ventre: belly

I accidentally went to belly-dancing class tonight. Ventre: belly. Aula da dança do ventre: belly-dancing class. Unfortunately when new friend Daniela invited me to her dance class, I missed the last word, and thus whole-heartedly and enthusiastically accepted her offer.

Evidentially, the easiest part of the belly-dance for Brazilians is the hip shimmy. “We shimmy up and down the street, so no problem there, right?” said the instructor. “But… the hands,” she said, twirling them around her body, “that’s where the difficulty lies.”

Hands. Ha.

Being up for anything that involves new friends and Portuguese is, if nothing else, amusing, and a handy way to learn the body parts. I’m going back for another class tomorrow.

Word of the week: empoçar. To make puddles. What a lovely word—so precise, and precisely photogenic. I learned empoçar on Tuesday, and then it rained for three days straight, and the word was everywhere, dancing on dirty puddles and rubber flip flops slipping in poças.

My acquisition of Portuguese feels like this, the world revealing itself to me in layers, curtains being shoved aside. What were once only fuzzy shapes and big ideas begin to focus into subtleties. I learn a word in Portuguese class, and then I’ll hear it at dinner, and I feel like exclaiming: oh! I know that word! What great timing that you’re using it now, because I just learned it today!

But of course, it was there, in conversation, all along… just hidden from me.

Yesterday after Portuguese class, I went to Shopping Recife—an indoor shopping mall that swallows four square blocks of Boa Viagem—to buy a pair of exercise shorts. Going to the Shopping for cotton shorts was something like trekking to Wal-Mart to buy a pencil, but I enjoyed gaping at the bright lights and expensive merchandise all the same. I did not as much enjoy my trek back to the bus stop in pouring rain and six p.m. darkness, much less the bus-splashed wait for bus number 440.

But, I realized when I finally got on the onibus (which is where I seem to do most of my realizing)—soggy and sticky and hot, 7 p.m. and hungry—that I wasn’t at all in a bad mood. Partly, I knew that I was headed somewhere good—to a shower and a comfy couch—but also, the Megan who functions in Portuguese doesn’t have the vocabulary to complain, to be annoyed.  It’s a set of verbs I haven’t yet needed to learn (in and of itself a lovely thing) and perhaps this is self-perpetuating.


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