1. You’re the only person in your group/hostel who doesn’t speak Spanish.
Many things set Brazilians apart from our neighbours. None is more important than language. We even have our horrible Spanish-Portuguese mix, the “portunhol.” forgiven only if talking to immigration officers.
2. You ask for aguardente and instead of the good old cachaça you get something that tastes like anise.
Aguardiente (agua + ardiente, or “fire water”) is the name for spirits all over South and Central America. Each has a distinct flavour and strength.
3. For you, Paraguay is synonymous with cheap products bought in Ciudad Leste, not a cool destination.
Brazilians cross the “Friendship Bridge” to buy cheap sneakers, liquor, and tires. Few ever think about what else is there. Turns out there are wild road trips to go on and a lot of nature to see.
4. Your flights always stop in Guarulhos.
Even if you’re flying to Colombia from Pernambuco or Chile from Mato Grosso. And let me tell you, it sucks. The Brazilian airline hub is São Paulo International Airport, aka GRU: expensive, far from the city, ugly, boring. Still, almost every international flight to/from Brazil stops here, even when it means flying five hours distant of where you wanted to be.
5. Your knowledge of Colombian music is limited to Shakira.
And you’re shocked that Los Del Rio (the Macarena guys) are Spanish.
6. You never visited a beach in the Pacific Ocean.
Because, of course, all the enormous Brazilian coast (we’re talking more than 4,000 miles) faces the Atlantic. No Caribbean for us.
7. For you it is “banana da terra” and not “plátano.”
And why haven’t Brazilians ever thought of chopping and deep frying the thing? The result is tastier, healthier and cheaper than potato chips!
8. You discover that what you’ve been eating the whole time was not real ceviche.
And that the Peruvian national dish is never a dinner choice.
9. You understand that “Spanish” is a small word for a multitude of idioms.
Every country has its accent, and there are internal variations as well. Like porteño in Buenos Aires or paisá in Medellin. The cool thing is that if you speak slow Portuguese, people will understand. Just like you can understand a little Spanish if you pay attention to it. But not in Ecuador. That is something else.
10. Language barriers aside, you connect instantly with your Latin friends.
We have no problem with touching, hugging, kissing, and showing affection. We also know how to use diminutives in a cute way. As the conversation flows into history/politics (believe me, it will) it’s easier to get over the feeling that Brazil is a separate part of South America. Our twelve countries share a turbulent history of genocide, slavery, and injustice. We are new nations, full of instability and hope. We have a lot to learn from each other.