By Mike Woitalla
I find Brazilian Portuguese to be a beautiful language. The woman's voice coming over the P.A. at Sao Paulo's Rodoviaria Tiete bus terminal, reading departures and arrivals, sounds like a lovely song, which is what I first thought it was.
I just wish I could understand more of it. And I wonder if I offend when I make queries or answer questions with bad Spanish. Not that I usually understand the question.
At the Zona Sul, all the cashiers are women. Up until the day Brazil lost to Germany, they wore Brazil national team replica T-shirts, with five solid stars and the outline of a sixth -- representing the World Cup title Brazil was supposed to be in the midst of winning.
Before they start running the groceries through a scanner, they always ask a question in which I cannot recognize a single word. First I thought it might be, “Did you bring your own bag?” -- so I answered yes (sim). But this prompted a follow-up and confusion. Then I thought maybe it was, “Are you paying cash?” So I nodded yes and held up some bills. More confusion.
I finally figured the best default answer would from now on would be “no” (nao) -- which it was since they were inquiring on whether I had a Zona Sul club card, I finally figured it out.
Sometimes I do understand the questions. Like after I bought a beanie from Edson’s souvenir stand next to the Largo do Machado Metro station and he wanted to know if I was German.
I told him I’m americano – but alemao-americano. He practiced saying thank you in German, asked me if he was getting it right, and showed me his crib note written on the back of a sign in his kiosk. It read “THAN-KE.” I wrote “danke” next to it and we practiced a bit more before some Argentines showed up and he put down the Germany cap he had been trying to sell me and a grabbed a blue-white one.
The albiceleste fans outnumber the Germans significantly. Several reports cite the arrival of 100,000 Argentines, an estimate that sounds extraordinary. But it does seem that Argentines are everywhere. I heard their singing from the streets at 2 a.m. They tried sleeping on the beach, which is forbidden.
Rio authorities opened up the carnival sambodromo -- a series of stands that stretch the length of six soccer fields -- for Argentines to camp in.
When Germany faces Argentina in the 75,000-capacity Maracana Stadium on Sunday, 15,000 police officers and soldiers are set to patrol the streets on which the Argentines hope to create a victory festival -- and the Brazilians expect to join the Germans in celebration.