Anyone who has visited or worked at Walt Disney World in the past -oh, let’s say- ten years is familiar with Jeitinho Brasileiro – The Brazilian way.
It’s been a while since my Walt Disney World College Program Internship ended and I’ve missed central Florida everyday. Part of me wants to runaway, sign my life away at Casting, and then hope I get lucky enough to drive the Kilimanjaro Safari Ride vehicles again….But here’s to wishful dreaming!
Brazilian Tour Groups
Sometimes you can spot them a mile away at Disney! There a crowd of 20- 50 persons, adults, children, elders, wearing coordinated outfits, extroverted, and chanting and singing gleefully. To some of my coworkers it was “Tour groups (sigh)” and to others it is “Tour Groups! (smile)”. I believe I fell in the latter.
To be honest, tour groups were, at times, hard to manage. At times it felt like the tour groupers didn’t quite understand our culture, spoke too loudly, ignored our instructions, and probably bumped us when we told them where to go.
But blaming Brazilians alone for this behavior is unfair!
Most other tourist at the parks – American and foreign- seemed to have their own agenda as well. I think it was just the colorful matching outfits that made the Brazilian groups stand out.
While working at Disney I had the pleasure to become a little more familiar with the Brazilian way. My first encounter with Brazil happened at the Vista Way bus stop…
That Awkward Moment When…
Tommy, Bill and I were stuck at the Vista Way Apartments bus stop, waiting inside the bus for the new bus driver to come on shift and take us home to Chatham Square. It was a warm afternoon in September and we were leaving Animal Kingdom Park. Normally waiting for the “shift change” was boring and uneventful, but today was different.
She sat quietly, minding her own business and politely smiling, while clutching her purse. She had a rich, chestnut skin tone, and long, straightened ebony hair. (I’m not 100% sure of skin classifications in Brazil, but I’d say she was moreno or pardo). She had dazzling, cocoa eyes, and an excitable smile.
Needless to say, I tried to flirt.
I sat next to her (well, actually across the bus aisle, but it was a narrow bus aisle) and tried to engage her in conversation while I chatted with Tommy and Bill. I asked her name ( which I forget now but I remembered the entire length of my CP internship), her age, where she was from, and everything else. Her English was very well and she spoke in a mellifluous Brazilian accent.
I asked for some phrases in Portuguese and made a fool of myself pronouncing them (I’m sure). Eventually the bus driver came and it was almost time to leave.
This was my chance. I had only been in the program for a few days now, but she was the prettiest girl I had seen so far. Finally I timidly asked her for her phone number.
“I don’t have one,” she politely smiled.
Realizing this, I knew her apartment most likely had a land-line where she could dial back home. I asked for that number. Her reply was swift, “I don’t have a phone in my room”.
This was unbelievable. I asked how I could contact her and she nervously smiled.
Then the bus took off. The driver lurched forward and my friend dropped her purse. Spilling out her purse and sliding across the aisle was her cell phone. It hit my foot with a thud, then paused for dramatic tension.
I wish I could say that I never saw her again but I did. In fact, I saw her 4 out of 7 days of the week, as we rode the same morning and evening bus to work at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Except for a couple sheepish “Hi”s I never spoke to her again.
At the time I thought she was being rude, but, after studying Brazil for a Communication homework assignment, I realize she was just being polite. In high context cultures, like Brazil, saying “yes” can actually mean “no” as actually saying “no” is avoided. Brazil is also a collectivist culture, warm and cordial to everyone, but slow to accept outsiders into their personal circle. Were I wiser I would’ve understand her at the first refusal and would’ve spared her – and myself- embarrassment.
Well, this may have been the first intimate exposure to Brazil, but it was not the last.
My First Brazilian Party
Despite my shortcomings with the first encounter, I remained positive. Brazilian women were the most beautiful women I had ever met and I was enamored. I was optimistic and hopeful.
My buddies Tae, Dom and their friend Linwood(two safari drivers and Linwood, a friend of Dom’s) invited me to a party our friend Lyssa was having in Tae and Dom’s residence housing – Patterson Court. Of course I was down.
Parties for CPs was just as neccessary as Magic Kingdom visits and Ramen noodles. There was nothing like parties in the residence housings! Vista Way was known as the undisputed party place, but the Commons, Chatham, and Patterson all had their share of great times.
But I digress…
I showed up at Lyssa’s place ready to party. As soon as I got there I discovered her roommates were all Brazilian and they had invited their Brazilian friends over to party too.
So many beautiful people!
I – being the ethnocentric American that I used to be- had no idea how diverse Brazil was. I met Brazilians who looked like she-who-must-not-be-named, Brazilians with blonde hair and fair skin, Brazilians with red hair and freckles, and even Brazilians from Asian ancestry. Brazil really was cosmopolitan society!
The party was a blast. So as not to incriminate anyone, let’s just say we had a great time and may or may not have had security called on us several times and they may or may not have shut down the party…
That night I learned that Brazilians love to chant – very loudly- while they are having a good time. I learned a lot of Portuguese that night (including “Você é linda” which means you are pretty). And I also realized I may or may not have proposed marriage to one or more of the women there. If this was true let’s just say I may or may not have gotten a yes.
Let’s just leave it at this: Brazilians know how to party! Check out the video below to see a little fun with Brazil and Disney.
Well, I may not have gotten completely lucky when it came to wooing a Brasilera during my CP, but I did learn a lot about the culture and had a great time doing it! Of course, Brazil wasn’t the only culture I experienced that I fell in love with.
Let’s just say, a more positive experience may involve Puerto Rico, a boricua, mofongo, and salsa dancing!
To Be Continued…