Wednesday, March 15, 2006

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!

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