Tuesday, June 19, 2012

International Stereotypes

The first Pera International Day was held on 16 June this year, it started out as a birthday party and book swap and ended up a day of friendship – local people and ex-pats from the surrounding area.  
We’re quite an impressive bunch when we get together, from the English to the Americans, Welsh to the Australians and Dutch, there are plenty of us to go around…with a Brazilian thrown in for good measure!

The event, organised by Peter WD, was an excuse to get people together, it came with the added benefits of supporting our local social club and encouraging everyone to speak some Portuguese.

Our social club put on one of its traditional BBQ’s complete with Caldo Verde soup (cabbage with a spot of Chorizo thrown in) followed by pork, pork and more pork.  The ‘cheese eaters’ (how the locals refer to the vegetarians) had Peter made veggie lasagne and the quick removal of any chorizo slices from their soup bowls.

I wondered how much we’d all conform to the stereotypes everyone holds, did the English become too rowdy after too many Sagres Minis for example?  Did the Aussie take control of the BBQ and the Brazilian amongst us start the dancing?  Well, no, they didn’t and I think that’s because as individuals we never live up to the stereotypes, but we seem to confirm to stereotypes as a group.  Maybe someone looking in from outside saw not a group of strangers become friends, but a group of ex-pats taking over a Portuguese community - I hope not.

What with the Euro 2012 in full swing and the Ukrainian and English football fans sadly living up to their image (not all, but the sad minority) we had a great opportunity to see the Portuguese team in action at a Euro 2012 friendly against Turkey.

Off we went down to Lisbon with some Portuguese football slang in our brains, sadly I can only recall that a ‘Frango’ (a chicken) is when the goal keeper makes a complete mess of things.    And the reason I remember, well Portugal were not at their best that day (and you could say since) and the poor goalie did make a complete meal of the final Turkey goal….3-1 to Turkey! 
But I didn’t really go for the football, instead I wanted the experience of a Portuguese match.  The tickets were on sale cheaply (just 15 euros) and as a result the Benfica Stadium of Light was full.  Now it’s been a while  since I was in a pub in Highbury and watched Arsenal win the double (1998) then proceeded to watch a bunch of Gunners turn over a London bus in what can only be described as ‘happy rioting’, but these football fans were almost all families.  Dad’s bringing their sons, whole families coming along to support their national team ‘POR – TU – GAL’ being shouted at the top of their voices and free Portugal scarves waving.  Maybe the atmosphere is different if you get a Sporting vs Benfica match (rival Lisbon teams), but the atmosphere on this occasion was joyful – well until Portugal demonstrated some of the very worst football a country can play and the Portuguese hero CR7 – Cristiano Ronaldo, missed an easy penalty and looked like he’d been having a few months off eating cakes as opposed to playing high octane football with Real Madrid.  

Prayers were not answered and Portugal were thrashed!

So next year we’ve already been asked to hold the second Pera International Day in a neighbouring town, where we can make some more friends I hope and as for the football….England vs Ukraine tonight, bring on the stereotypes (COME ON ENGLAND).