The slave and the backpack

I enjoyed a nice afternoon on the beach with my new friends, who drove us from Itajaí to Balneário Camboriú. I had met them in the hostel in the morning on the balcony – at this point we were the only 4 people at the hostel. The 3 of them are friends from church and live in Curitiba, a city 3 hours north in the interior. Thus, many people visit BC during the weekends. One of them is João, a 30 year old computer programmer. The other two of them are a married couple, William and Juliete (24yo), originally from Salvador. Juliete is white and William is what we would call black, though in Brazil things are never as clear as black and white. Juliete said that she has a black grandparent (though she looks like the whitest white girl), and William has Portuguese, Indian, African, and possibly many more in his blood.
We got to the beach late afternoon and spent an hour there, the boys playing with water and Juliete and I lying on the beach- she shares my fear of the ocean. Since we got there late, and buildings in BC are so tall that they block the sun, soon we packed up and got ready to leave. The trio packed up their stuff in a green backpack, and Juliete handed the backpack to her husband. João comments jokingly “O esclavo porta a mochila”: “The slave carries the backpack”.
Me: ..say what?!
Sensing my awkwardness, João turned to me and asked if I got the joke. I said yes but in the US you don’t make jokes like that in fact you will get sued. William laughed and said here we do this a lot between friends.. but not everyone finds it funny!
I’m pretty sure that in the US no one will find it funny even if you’re close friends….
Brazil always shocks me on how refreshing open they are with racial history and appearance.

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