South America | Brazil | Southern Brazil – restrospective – the negative side
It’s August 28. I am leaving Brasil the day after tomorrow. It would be tempting to act real sad, to paint a glowing picture of my stellar Brasil journey, act like I want to stay forever.
But I am ready to go home! Truly, only the first month was spectacular. Rio rocks, and Santa Cruz do Sul is lame, and that’s how I feel. Sorry if I offend anyone.
In Rio, I volunteered as a dance teacher through Iko Poran. There were about ten other really cool, active, engaged, articulate volunteers in the house, and we also met a network of interesting people through Iko Poran. Rio does not lack for beauty, horror, industry, magic – in short, a perfect city for adventures and growth. It really was wonderful.
In July I accepted a position as an English teacher in the southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul. The city is called Santa Cruz do Sul. It’s small and VERY yuppie-fied, located about two hours from the happy port city of Porto Alegre. There is nothing WRONG with SC, really. It is just a small town chock-full of people with the damn wrongest priorities, basically. It’s a fashionista town, a town where the girls are high-maintenance snobs and the boys drive around in their cars, honking incessantly. Santa Cruz is paid for by tobacco: Philip Morris, Souza Cruz, and Universal Leaf Tobacco are planted in the neighboring countryside. Most people work for tobacco in one capacity or another. They work VERY VERY hard, very long hours, and they tend to wear cardigans and loafers.
Every town has its own personality, and as I said, there is nothing WRONG with SC. If only there were a few redeeming qualities! If only there were some culture, some capoeira, some samba, something that tells me with certainty, ‘OI Beth! You are in Brasil!’ But there’s none of that in evidence. People listen to American hip hop and drink German beer. The main street of town is filled with fancy clothing boutiques, fashionable shoe stores, yuppie baby stores. There are ice cream parlors, travel agencies, real estate agencies left right and center, and, inexplicably, a TON of bouquet shops. Maybe it is explicable. Whatever.
What there are NOT: theaters, art studios, music halls, youth centers. There is no buzz. It is a shame.
But then, who am I to dictate how a town should be? Well, I don’t really want to change Santa Cruz. Clearly people like it how it is, or they wouldn’t live there. I just want to leave! So I regret that I took this contract for these two months. I feel like I wasted a journey to Brasil, living in this Anglicized town.
But hey, I will come back and go to the north, see the sand dunes and the beaches. Brasil will still be here when I return, nao?