belfebe (belfebe) wrote,


I am back to the ole U.S. of A.

Back from sunny Brazil and back to the cold, tired but happy.

Our Conference went well, and we got a lot of kudos. It helps when you have an awesome team behind you. Then things go smoothly like a well-oiled engine and everyone wins.

Amusement factor: Part of my job is to advise the Chair, so the meeting runs smoothly. In this case, the Chair didn't speak a word of Spanish, and my Portuguese is limited at best. Yet we managed to understand each other very well and got along like a house on fire.

And before you tell me the obvious, that Portuguese and Spanish are very similar, let me tell you that yes, indeed, they are. In fact, many words are spelled and even prounced identically. That would be great if they also meant the same thing, which in many cases they don't. This may lead to some interesting confusions if you are not careful.

Let me illustrate my case:

Spanish: Borracha = Drunken woman. (Borracho would be a drunken man.)

Portuguese: Borracha = Rubber, pencil eraser, tire.

See what I mean?

Of course, I learned of this fun factoid during this trip. My first brush with this word was in the city of Fortaleza, where we had an 8 hour layover on our way to Brasilia. Rather than spending 8 hours sitting on an airport chair, we decided to go to the beach and sit under the nice Brazilian sun. The fact that Fortaleza is a beach town didn't suck either.

So there we are, piled up in a taxi cab on our way to the beach, when we see a sign that reads: "Borracheria de Jesus."

"Holy cow, Batman!" I say, like the native Spanish speaker I am. "Is that a bar? Are they trying to get Jesus drunk? We sooooo need to go there!"

"No," says D. our trusty companion, an accomplished Portuguese speaker. "Borracheria is a place where they fix tires."

"Oh," says C. our other companion, who is Mexican like me. "It would be vulcanizadora in Mexico."

The three of us laugh, and this goes to demonstrate the vagaries of language.

I definitely need to really learn Portuguese.

At any rate, we had a wonderful time, worked like maniacs at all sorts of odd hours, and ate too much. And after an exhausting flight back, we all made it (amazingly) in one piece.

And now I am back to work.

I think I need a nap.

Tags: humor, travel

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