Learning to Love Where I’m From
“Essa cachoeira é tão linda.”
Even though I should be totally absorbed in the totally breathtaking Icelandic waterfall this Brazilian vlogger is showing off, I can’t help but be once again left mesmerised by the striking sound of the word “cachoeira”.
I say the word out loud in English – “waterfall”. As I do, I quite swiftly scrunch my face in the most superficial way possible in reaction to the harsher sounding noun.
Simultaneously, I am sweetly reminded why I left Australia, my homeland, in the first place. I want to dominate the Portuguese language so that one day I would not only be able to speak one of the most beautiful words in the world, but also be able to put together sentences as melodic and audibly orgasmic as those I’m hearing on a daily basis.
As a self-confessed language junkie, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself at the sassy face I pulled after sounding out the not-anywhere-near-as-pleasing sound of my mother tongue’s version of cachoeira.
Could this be the main reason why I’ve been finding myself leaving Australia so often in search of new horizons to roam? Or am I finally realising that all those 10-hour long trips, gastronomically-pleasing experiences and the way I’ve expanded my social circle internationally are all motivated by the fact that Australia bores the shit out of me?
I’m absolutely loving the thrill of excavating the Brazilian side to my heritage. It’s a side that never fails to excite, having been subdued for the past 23 years of my life. Even though I’ve been lucky enough to learn little bits and pieces of my South American history through largely spread-out trips from a tender age, I have always been garnering a sense of internal guilt. This is all due to the lack of knowledge and contact I’d had with a culture that is so deeply rooted in my DNA.
Just by looking at one of the many tacky family photos awkwardly nailed to our corridor walls, you can tell that my roots are salt-and-pepper polar opposites. In regards to my parents, you don’t even need to ask where they are from just by looking at their different skin tones, listening to their heavily accented second languages and analysing their ways of doing things that will forever continue to feed my curiosity.
Without fail, my ego is ever-so-quietly boosted every time my Australian friends ask me how my parents met. And also when my friends playfully recite the way that my mother says “responsibility” in a completely mispronounced yet awfully cute way.
Even though I would love to proudly state that due to this exposure to two very different worlds, I have a profound appreciation for both, I quite shamefully have to admit that I don’t. When I recited that simple noun “waterfall” in English, my negative body language was perfectly indicative of my current appreciation levels with regards to Australia.
But as wonderful as it might be to discover my authentic Brazilian side, what needs to be discussed is my muffled resentment towards the culture I was raised in. Since my arrival in Brazil, I’ve been constantly comparing its marvellousness to the alleged lacklustre of my home country.
“Brazilian culture is so rich. The dance, the music, the food, the way that people act, the way that people socially liberate themselves – everything in this place oozes the depth and complexity and history of what Brazil is all about.
“Australia doesn’t have this though. It’s such a new country that it hasn’t had the chance to develop anything deeper than the way we vomit on ourselves on our national day of commemoration, which by the way celebrates colonising our Indigenous people – the traditional land owners”.
After hearing myself say this, it would be definitely fair to say that the level of cynicism I have shown towards my Anglo roots is more picante than my Latino ones.
Though there are 14.6 million Brazilians who cannot even spell their own name,
I seem to have forgotten the fact that my Australian education has given me the more-than-required level of literacy and annotation needed to turn my nose up at my own country.
There are an estimated 24 million Brazilian homeless – almost the entire population of Australia. So should I even ask myself how I am able to independently sustain myself here?
Oh, and what happens if shit hits the fan? My passport from one of the most developed countries in the world stashed in my sock drawer will work a treat.
So aside from the depth of charming culture and the smooth Portuguese melodically flowing into my ear canals on a daily basis, not to mention the food that has reminded my stomach and my heart about why I love this country, why should I continue my life pretending that I am this way “just because”?
Because discovering my roots is making me feel more complete than the cinnamon sprinkled on top of my morning porridge. I’m finding that every day holds a new experience, story and bit of knowledge that only first-hand encounters can teach. But as much as I can learn to love another culture, I should never be disregarding the place that has nurtured me into the person that I am today.
I’ve realised there is a need to appreciate my upbringing and privilege for all it has given me. Where I’m from is full of people and places that have gifted me all the opportunities in the world. My home country is rooting for me.
So as I unwrap that bitchy expression smeared across my face, I remind myself that my attitude is just a reflection of myself. If my attitude is shit, so too will be my experiences of wherever in the world I go.
Coverby Diego Sulivan