My children have been raised here in Brazil for over 4 years now and they are no longer strictly “American”. What I mean is we have been here for so long and they were so young when we got here that they don't really have any solid memories of the Unites States.
We moved here for a more natural relaxed life and tropical weather. Well we got all of that plus some. We learned a new language, culture, history, and way of life. We have been on an adventure from the time we stepped on to the air plane. We have lived in many neighborhoods all over the city and have experienced the different classes and quality of living. This really made an impression on us.
To witness rich and poor people living together side by side was mind boggling. In the U.S. people that are doing well financially live as far away as they can from the lower class communities. In Brazil, even though a lot of the upper class live in closed condominiums with doormen/guards, there is usually a favela or hood just down the street.
Another thing is there are always children outside running around playing everywhere you go. I have never seen so many children just out free having fun all day and night. I used to think kids didn’t go to school here in Brazil until I actually went to one and found out that the school day was only 4 hours long. Studying either in the morning from 7:30 - 11:30 A.M. or afternoons from 1:00 - 4:30 P.M.
No wonder why the children are so happy here...lol I put my children in school to learn Portuguese and experience being around Brazilian children. They loved it and fit right in! They were the only American children at the school ever and they were treated like super stars. That was totally cool.
At around 6 or 7 years old children start going to the store and buying groceries. I always saw little kids at the markets buying bread and fruit to make juice. I loved that about the community even though Salvador (around the size of Miami) is said to be a violent city high in crime and drugs people were still people.
For the most part, I felt safe and happy in my community. I often would send my son to the market to get things never had any problems and he always brought back exact change. That’s something I would never do in the States. The children just aren’t ready to go out and do things like shop at that age.
Brazilians are so nice and helpful especially to us. Everyone that saw us felt compelled to talk to us. We always got gifts for the children and people always told us that we have a beautiful family and that they couldn't believe that we were Americans.
The first neighborhood that we lived in was wild. It was right next to an empty lot filled with live chickens and roosters. Yes chickens just walking and flying around and sometimes we would see people come and get one too have for dinner.
That was very interesting. There was also a Candomble house nearby and we could hear the ceremonies going on at night. That was pretty intense because we didn't really know what the hell was going on until a neighbor told us. Everyday our front porch was full of kids and teens that just wanted to talk to us about any and everything. They were very helpful too.
Where we live at now is wonderful. We are in a closed condominium in an upper class neighborhood vs. the bairro popular (more populated neighborhoods) that we have lived at in the past. We have never had any problems in any neighborhoods that we have lived in. Probably because we look Brazilian and we have a family with a bunch of little children. Brazilians have a natural respect for family. I think that is missing from our culture in the States. We went everywhere we wanted to and needed throughout the communities and after some time everyone knew and loved us.
Even here in the condo where we live at it is down the street from a favela named "little hell" That’s where the closest shops and bakeries are and that's where we go to get things for the house, no problem. Unfortunately there are white people who live in our condo building that are from different parts of Brazil that have different stories and say things like how they can't even go through any of the neighborhoods that we’ve lived in. Even though they are Brazilian because they are not part of the community and/or Afro Brazilians and they stand out too much.
The illusion of race plays a big part sometimes and so called white people and black people even though they live together, still live very different and separate lives when it all comes down to it. Except when it comes down to partying, Brazilians love to party and are willing to have a good time with whoever wherever. The best example of this is “Carnival”.
The quality of living here in Brazil was something to get used to as well. We had no idea that you can die from drinking water from the tap....Can you imagine? Some neighborhoods don't have dumpsters so everyone just throws their trash in the street on certain days and the garbage men have to come shovel it up....can you imagine the filth and stink oh and lets not mention the vermin?
What tops it off is the kids in the street playing with no shoes on right next to the mountains of trash. Not to mention the big horses going through the trash eating the fruits and veggies that has been thrown out. These are some of the crazy things that people of the working class have to deal with. While the upper class has the trash man come to their apt. door every day to collect the trash, as well as keep everything pretty nice and clean. They usually have a gate and door person that has to clear any visitors before letting them in to the complex or building.
The tradeoff is having poor people lurking right outside the condo gates that some residents encounter everyday that they go out. In our building for example we have heard of three people getting car jacked at gunpoint as they were leaving the garage under the building.
I am happy that I got to experience life in Brazil. I have had a great time learning and sharing my experiences with the world.
For all of that I give thanks and praise to the universe!
Thanks for reading~
Some word’s from some of the wonderful people that I connected with while in Bahia!
Tamie Souza said
If you want to talk about an American who lives in Brazil and seems like a real Brazilian girl, well it’s a big challenge for sure, but let’s do it!
First of all I must say that all of the Americans that I have met here in Brazil have been different because the time that they have spent in Brazil makes them as well as their various experiences.
For example: Some of were just in love with Brazil, everything was awesome to them. (Those were the ones that had only been here for a few days living/experiencing the country/city), others that had been here about 2 weeks to a month complained a bit about some of the complications that Brazilians have to deal with on a regular basis, and others like Diamond and her family that have been here for a long time have a lot of love for Brazil.
They also know and acknowledge the complicated things about Brazil as well. But most of all they never forgot to experience our culture and the way we live even if it's truly different from where they come from. I really felt that during the time I spent with them. I can also say that even though they are Americans they belong to Brazil as much as they belong to their own country. They are Brazilian just as much as I am. Meeting them all was indescribable, an incredible and amazing experience I’d never ever forget about.
I won’t talk about the day we first met because my English is not that good, I’m extremely thorough person and I don’t want to miss anything about it so let’s go directly to the day I started to freelance as a nanny and Diamond became my boss and then my friend.
I wasn’t expecting her invitation to “work” as a nanny however, somehow, she remembered me and called. Being that I was free during the morning (the period I used to take care of her kids) and saw that it would be an interesting way of improving my English before traveling to the U.S. I immediately accepted the job, obviously!
The only thing I didn’t realize ‘till that moment I started was that I would be taking care of FOUR independent little American guys (it’s not a big deal really but can you imagine four children around you talking at the same time in ENGLISH, something I wasn’t that good at or used to… requiring all of your attention and you not understand anything first time????)
Here in Brazil we’ve got an idiom expression that says “If we’re in the rain, let’s get wet!” (or something like that), it means that when you start something you have to feel it and just live/work on that situation, accept the challenge and do not give up. My point is I had already looked after some kids but not that much at the same time and I must say how amazing it was!!!
I won’t tell you they were always easy to deal with… they’re kids, they always want something we can’t do at the moment and as they can’t have it they used to cause drama, cry, fight etc. They did it a lot! Sometimes it was difficult to handle but then came that special moment when they come to me and hug me so tight… I always forget they were fighting against me… rsrssr (lol)
The thing is, American kids are a lot more independent than Brazilian kids. They want to do things on their own which sometimes can be complicated (because they’re little kids). They are way more connected with electronics and technology such as video games, computer… Not that Brazilian kids aren’t like that, because they are, but it’s traditional for us that the children also stay connected with simple things like arts and crafts, play outside, get dirty, play soccer, play and jump in the mud, get messy with paints etc…
Their mom Diamond, always tried to make the kids pay attention and do things, which sometimes worked but most of time was a difficult duty! I did try a few things but it used to work less than with their mum. What they really like to do was go to the pool!!! Oh that was funny!! Even though it was winter here it was hot and sunny we used to go to the pool at least twice a week! We’ve had plenty of fun time going to the pool!
Another thing they loved to do was eat and as I’m a snack chef I sometimes use to prepare some Brazilian snack for them. This was the time when Diamond and I started to get to know each other and then became friends! Every time when I was cooking something new, or she was cooking the dinner, one of us was always around and as we both love to talk we started to “make confidences”, talk about the weather, the kids, my life, her life, anything… we would just talk. That moment I started to see someone powerful, strong, young, feminine, funny, friend.
It’s something that happened in only 3 months. A friendship that for sure I’m going to carry for the rest of my life!! I’m awful by talking about my feelings but something I must to say: I thank God every day for the people he puts in my life, I thank God every day for that amazing opportunity he gave to me to be with that family, I thank God every day for meeting all of the 4 kids (the little monsters), for meeting Diamond and her husband and for gaining a big friend as a gift!!
Arielle Loren said
"I used to think that travel and motherhood were like oil and water. Diamond is my motherhood inspiration. When I met her on that warm day in Rio Vermelho, I encountered a young woman, fiercely dedicated to her dreams, husband, and children.
After many talks about life, she became one of my biggest cheerleaders to really explore Brasil and stretch my belief in what's possible. I could have beautiful children running the beach, a thriving business as an entrepreneur, a loving husband, and the freedom that I've been searching for over the last few years.
Diamond is one of my living vision boards. I'm so thankful I met her, and she continues to inspire my life." ~ Arielle Loren, Corset Magazine (http://corsetmagazine.com)