Old Seu Toni – An Inspiring Brazilian

Everybody likes this old guy from our house, he is the sweetest person I have met in Santos so far. Seu Toni is a little more than 80 years old but you see him a lot on the streets around here. He is a very thin, tall, old guy wandering the streets, always having a big smile and nice words for anyone he is passing. Sometimes he delivers cosmetics that his wife sells from their home.

Seu Toni is old, and I mean the shaking-with-his-hands kind of old. But meeting him on the street or in our house is always a delight, because every time I receive a slap on the shoulder, an incredibly friendly smile and and some good wishes for my day. He is one of the most cheerful people I know.

The other day I met him when I left the house to go for a run on the beach. I was wearing running shoes and shorts. Seu Toni was chatting with one of our doormen. Of course he commented on my outfit, we chatted a little bit about doing sports and – because we are in Brazil –  playing football. Seu Toni admitted that his football playing years were long and that nowadays he only likes to play in the beach every now and then for fun. But then he stepped back, lifted his knee almost to his chin and let his leg rotate in a movement, that I would never be able to to.

„Wow“, I said and I was truly amazed. This movement didn’t seem to belong to this old man with shaky hands.

He smiled and  said. „That’s because of my Capoeira. You have to do something, to stay fit, right?“

I agreed and he said goodbye to me with a slap in my shoulder and a good wish for me and my family. Like always. He is a unique and truly inspiring Brazilian.

A nice German

A nice German

Behind the counter of the laundry a woman of maybe 50 years looked at the things I had put on the counter in front of her, among them a plush doll. She sighed and explained that this laundry was not able to wash everything – like the doll, but they would send them away to be washed and that for the doll this would take about 15 days. I hesitated and asked her, if it was worth it. She rubbed her thumb and index finger together, smiled and asked: “For the money? It costs 45 Reais.” Then she looked at me and asked: “do you have a washing machine at home?” I said: “Yes.” And she replied: “Then I suggest you save the money and wash this doll at home. These things don’t get bad. Really, you can save that money.”

I thanked her for the honesty and packed my stuff again. We talked a little bit more and of course she noticed my accent. “Where are you from”, she asked. “Germany”, I answered and then she asked that question, which I hear a lot: “Since when are you in Brazil?” “About one and a half years.” “Your Portuguese is very good”, she said and I smiled and thanked her again and told her, that I still have problems with the language and want to improve. Then she said: “You are the first nice German I have met.” I thanked her for the compliment and asked if she had made a bad experience with Germans. “Only one”, she said. “It was on a vacation in Indonesia, there were many people from all over the world, many Brazilians and also many Germans. One day I wanted to have a photo taken of us, and I asked this German man. He took the picture, but he made a face as if it was outrageous that I even asked him. He was so unfriendly. You are so much nicer.”

For a brief moment I had this feeling again of being a cultural ambassador of Germany. Brazilians usually enjoy these situations, when they have the chance to get to know someone or something from another country. I realized again, how the perception of a country, a nation or a people can depend on one single encounter.

We talked a little bit more about Germany and Germans, why they sometimes can seem rude, even though most of them are not. And when I left the small laundry, she said goodbye with these words that are so nice and which still make me smile, even after having lived in Brazil for 1.5 years. “Welcome to Brazil”, she said. I wonder how many foreigners in Germany ever heard these words from a German.

Magical Moment at the beach

Magical Moment at the beach

A magical moment tonight: an almost full moon, a warm summer night, a low tide that made the beach twice as wide, I stood ankle-deep in the ocean, three fishermen with a net in the waves, small fish jumping around my feet and big ideas rolling in my head.mag

Overheard: two Brazilian girls on the street

I overheard two girls talking to each other on the street today. One of them was 16 years old, the other one 22. And I thought I want to share this with you, since it tells a lot about growing up in Brazil and you will not hear a conversation like this in Germany.

22years: “Do you go out a lot?”

16years: “No. Not at all.”

22years: “Oh. Why not?”

16years: “Because of my familiy.”

22years: “You stay with your family all the time? Also on the weekends?”

16years: “Yes. My father doesn’t want me to go out.”

22years: “I know this. My family is like this as well. I mean, I am 22 years old and I still have a curfew.”

Coffee for a Foreigner

A short and fun moment at a bar today, where I was watching the game (Real-Bayern). I asked for a coffee, and they asked back, if I wanted a big one or a small one. I chose a big one and was asked: “Puro?”, which means pure and that in return means: no milk in the coffee. I said “puro” and then the owner of the small bar smiled at be and said in Portuguese “And I am sure you also drink it without sugar.” I smiled and told him, that he was right and asked, how he knew. He only said one word with a smile “estrangeiro”. The foreigners tend to drink the coffee black and without sugar, while Brazilians like their coffee strong, sweet and sometimes with milk. I was told once by a Brazilian “coffee without milk is like love without kissing.” And while I like the line, I don’t think it is right. I chatted with the bar-owner for a little bit more and because this is Brazil, there has to be a story about someone taking an advantage of Brazilians. The owner of the bar told me, that he thinks the good Brazilian coffee gets shipped out of Brazil and is sold abroad. Because there is more money to be earned. That’s why he thinks that Brazilians are used to drink their coffee sweet (because taste in general is bad) while foreigners are used to drink it black – because they get the good coffee. And even though I don’t fully agree with this story, I begin to understand the Brazilian attitude, that someone is always screwing Brazil or Brazilians over. And all of this I got for only the price of a big coffee: R$3,50 (about 1,25 EUR). What a deal.