I have no proof to back this claim up but there seems to be an unwritten law in Brazil that events – a holiday trip, an evening out with friends, a nice dinner – did not happen unless there is photographic evidence.
As of the youngest age, Brazilians are trained to smile at the camera which over the years converges into the same pose, the same grin repeated incessantly: Women stand slightly sideways, men as broadly shouldered as possible and both show that the money spent on the dentist was well invested.
The typical Brazilian holiday picture will show themselves in front of whatever tourist attraction they happen to visit. It’s important to note that it is not necessary to be able to recognize the attraction, the person is the relevant item to be on the photo.
Personally, I would not be surprised if hell was a place where you have to sit through endless repetitions of photos from the same people in front of something. Forever and ever.
Just as in Brussels, Brazilian bureaucracy excels at making the easy difficult through the means of the unnecessary.
Bureaucracy is the art to transform the easy in the difficult through the means of the unnecessary. Quote: “Hello. How can we disturb you today?”
Above all, the respective administrative systems share their delight for long waiting queues, the incapability or refusal to speak other languages and, of course, for endless lists of documents all of which have to be properly legalized, authorized, stamped, signed and translated.
Oh, and not to forget, a good dose of arbitrary decision-making due to the unwillingness (Belgium) or the inability (Brazil) of the administrator to actually do his or her job.
In hindsight though, living in Brussels was in that sense an excellent preparation for Brazil. If the bureaucrazy in the first doesn’t drive you crazy, there’s a fair chance of surviving its pendant in the latter. Especially if you take into consideration that the weather has improved tremendously.
Brazilians take sport very seriously. Not withstanding that obesity is becoming more and more of a problem, sport is an important part of social life.
Almost every village – or neighborhood in the big cities – has its public gym. The most basic version are some steel bars and a few concrete ramps, allowing for most muscle-building exercises such as push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. The more advanced forms look like fancy playgrounds with often brightly colored gym machines – if that is the correct term:
In terms of equipment, Brazilians only know two kinds: none or full battle. So either you see a guy in flip-flops and a t-shirt make a few push-ups or you see a woman with super-duper fancy running shoes, drinking bottle, iPod clip, a support bra and the most psychedelic leggings witnessed in human history.
Actually, leggins with visually nauseating color-pattern combinations are as omnipresent as outrageously ugly. It still defies my imagination as to why anybody would voluntarily subject herself to wear such a piece of clothing.
Be this as it may, in the late afternoon and early evenings, it’s time for the mass movement. Outside the big cities, people will walk along the road, before hitting the public gym. Inside the cities, any park – or if available: the beach – will be a popular spot to finish the day with a few exercises and a neighborly chat.
In the advent season, most shops hire additional assistants to service as many customers as possible. However, when no customer happens to be in the shop, all the assistants can do is stand around. All 10 or 12 or even more of them in an empty shop. Somehow I cannot refrain from imagining that – should a solitary customer wander into the shop – it would be very easy for these assistants to seize the customer and hold her down till she obliges to buy something.
Needless to say that I avoid most shopping besides groceries in the pre-Christmas times in Brazil.
The ones for going to the movies were out…
This post is neither sponsored nor endorsed by a major company – with a name vaguely resembling one of the US states – producing flip-flops.
to mark the beginning of a historic city centre than by an ugly, high-rising and abandoned construction site.
Admittingly, we should have known what to expect from Blumenau at exactly this moment in time. Still, as Germans living in Southern Brazil, we had been asked “Have you been to Blumenau?” so many times, that we assumed that there must be something worth-while visiting.
To frame it positively, one could argue that Blumenau has the authentic charm of many other historic city centres in Brazil: two dozens or so of old buildings and in between some of the ugliest architectural sins the 1960s and 1970s had to offer.
To be fair: the city centre is clean, it’s safe to walk even on a Sunday (note to self: never visit city centres on Sundays – shops are closed!) and the few historic buildings that harbor banks like Santander, Bradesco or Itaú, have been artfully restored, probably by the funds of the very institutions they house.
A part from that?
At least, we didn’t spend too much time on it.
Having traveled quite a bit – and read about it – I have come to terms with the fact that cars in some countries drive on the right side of the road and in others on the left.
What startled me however was a sign in my neighborhood that announces a sudden change from right to the left hand, or as more appropriately called here English hand – mão inglesa.
Is it to check if drivers are awake? Or to see how much confusion one can possibly create? And will we ever know?