I didn’t see or do anything today (it was a solid day of work for me from start to finish) and yet I saw and experienced the best of everything! My Brazilian host family, Patricia and her mother and father, demonstrated the kind of hospitality in their Brazilian home which emotes comfort and contentment. When I say comfort and contentment I mean that they ensured I felt as though I was actually a member of their family and that their home was my home. I don’t even feel that “at home” in my own family’s homes sometimes.
In essence, I got to be Brazilian for a day. I worked from home as did other members of the family. We ate at home for each of our meals. Interestingly, they eat together as a family at the dinner table for breakfast, lunch AND dinner and actually talk to each other! It was the perfect mix of chaos and peace much like a real home should be. And the dinner table at each meal was much like a night at the Improv. We laughed a lot! We laughed at how Luis was telling Patricia how to cook her tapioca even though it was the one Patricia was cooking for herself. We laughed out how their dog, Michael Jackson, got his name – he is all a light shade of black but has one white paw. We teased Luis because when he was young he was the spitting image of Pablo Escobar. We laughed at adorable little 2 year old Felipe who was rooting for the Dallas Cowboys wearing my cowboys hat and throwing the “ballo” and we laughed at how he calls his dad vovô (grandpa) instead of pai (dad)…so precious was this child and so curious that he refuses to call his dad anything but grandpa. I even got to do my laundry (which I rarely get to do on these trips) and I hung my things in the sun to dry…they dried in the sun not in a clothes dryer! What a concept! While folding my clothes I couldn’t help but press them to my nose in an effort to absorb the smell of the Brazilian sun. They cooked traditional Brazilian cuisine such as pão de queijo, feijoado and brigadeiro. All of these things are somewhat foreign to me (except for watching the Dallas Cowboys of course but so surprised I got to watch them in Brazil!) and would probably be foreign to many Americans.
At the end of my time here, I can say that I took on a whole new level of peace. Despite being a work day, I was filled with gratitude and the days here were filled with smiles and simply put – were just lovely.
Thank you to my Brazilian family for this gift. Thank you for the laughter Luis. Thank you for your heart warming voice Tania as when I heard its gentle sway it physically lifted my spirits. Thank you Grandpa Christian (ha ha) for watching the game with me and sharing your precocious son (who, by the way, was calling me tia…trust me that will totally melt your heart). And, most importantly, thank you Patricia for being you. Your smile is a beacon of light illuminating the world and I’m so honored to know you and to have met your lovely family. If anyone has the keys to happiness it is certainly you. (Oh and thanks for teaching me so much!) What a gift to this world you all are. I will always remember fondly my Thanksgiving week in Brazil.
I leave all you fellow travelers with this message: if you have an opportunity to stay in the home of an indigenous family, no matter where you are, you must seize it. This is by far the best way to really experience a place and its people. The people in a place are the true blessing of travel.
That’s all for now. Lots of love and giving thanks from Foz.