We’re back from our trip but, as promised, I have a few more interesting, yet totally inane, facts I learned in Sao Paulo, that I wanted to share with you before going ahead and forgetting all about them (I am not renown for my stellar memory).
As an aside to the wait-staff bit in the previous Sao Paulo post, we went to a restaurant (Rufino’s – awesome fish) where, going along with the marine motif, the waiters’ uniforms were similar to ship captains’ uniforms and had stripes on the jacket sleeves. So halfway through the meal I noticed that some jackets had two stripes, some had four, some six and some none at all and after a few minutes of thought I realized that the stripes reflected each waiter’s position in the Brazilian wait-staff hierarchy… no stripes clears the table, two stripes takes care of drinks etc. Handy.
Despite the fact that we managed to leave with no less than three suitcases, I didn’t really have a lot of room for toys and had decided to buy a few things there to entertain the kids during our stay. So on our first day we decide to fight the jetlag by taking a brisk walk in the heavy humidity in search for a toy store and found out something astonishing. Legos are insanely expensive. Insanely. Expensive. Like three to four times as much as in Europe, possibly even more compared to the US. Considering my kids love legos, which provide hours and hours of entertainment (hence, I love legos too) I was sorely disappointed and kind of at a loss as to how to remedy this problem. But then I realized, hey, I’m in Brazil, the land of cheap, good quality imitations of name brand stuff so I found imitation legos at a great price. They don’t click together with real legos perfectly, but that provided many extra minutes of entertainment in itself. Who would’ve thunk it! The lesson here? In Brazil, anything that they can slap an import tax on will become too costly to make it worth the expense. On the other hand, if it’s produced in Brazil it will be much, much cheaper – like the new stroller I bought (a Brazilian brand that belongs to Peg Perego) and surprisingly, the Cars cars.
Another thing I noticed this time, and in truth I seem to notice it every time I go to Brazil, but then I forget about it, so it’s a novel experience the next time I go to Brazil and notice it once again, is how slow everyone is here. I’m not being derogatory, it’s just a fact. People move more slowly than they do around here, I kept getting startled glances as I overtook people on the sidewalk, like “Whoa Nellie! where’s the fire?” and then they’d look amused to see that that was just the way I walked. They generally move more slowly, you ask for a coffee and the barista looks like he’s moving in slow motion. Initially, it’s very frustrating, I spend the first few days wanting to constantly scream “come on, Come On, COME ON!” while clapping my hands together angrily at people as they do things at their leisurely pace and I’m tapping my foot away in agitation. But then thankfully I start to relax, and get into the mind set of “eh, what’s the rush?” otherwise I’d literally go insane, or get arrested for assaulting someone out of sheer frustration. Neurotic? Maybe.
One of the things I loved, loved, about Brazil is a place called the “Poupatempo” – the time saver – I loved this because I live in a third world country (no, not developing country, but honest to goodness third world like we haven’t seen since colonial times) where the whole concept of a government office doing anything to save you time is so contradictory that we can’t even image such utopia. Whereas in Brazil, there’s one place where you can get all your documents (except for your passport), you can pay your taxes, you can get your voting status updated, you can get all of your records (criminal or whatever). All in the same place. You can even get your picture taken there and pay all the necessary fees. All in the same place. This may seem obvious to many of you, but I’m betting you don’t live in Italy, I wrote about this very subject here if you’re interested on a little background. Anyway, I was amazed. I didn’t manage to get what I needed, cause I have to go to the consulate first, but still. Oh, and there’s a large, fully manned information desk as soon as you walk in, along with an extremely clear, color-coded map of where you need to go to get what you need and little colored lines on the ground, that you follow to actually physically get there. Amazing.
I took the kids to a great, big, gorgeous park with a lake and swans and all in the center of Sao Paolo one morning when in the throes of a pretty severe bought of cabin fever, and saw this amazing sight:
I just had to take a picture because I swear to you, I had no clue that someone somewhere had come up with the absolutely most ridiculous way to make money off of people who have no control over their spending habits. The dog stroller. Never, for the life of me, would I have been able to fathom such a thing if it hadn’t been paraded right in front of me. My mother later proceeded to tell me that not only had she already seen them around, but they made sense for dog owners, particularly of the small dog variety. I was flabbergasted and could come up with no sane response on two feet, but now that I’ve had time to think about it… really? Really? You need to buy your dog a stroller? I mean I have children, human children, and I can’t wait to get rid of my damn stroller cause it’s such a pain in the ass to lug around, though, admittedly, less of a pain in the ass than lugging around the children, but as soon as they can walk for any extent of time without whining the entire way the stroller goes to charity. And yet there are people out there who buy strollers for their dogs. It’s a damn dog, for crying out loud, it’s got four paws, two more than humans, so as far as I’m concerned it should walk. In fact, the saying is “walking the dog” not “strolling the dog”.
And lastly, near my Vovo’s house (101 year old Grandma) there’s a small shop called “O melhor bolo de chocolate do mundo”. You would hardly notice it, in fact, I hadn’t ever noticed it on my previous trips. But once you read the name “The best chocolate cake in the world” it piques your interest, and you really want to find out if it’s true. So our last day there, under a heavy drizzle, we went to try it. I’m not a chocolate cake fan, so I don’t know if it actually is the best chocolate cake in the world, but it was pretty darn good. If you don’t believe me, just ask the Girl.