Our first trip to Brazil enthralled my family and me; and since that trip, we have yearned to return. And return we did! In fact, we have made many trips to Brazil over the last decade. The first thing that I have to say about Brazil is that the people are some of the warmest and most passionate people in the world. They kiss you on both cheeks when you come; they hug you and hang on to you while you are there, they share whatever they have with you, and they cry and beg you not to leave when you have to go home.
There are many ethnic groups in Brazil–indigineous indian, European, African, and multiracial, etc. There is much inter-marrige. The beauty of their culture shines through their actions and reactions. They are very family oriented and very devoted to family. This lovely attribute carries over in the Body of Christ, the Church.
There is less European influence than Argentina, but it still exists. There is quite a lot of influence from the wonderful indigenous peoples throughout Brazil that shows up in varied traditions, foods, and holidays. But I think two outstanding things about the people is their zest for life and their excellence in what they produce.
Brazil is famous for Brazilian steak houses or Chuhasscaria as they call it. These have become popular in the states now and other parts of the world. In Texas, you can find Fogo de Chia and Texas de Brazil. These are fairly authentic with American prices. A good steak house in Brazil will cost about half as much as the states, and that is the joy of being there.
The steak houses are famous for their lavish salad bars and the long skewers of barbequed meats that you can choose from. Waiters roam the restaurant offering everything grilled and well-seasoned from lamb, to pork, to chicken to filet mignon. (I sound like a travel agent.) Chuhascarria, in Brazil or America, is a a favorite “special occasion” restaurant for the Wilks family.
I wrote the following poem in the home of dear Brazilian friends. It is typical for Brazilians to employ several maids. I had awakened before everyone, and the maid was in the kitchen waiting to serve me. My Portuguese was weak, and I had such a yearning to communicate with her. She was so attentive and sweet. I could tell the presence of foreigners seemed very strange to her. After breakfast, I retreated to the porch with my journal and pen and began to write.
This is a favorite of mine.
Dark and Sweet
The shy young Brazilian
maid smiles at me from
a distance as she pours
dark and sweet morning coffee
into my clean, white cup.
The two of us are alone
in a big family kitchen,
stumbling over each other
in silence. Like an obedient child,
she waits to serve the breakfast
I do not want. I am hungry to know
her name, about her family, her
hometown. Yearning to say more than,
“Obrigaddo,” I repeat it over and over. The
maid knows me from movies and television.
I know her from Compton’s Encyclopedia.
She considers me rich and fat,
as she pours another steaming stream of
dark and sweet liquid into my empty,
now coffee-stained cup.