I suck as a made-in-France Chinese wife. I can’t cook Feng’s favourite Northern foods, my in-laws find me disrespectful, I produced a son who speaks Mandarin with a Western accent and I don’t meet Asian beauty standards.

But once a year, I try my best to be an acceptable Chinese wife.

I’ve been carrying firecrackers in my backpack since Buenos Aires. I also provide two accessories—a lighter and a cigarette—and I’m willing to play with fire (literally). That’s proof of love, right?

Yesterday was Chinese New Year, a holiday best celebrated with extended family in China, or so I’m told. Since we knew we could be anywhere but in China, we planned ahead. Last year, we discovered a shop in Buenos Aires that sells all kinds of fireworks and firecrackers, so during our short stay in Argentina, we bought a couple of boxes. Feng carried one, I took the other one and stored it in my little metal box.

Yes, we’ve been travelling and flying with firecrackers. Makes you reconsider airport security since our bags have never been searched or flagged.

We’re now in Florianópolis, a safe place to play with firecrackers because like Trump wisely noted, it’s “an island surrounded by water.”

We headed out shortly before midnight, looking for a perfect spot.

“How about the park?”

“Is this some kind of Brazilian joke?”


“It’s the ‘Parque da Luz,’ the ‘Light Park,’ but it’s pitch dark!”

“There’s a quiet road over there. Wait. Actually, it’s suspiciously quiet. It is even okay to walk there in the middle of the night?”

I shrugged. “Meh… Floripa is pretty sedate.”

After Rio, any city is.

We found the Mirante da Praça Hercílio Luz around the corner.

“Damn! There are people everywhere!”

“Well, it’s a lookout… people hang out there, I guess.”

For a second, I felt kind of guilty. Maybe we should warn the handful of teens that we were about to play with firecrackers. Then I thought of all the times I was stuck in blocos, soaked with beer or woken up by a marching band during Carnival.

We had an excuse, a legit Chinese man who wanted to celebrate his holiday. Fuck it. No warning.

I lit up a cigarette and we both ignored Mark who was about to be disappointed—he thought we had actual fireworks as he saw on New Year’s Eve.

Feng lit the first one.


Red cardboard exploded.

Then he helped Mark with the second one.


The third one was for me but before I got the chance to set it up, we heard a familiar sound—a siren.


The police.

The (innocent) teens bolted out of the lookout. We weren’t so fast and had nowhere to go, so we stayed there and pretended to be a happy family taking pictures of the bridge, like most families do… uh… at midnight, with a five-year-old kid.

“More! Let’s do more firecrackers!”


“Why? Why are you saying ‘shhh’?”

“Because playing with explosive devices is usually frowned upon.”


“Never mind.”

The police car parked a bit further down the road. We had to find another spot.

Eventually, I lit up the last one in the dark Parque da Luz.

Then we ran back to the hotel.

Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!

Firecrackers inside my little “Lei Feng” metal box (Lei Feng is a communist legend in China)
Accessories: a cigarette and a lighter
Mirante da Praça Hercílio Luz, Florianópolis
Mirante da Praça Hercílio Luz, Florianópolis
Mirante da Praça Hercílio Luz, Florianópolis
Mirante da Praça Hercílio Luz, Florianópolis
Oh, nice view! (Where I’m forced to take pictures of the city because the police is around)
Parque da Luz
Parque da Luz
Parque da Luz

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  1. kiky February 19, 2018 at 4:23 am

    hahahahah! adrenaline (a little bit) rush! Gong xi Fa cai!!!

    1. Zhu February 20, 2018 at 1:20 am

      It was memorable, at least!

  2. Gagan February 20, 2018 at 3:27 pm

    I wouldn’t do that, but then I have always been a bit of a wuss 🙂

    1. Zhu February 20, 2018 at 11:16 pm

      Oh, so am I! Don’t you use firecrackers in Indian culture? I don’t like playing with fire (literally), but I trust Feng with these.

  3. Frenchie au Canada February 20, 2018 at 3:56 pm

    haha happy Chinese new year 🙂 Gotta teach Mark how to deal with the police early ;P

    1. Martin Penwald February 20, 2018 at 8:40 pm

      Avec moi, Mark : CRS=SS ! CRS=SS ! CRS=SS !

      1. Zhu February 20, 2018 at 11:24 pm

        En fait, je crois que j’ai vraiment pitié des flics brésiliens. Ils sont pris entre deux feux et la plupart sont si jeunes :-/

    2. Zhu February 20, 2018 at 11:18 pm

      RUN! RUN! 😆

  4. I Say Oui March 4, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Your family is so badass.

    But yes, it’s important to celebrate holidays that are significant to you, even if it’s with just one person or through what you do that day.

    Hope your new year is off to a good start!

    1. Zhu March 5, 2018 at 12:53 am

      What’s your Chinese astrological sign, by the way?

  5. Pingback: 新年快乐 – It’s the Year of the Pig! (Yes, I Have my Illegal Fireworks)

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