Okay, Bart asked for foreign correspondents, and
he got at least one. I live in Recife, a large city in
the state of Pernambuco, on the northeastern coast. I have lived here for just over a year, and while
I lament the fact that I will probably be unable to attend the next Bartcop gathering in DC (I was at
Juliefest – hi Christian!), I can’t imagine wanting to leave Brazil anytime soon.
Brazil is a wonderful country, one that is well-balanced
in the sense that the positives are all balanced
by negatives in equal number and weight. The weather in the Brazilian Northeast is always warm.
The seasons range from hot to hot and rainy. The people are very friendly, but maddeningly unreliable,
and almost none of them speak English. Fortunately, my Portuguese has improved steadily since I arrived.
And I have taught a few of them to speak English.
When I’m not teaching I am, among other things,
eating fruits most Americans have never heard of.
The fruits here are amazing. Acerola, graviola, cajá, cajú (where cashews come from), guaraná, açai,
pitanga, pinha, cupuaçu, and jaca, for example. Have you heard of any of them? Neither had I, until I came to Brazil.
The food here is incredible. I don’t understand
why there are so few Brazilian restaurants in the US.
The food is, for the most part, heavy, but very flavorful. Brazilians are the wimpiest people on earth
when it comes to spiciness, but otherwise the food is very good. They like potatoes, macaxeira
(which is yucca-like, if not yucca itself), and inhame (yet another tuber), and all kinds of meat.
Before I came to Brazil, I had never had goat, mutton, or all of the interesting parts of the pig.
I like the tail a lot. I don’t like the ear. And the foot is kind of in between. There’s a great stew
made of the pig’s internal organs. I have asked a few people what’s in it, and they say something
like, “I don’t know, and I don’t want to know. It’s good, isn’t it?”
There isn’t much to recommend Recife to tourists,
which is one of the attractions for me. There is a
famous artist, Francisco Brennand (http://www.brennand.com.br/), who lives and works here, but
that’s about it. Otherwise the main tourist attraction is prostitutes. There is a thriving sex tourism
industry here that caters to Germans and Italians. (One of the ways that I identify women as
prostitutes is if they offer to speak German with me.)
The national liquor in Brazil is called cachaça.
It’s a cane liquor, but it isn’t anything like rum.
The Brazilians think that it’s more like tequila, and I think they’re right. Not that Brazilians know
what good tequila is. I haven’t seen “100% agave” yet. Nor am I aware of good cachaça in the US.
Bad cachaça is as bad as liquor gets. If you mix it with fruit juice, it’s potable. But only just.
A large percentage, if not a majority, of the cars in Brazil run on alcohol. The alcohol is distilled from
sugar cane, grown in the Northeast of the country. Thus, bad cachaça is called gasoline. And you can
probably find Brazil’s best-selling brand of gasoline, Pitu, in large liquor stores in the US.
Soccer paradise, Brazilian attitudes toward Clinton and US politics,
CNN International, and the lack of Dr. Pepper in the southern hemisphere.
“Brasil” is a word from a pre-Columbian civilization that lived on the coast of what is now the state of Espirito Santo.
(In Latin "espiritu santo" means Holy Ghost)
The word means “too many beautiful women in one place.” The Brazilians themselves usually call the country “O Brasil,”
which means “too many beautiful women wearing very little clothing in one place.” As the Brazilians say, “tanto faz,”
which means “Look at all the women. Who cares what you call the place?”
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