It seems I need some inspiration from "The Little Mermaid"

(from March 31, 2013)

One aspect of Portuguese culture that I just can't get used to yet is the very typical European-styled greeting. Two kisses on the cheeks, right first and then left, without missing a beat. And the persistence of the Portuguese to keep this practice alive is quite amazing. In a room full of people, a single cheek will make its way around the entire crowd, even if it takes 5 minutes. If you have a personal bubble, forget about it in Portugal.

Well, this is where I am at.

When first meeting someone, I stick out my hand hoping they don't go for my cheeks first. In some instances, it works. In others, I am not quick enough. And as they lean in for the inevitable, half the time I am so uncomfortable that I go too fast and knock cheeks rather than gracefully touching. With many people, I can just tell them I am not quite used to the whole kissing thing yet. Some are understanding and give me my space. Others make sure I get used to the custom real fast.

What makes we wary, as well, is the range of kissing styles. Let me explain. When cheek-kissing someone for the first time, you never know what you are gonna get. With some people, mostly adults and young adults, it is more of a slight touch. No real kissing besides imitating the mouth and making the "pop" sound. With older ladies, it is much more forceful as they pull you down to their height and give you those kisses with no shame. And let's just say the young kids are still learning. Most Sundays, I literally have to hide from one particular little boy at church who seeks out the American missionary to give her two full-blown, sloppy kisses on the cheeks.

So, next time I enter that crowd or meet someone new, I will just imagine Sebastian from The Little Mermaid singing to me:


"There you see them

Standing there across the way

They don't got a lot to say

Cause the language is not the same

And you don't know why

But you wanna run and hide

Instead of kissing the Portuguese



Don't be scared

Their cheeks are all prepared

Go on and kiss the Portuguese


Ain't that sad

It's just two kisses, not that bad

Go on and kiss the Portuguese


You've got to kiss the Portuguese

Why don't you kiss the Portuguese

You gotta kiss the Portuguese

Go on and kiss the Portuguese."


Thank you, Sebastian.