An (Asian) American in Brazil

TUDO BEM amigos?!? (this is how all Brazilians greet each other.. roughly translates to ALL GOOD?) I'm currenty chilllaxiinnn in paradiseeee.. literally. i spent the day soakin up the sun and sitting in a hammock submerged in the middle of lagoa do paraiso in Jericoacoara (northeast of Brazil) which translates to Paradise Lake... so literally actually applies..  (I've been told peeps from the States always use literally and like in all their sentences.. which is so, like, literally, true!) Outside of a short stint in Sao Paulo, I've practically been living in a bikini and drenched in sweat in Jeri, Floripa, and Fortaleza. 

Sao Paulo was grrrreat. Even though a lot of people give it shit because it's a massive entity (São Paulo is home to 18 million people and is the third largest city in the world) and lacks the picturesque beauty of other Brazilian cities, I had a great time. Despite trekking up mountains and camping in the great outdoors, I am a city girl at heart. I love the cacophony of the streets, the massively tall skyscrapers that seem to envelope the people, and the interesting mix of folks that you can only find in a sprawling metropolis... Sao Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan and has more Lebanese people living in the city than in the entire country of Lebanon [Also, Brazil as a country has the largest black population outside of Africa... it's only second to Nigeria!] This of course means beautiful people.. and also REALLY GOOD FOOD... REALLY!!!!!!!

I spent a lot of my time in the Japanese neighborhood called Liberdade, where I ate lots and lots of sushi.. and a bit of Korean food. Below is the face of happiness.. basically having an orgasm in my mouffffffff.. seriously.. there were definite sounds of moaning involved when i took my first bite. 

It was really bizarre to be there and finally NOT be a minority in South America... I started really missing my family because the little old Asian women reminded me of my grandma and aunties and mom! I basically felt like I was transported back home. It's amazing how immigrant communities manage to retain their culture, despite being at the opposite end of the world.  As a second generation, Asian American who grew up with an immigrant parent, I've always been fascinated with concept of the Asian diaspora.

Culturally, I'm (North) American, which is something that has been reiterated to me about a million times on this trip because apparently, to Westeners, I embody a lot of the American stereotypes (smiley, loud, optimistic.. NOT OBESE according to people, thankfully!) However, when I'm around locals from South America, they assume I'm from an Asian country and get confused when I tell that I'm from the US because they see my phenotypical features.. and while I've never felt particularly "Asian" since my mother went to university in the US and has been living in the US longer than in Indonesia and speaks perfect English (albeit with a slight accent), being in Liberdade and getting SOOO excited about Asian products (mostly food.. so much matcha and seaweed but i also got a haircut cus i dont fucks with no non-Asian hairdresser) really reinforced the fact that I'm also Asian..... as well as American... thus the label, Asian-American.. the hyphenated American.. which completely fascinates me because in Brazil.. regardless of the shade of your skin.. you're BRAZILIAN. not Japanese-Brazilian or Lebanese-Brazilian or German-Brazilian.. but BRAZILIAN.

There's this culture that Brazilians share (mostly a love of music and dance which is absolutely brilliant.. i went to a music shop and a group of old men were playing instruments and there was a black man, a European looking man, a guy who looked mixed race and a Japanese fella all laughing and smiling) that we don't necessarily have in the States since we tend to self segregate... but in Brazil... anyone can be Brazilian, since they're such a homogenous group of good looking folks including MEEEEE cus at this point i'm so dark and i have a big butt so i can pass as a Brazilian.. which i'm not gonna lie, definitely gets me gassed cus i think Brazilians are some of the most beautiful people in the world with their sickk, curvy bodiesss.. I LOVE that curves are celebrated here, but that's a wholeee other blog post!!

ANYWAY.. that's my whole little spiel on identity... like I said.. I've been beach bumming a ton, which means a lot of time to reflectttt (literally) 

But umm.. outside of eating in Sao Paulo, I hung out with some Paulistas (what they call the locals of Sao Paulo!) since everyone advised me to get to know a few people before I arrived since the city is massiveeeee..  Gabriel, a guy who I randomly met in Rio during Carnaval  was my guide for a day.. we visited Beco de BATMAN (pronounced BaCh-a-MAAAAN. portuguese and their pronuncations are crazy, yo!) and watched the sunset at Praca do Por do Sol (shout out to Isabela for the tip!!) my couchsurfing host, Paulo, brought me to a party with some of his Brazilian friends who had all worked for Bloomberg and had an interesting take on Brazilian politics since one of them now works as part of the media relations team for the president, which is definitely not an easy job at this time... I also met another guy, William, and we went to a club with some of his friends where they played the BEST R&B from the early 2000s... of course I met another girl from NYC and we were TEARING UP THE DANCE FLOOR, yo (no samba for one niight.. HORRAY!!) 

Anywhose.. after spending a few fun days in Sao Paulo, I took the night bus down to Floripa, where I met a wonderful English guy, Nick, as soon as i got on the local bus to take to the hostel After showing me a list of things he wants to do before he's 30.. i knew we would be great friends because: 

  1. I LOVE LISTS (I am a millennial/product of corporate America.. lists are just so succinct and allow me to track my progress) 
  2. He had some pretttyyy cool stuff on his list, which happened to overlap with a lot of things on *my* list
  3. He also had a good sense of humor.. so punnyyyyy
  4.  ANDDD he was cuteeeeeee 

ANYWHOSE..  we had a fun few days beach bumming.. we went to this super beautiful secluded beach, lagoa do leste, which was about a 2 hour hike in the hot, humid weather but worth ittt cus we pretty much had the place to ourselves which meant i could frolic around neeeekid (not really.. i just did it for the picture though TBH, there's not much difference between a Brazilian cut bathing suit and being in your birthday suit)

we ended up meeting a local Brazilian guy, Eduardo, who had a friend visiting from Japan, Ryoma.. they apparently studied abroad at UGA (WHATTTT..... GO DOGS!!!!) and invited us to go sandboarding that night which was uber fun though it (again) resulted in me having sand in every single crevice of my bodyyyy since i pretty much rolllled down the dune instead of gracefully gliding down which is typical me.


we ended up having an amazing, all you can eat sushi dinner and decided to go rafting the next day.. Nick and I ended up going out that night and because my stamina aint what it used to be, i was completely drained the next day. However, rafting was fun, if slightly epic because it started getting stormy and so it felt like we were in a dramaticccc movieeee.. i had a great sleep that night but unfortunately, for some reason, i didn't bother checking when my flight was, which is really unlike me.. so i competely missed it.. whcih was a pain in the ass but ITS OKAY (this is what i keep telling myself)

Anyway.. I eventually made it to Fortaleza, which is all the way in the northeast of Brazil. It's the capital of the state of ceara and it was extremely hotttt.. and the city itself was a bit strange since it felt over developed (the beach is called "BEACH OF THE FUTURE")

i enjoyed being in the city and hanging out with some nice peeeps... I stayed at this super chilled, super fun hostel.. full sail hostel.  It's run by a super sweet couple... a norteamericano, Alex, and a Brazilian, Jamily, who met abroad while traveling in Barcelona (there's definitely something about that city yooooo!!) I coincidentally met a group of peeps from the USA who were doing their Fulbright in fortaleza... one of the girls, Priscilla, went to my rival high school (stuy sucks) and one of the guys, Andres, went to a rival college (bend ova novaaa) we spent the night playing flip cup before I met up with ryoma and some of his other friends who studied at uga....including Lucas who was from Fortaleza :) 

we went to a bar called bixiga where they drunkenly taught me forro (pronounced foe-ho cus Brazilians pronounce words with double r as u... like I said... crazy languageeee) and tried to sell flowers and kisses to the people in the square (we did not succeed)

the next day I chilled then met the guys for another partayyyyyyy in the afternoon.  Iots of people, lots of samba, lots of sweat... typical Brazilian party.  I left a little early cus I had a transfer to jericorcora... which is where I am right now.  I'm heading to lençois Maranhenses which should be pretty neat... then more beach hopping down the coast of Brazil before I........

Dundundun.  That's the big decision for now.   I'm doing even mroe reflecting now before I make a decision.. can't believe it's been almost a year since I started traveling... Will keep you beautiful people posted but for now.. gotta go get some more (vitamin) d...