1) Damn homes. There is a lot of diversity here. There are so many asians! And no one stares at them! Or calls them Japa!
(Funny little story here for ya about Brazil: I was with the bf one day when he had walked ahead of me, and two girls, probably about the age of 10, ran up to him and started to ask him about me. “Where is she from? Is she from China [quite enlightened for their age, as most people assume all Asians are Japanese]? Did you pick her up there? Or did she fly on an airplane [incredulously] to get here? How do you speak to her? Does she speak Portuguese?” while furtively stealing glances back at me and giggling. It’s like I am a panda.)
But back to the diversity. There really are a lot of different ethnicities, races, minorities, colors, languages that one sees and hears on a daily basis here. It’s cool. It’s what makes America America, and not, say, Sweden.
1a) Never noticed this before, but now that I’m looking at everything with fresh new eyes, Mexicans and Asians sort of look alike. Sometimes I don’t know if someone is one or the other–until I hear them speak Chinese on the bus, in which case I assume he is Asian rather than Mexican. But still not 100% sure.
1b) Thank god for immigrants and their ability to open delicious ethnic food restaurants. Since I’ve been back I’ve eaten Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, El Salvadorian, and Ethiopian food that just blows Brazilian food out of the water. (Sorry meus amigos brasileiros.) Next stop: Indian. Have a huge craving and need to get a fix soon.
2) Americans don’t like to answer a lot of questions. Especially bus drivers. Or really anyone else. They also don’t like to make small talk with strangers as much as Brazilians do (which I, being American, actually like better), unless of course, you are on the bus going towards Southeast D.C. Then everyone on the whole bus is talking to everyone else on the whole bus.
3) The suburbs are the worst. Whose idea was it anyway to have a place where you can’t get around without a car, and no one is out on the streets, and it’s just lonely, boring, and miserable? (Oh wait, that might just be my bias about suburbs…)
4) Americans, at least in the city, always appear to be rushing some place. Maybe it’s because I’m always rushing some place, so I am projecting that on other people as well. But I feel like Brazilians have a more relaxed look about them, even downtown, during rush hour.
5) Winter does not do any favors for anyone’s skin tone. Seriously, lots of ghostly pale people out there. I’m not sure if Brazilian people just naturally have darker, bronzier skin, or if they really work to get it. But the entire country looks like they have that sun-kissed glow like they just got back from a vacation in Cancun. Illustrative anecdote: I was in line to check-in at the airport, on my way back from D.C. to Chicago, and there was this gorgeous, Ralph-Lauren-modelesque girl in front of me, with a nice tan, and long, chestnut hair. She didn’t necessarily look un-American, just had a killer tan for early June in Washington D.C. Her father soon joined her in line, and they start speaking Brazilian Portuguese. Of course the gorgeous tan girl is Brazilian. Of course.
6) Supermarkets are glorious here. They’re so big! And have so much food! And so much fresh fruits and vegetables! And the quality of those fruits and vegetables are great! (At least at the Garden Fresh here in suburban Illinois.) And every snack food known to man! And when you ask the deli guy for turkey breast he asks you which brand, and then which type (smoked? roasted? oven-baked?), and then asks which flavor! (!!!!?? So many options on just turkey breast?!) And everything is so cheap! (Again, suburban Illinois might be a little different than West Village Manhattan.) And there are aisles for ethnic food ingredients–Indian, Latino, Chinese, even a whole section on Polish mustards! If you aren’t getting it, I actually freaked out when I first went to the supermarket here. It was like I was a Disney-obsessed kid at the Magic Kingdom for the first time. I actually had to express my amazement out loud to one of the workers at the supermarket: “Oh my god. This place is huge. And it has so much food!.” (Verbatim, eyes wide.) “Um, yea. It does.” (His answer verbatim.)