Before I begin with this story, can I just say that my room, and homestay house is awesome?
Yesterday, I woke up early and traveled with my irmã (sister) Carina to Shopping Barra, one of the largest malls in Bahia. Carina is an American student who’s been in Brazil for a little over a year now. My Brazilian mother adores her, and she’s acted as an incredible tutor and guide over the past few days. She knows a lot, not just in terms of language, but in terms of culture. It in some ways, is a problem, because my mother and I have grown dependent on her to translate. My mother often gets frustrated with my toddler Portuguese and we often have misunderstandings. With Carina, we can clear the air. But she leaves in a few days and… it’s gonna get bumpy.
I’m only here for five weeks though, so I have to make the most of it, Aproveite!
Speaking of the time frame here, I had recently begun to grow exasperated at the daunting task ahead of me. Just think for a moment, of all the words you know in English. For example, if I were to pick up a dictionary, and rattle off a list of words to you, how much of them would you know, or at least have some knowledge of? A lot, no? Every word, every verb. You know enough about the language that I’m writing in, to know when sum dun lok o sawnd rite. You know!
I do not know these aspects of Portuguese. I develop a vocabulary that I lose within minutes. The language slips through my fingers like water… if my fingers were also covered in oil. Portuguese is hard, and after watching the four main novelas my mother and sisters watch at night, coupled with my misunderstandings between professors and students, I’m at a loss. A real, real, loss that’s not even tangible. There’s no way I can do this.
At least, that’s what I thought yesterday afternoon. The entire day had been a struggle of misunderstandings (You wanted to wake up at seven? I thought you said six…. me desculpe, sorry.), insecurities (did she say left or right at the light?… what’s light in Portuguese? Did she even say light?), and frustrations (“Aaldnf3!oasnif do san?onfise em naondf5o ian na casa?” “…Ehhhhhh…. eu……. uh…” “Pergunta proxima! Voce gosto de comer pizza?” “….Sim…”) [Basically, I don’t understand much, so people often find themselves redoing questions and making them as simple as possible. ] At the end of my Portuguese testing that took up much of the day, we began the walk home. Several of us split apart at our separate locations, and my guide asks me, “Voce sabe caminhar a sua casa daqui?” Do you know how to walk home from here. I look around and remember. I do know how to get back from here. I can navigate Victoria e Campo Grande. I can do this. I bid her Tchau! and begin my walk, and to my surprise, I have no doubts about which direction to take anywhere. No hesitations. I know where I’m going. To my Brazilian home. My Bahian home.
I make it safely, and when my host mother asks how the walk was, I tell her bom, confidently. I think to myself, “I can do this…small steps.”
Speaking of small steps, I take big strides in my Havaianas!
My sister Carina suggested these sandals, they’re like the… crocs? of Brazil, only much, much, much, much, much, much more fashionable. I’m trying to say that everybody, I mean everybody has a pair or so. These are mine.
Also, she suggested I buy an umbrella, guarda chuva, instead of wearing my poncho. (Sorry Ma, but nobody wears them, ANYWHERE). Umbrellas, she said, especially in Brazil, tend to be colorful and efficient. She was right. Mine, the one on the left, was 10 reais, about five US dollars. Eu a adoro (I adore it).
That’s all for now, I’m gonna shower (Brazilians take more showers, it’s too humid and hot not to), eat some more, nap, and then get ready to go out near Pelo with some other students. It should be a good, safe, night. Tchau!