I don’t meet a lot of foreign tourists these days. Not even that many South American tourists. Not that many. Not in Belém, Pará. Preferring it this way. Even in the solitary moods. Clean, unaccented, unbutchered, undiluted Brazilian Portuguese. Among the charmingest of spoken languages to this musically capricious ear.
You’ve heard me convey these contrived thoughts aplenty. And there’s more, come the topic of favoritism. I’m sometimes asked to elaborate. Sometimes I manage to produce a stronger argument. Sometimes the words don’t neatly assemble.
There’s the language, which not only do I prefer to (almost) any other, but find more natural to articulate, managing to speak louder and quieter with the same ease - this important factor by far not universal.
There’s the gastronomy of a more varied, more balanced, more ubiquitous, and personally more interesting caliber served with a greater flexibility than I elsewhere encounter: among the solids and the liquids, grains and fibers, proteins, fats and the troublemaking carbohydrates. I already considered the mid-South my personal gastronomic paradise, but the Amazonic North has now planted deeper roots.
There’s the diverse eclectic music tradition I can’t cease to fascinate in, both secular and sacred. But that’s all academic.
The character, however, more strongly blends with me: the unique sort of kindness I can’t derive elsewhere: pleasant interactions with both the civil and the government sector, not devoid of humor but in healthy abundance: the exchange of energies insofar as what I transmit and the reciprocation: the preference for the inquisitive looks I receive here to the exquisite looks beyond the borders: and the numerous other articles of the sort. Should a genuine smile endeavor to manifest itself, the place is here, the time, now.
Of notable importance is the local-foreigner dichotomy. Contrary to nearly every other post-colonial nation of diverse ethnic origins amidst the nether Americas, I never feel or experience any special attention or treatment beyond the ultra touristic parts of the country I’ve not recently frequented. It is more or less generally assumed that one who looks at ease, hails from somewhere around or at least acclimated, until proven otherwise: a case that I’ve found opposite everywhere.
Only for Brazil do I genuinely experience any significant longing when away for at least half-a-year: longing for a nation as a whole rather than directed at specific persons or places.
For these reasons and others I can’t immediately produce, I find far greater the overall cost-benefit hereabouts. But whatever illustrious hues I ascribe to the nation and it’s inhabitants could generalize elsewhere. It’s really beyond words. Once you feel strongly connected to some concept or entity or being, once it assimilates, the causality chain is of no longer concern: the relation then programmed, etched, solid.
With that in mind, I’ve managed to extend my Brazilian tourist stamp by another 90 days, though not without fair hassle and repeated perambulations across town. Can now remain a few extra months, without border hopping or feigning interest for the sojourn in the neighboring territory.
This was a kind of passport stamp I’ve not previously received:
Departamento de Policia Federal
Superintendencia Regional [illegible]
Seção de Registro de Estrangeiros
Estada prorogada até …
de acordo com o … [mostly illegible]
And so on in such spirit. Beautiful verse. The delight knew no rival.
The June celebrations are in full swing in Belém: shows, performances, cuisine, dance, merriment: especially on Sundays of the street blocks: manifestations of sorts, these mini Carnavals of slightly more conservative air (though much debauchery still consumes the alleys). I joined in the other week: a couple of hours of slow parading down the street in near suffocation for breathable strata. That sufficed to satiate my nostalgia from the last pre-pandemic Rio carnaval. Then I bid farewell to my troupe and disappeared into a side alley.
Questions, comments? Connect.