Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It’s Not “OK” in Brazil

So, its been a while since I posted (over a month it appears). I’ve been a little busy with Relay For Life (June 11 with hurricane force winds…it was lovely) and my mission trip to Brazil (just got home this past Monday). I will try to include some pictures of my trip on here at a later date…but for now I have a little story to share.

Picture this…it was our last night in Campinas, Brazil before we flew out to Niteroi, Brazil. We had gone to a local mall for dinner and were doing a little shopping before the mall closed. The “must have” item on our trip was Havaianas (really comfortable flip flops). Brazilians are not tall people and don’t have big feet, so for a team with quite a few women who are above average height and have above average shoe sizes, finding our size was a challenge.

So it’s around 9:45 p.m. We’re supposed to meet our group at the entrance at 10:00. Some were still shopping in one store, but I needed to go back to a previous store and look to see if I can find a particular pair of Havaianas. Robin (she and her husband are the missionaries there) goes with me because I don’t speak the language. A sales girl asks Robin if she can help us and Robin tells her what size I’m looking for, but the girl is trying to sell me on styles I’m not interested in.

Because it’s the World Cup, they had lots of Havaianas for different countries. Robin asks the girl if they have USA ones…they didn’t. The sales girl tells Robin they have ones for France. Now, Robin is very much the extrovert and very silly and has lots of energy. She’s being her silly self and tells the sales girl she doesn’t like France…so the sales girl turns the shoes around backwards and puts them back on the sales rack. Robin thinks this is funny and proceeds to tell me what just took place.

Now, I was really focused on trying to get my shopping done before we had to meet the group. So when Robin tells me what just took place, she asks me if that is okay with me. Not even thinking, I look at Robin (who is standing next to the sales girls) and make “OK” signs with both of my hands.

If you’ve ever been to Brazil…you know where this is going. In Brazil, giving someone the “OK” sign is like flipping them off…I’m told even worse. I knew this before I even went to Brazil, but at the moment it just didn’t occur to me. As soon as I did it, I realized what I had done. I put my hands over my mouth and then start apologizing profusely. Robin’s jaw is on the floor and then immediately turns to the sales girl trying to explain to her that the “OK” sign means something different in my country. That I didn’t mean to offend her, and that I’m a good Christian girl who would NEVER do something like that on purpose.

Yes, I went to Brazil and almost caused an international incident. The sales girls seemed to accept the apology…but didn’t find the humor in it. My group on the other hand found it very funny and would ask me if things were “OK” just to see if they could get me to do it again. Lovely.

So the moral of this story is…its NEVER “OK” in Brazil!!!


Alyssa said...

Oh my! This is hilarious! I would have so done the same thing! More stories!!!

Ashley said...

How funny! Can't wait to hear more about your trip!

Tessa said...

I remember when I went to Brazil that it was so hard to not do the OK sign. Not that I did it much here, but as soon as it's taboo, it seems like that's all that comes to mind.