It is february and the height of Brazilian summer. The air is sometimes so hot it scorches your skin. February also means Back2School for the kids as they start a new school year. With the kids tucked away at school all morning that means we can resume our fascinating portuguese classes with our fabulous Professora Marcia. I wish all language classes could be so much fun and give so much insight and understanding of the local culture.
Every Tuesday after dropping off the kids at school I go do my daily CrossFit workout at our box which is conveniently located just around the corner from the school. After the workout I drag my exhausted body home to get a snack before getting to portuguese class. Sometimes we meet at school and sometimes we meet somewhere in the city depending on what Professora Marcia has planned. She has a vast network in the artistic world in the city and arranges for all kinds of artistic activities. Every week is something new, creative, cultural and challenging. Today was no different. We met at school, Ingeborg Marcia and I and we got in Marcia’s filthy car (she always says she is going to wash it “tomorrow”..) and drove to “Parque Infantil” down town. The park is located in the heart of the city and is a very popular place for gatherings, fares, markets, soccer card trade, workouts or just hanging out in the shade provided by the lush, tall tropical trees. This is where we met up with Sergio Petroni who is a Circus professor. Really. So I was glad I was still wearing my workout lycra because today we were going to juggle in Portuguese.
A juggler is called a malabarista, juggling is malabarismo. A juggler needs something to juggle besides Portuguese vocabulary so we started class by making juggling balls.
- Then we cut off the neck part of lots of balloons.
- Then we filled a plastic circle with birdseed, a plastic cup worth, and twisted it into a ball.
- We covered the plastic ball with a balloon and then repeated that 3 layers.
- We added a few layers of balloons with cut out patterns to decorate.
Uma bolinha até duas bolinhas
Focusing on one ball was easy, barely having to think to just toss it up and catch it again. When the second one came into play it required more thinking to keep the flow steady and correct. Once in a while one ball got forgotten and fell to the ground while the other stayed in play. Much like in a social setting where the languages spoken are portuguese and english. It is a strain to stay concentrated, for a whole evening on, not only what people are saying, but also what they mean in portuguese. It is dangerously tempting to stay in a conversations or strike up a conversation where the spoken language is english. In these circumstances the portuguese ball will easily get forgotten in mid-air in favor of the english one.
A terçeira bolinha
When the third ball came into play it was just a little to much to control at one time. I ended up just getting the juggling motion started and hoping for the best. “Maybe it will land in my other hand and maybe it won’t”. My focus was, to say the least, scattered which made me loose a ball once in a while. This is exactly how I feel when I’m doing errands with the kids. Like the other day; we went to the stationary store to get some supplies for a craft activity. We were getting out of the 22nd Über of the day and I was scolding the kids in Swedish so that the driver wouldn’t understand me (the kids had complained that the car smelled bad). The kids continued to speak swedish with each other after that and once out of the car I changed back to english. Once I got to the clerk to order the supplies I couldn’t find the words in portuguese. I blubbered like a moron trying to find the words I knew I had in me, somewhere. I had dropped the portuguese ball. It was a little too much too fast.
How about the fourth ball? Well, the fourth ball symbolises my french. After studying in France in high school I felt really comfortable with it and even today when in a french speaking environment it gradually comes back to me. That was before I stuffed portuguese into the left hemisphere of my brain. A few months ago I went to get my hair done at the salon. My hairdresser had lived in Paris for 15 years and started speaking french with me. I understood everything she said but when I answered it came out in portuguese. It was the strangest thing. I wanted to say tu but out came você. When portuguese was stuffed into my brain my french was pushed right out. Suffice it to say, I did not add a 4th ball to my juggling. I managed to do 12 cycles with 3 balls which meant a lot of focus but after a while I lost control and dropped a ball or two or three. But as I often do, I just picked them up again, took a deep breath and started over.