Sunday, December 6, 2015

More Observations on Brazil

The littlest expat is asleep and we were supposed to be at the shore this week, so I'm going to take this free time to write an odds and ends post of some observations on life in Brazil. It might be all over the place, just sit down with a PB&J for me and enjoy. Also, keep in mind that these are my observations and opinions and obviously do not run true for the entire country or for every Brazilian.

Toilet Seats - I don't know why this is a thing, but no one has a toilet seat. That's right, I sit on the cold porcelain rim of the toilet bowl every time I make a tinkle. A toilet seat is about R$17 at the store - not expensive at all, so I'm not sure why no one has them, but I mostly see them in stores and not in homes. We haven't purchased one because I'm kind of terrified that one day I'll lift it and a giant spider will be underneath. After three months I'm used to the 1 1/2 inches of porcelain so I won't be joining the elite toilet seat owning ranks any time soon.

Party All Night, Sleep Never - Brazilians are a special breed of humans that survive with approximately four hours of sleep every day. We live in a business district, so our street is full of people shopping during the day and people drinking and dining at night. The party seems to die down around 2-3 am; the cycle begins again around 7 am. It's not too long before someone rings our doorbell. Which brings me to my next point..

Random Visitors - When I was in high school, I had a friend that lived in the country at the top of a very, very steep hill (most vehicles could not make it to her house in the winter). I used to stop by randomly because my tank car could make it pretty easily and it was on my way to work. Her parents once said to me, "You know, you're the only person who stops by without making sure we're home first." At the time I thought it was a complement - maybe it was, who knows. But in Brazil, no one calls before coming over. Which means people ring the door bell while I'm: in the shower, changing a poopy diaper, in the middle of cleaning, putting the baby expat down for a nap, cooking, add any other inconvenient time in here. I find it frustrating and I'm seriously considering disconnecting our doorbell.

Portion Sizes - I've lost 20 lbs since we moved to Brazil. I credit it all to the smaller, appropriate, portion sizes here. I don't watch what I eat; for dinner tonight I had fried chicken, french fries, and a coke. But I had less than 1/4 cup of each. Food is expensive, so that probably plays a roll in the smaller portions. And it's hard to work up an appetite when it's so hot out. I drink so much water that I'm never very hungry. I should add that there is not a lot a processed food here, so even the unhealthy stuff is made from scratch. (Yes, I made that fried chicken like a Paulinha Dean!) Still, when a bottle of Coke is ordered with dinner, it comes with small glasses and is divided among a few people. In the United States that bottle would have been for one person! And if it was a glass of the same size, it probably would have had a refill.


  1. Over here people don't know what a doorbell is. They clap their hands or yell for someone to answer at the gate. We live in a house downtown. It's a small town (by Brazilian standards) but visitors seem to think that I would come at the door every time I hear some noise in the street... *sigh* That's still better to the alternative; I forgot to lock the gate once and some random visitors just walked into the house before I had time to come at the door!!! I was so shocked that I learned my lesson: I never leave the gate unlocked now!

    1. I experienced this while we were staying at my mother-in-law's house! The clapping, yelling - "O NOOOMMMEEEE", "YOOOOW!!"s, and of course random people walking in the house. We even had two stray dogs come in! We own a building downtown and live in a guess what you would consider an apartment in the back (we rent the front out to an ice cream store - yum). Anyway, you have to enter the garage, another locked gate, and then down a hallway to get to our place. Gracas a Deus, because no one can just walk in and yelling isn't really an option. But that God damned doorbell...

    2. This makes me insane, I live in a tiny neighborhood and my husband was well-known since forever. He also arrived 2 months before me, so there was a flurry of excitement over the return of a neighborhood kid who lived in the US for nearly a decade, and everyone found out about his American wife. I arrived and all of a sudden, it was like living in a zoo, I felt like people just came around to stare, super awkward, and they knew I spoke ZERO Portuguese upon arriving here, so our visits were useless. They would stop over without calling at 10pm and expect to be invited in for coffee. I think I was just finally inhospitable enough they stopped, haha, I was never mean or rude to anyone, at least not by American standards, but I was definitely not chatty, and it came to an end after a few months. Of course, now my husband actively participates by going out to do some errand while I am working from home, and frequently brings friends home, who all have to come say hello or jut stand in the doorway to my office while I talk. Also, while I am usually braless in ratty clothes, since our washer ruins everything, and, well, the obvious. But, I do enjoy hosting a barbecue or fish fry (there is a lake nearby where you can buy fresh tilapia that they kill and de-scale right there when you pick them. You can also have them filleted, we usually do it ourselves. well, my husband does it).

    3. You mean I'm not the only one with a BRAND NEW piece of shit washing machine? I mean seriously.. we paid over R$1,000 for this thing. No hot water?? Tears up all of our clothes?? What the hell.