Last night some of my students were out celebrating their company’s Christmas Party or as they like to say in Brazil Year-end Party /Festa de Fim de Ano. Of course, most companies announce these free booze and grinding events as part of team building and improving in-house relationships. I see them more as a way to let employees vent all their frustrations and anger on the dance floor. Way better than shooting everybody in their cubicles, wouldn’t you say?
Of course, with all the drinking, dancing, and karaoking, getting home at 2, 4 or 6 am would disable any warrior from having classes at 7:30 the next morning or any other time that day. Result? I’M FREE. Could stay in bed, read the e-paper (never thought I’d say that aloud) and go to the street market with my Sweetheart.
The concept of street markets in Brazil was imported from Europe, adapted to Brazilian needs and characteristics. They usually run from Tuesday to Sunday on different streets across the city. They can be quite well organized and clean with fresh fruit and vegetables. Just avoid the fresh meat and fish stalls. The stench is awful. I love hearing the stall owners shouting the names of their produce, prices, offering discounts, making jokes and puns, etc. I’m pretty sure salespeople are polyglots. Show any interest in their fruits or vegetables and they’ll say anything from English to Mandarin or Japanese, not unusual at some street markets in São Paulo. Some prices are lower than at supermarkets but today they tried to sell me 1 (yes, ONE) pomegranate for R$ 20 (about US$ 8). It’s final: cheap pomegranate juice only in Turkey – Here in Brazil only corn or sugarcane juice.
The point is that although some of the vendors may be wearing a Santa hat, Christmas is not ubiquitous and overbearing there, people are buying “food” – a basic staple – and you can see the roots of capitalism taking place in its simplest form.
One thing I always encouraged my students to do when at a street market – yes, even in Brazil – try to learn the names of the different fruits, vegetables, etc in English.
Tomate – Tomato
Alface – Lettuce
Uva – Grape and so...
Simple? yes … effective? You bet! Of course, I mentioned easy words they may already know – but they can expand the list with colors, smells, tastes in mind.
It’s not a Christmas market, but a great gift to your language learning adventure all year round.