I was watching a short news report when I realized that within the video are many telltale signs of Brazilian life. The report itself is about the “Macgyver of the Trans-Amazonian”, a 20-year old guy from Piauí who is basically a self-taught auto mechanic. Despite the nickname, Edson has never seen the TV show Macgyver, but a truck-driver once told him about the fictional character and that’s when Edson took the name as his own.
The video (in Portuguese), which you can watch here, reveals life throughout most of Brazil. Below, I’ll list everything I noticed while watching it.
1. Small, family-run business – Many times it will be several items or services mixed into one, in order to attend to more types of clients.
2. Far from the big city – What used to be a 70/30 division between rural and city-dwellers in the mid-1900s has now more than inverted itself. Despite this, and with more small cities than big cities, the impression when traveling through Brazil by land is that most people live far from the big cities.
3. Strong religious faith – Brazil is a religious country but in my experience there are way more religious people both outside the big cities and, additionally, the further down one goes on the economic scale.
4. No real time-table when going out – When you go out, a lot of things within your control, and out of it, can happen, making it a bit hard to give specific times for when you’ll return.
5. “Guerrilla marketing” on existing signs, walls, etc – Many people rely on foot traffic so advertising for your business on any empty space makes sense.
6. Jack of many trades, “hustler” (in a good sense) – Being skilled in many things and being a go-getter is almost the norm in Brazil.
7. Learned livelihood outside school – Not always easy to continue schooling when the top priority is work, whether it’s to keep yourself fed or to feed your family.
8. Nickname – Almost everyone has a nickname in Brazil. It’s mainly a way of showing affection.
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