Less than twenty-fours ago, it was Independence Day. In Brazil, anyway.

According to the history books of Brazil (and consequently those of other nations), September 7th (dia sete de setembro) marks the day when Brazil became independent from Portugal. This explains why Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish or “Brazilian,” for all who may be wondering.

A Brazilian friend tells me that Brazilian Independence was not as dramatic as that of the USA… and that it is not as big of a deal in Brazil as say, the Fourth of July is to estado unidenses (“United Statesians,” as some South AMERICANS like to call the citizens of the Ol’ Red, White, and Blue.)

I am persuaded that my friend’s opinion is the general opinion of Brazil. Why? Because every time I wear my yellow and green scarf people comment on how patriotic I am; the Brazilian flag is mostly green and yellow, and so I guess since it is a little difficult to find clothes that match, if you wear them you are supposedly affirming the motherland. When people discover that I am American as well as Brazilian, they say, “Of course! United Statestians are so patriotic. Now your wearing green and yellow makes sense.” Personally, I prefer style to patriotism, and in regard to color, I think Brazilians generally look the best in black and white.


Can I get a witness (specifically from my mother (left) and two aunts (third and fourth from left))?

Despite how much my patriotism seems to show in my wardrobe, and depite how much “patriotism” seems to be shown through the various demonstrations and protests around Brazil yesterday, this post is not about patriotism as much as the concept of independence mesmo.

So, what about independence? I’ll make I simple as ABC.

A) For the first time in my life, I have been working approximately 20 hours per week apart from a family business.


B) For the first time in my life, I have been riding a bus for approximately 20 hours per week. Mostly in the evening with total strangers.


C) For the first time in my life, I have to keep a budget.



But independence means more than being separated from family or being “on one’s own.”

I cannot claim to be away from family in any case, as blessed as I am with friends and relatives in and around Curitiba. Also, I am completely dependent on my Heavenly Father. But I am “taking care of myself” in a new way. I have people who give me counsel and prayer support, but I am the one making final decisions and deciding what I commit to.

One thing I commit myself to is enjoying chocolate. And 100% pure grape juice. Yes. You read that right.

photo (45)

They say that pure grape juice cleanses your blood. Drink a lot and that means your flesh turns yellow. Either I am more Latino than I think, or going heavy on the grape juice is starting to have an effect. 🙂

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A bar of Garoto chocolate has four rows of chocolate blocks, seven blocks to a row. This means that I can eat one row a week and it will last a month (four blocks a day). I make the most out of each block.

About the chocolate, let me illustrate.

Yesterday morning I got up at 10:15. Since I have been teaching on Saturday mornings, 10:15 on a Saturday was considerably late. It was delicious. But enough was enough. It was time to say, “Bom dia, Sol!

In my waking reality, I remembered dreaming, not of flying, but of a Brazilian acquaintance singing a song he wrote. I also remembered that I had spent the night at William’s house (the “dar uma volta” guy from my previous post). So I was in the south of Curitiba, not the “Metro East” where I normally sleep.

This made me smile.

Even though I normally live close to the Botanical Garden, at William’s place there is a small, grassy courtyard connecting his house to his neighbors’. On a good day, sunshine abounds. And yesterday it abounded, as I could see the light permeating the curtains. 🙂

There I was, walking out the backdoor. What the first thing I saw was, as my eyes adjusted to the brightness of the natural world, was the blue sky. Then, the grass. The green, green grass. And the vizinho.

The neighbor was sitting on a chair on his porch enjoying the morning in quietude (quiet solitude). When I came to stand before him, I could not help but smile. Here was a man more than three times my age who valued the same thing I did. I bid him good day. He smiled back and nodded.

I sat down in the sunshine. I thought it could not get better.

But then the neighbor offered me a chair.

Actually, he sort of went inside, grabbed a lawn chair, and then held it out to me over the two-foot fence that separated us. He smiled, and his eyes were as welcoming as the chair was welcome.

Again, I sat down in the sunshine. This time, on a chair. I thought it could not get better.

But then I realized I still had my shoes and socks on. Sit in the sunshine and not be barefoot? Not this garoto (not the chocolate; in this case, garoto is Porutuguese slang for “young man”).

Shedding my feet sweaters, I cooled off a bit, but at the same time I felt a warm fuzzy feeling.

My black jeans were absorbing the sun’s rays like a woman absorbs a well-timed compliment. Eccentrically, the sentiment was what it feels like to sit next to a bonfire… That same delightful warmth that creeps upon and then pounces on you, invisible, from the flames, was traveling over my legs. As I tugged on the verdant blades beneath me with my toes, my calf muscles were surprised, not unpleasantly.


Sitting down in the sunshine… I remembered that I had forgotten something.


Getting up once more, under the kind gaze and smile of the neighbor, I excitedly bounced on the balls of my feet in the general direction of my backpack, stashed in my friend’s room. I achieved my goal: the remainder of a bar of chocolate meio-amargo, “half-bitter” (dark) chocolate.

I bounded back to the backyard.

Beholding the welcome smile again, I extended my hand without thinking.

O senhor quer um pedaço?” / “Do you want a piece, sir?”

He smiled even bigger, then also extended his hand without thinking.

Feeling good, I took a load off my feet (“took a seat, took a seat,” for my KOV readers). I selected a piece of my own and picked it up with my thumb and forefinger.

I stared at it, and then I started licking it. In the UV, it was melting in seconds. And I was loving every second.

It must have taken me a full three minutes to eat that block of chocolate. When the piece licked down to next to nothing (after probably as many licks as it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop), I stuck it to the roof of my mouth with my tongue. It melted wonderfully involuntarily. Then, the fingers. I cleaned each of my most useful appendages (the two which hold my guitar pick when I am not eating and my food when I am), and smacked my lips in satisfaction.

I turned my head to look back at my neighbor. But this time he wasn’t smiling…

He was licking his fingers.

Three minutes after receiving that singular, single piece of chocolate, he was making the same smacking sounds as I was. Despite out difference in age, we identified with each other. We were independently enjoying something which each of us had helped the other experience. He provided the chair, and I the chocolate. It was beautiful.

And that, my readers, is one glance into the independence that I am experiencing in Brazil.

Any thoughts?

You see, a person who writes a blog cannot successfully blog independent of his/her audience, no matter how much independence he/she experiences.

Gostou? / Did you like it?


2 thoughts on “Independence

  1. 1. I find it amazing how much Portuguese I can understand. haha! Without your translations, I still could understand what you were saying. (Same goes for Italian.) Speaking it is a different story.
    2. I am happy that you are FINALLY enjoying your independence!!! Just make sure you find some time during your freedom to read my book, eh?
    3. Great writing! Loved the anecdote between you and the older man soaking up the rays. 😉 Nice!

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