Wednesday, March 15, 2006

P.S. I lied...

I did try the bidet again a few times. It is... odd. I guess if it weren't for the John Wayne TP (i.e. TP that doesn't take shit from any asshole), I'd never have to use it. But alas, now that I figured out how it works and how not to burn my butt, it's not so bad. But I'd rather go back to squeezing the Charmin.

If you do use a bidet, watch the pressure of the stream. Otherwise you might wind up with an enema instead of a gentle cleansing. Of course, that would probably lead to more usage of the bidet...

Enough scatalogical thoughts for one night...

Last night in Sao Paolo

Yay! I'm going home! It has been a long quarter of travel for me. I've been home only 3 weeks since 1/1/2006, so I am ecstatic to be headed home tomorrow night. Just one more day left in Sao Paolo.

A couple more thoughts on Sao Paolo:

Spanish is not as useful as I originally thought. The IT guy at the training center is Chilean, which explains his knowledge of Spanish. I feel like I stupid American now! One of my students is from Bolivia, so he and I have been conversing in Spanish, which has been fun for me and helped me to remember some of the language that I have forgotten over the years.

Brazilians love to use the thumbs-up for "OK". I see it all the time in class, on the street, everywhere. Again, being a stupid American I flashed my students the OK sign today (index finger and thumb making a circle with the rest of the fingers extended). I was laughed at. Why? That hand signal means "asshole". Oops. So we proceeded to have a hand signal discussion about the peace sign and if you turn it around it can mean either "V for victory!" in some places or "fuck you" in the UK and other British colonies (current and former). My, the things we learn by traveling.

Brazilians LOVE coffee. And its cheap! I have grown fond of the post-lunch espresso with my students. At less than a buck each, its a cheap way to spend some time relaxing with my class and learning about each other's culture. My students have been great, sharing with me thoughts on Brazilian politics, culture, language, etc. I'm glad that they have been so open to sharing with me about their culture, Sao Paolo would have been quite boring without their help!

Feijoada is a Brazilian specialty that is "all-you-can-eat" on Wednesday and Saturday. Basically, its a black bean stew with all kinds of meat and lots of side dishes. One of my students, Ricardo, took me to meet another student and his fiance for feijoada on Saturday. We ate like kings for about $25 each, including a few beers. I can get used to this!

Sao Paolo is not the scary, dangerous city most Americans think it is. Is it dangerous to walk around at night alone on dark streets? Hell yeah! But its also dangerous in New York City in the same situation! Keep your wits about you, don't flash a lot of cash or jewels and stick to well traveled areas when on foot and you'll be fine. I have not felt threatened here in any way, whatsoever. So all those people who told me I would be robbed and/or killed if I wore my wedding band and watch were just too paranoid. Go back to your boring suburban existence. The rest of us will have fun exploring the world without living in fear!

One last thought: ATMs. It is HARD to find an ATM that accepts my ATM card in Brazil. Brazilian ATMs use a PIN code plus some random digits from the CPF number (equivalent of a SSN number in the US) to validate each transaction. So you have to find a Banco do Brasil or HSBC ATM to use your card and retrieve cash. Thankfully it only took an hour of research on the net to figure that out!

It has been an interesting experience both personally and professionally here in Sao Paolo. I hope to someday come back here — as a tourist! — to see my new friends and experience more that Sao Paolo has to offer. With the exception of Brazilian beer!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Updated Travel Map

I'm really tired and not in the mood to post much tonight, but here's an updated map of my world travels. Weeee...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Day 2 in Sao Paolo: McDonalds, cheap food, bad beer, sweets and bidets

Today is my first full day in Sao Paolo. I might enjoy it here if work wasn't taking up all my time. A few notes:

There is a drug store called "Farto". I thought it was humorous in a scatalogical manner.

The training center has a sign that says (I hope I get the words correct) "Centro de Testes". Heh.

I'd be totally screwed if I didn't speak Spanish in addition to English. Thankfully my Spanish is passable and I now know how to ask people if they speak Spanish or English in order to communicate more clearly.

I'm embarrassed to admit I ate lunch at McDonald's today. This one has a McCafe (coffee bar) where you can get an espresso and some pastries. The macaroons were VERY good. The espresso was VERY bad. They also have McInternet, an internet cafe. Weird.

Food is really cheap. I had room service tonight and a Caesar salad with chicken, gnocchi, bread and a capairinha cost ~$25 with tip. If you've ever had room service in an American hotel, you know this meal would cost at least double this amount.

Brazilians like their coffee and sweets. Everywhere you go there are coffee shops with pastries and sweets. I have had room service twice. Both times I have been questioned why I am not ordering desert. Not, "would you like dessert, sir?", but "You're not having dessert?! You need to have something sweet with your meal!". Is that the sign of an American in Brazil? Dinner without dessert?

Brazilian beer sucks. 'Nuff said.

Bidets. What is it with South America an bidets in my hotel room? Today was the day to try the bidet. So after pinching a loaf I figured it was time to determine how to use the bidet. I turned on the water and made sure it was warm, but not hot. I moved myself over the stream, squatted, turned up the pressure and...


I think I burned my bunghole. Apparently what is merely warm to my hand is really scalding to my sensitive ass.

No more bidets for me.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Buenos Aires, Argentina

I spent the night in Buenos Aires yesterday. I was in the city for less than 24 hours for a short presentation to a multinational company where I got to practice a little Spanish (note: I need to learn business Spanish) and talk about security. A cool gig, if you ask me!

Some of the guys from the client took me out to dinner last night in the Receta neighborhood of B.A. Holy Jeebus! Those Argentinean women are style="font-weight:bold;">HOT! There was a lot of ogling going on from the five men all sitting in an outdoor restaurant watching the people stroll by. People in Argentina eat very late at night, we got to the restaurant at 9 P.M. and it was empty. By 10 P.M. it was filling up. By 11 P.M. it was totally full and people were dancing between the tables! Apparently this continues at most places until 1 A.M.!

Unfortunately for me, I had an early flight this morning, so my night was cut short. But not before stopping by Buller Brewing Company, a local brewpub. The beer was decent, nothing to get excited about and not a place I'd make a habit of going. Too many black lights and not enough beer choices. But certainly better than the local Quilmes, which wasn't much different than any other light mass produced lager beer from the USA.

In bed at midnight. Awake at 3:15 A.M. to go to the airport. The city was dead at this point. It was surreal driving through Buenos Aires and seeing ads for current American TV shows such as Grey's Anatomy! The airport was uneventful as was the 6:50 A.M. flight to Sao Paolo, Brazil. Now I'm checked into my hotel and working my tail off — nothing new there — and waiting on dinner to arrive in my room. I'll write more and post pictures once I have a chance to get out and explore the city...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Boston is wicked pissah!

I'm in Boston this week, living and working in Bunker Hill. It's fucking cold out there! I don't think it's broken 32 degrees F since I've been here and we're expecting 6" of snow tomorrow. Eek! I haven't seen that much snow since Baltimore in 1993!

I love this town. I just wish the weather didn't suck so much.

One observation: When a bar has a "Sam Adams seasonal" on tap, and you ask what it is, don't answer "Sam Adams Octoberfest". You're either 6 months too late or 6 months too early. Either way its not desirable!