I’ve been back in the US for a week now and in a way, it feels like much longer since I left Brazil…I hate that I can’t be there to participate i all of the World Cup excitement. But I’m trying to make up for it at least by celebrating with Brazilians here!
While I was sad to leave Brazil, it actually wasn’t as hard as I had anticipated. I think a part of me had been preparing to leave for a while and was ready to come home (definitely the career-oriented side of me) – and I must say, that there are definitely some little things that are nice about being home…like:
1) ALWAYS having cell phone internet service (and not having my “unlimited” internet use run out after 5 minutes! Thank you for that, Claro..)
2) waiting no more than two minutes to checkout at the grocery store (instead of minimum half an hour practically every time in Brazil!)
3) wide grocery aisles (and not having to squeeze past people) – makes grocery shopping much less of a stressful experience
4) and on that note…the grocery store food selection – avocados (When they are in season, Brazil has awesome avocados that beat the selection we have stateside – but for much of the time that I was there, there was only one kind of avocado available – and let’s just say that it was not very tasty!), things like hummus, edamame…etc. BUT I definitely already miss the wide fruit and veggie selection in Brazil..
5) back to normal prices – yay! I can finally buy toiletries, clothes, electronics and dine at restaurants again without going broke! Eating out in Rio can get super pricey. So I will say, it’s nice to have some normal restaurant prices again. Case in point: the other day, in South Beach, Miami of all places, I bought 16 pieces of sushi for less than 9 bucks – they were large AND delicious pieces too! Let’s just say that I paid a LOT more for that when I was in Rio…
6) good customer service (although that also means obligatory tipping at restaurants, which I had totally forgotten about…) and friendly people behind checkout counters. At the grocery store the other day, the checkout man struck up a conversation with me and nearly refused to let me purchase an avocado that looked inedible…I appreciated that he cared! That would never have happened in Brazil.
7) amazing beer selection (I had a raspberry shock top beer the other day – soooo delicious!) After drinking Brahma/Antarctica for months, I have definitely missed having some variety!
8) organic foods – I was in Miami the other day and strolling down the street, there were little market stands set up making fresh, organic fruit and vegetable juices. Yum!
9) safety. I gotta say, it’s nice being able to leave my cell phone/belongings out and not having to worry about getting robbed…in Rio, I became so used to holding my bag tightly to me and never leaving my things alone – now, I can go to the beach (even somewhere like Miami), leave my stuff alone…and it’s still there when I get back!
Although sometimes, Brazil surprised me…When leaving Rio, I took a taxi to the airport around 12AM the morning of my flight (which departed at 2:20AM!) and toward the end of the ride, started talking to the driver. He helped me with my luggage and I tried to tell him I could do it by myself, but he insisted, saying that he was doing this as a courtesy and would not charge me extra. As we were parting ways, he said to me “é uma pena que voce nao pode ficar aqui…Voce é muito simpatica” (it’s a shame you can’t stay here..you are really nice). A minute later, I heard people yelling for me and he ran up to me with my large Nikon camera in hand and a few other belongings that I had left in the car! He could have easily driven away with my stuff, but chose to return them instead. I was pleased to know that there are still honest people, even in a city where crime is so commonplace.
But of course, none of this can take away from the fact that there are, and will always be, things that I miss and love about Brazil. Like the liberating beach culture, the live (and good!) music and dancing everywhere, the laid-back culture, hearing and speaking Portuguese everywhere I go…I even just love the way that Brazilians talk to each other. Like when you ask directions from a stranger on the street, he or she will tell you and then oftentimes say “Abraços” (Hugs) at the end…or the fact that “Beleza?” (direct translation: “the beauty”, meaning “All good?”) is a common greeting…There are so many of these little words and phrases that simply don’t translate in the English language…I will miss…all. of. this.
For now, home is the US. But Brazil will always have a place in my heart – and somehow, I feel like this is not the end of my historia (story) with Brazil…