DISCLAIMER – the following metaphoric reference to monkeys is obviously not racist, since it is widely known that black Brazilians comprise a populational sub-set in which the number of individuals with sufficient income for international travel is small. In other words, poverty is concentrated in that sub-set, and so is discrimination, thus the need for this disclaimer. It is neither anti-monkey, or chimpanzees, for that matter, since these are extremely interesting animals with cognitive and emotional characteristics unique to them and no derogative comparison is made. However, it is also widely acknowledged that chimpanzees are very active individuals not known to easily sit quietly, virtually motionless, as required from traveling humans, paying attention at the most to a miniscule screen in front of them.
That said, the flight from Brazil felt pretty much like being inside a huge cage full of chimpanzees. Except I am not Jane Goodall and those were not real monkeys: just selfish, noisy and inconsiderate humans. The crew was amazing. I have no idea how they control themselves not to kill passengers (I would say at the expected rate of 2 per flight). The food was surprisingly good. All in all, 10 for TAM (a Brazilian – of all places – airline), zero for Brazilians.
Are all Brazilians that inconsiderate, unethical, lying delinquents as I have pictured many in this profile? Of course not. Are all Americans willing to sacrifice their lives for freedom? There you go: statistics.
I bet not even most Brazilians, on a closer look, would be actually good people, perfectly capable of ethical behavior all the way through. However there is something each social sciences schools calls one thing, but it is the zeitgeist of the Brazilian country, the tolerance with intolerance, with theft, with corruption, with totalitarianism, all with the soundtrack of some happy samba. Most of my students, for example, are people who feel overwhelmed by the unethical and unhealthy structure of the fitness market. They are good people who want to help other humans beings to be better and more integrated, more aware, with less pain, carrying themselves through the world like whole humans, not heads dragging dysfunctional bodies behind. My students are Brazilian. They are good people.
But I need time away from that sick land. To return later with my batteries recharged and carry on my mission.
Bottom line: the flight was as good as any flight with horrible disrespectful people can be, I almost kissed the immigration officer who said “welcome to the United States” with a smile, after a two minute conversation over fingerprint collection (of all subjects, he asked me about the number of powerlifting federations, or at least it ended there), we got lost on the way out of Miami (because, well, a combination of not having the GPS and NOBODY speaking English anywhere, while I was driving and Eric had to do the talking) and we are still at the hotel because Eric’s house was not delivered in time.
I am happy to be here. Some people say I will only be happy in Germany, because I can’t tolerate rule infringement. Everything is not ok now because a lot of people didn’t do their job as they should, within the deadline they had. I really resent that. But it is about a billion percent better than Brazil, where following rules and having a rule-abiding attitude is considered anti-Brazilian. “Yankee”, as I have been called so many times.
Finally, I’m with the love of my life. While it is touching to hear one of you twenty or thirty-somethings say “the love of my life”, saying that at 52, after a number of relationships I don’t really care to count and a number of men… well, let’s stop here, is a whole different ballgame. I am statistically past 2/3rds of my life. I know more places, people and things than other people my age (watch Roy dying at Blade Runner for the rest of the speech here). Finding love at this point is unexpected and powerful. Spending time at a land where most of your true friends live makes every minute count.
All in all, being able to spend time in the USA makes the burden of pushing Brazil uphill towards anything good lighter than it is.