Tag Archives: public transportation shenanigans

Carnaval 2013

kawaii carnaval


It’s Carnaval, and since last year I went to Rio and my post describing that ended up being the most viewed post to date, I figured I’d update y’all a bit on Carnaval this year.  We stayed here in Floripa, and I’m really happy with that decision.

Brazilian Carnaval, I think, is sort of thought of in the US as an all night samba extravaganza where everyone is wearing feathered headdresses and small shiny bikinis and hooking up all over the place.  In reality, most people like to just relax at home or go somewhere that has a beach and have barbecues and sleep and work on their tans.  Yeah, some people go to Rio, Recife, Olinda, Salvador–the cities most famous for their Carnavais–but it’s a HUGE hassle and not restful at all.  This you learned from me last year.

C and I went out to one bloco on Friday and it was raining really, really hard.  The parade and band were cancelled, but the dancing part still went on, held inside a restaurant.  Essentially, long story short [still long], the police shut down the live band at 2 a.m., but buses don’t start running here until 6 a.m., so people kept singing and playing drums without any mics, and the party finally broke up around 3 in the morning.  We were in the north of the island, i.e. way too far away from Campeche in the south, where our house is, and the guy who said he’d give us a ride home decided to give us the slip (super douche move!), but then an angel sent from Osasco gave us a lift home.  (NB: It did not slip by unnoticed that the local fisherman was the asshat in the situation, and the guy who moved here the years ago from the periphery of São Paulo–with an accent that people from outside of São Paulo inherently mistrust, as a relevant cultural note–helped us out at 5 a.m. even though he had recently been robbed giving someone else a ride, and even though he lived nowhere near us.)  Jeez, I am tired just thinking about it.

We both got a bit sick from being out in the rain dancing for so long (and the beer probably didn’t help), so the rest of Carnaval has been spent relaxing.  I’ve been cleaning the house up a bit, which is hard to do when you have a minimal amount of furniture; however organized you make your little piles on the floor, your floor is still covered in stuff.  I also learned to wash my clothes by hand (about time), and that you need to be really careful about washing electric grill pan within two days if you live in a humid place where your only method of climate control is opening and closing windows.  To spare your delicate sensibilities, I will not elaborate on that.  And today we went to the beach.  So basically, the rest of Carnaval has comprised a few normal days-in-the-life here in Floripa.  Considering last year’s experience, I am really okay with that.


bullet points: free time edition

Kids, the title says it all, or most of it.

But friends, I had a really rotten day the other day.  I wanted to murder someone, or myself, because of a number of reasons (including the ever-present condition of not being able to find the damn colon on my keyboard, so pretend there’s a colon here) heat wave, lack of aircon, close living quarters, cats, having no control over my lunches (ie, rice and beans during a heat wave), the fact that Brasilian salad isn’t salad but rather old undressed lettuce and anemic tomatoes, the other fact that I was getting inquisitioned and side-eyed for taking second helpings of ‘salad’ instead of rice and beans at lunch.  Etc. etc. etc.  It was all too much for a girl to bear.

However, I don’t stay unhappy for long, and the heat wave brove, so I am back my usual jovial self.  Here’s some things that have been on my mind now that I am feeling less aggravated(COLON)

  • Found a Brasilian to listen to Television and watch L’Age d’Or with!  Didn’t expect that I would succeed in finding someone here with the same random tastes I have.  So–hooray.
  • The country’s obsession with panettone.  Granted, this is getting less pronounced the further away we get from Christmas, but it’s still baffling to me.  It’s a Christmas bread, but it’s really just everywhere around here.  Panettone, in all the grocery stores!  Panettone, in a themed subway shop of its very own!  Panettone, on all the tables and in all the kitchen of random people I visit!  Just when I thought that maybe I was making too much of a big deal about this, I sat back and started watching novela the other week.  One scene was in a kitchen.  PANETTONE ON THE KITCHEN TABLE!  Yes, Big Panettone has a firm stranglehold on Brasil–to the point where they are winning big product placement in Globo Novelas.  Or so I imagine.  I asked Ma why everyone liked panettone around here, and she seemed super nonplussed.  ‘Maybe because it’s really easy to make?’ she ventured.  But panettone is actually sort of a pain in the ass to make.  ‘Oh, then I don’t know.’  So…yeah.
  • I think some dude in a car called me rapaz the other day when I crossed the street, which sort of translates to ‘boy’ or ‘bro’ or something–but definitely masculine.  Then again, it could have been a figment of my imagination.  In other news, this other dude sat down next to me on a bench while I was waiting for the bus today coming home from work–I almost never get to just flop down because I’m always running to catch the bus so I was really looking forward to enjoying my time just staring around–and started, I don’t even know, hitting on me. His main objective was impaired by the vital fact that I could barely understand him, though.  He kept insisting I was Italian or something, and he was super inquisitive, so I just asked questions back.  ‘What?’  ‘What do you think?’  ‘Why Italian?’  But mainly I just gave him really confused and annoyed looks because I was tired and he was sitting really close and I had no interest in telling him anything.  He kept telling me to go somewhere across the street with him.  Nothing doing, dude.  I may look Italian (?) but I’m not stupid.
  • I have found heaven, and heaven is in Centro, past baixo Augusta coming from Paulista way, in Bar Estadao.  It’s called pernil, and it’s sort of a pig leg thing.  Do yourself a favor and look at the pictures of this food marvel.  The best news for me–and for everyone in the world, really–is that this place has been open for ages and also never closes.  So (hint hint) if you come and visit me, I will take you there, possibly multiple times.  Many thanks to my aforementioned Television-listening, surrealist-film-watching, Brasilian-author-recommending friend Gera for taking me there for the first time.  I wanted to take a picture of this pork (!)-farofa (!)-rice-potatoey goodness, but I was too busy eating.
  • On that note, I very well may (fingers crossed) be moving out this week to somewhere that’s not an hour away from work in good traffic.  Don’t get me wrong–an hour’s commute is actually a short commute here, and it’s not the worst.  I work in the evenings though, and so I have to leave before rush hour even starts, which results in a lot of wasted time in a lot of random cafes, waiting around for classes to start.  My hopefully future roommate is training to be a helicopter pilot and has an insanely smooth voice.  He’s a friend of my friend’s best friend, which is how these things work.
  • I’ve been trying to speak a lot more Portuguese with a lot more people.  This means…talking with random security guys at banks (key phrase Eu nao sou recepcionista! = I am not a receptionist!), getting to know the people who work in the reception of my building (key phrase Se Deus quiser = if God wills it), and basically bumbling around asking people to repeat things and smiling sheepishly.  People like Gera and my future roomie, who don’t really speak much English with me, are forcing me to get more agile with the language, and to pick up more slang.  My favorites are(COLON) sei la (which I’m not sure actually literally makes sense in Portuguese, but it means ‘I don’t know’), tipo (which means ‘type’–used like we use ‘like’), and negocio (which means ‘business,’ and people use it if they are searching for a word they don’t know or can’t remember).
  • This week in funny building names I bring you…Edificio Royal Place.
  • Lastly, I have a theory.  Allison, you’ll be thrilled.  Here goes.  The older Brasilian men get, the more they look like Jorge Ben Jor.  If anyone wanted to assassinate the great legend himself, I posit, it would be extremely difficult because, well, I have personally seen about a billion old men on the sidewalk who could work as his body double.  No joke.  Jorge Ben Jor at my bus stop, Jorge Ben Jor in a wheelchair chilling on Paulista, whatever.  It’s definitely JBJ, too–he has that just generic enough look.  You would never see a billion older men running around looking like Gilberto Gil, for example.  (See reference pictures.)  So anyway, that’s something I keep noticing around these parts.  The closer to God, the closer to Jorge Ben Jor.

Ma just said the words ‘cheeseburger with cheddar’ and now I have saudades.

Planes, trains, and automobiles

You`ve already heard about my bus triumphs, but what about the other methods of transit here in this giant city(question mark)  Planes, trains, and automobiles have been on my mind a lot, since transportation is rather a big theme in the beginning and intermediate EFL world. As you can imagine.

(And before I continue, let`s get this part out of the way.  Ma`s keyboard seems to have changed overnight, and now I can find neither the colon, nor any of the proper accents for Portuguese words, nor quotation marks and apostrophes.  Ugh sei la!)

First, the automobiles.  I arrived here in Brooklin my first day by taxi, and that has been the extent of my taxi adventures so far–thank God, because they`re expensive!  I have ridden a few times in Marilia`s sister`s boyfriend`s car (to a bus stop, natch), but I`d say that the most memorable car trip I`ve had so far was this past weekend.  We were at a bar in Butanta with some friends, who invited other friends to join us…you know how it goes.  One of this friends had a car and offered to drive us back to Brooklin, where people would crash in the apartment until the morning.  Okay, cool.  This girl had a special car because she was paraplegic, but that`s not even the interesting part.  She was a terrifying driver (some drivers of stick have an alarming way of braking suddenly) and we had 7 people crammed into this tiny clown car and had to drive casually past the police to get on the highway, so half of us were sitting on people`s laps and trying to bend over and hide under the windows.

Secondly, the trains.  Picture this.  I am at Sao Bento, which can get semi-dodgy at times, and it`s 10 pm.  I am with a friend and we want to get to his house in Jabaquara, which is straight down the blue line.  Nobody is moving through the turnstiles: yes, the system of swipe cards is broken.  (I found the colon!)  The crowd is pissed (inclusive me, as I just observed a 3-hour lackluster lesson in beginning English and I am HUNGRY), and there are a few harried policemen trying to keep peace.  There`s no way this will go on much longer.  This is Brasil, my friend says.  And he`s right: a lone guy darts through the turnstile.  Suddenly the floodgates break.  People everywhere, flouting convention because they want to get home!  The two policepeople try to get a grip on the situation, and they almost do, but a tired crowd without answers is an unhappy crowd, and in an uncharacteristic move–in the States I am quite the rule folower–I go through the stile and keep walking.  A free subway ride.  Oh, Brasil.

I also keep making the inevitable mistake of taking the CPTM at rush hour.  The CPTM is the commutery train here in Sampa, and one of the stations is right by Ma`s apartment.  The second time I took it, I was still getting used to Brasil, and I got really spooked by the close quarters and people talking about me like I couldn`t understand, and I vowed not to take it again.  However, after today, that trip was like a walk in the park–and yet, today I handled the even more hellish voyage so much better!

I just came back from Shopping Eldorado, which is 3 stations up the Emerald line.  How bad can that be, right(question mark)  In Sao Paulo at rush hour…you have no idea.  I got in with my shopping bag, and the train was crowded.  I almost didn`t make it in the car before the doors closed, actually.  With each station, more people packed in–to the point where, manners be damned, everyone basically knew each other really well by the time we reached the stop before mine.  Body odor, awkward body part contact, the works.  I raised my eyebrows convivially, in a sign of mutual suffering, at the female coworker of the guy whose butt my hand was forcibly pressed into.  Isso nao e vida, she had said as people crammed into the car (This isn`t life, or maybe This is no way to live.). 

Shit, I thought to myself, I have to get off at the next station.  No time to be timid.  This was not going to be easy, since the door was barely in sight and I really hate making a scene.  I readied my shopping bag, I shifted my weight a bit so that the people directly around me perceived that I was preparing to make a move.  The train stopped.  I shouted.

Licenca, pessoal, quero descer! (Exuse me, people, I want to get off!)

Ela vai descer, vai descer! went down the line. (She`s getting off, she`s getting off!)

Ahhh, vou tentar pelo menos, I shouted jovially (I`m going to try, anyway).  I shoved and elbowed and smiled, and finally I was on the platform.  A helpful set of hands birthed my shopping bag out of the melee behind me and into the free air, I shouted a `Brigada! (Thank you!) and the doors closed.  Oof.

That was actually, I think, my biggest victory here so far.  This is no place for the timid.