Monday, March 24, 2014

Observations: Brazil

Every country does things their own way, and they're usually quite proud of these idiosyncrasies. Today is my last day in Brazil. I've just spent the past two months exploring this giant of a country and I've made a few observations about how things are done here. Some things I found frustrating, especially as an American used to life running relatively quickly and efficiently. But alas, TIB (This is Brazil).

1. When you meet someone for the first time, kissing and hugging is the expected greeting. This repeats every time you see them again, and every time you part ways.

2. Apparently post offices and ATMs are a hub for life's logisitcal transactions. There are always ridiculously long lines, as many people will undoubtedly be paying bills and doing only God-knows-what at the ATM with piles of paperwork spread out around them. Buying stamps at a post office could take hours, so buy a lot when you finally get to the front of the line.

3. Grocery store cashiers will glare at you if you don't give them exact change ("don't you have 50 cents? don't you have a five?"). In addition, expect to be given an average of 0.75 plastic bags per item. Even if you buy a single bottle of water, they'll try to put it in a bag for you. Sometimes a double bag. Repeating "nao quero" a few times usually works.

4. Most items (from shoes to bus tickets, for example) can be paid for with monthly payment plans. Price signs can be deceiving, though, as an item that says R$50!!! will likely say (x6) in small print. When you hand the cashier your credit card, they ask how many payments you want to make... "Would you like to pay for that $16 shirt all at once, or in 8 monthly payments of $2?"

5. The public displays of affection can be nauseating, especially as couples have no problem making out on the metro seat next to you, on the escalator step directly in front of you, on the other half of the public bench you're sitting on, etc... Personal space follows a different set of rules in Brazil.

6. Escalators. You drive on the right, you walk on the right, but for some unknown reason the world of escalators is British, and you go up on the left and down on the right.

7. Guys really like to stare, which gets annoying. I actually caused a car accident the other week in Sao Paulo, when a motorcyclist was staring at me so intently he failed to notice the car in front of him stop at a red light, and slammed into the back of it. I just kept walking.

8. Kilo restaurants. Why don't we have these in the states?! They're really nice buffet restaurants where you weigh your plate and only pay for what you eat. Also good for groups, as everyone pays individually. Very impressive salad bars. Everything is the same price, though, so don't load up on heavy, cheap foods like watermelon.