Two months have flown by and Brazil is starting to feel like home! On the down side, it is getting hotter each week, which doesn’t bode well for the Summer months… (by January I will probably have turned into a puddle of sweat hiding in a cold dark room somewhere in Minas Gerais).
So much has happened since I last posted, that thankfully I have kept a sort of diary or I wouldn’t be able to remember it all!
The title of this post is ‘getting to know Brazil’, but what does that mean in reality?
- Being recognised by bank staff at Banco do Brasil. I’m not kidding; the last week of August alone I managed to make three trips to the bank. One of the security guards told my friend that I was ‘very white’, in a concerned sort of voice. I get it all the time. On the plus side, having accumulated a total of 5 hours waiting in the bank I managed to convince them that they had charged me by mistake for opening my account. It’s the small victories.
- The way to a Brazilian’s heart is…through cookies. Which were very much appreciated at the church youth group. I finally managed to work out how to use the oven at home: during my first attempt the cookie batter melted into sad little pools on the baking tray. I’m pretty sure the temperature dial is off by about 100°C…
- It may be a stereotype…but from what we’ve seen so far, the mineiros (people who live in Minas Gerais) are ridiculously hospitable. Here’s an illustrative example: we went to the historic colonial town of Ouro Preto in early September, and were trying to park the (hired) car up one of the very steep, narrow streets. Suddenly this random woman appeared out of her house and started barking instructions. Once the car was safely tucked away, she invited us in for tea. And cake. And then said we had to come back the next day and she would take us to her friend’s restaurant to get us a discount. So we did. Only the restaurant was closed. So she took us on a walking tour of the main praça, haggling in all the restaurants until she did actually manage to get us a discount (it was 1 real, but still! Every penny counts, right?) And then she said we could come and stay at hers in Ouro Preto any time we like, and did she mention she also has a house in Bahia? Case in point.
- Make the most of feriados. For example, by taking a week’s holiday to Rio de Janeiro!
- You will never have the right bank card. So it turns out that the debit card I have with Banco do Brasil is actually not accepted everywhere. Oh and to buy things, such as bus tickets, you need a BRAZILIAN credit card. And during the Olympics, if you didn’t have some kind of Visa card, you may as well go and curl up in a hole and die. Unless you are willing to get a pre-paid Visa card just so you can buy some Olympics souvenirs.
- Twisted underwear is a wonderful thing. Well, if you mean the delicious fried cueca virada then it is. Apparently the accepted English translation is ‘Angel Wings’, but I prefer the literal translation. It tastes better than it sounds.
- Alligators live in the nearby artificial lake. No one knows how they got there, and I have yet to see one. They probably snack on the cute capivaras that wallow in the shallows. Maybe I should be more careful when I go running there! Here’s a video of a dog being eaten by one of the alligators*.
And here are some photos…
Regional dancing at one of the free cultural events put on to celebrate Lagoa de Pampulha’s new status as a World Heritage Site.
One of the many churches in the beautiful Ouro Preto.
What’s better than a caiparinha? A caiparinha de maracujá! (Passionfruit, for any non-lusophones/lusophiles)
No words. (At Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro)
We didn’t make it to Christ, but we did see Him in the distance!
*Haha, not really! That would be horrible.