cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back in Brazil

New Home, New Country, Same Life

We've moved again, the roaming cod. But this time we're here to stay, at least for now. One question that i've been asked over and again is why Brazil and not the US. Why choose a third world country over the center of the world. The answer is quite complicated, and for all the reasons we give, i am not even sure if we know completely. We just, do. For me, there is something of majesty in being in a country that had never before crossed my mind. dismissal, i'd say, once upon a time. But then, you never end up where you plan. Why not US. We are here for reasons of practicality, personality, and preference. Practicality covers all manners of finance. The Brazilian Real (currency) fluctuates between 1.8-1.9 to the American dollar. I still earn my living through US dollars, therefore for every one hundred i make, i earn it's double. Also cuddled into this practicality business is the fact that i am a mobile worker; where i go, my work goes with me. Unfortunately this cannot be said for my other half, ergo to work, we both are here. Furthermore, immigration and marriage in the US is more complicated and expensive than in Brasil. so. There.

In the personality field, i'm the type of nut (no offense to the other expatriates out there) that knows without doubt that i can be at home anywhere. I knew it before i moved to Europe, and knew it for certain after i moved back. This, however does not imply complete lack of fear. There is always fear hiding somewhere in everything we do. the only way to swim over it is to keep looking directly at what sits on the shore.

The last is preference. Now, i will never say that i do not love the U.S.. I am American, and obviously i will always be. I have a large family that i cherish very much. However, large is relative. When i say large, i mean about 15 people. In Brazil when you say large, you mean 100. Now, is it easier to put around 15 people on a plane, or 100. You do the math. Another note on preference is that i have actually started to fall in love with Brazil, and not just the Brazilian. About three years ago i was asked in Paris, what do you know about Brasil? my answer - uh, the capital is Brasilia. After that, there has yet passed a day where i have not learned something about Brazil.

What i find difficult about Brazil is a small list so far. But it is there, nowhere is a paradise. The heat is a bit much for my albino skin, blond hair and blue eyes, all the deodorant is liquid, most people don't have doorbells, nobody owns a clothes dryer, everyone (alright most everyone) drives like a psychopath, Kitchenaid mixers cost a fortune, electronics cost a fortune, there is an overall lack of order to everything-as an American i'm used to following right-hand rules, pedestrians don't have right-of way, and oh yeah; i don't speak Portuguese.

What i find enchanting in Brazil certainly surpasses the difficulties. The sky is always blue. Even in the city i can hear the birds. People seem happy, even the ones with little. I'm in the heat with few clothes and i come from the snow. I have my own house (haven't moved in yet, it's almost done). People ride motorcycles with flip flops. Fruit and vegetables are the least expensive items at the store. I can sleep with no cover with the window open The park is always full of runners. Flowers and bright green trees year round. Listening to Portuguese. Clothes lines. Rice and beans, every single day. Food that rarely comes in packages. Pao de queijo (cheese bread from tapioca flour). That though i cannot speak, i can smile and be understood. Tiles on and in everything. A large welcoming family. And obviously above all other things listed, i get to be with the most important person in my life, without having to get on a plane.

Now that the explanations are over, let's get on with our stories, cakes, Brazilian food and yadda. Check back soon, what is yet to come will make the Paris shenanigans seem like teacakes.

a bientot amigos


Moira - TertĂșlia de Sabores said...

Be Happy!
I know you'll have a lot of new stories and new recipes for us.
Um grande beijo from the other side of atlantic ocean :)

Sierra said...

finally a new post...i was tired of looking at granola, not that i dont love but wheres the food?!?!? on y va :)

Nani said...

You explained it beautifully... you made me miss my country. I am so happy to know you are finally there and I can't wait for the next posts.

Hope to meet you when I go home to visit my parents in Sao Paulo.

Maxine said...


Thanks for a great blog post. You captured many of my sentiments about living in Brazil. I am a former Bostonian living in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. I've started a group called Minas International to bring together fluent English Speakers both Expats and Brasilians here in my State. After reading your post I thought it would resonate with some of our group members so posted it on our Fan Site on Facebook (Minas International) and on Twitter (@minasintl)

Looking forward to your future posts.


20 something epicure said...

I get it. I married a Brasilian. I get it, from the beginning to the end. The food, the warmth (not just the weather)the connections the culture,- its a refined simplicity, and I think there's nobility in that. I have, in fact, had to spell out the same explanation to "my fellow Americans" when letting them know I was considering moving there. I have yet to make the move as I am having difficulty finding a "global" career -so Parabens e felicidades pra voces! I look forward to hearing your stories:)

The Golden Papaya said...

Well said, Salty. I've been feeling kind of salty about Brazil myself lately, here in Salvador. But it's true, Brazilians are lovely people for the most part. And clotheslines are great when someone else is washing, hanging and ironing the clothes!

El said...

Sounds wonderful. Congratulations and I hope you're settled in soon!

Simply Colette said...

How very exciting for you! Best of luck... fortunately your followers are still only a click of a button away! Can't wait for you to share life in Brazil.


M.Lane said...

This is all very exciting and you have the perfect attitude. Love is, after all, all you need.


Christy said...

That bit about nobody owning a clothes dryer, everyone driving like a psychopath, and not having doorbells---I swear you could've been talking about Jakarta. Though, electronics are cheap(er) there than it is in Oz. Rip off here, I tell you. i got dad to get me an Macbook Pro for $300 cheaper than it is here, so tomorrow I'm getting a new computer (Yay!) Which brings me to the root of the problem: my 6 year old PC kicked it completely 2 weeks ago. That's why I haven't been blogging or visiting much. But it's nice to see you all settled (almost) into your new lifestyle. Tell me, is Brazil hot enough that almost every household needs to have air-con installed?

Can't wait to see what French-tropical shamaloo you will conjure up in your next post!!

Ali Ambrosio said...

Boa sorte! Funny, ny husband and I chose to live in the US over Brasil because things here - to us, in our particular fields of work and with our particular personal preferences - seemed much easier (and cheaper!) than in Rio, which would be our destination if we ever do relocate to Brasil. Either way, you win, though - two amazing countries with beautiful scenery, diverse and rich culture, and a lifetime of places to see and things to do.

Anonymous said...

Mallory, I'm so glad everything is working out. Can't wait to hear more, and if you have time I'd love love a guest post! :) bjos