The saudade hits at unexpected times and in unforeseen situations: tasting a bit of cheiro verde in a salad, hearing a smattering of Portuguese on the streets, seeing a dog that looks like Hannah. I love my life here, but I miss Brazil. It’s like having a good friend with a quirky personality who is sometimes annoying, but extremely lovable, absent from my life.
I could get involved with the Brazilian community here – eat at the restaurants, read the newspapers, go to the parties – but it’s almost better not to, because that evokes fond memories and offers fleeting tastes of what I can’t fully experience. So I don’t seek it out. Maybe it’s better to keep the two worlds separate after all, to fully live in one at a time without thinking too much about the other.
The only link I allow to persist between them is capoeira angola, which I carry with me in my body and mind and can’t separate myself from. And the sound of the gunga’s call is the same; the swing of the ginga and the rituals and ladainhas are the same as in Bahia. I am even lucky enough to have a branch of my FICA family here in New York. Although Njoli’s voice isn’t identical to Mestre Valmir’s, it is almost equally as amazing.
I’m not sure exactly what draws me to Brazil. I only lived there a year and a half and yet I miss it as though it were my terra natal.