Our trip to the beach in Bertioga was absolutely perfect! It was hot and sunny, the water was a great temperature, and it was not too crowded. However, the experience that highlighted my beach day was the feeling of community between myself and other beachgoers. For example, many members of our group were playing a game of volleyball when a Brazilian boy named Vitor approached me and asked to play. I invited him in and despite the language barrier, our team was able to effectively play the game. We shared laughs, exchanged apologies, and high fived each other.

Similarly, my roommate, Julian, and I were playing soccer tennis when a younger Brazilian boy named Murilo calmly came up to the side of the net and said, “I got next,” in Portuguese. We played many games, rotating so that everyone got to play against each other. Murilo dazzled us with his bicycle kicks; which prompted us to try to replicate them! When it came time for Murilo to leave with his family we exchanged handshakes and thanked each other for the experience. 

After this, a member of an ongoing game of beach soccer asked Julian and I if we would want to join in. We gladly accepted and found ourselves playing three-on-three with other Brazilians. Everyone was extremely kind and welcoming. If a mistake was made, it was met with uplifting words and gestures. When our team eventually won, everyone exchanged handshakes and messages of gratitude for the game we had just played.

These three experiences were truly beautiful. While Julian is mostly fluent in Portuguese, I am far from communicative! Even though we could not understand each other, the concept of communitas was absolutely present. Even more impactful was that there was no sort of “tryout” in order to participate in each instance. It did not matter what someone looked like nor their age. Two groups of people from different countries and cultures were simply brought together solely on shared interests. Furthermore, these different groups were able to harmonize perfectly within the games that were being played, even without a strong understanding of each other’s language. To me, this defining quality of Brazilian culture was infinitely more beautiful than the scenic beach we were at. This is what truly made this beach day the best ever.


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