One of the first things I learned in Brazil is that as a Fulbright Scholar and an American, my job is to represent not only myself, but also my country, my language, and my people. As such, in everything we do, Chelsea and I are always working. We travel, we work; we dance, we work; we go to the bank, we work; we eat, we work; and so on. We have “official” teaching jobs here, which often do require a lot of work in the traditional sense, but we also spend a good amount of time doing, as some might say in the US, “nothing.” While at first this bothered us, we have come to understand that even our leisure time here can be productive.
This weekend we were invited to the home of Maick Menezes, one of my students (and top Rugby players), who is going to live and labor for the next 18 months in New Jersey for a US-Brazilan import-export mango company. Hopping on a bus headed to Curaça, in the state of Bahia the only directions we had were “Maick´s house,” and so we got slightly lost. But all along the way people stopped to talk to us, ask where we were from and what our country is like, and then help us find our destination. We get lost, we are working.
We backtracked to Irrigation Project 1 Curaça, where we were met by Maick´s cousin, Tom Tõem (Tony). En route to the Project, traveling the best way to travel (three deep on the back of a motorcycle), we stopped for sweet agua de coco and to take pictures with a group of gentleman admirers who had never met Americans. We drink coconut water, we are working.
We were the last to arrive at Maick´s house, where we were met by 20 more of my students from the IF-Sertão Pernambucano. We drank our cerveja bem gelada, really cold beer (in Brazil the quality of beer is measured by how cold it is—the colder the better), and everyone sat around saying all the words in English they knew. We drink beer; we are working.
The project had a party that evening, with some 300 people from the surrounding areas of the interior of Bahia (the state where Curaça is located). We danced forró and pagodão, and represented our country. We party, we are working.
Here in Brasil, our lesiure time is productive.