Monday, May 12, 2008

Our "American" Indulgence

We try to make a pretty concerted effort to assimilate into the new culture in which we are living. We mostly only speak Portuguese now with our Brasilian friends (even those who are completely fluent in English), we've both adopted new swimsuit styles, we eat a lot of rice and beans, we drive a Fiat hatchback, we hug and cheek-kiss new people we meet, we purchase room-temperature eggs from the grocery store, we throw away (not flush) toilet paper when we are outside of our own home, I wear insensibly-high heels when we go out at night (even when I am going to have to walk up and down crazy inclines on uneven pavement), we are slowly learning not to stress over "minor" details involving anything behind the wheel of a car or things relating to time/tardiness, and we have even been known to (oh, gasp!) watch soccer games on TV. If you've been following our journey from the beginning then you know I've had some trouble getting used to some of these things!

But there are a few things that are just too hard to change and some very American things that we really just have to indulge ourselves in from time to time. A few things that come to mind immediately are:

- my inability to wear anything other than my Nikes during the day when I know I am going to have to do a lot of walking around the city (Brasilian women never wear tennis shoes unless they are working out. They are able to walk forever in platform sandals or high heels over the most deplorable terrain. I am forever jealous!)

- Mexican food

- solid deodorant

- mashed potatoes and gravy

- and now, softball

A few weeks ago, Eric was totally fine (and even enjoyed?) attempting to play some soccer without looking completely like someone who had never kicked a soccer ball in his entire life! I had pretty much accepted that grown women here don't usually play much in the way of sports (outside of professional athletes.) But then we discovered the BH softball team and everything changed. We had our third practice with them this weekend, and we are both having so much fun! Eric has always been pretty awesome at baseball/softball, so of course he is having a blast. While I have never been a superstar, by any stretch of the imagination, in any sport (I tend to lean towards highly mediocre at best when it comes to athletics), I love to be outside and playing most anything and am having a great time being included on the team here! We will be traveling with the team to play in a tournament about four hours from here May 31-June 1 which makes practice even more exciting! Despite instructions being called out to me in Portuguese with some Japanese terminology thrown in, I feel so American (in a good way, not in the bad way that I feel so American while walking around wearing jeans and Nikes with my curly blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail) out there on the soccer field with my softball glove!

The first day we arrived, Eric was pretty excited at the prospect of playing softball and then got even more enthusiastic when we walked onto the sad, little, barely-maintained soccer field, "This is just like The Sandlot!" Here, take a look for yourself!

The Sandlot, indeed! There is even a dog that lives at this little residence beside the field, and, when we accidentally hit a ball over the fence, he barks his head off!

So, not only are we playing America's favorite past time, we are also acting out one of the best movies from our childhood! It's probably a good thing that we don't host other teams here . . . as I might be inclined to call someone an idiot, moron, scab eater, fart smeller, or maybe accuse them of playing ball like a girl! Oh, wait . . . scratch that last one . . . it's not quite right coming from me, is it? But I could still call the other team buffalo-butt breath or tell them that they mix their Wheaties with their mama's toe jam. Hehehehe I do love that movie! (But before you give me too much credit for my fabulous memory, I'll admit that I did have to get on You Tube and watch that scene again. I didn't actually remember all the cut-downs they tossed back and forth.)


Beth said...

How cool to be playing on The Sandlot! That was a very good movie!
Looks like you guys have lots of fun!

BTW, I think of you every time I eat Mexican now. I cook it at least once a week and am to the point I would rather eat mine that most places.

Take care,

Amanda said...

AHH, I LOVE that movie! It's the little things in life that seem to make us the happiest, isn't it?!

Different movie but...."Hey, there's no crying in baseball"!

AcesHigh said...

Never heard about that movie, but anyway... thats a pretty run down field uh? Looks kinda dangerous too. I hope there are no stray bullets flying around :D

As for Mexican food, my only advice is to get a VEJA magazine BH guide. They have all the best restaurants in capitals divided by the type of food. Maybe Eric or you can get one with some workmate and then photocopy it for future reference?

I dont even know what is "gravy" but I know mashed potatos are quite common.

Finally... about solid deodorant. Its similar to roll-on but its like a bar of transparent soap that comes out of the case in the same way a lipstick, isnt it??

There were such deodorants in Brazil a while ago. I hated them. I guess they didnt make success so were removed from market.

AcesHigh said...

Emily... these ones seems to be solid deodorants;

Problem is... they are all masculine. Have you tried Avon, Natura or Boticario? Maybe you could directly contact deodorant makers (Palmolive do Brasil, etc)

oh yeah, I will ask my girlfriend how she shaves her legs (here in Rio Grande do Sul most women DO SHAVE), since you said you do not find shaving gels here.

Jeremy E. Sarber said...

I cannot imagine adjusting to a whole new culture like that. I would have been out at trying to speak a new language. I commend you for your efforts though.

Emily said...

The Sandlot really was part of our generation's culture, huh girls! :)

Yeah, a really sad field! It's in a sketchy part of town, but the people around there have all been really nice to us! And about The Sandlot - an awesome movie worth the watch if you ever come across it!
There is one known Mexican restaurant in all of BH - expensive and not that great though! Luckily, I have almost mastered making it all myself now from scratch.
And yes, mashed potatoes are common, but I've never come across anything similar to gravy here (it is a sauce made with meat broth, sort of.) Luckily, I'm from the southern part of the USA and all good southern girls can make their own gravy. ;)
You are exactly correct in your description of solid deodorant. It's the most common type in the US. We dislike roll-on as much as you did the solid! Luckily, we knew it didn't exist here so we packed lots of it from back home!
The culture exchange is fun, huh? :)

AcesHigh said...

ok Emily, just talked to my gf. She said she uses soap, but there is a depilatory cream for women from Gilette, and also Avon has a cream for women to depilate, and has a nice smell (she sells Avon btw)

find your nearest Avon supplier (there are like one trillion of them in Brazil) to supply you with all sorts of things you miss :)

btw, Natura is better than Avon, but also more expensive.

ps: my girlfriend didnt even knew what a solid deodorant was. I explained to her, she remembered, and said they suck. I said you americans couldnt live without it, and asked if Avon sold those. She said nope. So hmmm... no luck with female solid deodorants. You may still check out with Boticario and Natura tough.

AcesHigh said...

I wonder if Brazilian culture is so different (not counting the poverty of course) or if you guys moved lets say to Italy, or even to England, you would also feel such cultural impact (in the case of England, there is no language barrier of course... on the other hand they drive on the wrong side of the road)

Emily said...

I think pretty much every country has a unique culture! Some, obviously, closer to each other than others. Even when I moved from Georgia to Iowa there were significant cultural differences and that was just 800 miles away and within the USA! We could have moved to anywhere in the world and had periods of culture shock, I think! But that's what makes moving to a new place so exciting! You bring some of your culture with you and then pick up and adopt some of the local culture as well. It's a totally life changing, incredible experience!

BH said...

I think you can still find solid deodorant, from that brand "Speed Stick". In drugstores like Araujo, they probably sell it. I used to buy those, but it was a long time ago.. hehe

Amanda said...

I forgot to say earlier but on the news here this morning they showed a dog shelter where a dog had taken to nursing some kittens and guess where that shelter was.....Burlington, Iowa. HA.

Laural said...

The Sandlot! After moving to Los Angeles, I saw the red headed kid walking down the street. It was my first star sighting! And then I hit the Jaguar in front of me. Luckily the guy let me off the hook. But anytime I hear mention of Sandlot, I think of that accident.

Corinne said...


Cool that you found softball. My first extended stay in Brazil I did crew (rowing) - in Rio not BH and I credit that to making me learn Portuguese faster and fit in. There is something about sports that really makes you feel part of things.

About Mexican food - no good restaurants, BH or elsewhere. You really are better off making your own. I have a good tortilla recipe if you are interested. Also, although it is not the real thing, if you squeeze about 1/2 a lime into one of those boxes of creme de leite, and let it firm up in the fridge, it comes close to sour cream (more like creme fraiche). Also, I finally did find chedder cheese - Serrabella, a cheese company has a chedder cheese. It is really only one step above the processed kind, but at least it tastes like chedder. I have found it at Carrefour.

Being from the Southwest I cannot tell you how much I miss Mexican!! Everytime I visit the US I try to eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner several times to get my fix.

Anonymous said...

It is funny how after living a little longer in another country you blend in and don't even miss your home country that much anymore. I don't miss any food from Brazil although I still enjoy it. I have been to Fogo de Chao in Chicago and even though they have great churrasco and salad bar their price are way high. By the way I learned to like Mexican restaurants here is Des Moines...


AcesHigh said...

I wonder if Sour Cream is not the same as keschmier, which is quite common in southern brazil.

Corinne said...

I have been in Brazil on and off since 1992, and I feel as though I am really assimilated (husband, kid, permanent university job, etc.), but I still miss the US. When I was first in Brazil I was really obsessed with fitting in and would even speak Portuguese with American friends. However, I have gotten to a place where I can be happy here and still want some US things and not feel guilty about it. I enjoy keeping up with US TV and pop culture through cable TV and try to get to the US once a year. I enjoy going occaisionally to US chain restaurants like TGIFridays and Outback (BTW, when are they FINALLY going to open the one in Patio Savassi??) to get a US fix. I love Brazil and am making a life here, but liking your home country is not something to blot out or be ashamed of. It does not make your attempts at assimilation any less valid (like I used to think it did).

AcesHigh said...

Corinne, isnt Outback an Australian chain?

Anyway, I think thats the right way. Its impossible to completely assimilate. We are not BORGs. Even if a person is a real immigrant (that is, its going to live forever in the country), it wont really completely assimilate, and any effort in that direction will result in sadness I think. Usually, only 2nd generation assimilate to a new country (or sometimes, state/city)

I think the experience of living in another country helps people understand the hardships of immigrants trying to adapt to your own country, be it mexicans in US, africans in France, Turkish in Germany or Bolivians in Brazil.