Being born and raised in a beautiful country like Bermuda where tourism is a natural part of our everyday lives, I am very much aware of the need to be courteous and helpful to our visitors; they are our income. (As an aside, I must inform you that Tourism is NOT Bermuda’s primary source of income – International Banking and Reinsurance are our primary industries). I have found that the occasional smile, “hello” or a conversation in passing or while shopping, does not qualify one to be an ambassador of any country. However I can say first-hand, that Brazilians are a very friendly people. They are ‘huggers’ by nature and they will even kiss a stranger soon after meeting them. They love their families and they are very protective of each member. One of their most favorite past-times is “EATING” – yes, food plays a big part in their social interactions.
What surprised me most was when I was told by a female manager at a local water company, that Brazil is built on a ‘class system.’ Blacks or olive skinned people are automatically assumed to be in Class C or D. No matter one’s education, it is assumed that most Blacks are poor and uneducated. It was even more surprising that being Black and able to speak and teach English makes things a little ‘murky,’ to say the least. What class do you put someone like me in? Class B, C or D? Wow, so 1960’s…
I also noted that there is a huge “Gay” population there – not surprising considering their natural instinct towards intimacy. I have nothing against showing public affection, but I have observed that Brazilians often cross the line. What do I mean by that? Displays of public affection are everywhere, in the subways, on the stairs to the subway, on the bus, on the street corner, in the Mall… It took me months to get used to it, often feeling, whispering or mumbling under my breath, “get a room people!” Personally, I feel it takes the passion out of love-making, but again, that’s only my personal opinion.
While there, I also discovered that Brazilians are generally a very possessive and a ‘jealous’ people. I witnessed this for myself on several occasions. In fact, all Brazilians I spoke with, agreed with my observation. They are a religious people as well. They were mostly Catholic (over 80%) in the past. However those numbers have dropped to less than 50% today.
The best and most precious time was when I was adopted by a Brazilian family (below). They were there for me on my birthday, and when I needed someone to talk to (in English that is). They became my family away from home. I cannot thank them enough although they must forgive me for not being in regular contact with them since leaving Brazil. My thoughts are with them constantly and I miss them dearly.
Finally, I was astonished when one white, female Brazilian scorned against her people for disregarding their African heritage. Actually I found this subject to be taboo. They will talk about practically anything, but seldom if ever will they discuss questions concerning their dark skin and where it actually came from. Such a shame because heritage is ours to be valued.