If you know us, you know we LOVE to eat out. (Like many other people, we plan our vacations around our meals.) This is one of the exhilarating and exhausting parts of being in a new country where the language is unknown: what do those Portuguese menus say?!
Unlike at home, it is not easy to go out here in Sampa. Enjoyable… Yes. Accessible… Yes. Varied… Yes. Adventurous… Yes. Exciting… Yes. Cheap… Depends. But easy? No.
This is what I’m realizing about living in a foreign country: nothing is easy. From reading different cultural cues to translating different menus, everything takes so. much. energy. I am a different kind of tired than usual: an aching and deep kinda tired. I’m tired in two languages.
But, Monday night, after a ten-hour day being productive at school, a nice meal at a restaurant was in order. I was both feeling fulfilled from finally working with my students as well as feeling prepared for the next day. So, a little bit of adventure called for the night. We considered walking to the Mexican restaurant (more Tex-Mex… Mexicancito?) because we LOVE Mexican food, and the menu there is more accessible with so many cognates and all.
But, alas, it doesn’t open until 6…and us gringos like to eat early and get home early and go to bed early. So we decided on a local burger place that had some delicious looking fries on the menu (I like salt, what can I say). A short Uber ride away, and we arrived at The Burger Experience.
Naturally, as it was earlier than Brazilian dinner time, we were the only ones there. But it was perfect because our waiter took us under his wings and made us his private little tutees. We stumbled through the language, relying on pictures, pointing, gestures and Google translate. And he would stop, look at us, and slowly say the syllables of words we butchered.
Car a mel iz ad a
When we got it right, he made sure to give us the biggest high five and the loudest parabéns and the warmest smile. When we faltered, he’d pause on the part we got wrong and repeat it until we got it right, making us do the same. And then, parabéns!
So though not easy, Brazil is beautiful. A place where people bend over backwards to help you if only you try. (And not for a tip…this is not a tipping culture.) Their generosity and care flows from the pure tropical warmth of their hearts.
So now, Dave and I will start a new eating out tradition: burgers and tutors.