Of Beaches and Bitches

The last few days have been mostly full of fun encounters but also presented a few disappointments. Playing catch up, this post will be full of random anecdotes.

Yesterday, I went to a very nice house party in Aproador area of Ipanema, met fun people, ate cheese and drank wine, while watching Amy Winehouse and Michael Jackson concerts  on DVD(of course, the Brazilians knew all the words of the songs way better than me). The apartment was really beautiful and full of art pieces. I could never live in a place like this. Will be so scared of breaking everything. I think I will stick to shitty, small apartments, filled with IKEA furniture (or the equivalent), and fridge magnets from my travels. I don’t want to ever owe anything more expensive than my laptop.

Today when I took the metro, a fat guy was riding it with 2 of his hyper kids (aged 7-10). They kept running around the cabin, screaming and acting obnoxious. “First time in the metro”, the proud monkey-father said smiling. “WRONG”, I thought to myself. Your response should be slapping your two disasters of children and sitting them down like civilized humans. This is how you create uncivilized adults. I really wanted to jump up and throw those kids under the train. Of course, I just kept smiling and imagining torture scenarios.

I’ve discovered the importance of having language skills in a new place, dealing with various problems, such as fixing my phone (where the technician was trying to sell me a cheap apartment for only R$600k), or finding places for doing laundry, eating etc. The most important thing I’ve learned about is the relocation companies mafia. There are so many ex-pats that are arriving here in Brazil, without knowing ANYTHING about the country or speaking a word of Portuguese. I already met two of them, living here 2 months and a year, respectively, who knew way less Portuguese than me, barely able to even give their address to the taxi driver. This is a gold mine for these companies. They have people at immigration and government offices and they keep the ex-pats in a sealed bubble, hiding all important information. The ex-pat depends completely on this company, and they are able to charge all sorts of fees for ‘providing services’. Most of this information can be easily googled – but they tell you, that “no, we have the real sources”. They also help ex-pats with finding apartments, and promise you that they can secure the best deals.. at the end – you pay a gringo price and they get their cut. Everyone is happy.

I learned so many things this week,  only by listening to phone conversation of people that think that I don’t understand Portuguese. It was really upsetting to find out that the person who is supposed to help me, is telling me a bunch of bullshit, and is using me for hiding their mistakes from their bosses (“oh, I told her to bring this document, or the other, but she didn’t”, when in fact, she never told me this).  Or tells me that the reason why I didn’t have to present some document at immigration police is because she has connections at the place with the manager. The worst part is that you cannot tell that person anything or get rid of them, because you depend on them, and they are the only people who are actually doing stuff to help you (despite lying to you all the time), unlike others who just smile and do nothing.

My other disappointed was with my HR contact, who I called yesterday to follow up on the many things I depend on, and got a response: “oh, please remind me what do I owe you? I know I got some e-mails from you, but I didn’t really read them all”. What a surprise. But, no, I will not get upset, the new zen-me breathes in, smiles and moves on, saying “tudo bem”.

 

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