The air is thick here. Thick with heat recoiling off of the looming buildings of the city. As I gaze out of the balcony on the eleventh floor, my eyes are met with buildings forever. They slowly fade into a muddled grey and meet a faux horizon somewhere in the distance – and I feel incredibly small. You could drop the entire population of my home country into this city four times over, and we still could not match the total population here. It is a blessing, really, as I feel I can blend in here. Aside from the glaringly obvious grasping of side bags that scream, “please do not rob me, I am clearly not from here,” and my regrettably tragic Portuguese – my face blends in with the other twenty-two million.
The air is thick with smells from all crevasses and corners of the city. Fragrance seeps out onto the streets from different restaurants and cafes that constantly teem with people like ants to honey. A real joy about being here in Brazil is the food. There is a beautiful clash of cultures that swells the city with the best possible food within arm’s reach. There is no craving here that cannot be satisfied. Am I feeling adventurous? Amazonian food is two blocks away. Or am I craving a taste of Europe? Authentic Italian pizza can be at your doorstep. Or perhaps all that dairy has weighed me down? No problem, Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan – sashimi and sake all around. I came on this trip to get a taste of what colonisation looks like outside of a British context, and that’s exactly what I’m getting – both literally and figuratively.
The air is thick with people. It hums here, each street a gentle orchestra – the scrapping of motorbikes, car horns, the slapping of jandals on the tiled pavement, and the gibberish that is Portuguese (to me, at least – I need to work on that). The people here are from all walks of life, and their histories all run deep within the history of Brazil. For us to understand the Indigenous stories of Brazil, we must learn the additional stories of the Portuguese colonisers, the African slaves brought against their will, and the millions of people promised refuge and glory by their heads of state in Italy and Germany and Japan. Each of these waves of people flooding Brazil has deepened the multi-culturalism and vitality of this place – intensifying all of the sensations here.
But one thing has stood out to me. It is easy for Indigenous people to get lost amidst the glorious chaos that is Brazil. There is an underlying sadness to the colour and flair. The layers to this country’s history pack on so thick.I’m in love with Brazil and what it has to offer. Now that I am settling into the rhythm of this place, I now plan on finding the quiet to take the time to sit and listen and learn about the Indigenous people here. I intend to find the beauty within the quiet as I have within the chaos