Tuesday, May 22, 2018

So Your Character is From Brazil ... Featuring Naty @ Naty's Bookshelf & Thai @ Read Breathe and Repeat

It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's  So Your Character is from Hawaii ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts is as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.

(None of the Images are Mine)

Hello! I am Naty (short for Natália), a 27-year-old German-Brazilian Engineer currently residing in the south of Germany. I was born in Belém, Brazil, where I lived for about 23 years of my life! My hobbies include reading, blogging, yoga, combat, and cooking. I love traveling and photographing, too!

I’m Thainá, but everyone calls me Thai! I live in the Midwest region of Brazil. I’m a kindergarten teacher and I love reading and watching tv shows.

What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
Naty: The diversity!

Brazil is a continent-sized country, which used to be a colony from Portugal, meaning a lot of the people who lived there, in the beginning, were Portuguese and native Brazilians (more than 200 different tribes!), but as time went on, many different nationalities came seeking a new life or refuge in Brazil – Japanese, Germans, Italians, Lebanese, and so much more! There is also a huge African influence in Brazil, from the slaves that were brought to work in the fields and houses and also from refugees. They have deeply influenced the Brazilian culture. There are small cities where the most-spoken language is a German dialect that doesn’t even exist anymore! I myself have German-Lebanese-Portuguese ancestry, and it’s far more common to find people with mixed ancestry than it is to find someone with 100% Brazilian blood.

Apart from that, due to its huge size, you can do pretty much anything in Brazil! Historical, unique architecture? Bam, go to Ouro Preto. More into big cities? São Paulo is a very cool place. Like adventures? Bonito is for you! Gorgeous beaches? Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Canoa Quebrada, Camboriú... so many options I would run out of breath if I were to list them all.

Capivaras em Curitiba (Picture by Naty)
Rio de Janeiro State (Picture by Naty)

Ouro Preto
Brazilians are very loud people in general, very friendly and we smile A LOT. Personalities change a little from north to south, since on the south you’ll find mostly German and Italian descendants, making the people a little quieter, and in the north more Arabs, where people are not quiet at all and very likely to ask you questions that, depending on where you’re from, can be a little intrusive. But they mean well, I promise. 

Landmarks we have quite a few! The Christ (Cristo Redentor) in Rio de Janeiro is our most famous one, though!

Cristo Redentor
As for celebrations, I will name a few only! We are very famous for our Carnaval (this is Ivete Sangalo, the best Carnaval singer in my opinion!), for starters! Our New Year’s celebrations normally follow many rituals that come from African cultures, such as wearing white, jumping waves and making offerings to the African goddess Iemanjá (this is a picture of Copacabana, in Rio de Janeiro, during the New Year). We also have a party that is more well-known among Brazilians, namely São João, which is celebrated in June and where we wear colorful, dramatic clothes, dance and eat a lot!

Ivete Sangalo Carnaval
New Year in Copacabana
São Joao
Thai: We have Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, which is very popular with tourists. I believe our only unique celebration is Carnaval, it’s super fun and enjoyable. Carnaval we have this parade where we have samba (a Brazilian music style) schools presenting themselves. They have costumes (people are mostly naked though) on and samba choreography, it’s very beautiful. But for people who aren’t into that, there are a bunch of street parties where they basically just dress up (or down) and get drunk as heck. Kinda like Madri Gras in New Orleans. 

Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
Naty: There are some cities in Brazil that hold a particular place in my heart. One of them is Curitiba, an underrated city where tourists don’t go much to, but is absolutely gorgeous and has lovely parks to take walks on!

Curitiba Botanical Garden

Curitiba Bosque Alemao

Curitiba Museu Niemeyer
I loved my trip to Ouro Preto as well! The food in Minas Gerais (the state where Ouro Preto is) is said to be the best of the country (controversies…) and the people are incredibly nice. Institute Inhotim was a lovely place to visit next to Ouro Preto as well – you have plants, art and more plants. Such a great trip!


Ouro Preto 
I dream of going to both Chapada Diamantina and to Fernando de Noronha! Both are supposed to have gorgeous views. Chapada Diamantina is a nice place for hikes according to my friends and Fernando de Noronha is more for relaxing, scuba diving etc. It’s very popular among newlyweds to have their honeymoon in Fernando de Noronha!

Thai: It’s always hot in here, we don’t know cold so we’re always going to the beach or pools. The beaches in the northwest is one of the main attractions for Brazilians, we love there it’s so gorgeous!

Chapada Diamantina

Fernando de Noronha
Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
Naty: I will do a top 4 because I can talk about Brazilian food FOREVER, it’s the best food in the world (according to me).

Moqueca is a stew with lots of fish, seafood, some vegetables and spices, the flavor is hard to describe but it’s unique and delicious! It goes with a side of rice.

CHOCOLATE GOODNESS. End of my argument. Just try it, it’s heavenly.

Fried dough with whatever filling you like! My favorite ones are cheese, palm tree or shrimps! You can also have them with sweet fillings, though!

Pão de Queijo is like a fluffy bread with cheese. It’s more delicious than it sounds, really!

Brazilian food has lots of variety as well, we do lots of dishes with fish, we have lots of fried dough stuff and lots of meat too! I don’t eat red meat, so they didn’t show on my list, but Brazilian barbecues are famous worldwide.

Thai: I really love Brazilian food, everything is very rich in flavors and I’m definitely a fan, our barbecue is fantastic and feijoada is the best thing ever, but I think my favorite is pão de quejo, which is kind of like a cheese roll. We have brigadeiro as a dessert, which is a kind of chocolate but it’s soooo much better than the normal chocolate! 

Pão de Queijo
Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?

Naty: The country doesn’t really have dialects, despite its size. Brazil is very unified when it comes to that, there are variations in the way people speak but it’s still the same language so that a northerner would have very little trouble speaking to a southerner (except, you know, those tiny little cities where people hardly speak Portuguese at all). I’m not your best source of slang since I’ve been out of the country for 3 years, I’ll sound very outdated if I use the ones I know!

Thai: Portuguese is one of the languages that it’s almost impossible to learn because it’s one thing to be grammatically correct and it’s another to actually maintain a conversation, we have so many slangs, almost every word we use in a casual conversation are slangs. We also change the meaning of words a lot and create new ones that don’t make sense, but it becomes a thing and everyone starts using it.

Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
Naty: I don’t know how to describe a regular day in my country, except for my own experience with it. Working contracts in companies will normally be of 40 hours per week (8h/day), but it’s quite common that in fact those contracts get extended to 60 h/week. Normal waking time is somewhere between 6 and 7am (much earlier if you work in the countryside), and at 6pm a lot of people go to have happy hours with their colleagues. 

Going to the gym is becoming more popular nowadays too, especially classes like Pilates and Yoga. Brazilians go around by car a lot, although little by little it’s getting more common to use bikes. For cities like São Paulo, it’s rather impossible to get by on foot, so facing the heavy traffic it is…

Thai: I think it’s pretty much the same everywhere, we start the day early, some people start work at 6:30-7am, we have lunch around 11am, work ends around 5:30pm and dinner is around 8pm.

São Paulo City
How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
Naty: Brazilians mirror themselves in what Americans do a lot. Things like consumerism, what movies we watch, what books we read, what stuff we talk about is highly influenced by the US. Politically I’d rather not talk extensively about – it’s a complex and terrible topic, as corruption has been ruining and running the country for so long that it’s hard to even imagine how to get rid of those decaying roots of a political joke.

Environmentally we’re a quite warm country, although in the very south we can get colder temperatures and sometimes even snow (still a rare occurrence, though!). In the city, I was born (Belém do Pará), temperatures are considered VERY COLD when they reach 18 degrees Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit).

Thai: Politically I believe we’re both screwed, but our culture is incredibly different. We’re very open to new people and we’re very touchy when talking to someone, not just like significant others, but friends, colleagues, even acquaintances. We always greet each other with a kiss on the cheek and a hug, things like that.

Belem do Para
Briefly describe three of your country’s historical events that you feel are important.
Brazil was “discovered” by Cabral in 1500, starting then a genocide of the Indian tribes living there and a Portuguese colony for production of goods.
Coffee boom: the production of coffee in Brazil becomes one of the country’s best economic resources in the 19th century. Although coffee is not native from Brazil, it was brought by a man in a diplomatic mission who was seduced by the governor’s wife into bringing seeds of the beloved plant into Pará, my birth state!
1964 Military coup – Brazil becomes a military dictatorship, causing levels of censorship and violence never seen before in the country.


  • Princess Isabel abolished slavery in May 13th, 1888 (my birthday is in May 13th so that’s the only date I actually remember lol)
  • Military leaders took control of the Brazilian government in the 60’s until the 80’s.
  • Dilma Rousseff became Brazil's first women president. She was awful at it, but it’s still a huge step. Dilma Rousseff was elected in 2011 and was impeached in August of 2016. It was pretty recent!

Café Brasil
What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Naty: Not all Brazilians are sexy girls and dangerous gangsters. We come in all colors and all backgrounds – my grandmother has blue eyes and light blonde hair. I have an Arab nose that gets me stopped in the US airport security. We can’t all dance, really. We have lots of quiet, bookish people, we have intelligent people, we have technology, and we don’t all play football/soccer. Most people I know don’t like participating in Carnaval. I have seen absolutely zero pet monkeys. We have roads and cars and planes and don’t move around jumping from vine to vine like Tarzan. We also don’t speak Spanish, or Brazilian (we speak Portuguese) and our girls don’t flirt with everyone. Most of us aren’t promiscuous – really, we’re different people and not one single mind and body moving around for your pleasure.

Thai: Brazilians are always portrayed as Mexicans, which is ridiculous because yes, we’re all Latinxs but it’s two cultures completely different. People usually think we’re in the middle of nowhere full of trees and wild animals and everyone is dark skinned, when in reality there is so much diversity here, in my city especially has the largest amount of Japanese and Italians descends.

What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Naty: I haven’t found a book that has Brazilian representation that was done in a non-stereotypical way. I was a bit ambiguous about the representation in Artemis, by Andy Weir, where Brazilians are the evil ones (for a change! We’re normally the sexy lady or the street-smart teen) and they come from the very north. But, well, they’re gangsters. So I will recommend a Brazilian book instead that shows the big part that religion plays in Northern Brazil, has loads of humor and a street-smart character that is actually a good representation! The Rogue’s Trial, by Ariano Suassuna.

Thai: Make it Count by Megan Erikson is the best Brazilian representation from a non-Brazilian writer and The Paths We Choose by M. Rollis from a Brazilian writer, the book is in English though.

Who are your top three favorite fictional characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?

  • Magali from Monica’s Gang comics.
  • Narizinho from Sítio do Picapau Amarelo.
  • Emília also from Sítio do Picapau Amarelo.

Thank you, Naty and Thai, for this very informative post! Come back next week for a post all about Costa Rica!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Cuba, Venezuela, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, and Iraq.

Do you have any characters from Brazil? Did this inspire you to write a Brazilian character or set a book in Brazil? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Naty and Thai? Be sure to thank them!

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