Saudades do Brasil

"This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen," said Joseph, looking outside from the apartment balcony on the 9th floor.
"I cannot believe we arrived just in time for the sunrise!" I replied. The sunrise on the beach was one of the things I missed the most about Brazil. The spacious, long, and transparent balcony allowed us to contemplate the entire half-moon shaped beach and the sun rising from the middle of the mountains on our left.
"I did not realize your aunt's apartment is so close to the beach! We can just cross the road and there it is! In Utah we have mountains, but these are so green. So many trees!" said Joseph.
I moved to Utah when I married Joseph, and since then, I could not go back to my home, Brazil, for 4 years. Tickets were expensive and we had to use our money to pay our college tuition. I finally took him to Brazil for his first time and I was excited to show him the country where I grew up.
"I know! This beach is called Praia Grande and it means big beach," I said to him, while pulling him close.
We couldn't do anything else but enjoy that silent and calm sunrise. Nature was making music. The waves were the bass accompaniment and the birds were the melody. I forgot how good this makes me feel. I closed my eyes, focusing on my sense of hearing, but realized my sense of touch and smell as well. I missed the beach's smell and humidity so much.
Que saudades do Brasil.
CLANG, CLANG! "Wake up, Wake up!" sang my mom, grandma, and aunt while hitting metal pans with spoons to wake up Joseph, my brother, my cousin, and I.
"It's breakfast time," said my grandma excitedly. They had prepared a banquet with pão de queijo, requeijão, Italian bread, mortadela, salami, mozzarella cheese, milk, fresh jam, papaya, bananas, grapes, peaches, cherries, dragon fruits, mangos, fresh orange juice, nuts, and of course, avocado shake.
Que saudades, I missed this food.
Meals are almost sacred to my family in Brazil. It's the time the whole family gathers together.
"How is this American liking Brazil so far?" asked my aunt, who speaks some English.
"Muito bom," said Joseph, trying to speak the few words he knew in Portuguese.
Everyone laughed with Joseph at his Portuguese grammar mistakes. I noticed they were trying to make Joseph feel comfortable there. We kept eating while my Italian grandma told us her life stories. She had so many stories to tell us.
"Alright, time to go to the beach! Let's get ready," said my mother.
I like to think Brazil beaches are unique. Praia Grande is where I went my entire childhood. Fluffy and clear sand, warm blue water, palm trees, ships, starfish, tall buildings around the beach, bright sun over our heads, shells under our feet, soccer, beach umbrellas, music, beach chairs, people everywhere—it was still the way I remembered. Many things were being sold there such as beach shorts, bikinis, dresses, handmade jewelry, hats, and balls. Fresh coconut water and pineapple, orange, strawberry, passion fruit, and sugar cane juices were being made and sold at the beach. Everything was fresh. Food was also everywhere. So many options were available, but we decided to enjoy fresh fried onions, fish, and shrimp.
"Don't eat too much, Christmas Eve is tonight!" said my mother.
It had been 5 years since I had had a Christmas with my family. I was excited. I missed the Christmas parties in Brazil. Joseph poked me:
"Why are there so many white roses everywhere on the shore?"
"Some people here believe that there is a Goddess of the sea. Her name is Iemanjá. They throw roses on the sea as an offering to her. In exchange, she sends them blessings," I replied. I forgot how sacred water is treated here; the water does make Brazil a magical place! I thought.
Joseph was astonished by the unique Brazilian beach culture, but we had to leave and get ready for Christmas.
"You have to make sure you dress well! Christmas is a special party for us," I said, while fixing Joseph's hair.
"Well, you look beautiful," he replied, while looking at my sparkly gold dress.
The main reason we went to Brazil was because I wanted Joseph to see it. I wanted him to feel the humidity on his skin, taste fresh fruits and different foods, and see beautiful places.
"What a meal! Brazilians really enjoy eating!" said Joseph, while filling his second plate.
It was midnight. My aunt turned on the song "Jingle Bell Rock."
"HO HO HO!" came my dad, dressed as Santa Claus. He always does it on Christmas even though we don't have any more children in the family. We exchanged the gifts he brought in a black trash bag.
Grandma made everyone laugh. Of course, she gave me many gifts even though she did not have much money. I told her I did not like the shoes in the United States, so she made sure to buy me the best shoes she found. It would be rude of me to not accept them.
We watched the fireworks dance on the sky, hugged each other, and then danced ourselves. My brother, cousin, and I jumped in the pool because this is our Christmas tradition. We ate some more desserts and stayed awake talking until very late. I looked over and grandma was watching the starry sky from the same balcony Joseph and I watched the sunrise. I stared at her. We have so much in common, how have I never noticed it? The perfect view of the beach was illuminated by fancy street lights on the sidewalk. Their brightness made the moon shape of the beach even more obvious. At night, the ocean looks immense and as if it has no end—just like saudade is. The ocean breeze and smells somehow always brought my family together.
Que saudades do Brasil.
"Hey, wake up! We arrived in Utah; Let's go!" said Joseph, while calmly shaking me. I walked outside of the airplane. I felt heavy. It was just us two now.
This trip was very successful. Joseph saw almost everything I wanted him to see and he tried the most foods possible. Our goals were accomplished.
So, why am I feeling so blue and heavy?
I looked inside my mini black waist purse. There was a pair of pearl earrings. My grandma had given me those just before I had gotten inside of the airport. I looked at the pearls and immediately remembered that she did not say any words when I was saying goodbye. She just cried, hugged me, and handed the pearls to me. Are they expensive? I thought. They don't look like original pearls.
Why am I feeling so blue and heavy?
I kept staring at the pearls, trying to figure out why my grandma had given me cheap earrings right before I left.
The ocean is in the United States as well, but why is it not magical like the one in Brazil?

Maybe Brazil was not what I was truly missing.