One of the things that makes Brazil so great is the multiculturalism - so many ethnicities are represented here, but the interesting thing is that first and foremost, people here are Brazilian first, and whatever their ethnic origin might be is secondary, if it even matters at all. Maybe it's just me, but even though I was born and raised in Canada, I feel like I'm perceived by others first as Chinese, and then as a Canadian. It's not a discriminatory sentiment, but it's quite obvious that I am different. And it's not to say that Brazil doesn't have any discrimination because it does, according to locals I've spoken with - it's just that the divides in Brazil are generally not along ethnic ones, but instead are along economic ones.
All this make me think of something funny - one of the hostel workers, Yula, took a real liking to Sam and we joked that she was her mother, since she took pretty good care of Sam during her time in Salvador. So if that were the case, that would make Johan Sam's father, and I would probably be the creepy uncle. It's the perfect modern multicultural Brazilian family, with Canada, China, Israel, and Sweden all represented!
So today is my last day in Brazil ... booooooooooooooo!!!! Not much going on, just taking it easy as I only had a few hours before leaving this crazy country. Ended up heading into Pelourinho with Johan and Samantha, just wandering around and doing some souvenir shopping, and checking out a free cultural centre that housed a museum showcasing African masks and statues, some modern art, and some religious-themed works. After a quick lunch and some goodbyes, I was off to the airport.
As always, the journey home is a time for reflection about the trip - prior to arriving in Brazil, I had spent a ton of time studying Portuguese for the two-week period immediately preceding the trip. The goal was to establish a firm base in Portuguese and hopefully speak something resembling the language after a month. I came into this aiming high, hoping to be nearly fluent by the time I left Brazil, knowing that I would never attain a level anywhere near that in such a short time frame.
But I am still happy to say that I can at least carry on a half decent conversation with a Brazilian. It did make me wonder ... really, I didn't have much Portuguese practice until the midpoint of the trip in Fortaleza, where I spent the better part of four days speaking the language since I didn't encounter too many non-Portuguese speakers during that time. It was that constant practice those four days that helped my Portuguese improve greatly ... if only I had been able to spend that much time speaking the language during the first two weeks!
But unfortunately, there was a negative side to my Portuguese improvement - as it improved, my Spanish worsened! It was terrible! I now speak Spanish with a slight Portuguese accent and quite often, I accidentally use a Portuguese word in lieu of the intended Spanish one. The languages are just too similar, and it's far too easy to confuse the two and make mistakes.
It's a hell of a journey back home - a 2.5 hour flight from Salvador to Sao Paulo, followed by the long flight to Chicago, a 4 hour layover, and then the final flight to Calgary. All in all, it'll be over 23 hours of travel before finally getting home. Isn't it wrong that I have to spend all that time traveling, only to arrive home to -20 C temperatures?