I live in an area of South Florida that is considered Little Brazil. I have many Brazilian clients and work with several people who call Brazil home. Today, the chatter around the office was all Olympics. One woman wore her new Rio Olympic t-shirt that she bought on a recent visit to her parents.
I walked into a little market today and the cashier began speaking to me in Portguese, when she caught herself and apologized. I told her that I didn’t mind and that I was going to Rio. Her eyes welled up. She began to Samba in place and told me, “I will have tears in my eyes and be dancing during the opening ceremonies.” She hasn’t returned in 26 years and misses her neighborhood, Botafogo, a favela. I practiced my limited Portguese and her eyes danced in appreciation.
Everyone I meet, excitedely provides advice. There’s the consistent advice to not wear jewelery and show a lot of money and then the individual recommendations. In hurried English with a Brazalian tinge, I’m directed and implored to try jabuticaba, goiaba, and caipirinha. With hand gestures, directions are provided to bakeries and markets tucked into corners of pacified favelas.
Their excitement and pride is contagious. At times I think they are more excited for my trip than I am. While the news wants to portray the worst of a country, I’m hearing nothing but beauty and passion. Now it’s time to watch the Opening ceremonies and know that there’s a lot of tears of Samba steps occuring right now.