Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Back from Brazil

We're back from Brazil now. If it weren't for the pictures and written accounts documenting our time spent there, it could all seem like a wonderfully imagined experience to me now. Thankfully for us, it was real, and we will have each other and the continued friendships we made with many good people in Brazil, to remind us of everything that was amazing about our time there.

I'm often asked if I'm sad to be back, and what I will miss the most about Brazil. It's a complicated and possibly lengthy reply...

First of all, I'm very glad to be back home. Here is where my life is, as imperfect and chaotic as it is. All things familiar surround me here, and it feels peaceful to be among those comforts. I wandered down to the beach today with my dog, Maggie. As I looked around the sheltered cove, smelled the sea weed and moist air, and watched the half-hearted waves kiss the shoreline, I fell in love with my West Coast all over again. I've visited with family and friends since returning home and have deeply enjoyed, with a new enthusiasm, rekindling those relationships. Being back on Vancouver Island is really being where I belong. It's nice to see other places, some that may even rival the beauties found here, as well as meet new people, creating friendships that will span a lifetime. But here is where I belong... my roots that welcome me back when the adventures abroad end.

As much as I love it here though, there is much I will miss about Brazil. With such warm weather inviting you outside in the evenings, you see many people on the streets visiting with each other, creating impromptu parties as they share a beer and a fabulous story they've experienced that day. They seem to have mastered much better than we in North America, the art of being with people and enjoying sharing time, rather than being tucked away in your own house with the door closed and no time to spare a few words. Because of this social mindset, it's very common to see hands waving to each other as people go about their day, and car horns tooting a friendly “hello” when passing someone they know. They've taken the time to invest in the relationships of their community. I remember feeling like 'one of them' when we began to know more people in our little town and could start to participate in this greeting ritual when we stumbled across our new friends on the streets.

I will sincerely miss the attitudes that Brazilians seem to have about body image. One glance down any beach there and you will likely see every female body type wearing a bikini regardless of age or size, out enjoying the warm sunshine. There is almost more skin on the beach than there is sand. The heavier women don't hide behind bulky towels or cover-ups, but instead unabashedly join their more slender counterparts as they all soak up some sun and enjoy the warm waves. What's more, no one else on the beach bats an eye, either. There's no snickering or rude comments whispered as a larger woman wanders along the shoreline, dressed only in her bikini. What you end up with is women with good self-esteem (and good tans) who are accepted at face value by their society. How amazing is that?!

Where we were in Brazil, there was cheap booze (and plenty of it), scantily clad men and women, and often sexy Samba music playing in the background like a heartbeat of the city. There was every reason for Florianopolis to be a modern-day “Sodom and Gomorrah”. Interestingly enough, that was not our experience. With so much readily available and affordable liquor, people simply enjoyed a drink as they socialized, but never really to the point of being drunk, or even tipsy. It was merely a casual social component that had no taboo anchors attached to it. With casual drinking being nothing of a forbidden fruit, there seemed to be no irrational desire to abuse it. Interesting...

Some of the most beautiful people live in Florianopolis, and combine them with very little clothing, you'd think they'd be an over-sexed, promiscuous culture. Instead, what they appear to have is a society that seems very sexually at peace. Skin, and it's abundant appearance, isn't over-sexualized and taken out of context. Instead of one peek of female cleavage turning an interested male inside out, it becomes so commonplace that it really doesn't warrant attention.

Florianopolis has every reason to be 'sin city', but instead, it's a family friendly, warm social city that we deeply enjoyed being a part of.

There is much more I will miss about Brazil, and many more lessons learned which I hope to incorporate in my life back here in Victoria. But for now, in response to the question posed above, yes, I'm so glad to be back but yes, I'll miss so much about Brazil it hurts.

-Heather McCue

1 comment:

Dani Ramos said...

I am happy you like Brazil. I have just sent you an email to ask about prenatal classes and then I saw your blog. I am from Brazil - São Paulo - and I have been in Victoria since September 2008. I love it here, but I do miss my country.

Danielle Anderson