10 Ways to Identify a Typical Brazilian Tourist in New York
Before we get down to the dirty business of disclosing the typical Brazilian tourist in New York, or in any other fashionable big city for that matter, let me use the standard disclaimer that, being a Brazilian myself, and having behaved as the proverbial conventional tourist of my country a number of times, I’m immune from any accusations of being politically incorrect or biased. I believe the feeling of embarrassment and discomfort, as we run into a fellow countryman when happily travelling far from one’s country, is universal. The less noble aspects of one’s culture seem inevitably highlighted against the backdrop of a foreign land, which makes us hate the truth that we are also like that.
Therefore, the fact that we see Brazilians in droves wherever we go doesn’t make it easy for us. The unmistakable traces of the Brazilian Portuguese accent, whenever we speak English, makes it hard to disguise our origin, especially from other countrymen, who will stop in their tracks, frozen in fear and sheer horror, whenever they hear those familiar distorted phonemes.
Here are other ways to identify the typical Brazilian tourist:
1. The first stop for every Brazilian male in NY is an Apple Store – preferably the one on 5th Avenue, near Central Park. So, whenever you visit one of these palaces of e-consumerism, be assured you will be rubbing shoulders with "meny" of us.
2. Women, on the other hand, will prefer Macy’s, but will look as avid and gluttonous as their male counterparts in the presence of so many affordable good quality products, which would cost at least three times as much in Rio de Janeiro. So watch out for starry-eyed, jaw-hanging beautiful women, looking overwhelmed and walking as if in a daze around that store. They are Brazilian.
3. If you see someone raising their voice in a foreign language and gesticulating animatedly to a bewildered sales clerk or waiter to indicate what they mean to purchase or order, chances are you are seeing a Brazilian (or an Italian). If they dress more informally and are not obsessed with coordinating colors and styles, they will not be Italian.
4. If a person looks tense and confused when asked to pay and tip the barman for every single drink they have right after ordering it, or if they have trouble calculating the right amount to compensate a waiter for good service at a restaurant, they will probably be Brazilian. In our country, we only pay after we finish having all the drinks we wish at a bar. Besides, we have a standard 10% tip incorporated automatically to the bill, so we are uncomfortable having to decide on that by ourselves.
5. If someone passes out, shocked at the speed and easiness of the New York system of returning a product after you buy it - no questions asked, no bureaucracy and no offense taken - they will be Brazilians. In Brazil, you will probably have to sue the store to get your money back even if you just consider the possibility of purchasing something. Did you think of buying it? It is already yours forever. Pay, leave and never come back, please.
6. If a young couple stands in line for hours at the TKTS discount booth in Times Square, even knowing they will be bored to death with the tap dancing numbers of a Broadway musical…they might be Brazilian…although that’s not a sure thing, as it seems that, in spite of the fact that only gay men from all nationalities enjoy these shows, straight people from different countries also have a tendency to pretend they do.
7. Is he happily strolling down Park Avenue, boasting brand new Nike sneakers, right out of the box, possibly still showing the price tags on? Brazilian!
8. Have you seen anyone down on their knees in the middle of the streets begging the heavens for a pãozinho na chapa and a média (grilled bread with butter and a strong cup of coffee with milk) after a week’s diet of bagels and disgusting watery coffee for breakfast? They may come from the biggest country in South America.
9. Are they standing with a big nostalgic grin on their faces in front of a branch of Fogo de Chão, the overpriced steakhouse with headquarters in São Paulo, despite the fact they only arrived in the BIG APPLE a couple of days ago? They are possibly related to the carnivorous race of people who inhabit the country of samba, football and carnival.
10. If you see a group of people at a table in restaurant sharing everything - from a pizza to some ice cream to a cup of coffee - they are Brazilian. It’s got nothing to do with cheapness and the desire to save money. We are a bunch of warm, sentimental, germ-distributing people. God, do I love Brazilians!
That’s all for today. Watch this space for more on Brazil and South America!