As a pasty, ginger man with a slight beer belly (yes I’m describing it as slight) ‘going native’ was never going to be an easy task, but I have made some small steps.
I’ve purchased a pair of havaianas – Brazil’s slimmed down version of the flip flop (complete with national flag emblem)…
What is that? Hello. Goodbye. Cheers. You tight b*stard.
A sterling effort I’m sure you’d agree.
So imagine my surprise when I tried to catch a bus and still found myself doing a perfect ‘Johnny Foreigner’ impression.
Creased timetable in hand, eyebrows furrowed and an expression encapsulating frustration, confusion and indignation in equal measure I struggled to make sense of our situation.
Battling hard to ‘man up’ I tried to solve this timetable teaser myself so stood making low grunting noises and looking bemused for 15 minutes before finally accepting, as always, my utter failure as a fella.
A wiry old woman had seemingly noticed my bewildered shoulder shrugs and repeated open hand ‘I’m-haven’t-got-a-clue’ gestures so when I surveyed the surrounding area for help she was ready and raring to step up to the plate.
Her name was Daisy and she was 70-years-old. In near-perfect English she declared ‘Sorry my English isn’t very good, I have not spoken it for 40 years, where do you want to go.’
‘The Jardim do Botanica’ I replied with an embarrassed apologetic expression.
‘Then come with me,’ she said.
Gently tugging on my wrist she led me away.
In a flash she had arranged everything – the right bus stop, the right bus and she had even spoken to the ticket inspector to ensure we would be informed when we arrived at our destination.
I thanked her and Sophie and I sped off on our first bumpy Brazilian bus ride.
It’s just one of a number of examples of the Brazilians’ unassuming friendliness that we have experienced so far in Rio.
Another friendly Brazilian that I met the other day was a taxi driver whose name I forget – for the purposes of this post I’m going to call him Keith.
Anyway, the point is that Keith was the first ginger-haired Brazilian I’ve come across.
Seeing copper-topped Keith gave me a small glimmer of hope for the future…Maybe ‘going native’ isn’t totally beyond my reach!