a plant lover - with many of my houseplants, which are native to Brazil.

From that point of conversation, other conversations began, covering the indigenous people, the popular music, the food, the similarities between EU Portuguese and BR Portuguese, and soon a friendship was born. I can say I love those two people like brothers today. They have been teaching me all about Brazil, they answer my questions with a patriotic passion that has touched my heart and has made me fall in love with Brazil. So soon after meeting them, I can say I really care and feel connected with the country.

I'm still learning, and I love to learn about it every day.

I started with the most simple part. I learned about the biomes of Brazil. (A biome, for those who may not know, is "a community of plants and animals that have common characteristics for the environment they exist in. They can be found over a range of continents. Biomes are distinct biological communities that have formed in response to a shared physical climate.) Because currently Pantanal (a biome from Brazil) is threatned by fires, and I felt I needed to understand why are they such a threat. Turns out all biomes are connected and the deforestation and destruction by fire of one of them compromises the others. 

I have watched a series of videos dedicated to each Biome, and now that I have done that, I'm moving towards cultural videos. I have already watched some and tried to read about the indigenous people of Brazil, specially the Tupi-Guarani tribe, my favorite.

I want to read more about the food, the traditions but... I don't know where or how to start. If you are Brazilian and know some nice traditions about Brazil, or more specifically to your city and/or state, please feel free to share. I'd love to read it.

I felt I had to do this blog post. Many people on Stardoll are Brazilian and It's only fair to enlighten others about Brazil and their culture. Also because I'm from Portugal and I know the relationship between both countries is not the best, I want to change that. I want Brazilians to feel proud and admired for the beautiful country they have. I'm so very sorry for the past. I know. "sorry" won't change it, But at least you know that I respect and value you for you who are, and for being part of such a beautiful independent country. 

The friends I've mentioned have presented me to Sertanejo Raiz music style, a sort of Brazilian country music. I never thought I'd like it, and now I listen to Paula Fernandes everyday since then. Her voice and songs make me imagine the Brazilian countryside, (state of Minas Gerais), the beautiful traditional Sítio(s) (Brazilian farms) with animals and tropical fruit trees, the coffee plantations. Can you imagine what's like waking up on a Brazilian farm? Hearing the tropical birds in the morning, coming out of bed when it's 30º C (86º F)?! Don't judge -- I love summer weather! Imagine eating breakfast made from things grown in the land, going out to take of the animals, cherishing the sunset...

I'm literally listening to Paula Fernandes now. My favorite songs from her are "Sem Você", "Pássaro de Fogo" and "Seio de Minas." 

So far it's been a pleasant surprise. I never thought Brazil would be so much more than gorgeous ladies dancing samba, the Rio de Janeiro Carnival, and the soap operas. 

Speaking of which, I grew up watching Brazilian soap operas, specially Chocolate com Pimenta, which I am currently re-re-re-re-(SpongeBob narrator voice: "Two hours later")-re-re watching, because I love it so much. 

Because I have fallen in love with Brazil, I decided to rewatch it again, but this time, I have been focusing on the parts depicting Ana Francisca's family and their farm. I love that simple way of life it portrays. Even thought the soap opera depicts the 1920s, I hope the coutryside lifestyle parts are still true today. This soap opera was the first contact with Sertanejo that I had. I used to love (and still do) when "Tristeza do Jeca" by Zézé di Camargo e Luciano played with beautiful countryside pictures, mostly from Rio Grande do Sul,where the soap opera was filmed. 

I love Brazil's flora. Most of my plants are native to the Amazon forest (Bromeliads, Calatheas, Monstera...) and I tried to educate myself on the biome as best as possible, to understand why it is at risk and why it is so important. 

I now look at my plants and have another reason to smile: they remind me of Brazil.

Last week, we ate a mango for dessert. I took out the seed and now have it soaked in water in between kitchen paper towels, waiting for it to germinate. I want to germinate it because the plant is beautiful and reminds me of Brazil. 

My Brazilian friend has shown me a few huge mango trees in his neighborhood, and he also told me his grandmother owns a big one, so I want to plant one and look at it, watch it grow while I learn more about Brazil.

And because I'm determined to learn more, I already know that Brazil is not all a bed of roses.

Unfortunatelly, there's still a lot of poverty. Many people live in favelas, or slums.

These people, descendants from slaves and others who couldn't afford a house, and to this day, they have limited and/or difficult access to essential goods like water, food, plumbing, internet, or even tv, or school. Many of them live through horrible conditions and the corruption of the Brazilian government makes it difficult for them to live, because they keep pushing aside the problems, which incluide the awful salaries the people from the Favelas are paid because most don't have access to high education. 

But they are strong and resilient and I'm told people from the Favelas have a sense of unity, they help one another and find happiness their own way. 

Favelas are usually made with metal, wood and bricks and scraps from buildings. They are built close to one another, which helps with the sense of comunity they have. I'm told they are very united and respecteful towards each other and help each other (family members, or families towards other families) and they are not like the way they are portrayed in the media. They are not violent. They are people of limited means trying to survive while enjoying life. 

25% of Rio de Janeiro's population lives in Favelas. The city itself has nearly 1000 favelas, containing 1.5M people.

Favelas have well structed comunities without the presence of the government or public authority. They do have public services though.

Supermarkets, butchers, mecanics, schools, barber shops, hair salons, all the things you need. This makes it as they like to call it "a city within a city," as Favelas are usually at the outskirts of large cities like São Paulo. 

I have watched some food vlogs by Mark Wiens and that was such a nice way to experience the life in the favela(s), because not only is food on of the main gates to another culture, but he also showed how people live and go by everyday. 

I think It was necessary for me to know very well how favelas are, because there's still a lot of prejudice around them. They are so not like they are protrayed by media and violent games. People from the favelas are so nice and warm, they have large families that are united, and many of us in the big cities don't have that family warmth. 

It's so nice to see that these people are hard workers and fight for the favelados (people from favelas) place in society. They are proud to be who they are and I  am happy that they are geting reconized for their work and dedication. I have watched a music video from a guy from a favela who showed some successful people, which I think it's important to show, again because of the ongoing ignorant thought that they are all aggressive.

They are just normal people like you and me and they deserve respect.


Speaking of disrespected minorities, in my next blog post, I will talk about the indigenous people of Brazil who since colonial times, have been mistreated, disrespected, and prejudiced against. 

Stay tuned!