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Brazilian Dancer and a Portuguese Lesson in San Salvador

Chaya’s cousin lives in El Salvador. He sometimes does funny things. This is his story about studying Portuguese through the Brazilian Embassy in San Salvador.

A sort of funny true story:

I am taking Portuguese classes at the Brazillian Embassy here in San Salvador.

So I am in Portuguese class, and we are studying the verb to have, tem. We listen to a song, sung by this famous brazilian guy, about women from Bahia, called “Baianas”. The song is good for studying the verb TEM, because it says things like “The Baiana has a gold bracelet,” and “The baiana has a decorated skirt” and “the baiana has gold earrings” and “the baiana has high sandals” etc. At the end of the song it says “oh, how the baiana moves, when she dances she falls onto me, she falls onto me, she falls onto me.

So we listened to the song, and then we answered a series of questions using our new verb. Like “Does the baiana have a gold bracelet?” (Sim, a baiana tem pulseira de ouro.) “Does the baiana have silver earrings?” (Nao, a baiana nao tem brinco de prata, ela tem brinco de ouro.) Then the book asked “what does HE have?”

It turns out, in hindsight, that the teacher said that when we got to that question we could answer it by looking at the
person next to us, and saying what they were wearing. I didn´t understand it when she said that, or wasnt listening, I guess.

So I was pretty confused, because the song only talked about a woman from Bahia, not a man. The only man I could imagine that had anything to do with it was the one who sang the song.

Just my luck that when it came time to share our answers with the class, the teacher called on me to read out loud my answer for the What does He Have? question. So I said… “Um, ele tem una baiana por cima de ele?” Um, he has a baiana on top of him?

(When she dances, she falls onto me, she falls onto me, she falls onto me.)

The teacher laughed, a kind of snorting, surprised laugh. She said “JESSE! That is, well, that’s correct, but you could also have answered that Juan Carlos (the student who sits next to me) has a blue shirt. That would be correct, too.”

Brazilian Dancer for Jesse

Brazilian Dancer for Jesse

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Filed under: El Salvador, Friends, Language

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 80 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3170 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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