Sunday, July 22, 2012


No, we're not leaving Brazil.  No plans to do so.  Days when I want to, but we are fully here.  Friends, work, and now we're thinking about moving to another apartment in Belo Horizonte.  We're here.

But I've been thinking about the "despedida" or "farewell" recently.  We went to a birthday party a few weekends back.  It was very nice:  about an hour outside of the city, at the family "cabin," lots of kids and bikes and a swimming pool.  The invitation said that the party was between 10 am and 3 pm.  For various reasons, we didn't even arrive at the party until 1:30 pm.  We ate, played, walked around the lake, and at about 5:00 pm it was birthday cake time (yes, that was a full 2 hours after the "end" of the party).  It's winter here, so the sun goes down at about 5:45 pm.  I had driven the Fusca (VW Bug), and even though I had another passenger that was going back with me who knew Belo Horizonte like the back of her hand, I didn't feel so comfortable with driving in the dark in an unfamiliar neighborhood.  So at 5:15 I started telling my kids and fellow passengers that I would like to leave.  I knew that nobody was happy that I was leaving (the hosts, the other passenger and her daughter),  but I also knew that if I didn't do a little pushing, we weren't going to leave until 9 pm.  After 45 minutes, and making the rounds to say goodbye to everyone and their grandpa, we left.  And we made it back safe and sound.  And I was only mildly annoyed by the long, drawn out departure. 

That's how departures are in Brazil.  No one really wants to leave the party, the restaurant, the Sunday afternoon lunch.  So Brazilians linger, have one more saideira (that last drink before you leave), tell the kids you are really going to go in 5 minutes for the 7th time.   The hosts complain and say that you just got there (5 hours ago), and convince you into staying for another 2 hours.  This is one thing that I still have not learned to adapt to in Brazil.  I'm just so dang American.  When it's time to go, it's time to go.  I don't like to do this meandering, in between, hanging out thing.  And I especially don't like it when my kids make it harder for me to leave.  I have to confess that I've resorted on occasions to bribing my children, especially the youngest in regards to departure time.  "Beatrice, if you are a good girl when we leave I will give you candy."  Ug.  But I've realized that it's hardest for her.  She's American, because we are.  But she's celebrated more birthdays in Brazil than she has in the US.  She loves the prolonged despedida. 

For example, about 2 months ago I decided to pick her up from school and walk back home rather than drive.  Leaving school was no problem, and I told her that we were going to eat dinner at the padaria (bakery) on the way home.  A little special mommy/daughter time.  After we left the padaria, we saw her best friend from school.  Shrieking and jumping ensue.  Best friend's mom offers to give us a ride home (even though it was totally out of her way, and it would take longer to drive than to walk).  I politely decline but the best friends protest loudly so the mom convinces me to get in the car.  Ok.  She drives us home, and we were in the car a total of maybe 10 minutes.  I get out of the car, find my keys, and Beatrice tells me she has to say goodbye to her friend.  This involves a conversation, and Beatrice tries to make plans for a play date, and convince both mommies to let them play just a little bit.  I continue to try to get Bea out of the car, and finally after 5 minutes she gets out.  But then she won't let go of the car door, and she has to sing a song and tell a story and hug her friend again.  Finally I pry her from the door, and then the best friend is crying because she didn't get to say goodbye.  They roll down the window and Beatrice and best friend yell back and forth "goodbye!"  "good night!" until the car is a block away.  I proceed to pull my gray hair out as I drag my daughter to our apartment.

I felt so annoyed by this, but it wasn't until the birthday party that I realized that this is just the Brazilian part of Beatrice doing the normal Brazilian thing.  She isn't (always) trying to manipulate me, or be obnoxious, she's just doing what little kids do here when the love someone and they don't want them to leave or say goodbye.  It also made me realize that Brazilians must think I am SO rude and condescending.  What feels like a warm embrace and nice cheek kisses to say goodbye (which is much more that most Americans would do) must the coldest, rudest despedida that these Brazilians have ever encountered.  

And on that note, I'm going to end this post.  Coldly.  Abruptly.  :-)


  1. Cultural differences, they keep life interesting!

    You know, it's kind of weird because even though I am American, this confirms that I'm Brazilian at heart, because i LOVE relaxed gatherings were no one wants to leave and nobody does until you really HAVE to leave.

    Plus, I'm late for everything. I'll be late for my own funeral, I swear.

    It's cool that your kids are little hybrids, must be interesting to witness the new cultural habits becoming a part of them. =)

  2. haha... I can relate :-)
    Yes, the despididas take forever.
    A Brazilian friend of mine who also hates despedidas invented "o beijo wifi". She just stands at the door, announces "tchau, gente.. beijo wifi *muah muah*" and leaves so that she doesn't have to make the rounds of good byes and have people pressure her into staying.

  3. HOWEVER, defending the Brazilians... I kinda agree with them about the "you just got here!" hahaha. When I host parties, etc. people arrive and leave 2 hours later and I always say "nooo! Staaaayy!" but I know people have other places to be and things to do. :-) But I wish Americans would adopt the saideira hehe.

  4. Have a place by the entrance of your home to store guest's belongings (coat rack, box for purses, etc). When it is time to say goodbye remind them of what they brought - which triggers movement toward the door - you then hand them their stuff, and only bid farewell as they are exiting. I call it the Ol' Gritty Goodbye Trick.

  5. Oh. My. Word. That would drive me nuts! However, I'm totally impressed at your insight into how it probably appears to the Brazilians. Thanks for another interesting glimpse of your life.