You’re in a country where the locals speak Portuguese …. it could be Brazil, it could be Angola or Mozambique, Cape Verde perhaps, or you could even be in Portugal itself. Because of Portugal’s maritime history, there is a good chance you are on a beach and eating fish and prawns (peixe e camarões). You could be in any number of exotic locations. Lucky you! In Brazil you might be atop Sugar Loaf mountain gazing down in awe at the city of Rio de Janeiro, or stepping back in time in one of its gorgeous colonial towns, such as Paraty, Olinda or Ouro Preto.
In Angola you could be gawking at the Kalandula waterfalls or the colourful Valley of the Moon. Some of the Portuguese people I know in Australia and the United States say Angola was the best country they had ever lived in. But I think they are harking back to the colonial days.
Over to the east coast of Africa, Mozambique has many wonderful “undiscovered” beaches (it’s going to be the French Riviera of the 21st century,” one fan of the country tells me). Or maybe you are in a beachside bar somewhere in the Cape Verde islands, drinking a beer (uma cerveja) and listening to a song by the local superstar Cesária Évora (we’ll dig one out on YouTube and put it at the end of this post.) Alas, she died in 2011 at the age of 70. She did come out to Australia on tour a few years ago: I wish I had gone to the concert. I particularly like her album from 2006, Rogamar. It was my introduction to her music.
If you were in Portugal, perhaps you would be up in the ramparts of the colourful Pena palace in Sintra, gazing out at the coastline extending far below, or having a pastel de nata, one of those delicious Portuguese custard tarts, in the Belém precinct, where so many tourist attractions related to Portugal’s golden age of discoveries (os descobrimentos) are clumped together.
There, I have written enough to justify putting in a whole series of pretty pictures!
Now, you want to get talking. To greet someone in Portuguese you would say bom dia (literally good day, but also good morning), and if you were a stickler for timing after midday you could say boa tarde (good afternoon). Bom is the masculine form and boa is the feminine. Good evening or goodnight is boa noite, while uma noite em festa is a night out. The people in these parts of the world like to have festas – feasts, parties, celebrations.
Less formally, if you wanted to say hi it would be oi or olá or alô (the accents indicate where the stress falls). A casual how are you? is tudo bem? or como vai? (more literally, all well? and how is it going?). To be more formal, you might say como está, o senhor? to a man or como está, a senhora? to a woman.
The answer to this should be bem, obrigado if you are a man, and bem, obrigada, if you are a woman, meaning well, thanks. On related notes, bem, bem! means well, well! while meu bem! means my darling, honey or sweetheart (it’s probably a bit old-fashioned).
After you have told someone how well you are, you should ask them back, so say e você? meaning and you? Or more politely, e o senhor? or e a senhora? (e means and, not to be confused with é, which is is).
Splendid! Now you are getting on like a house on fire (dar-se bem com means to get along with).
Incidentally, a morning in Portuguese is uma manhã, while o amanhã means the future as a noun, or tomorrow as an adverb, so tomorrow morning becomes the very poetic amanhã de manhã. However, don’t confuse that with a manha (without an accent) which means cunning or an act (fake). Fazer manha is to put on an act.
This leads us to a woman who was a class act, the aforementioned Cesária Évora. Because of her recent death, it seemed appropriate to choose this, one of her more sombre songs, the opening track of the Rogamar album. It’s called Sombras di distino (Shadows of destiny). I will paste the lyrics underneath. I found them translated at this website. It’s a beautifully mournful song, don’t you think?
Sombras di Destino Shadows of Destiny
Parti pa terra longe To leave for a distant land
Foi sempre nha ilusão was always my illusion
E ali ja’m esta And here I am finally
Di sorriso falso With a forced smile,
Margurado e triste Bitter and sad
Ta vaga di mar em mar I will wander from sea to sea
Ta corrê di vento em vento I will travel from wind to wind
Em busca di um futuro Searching for a future
Entre sombras di distino Amidst the shadows of the destiny
Nha vida ê zig-zagant’ My life is an endless toing and froing
Sina di um fidjo caboverdiano It’s the fate of a Cape-verdian son
Num paz inconstante To live an unconstant peace
Cma distino di um cigano Like the fate of a gypsy
M’ta vivê tormentado I will live with torments
Num mundo cheio di maldade In a world filled with evil
Nha sorte ê dori e magoado My destiny is so hurt and sorrowful
Na um silencio di sodade Into a silence of longing
- Top 10 Palaces of the World (icemountainpictures.com)
- Daytrip to Sintra (danceflosstravel.wordpress.com)
- The Most Underrated Country In The World – Lisbon, Portugal (travelpod.com)
- Quinta da Regaleira – Portugal (sonicalkaline.wordpress.com)
- Portugal pays the price for former empire (msamba.wordpress.com)
- There’s more to Angolan music than Kuduro (africasacountry.com)
- Cape Verde: music and dance (fundraisingmusicevents.com)
- Ferdinand Magellan Fires Up Modern-Day Portugal (themightyf.wordpress.com)