Tuesday, April 15, 2014

10 Things You Only See in Brasil

1. Work Out Onsies

I present to you the work out onsie... a phenomena that is invading gyms across Rio. I'm not sure why it's become so popular, seeing as it seems entirely impractical for exercise and even hard to go to the bathroom in. Most of them have little in terms of a back side  which makes me wonder where ladies that sport these are getting their support from (the picture below is an exception, but seriously that zipper could really hurt if you were laying on your back). I can only conclude if you are wearing one of these then you are not really working out...

 Not only to they look impractical they come in an assortment of bright colors and are generally accompanied by more brightly colored flash dancesque socks. These socks go about halfway up the calves and are considerably worse and less stylish then the popular "cross fit" socks. Again I'm not sure why they have become so popular as it's so hot in Brasil I generally try to work out in the least amount of clothes possible!

2. Wheel Chairs
I've had the pleasure to go to the hospital several times in Brasil (not for anything serious) and must say that unlike the American system it is quite easy to get medical care with no health insurance here. However, with every socialized health care system there will always be drawbacks. In Brazil's case they have decided to economize in the area of wheel chairs. This metal contraption below is a wheel chair....

Then again, hospitals are for emergencies and for the sick, it would be frivolous to spend the people's taxes on luxury seating. If you're looking for a comfortable place to sit down in Brazil you will be happy to know that instead of spending money revamping hospitals, they have invested quite a bit of money in swag seats for the World Cup 2014.

3. Anti-Theft Cellphones
I got this baby my first month here in Brazil for around 60 bucks. It comes complete with a radio and camera! What the picture doesn't show is that it is pink as well making it not only practical, but stylish! This phone brings me back to my middle school days when I would try to text under my desk. I think the best part of the phone is that you can put 4 SIM cards in it (I currently have two). Why would you need 4 SIM cards?? Because it's damn near impossible to make a friggin phone call here!

Making a phone call requires some kind of magical sequence of "0", "9", and sometimes a "21" or "41" before whatever number you are supposed to call. If you are calling someone out of the state sometimes (most times) it doesn't work, sometimes it does. If you are calling a landline, sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes it does. If you are calling someone with the same chip as you... I think thats the only time that it actually works. Sometimes I spend like 20 minutes trying to make a phone call. The best part is that they charge you for all the times that it DOESN'T work. They even charge you to check your voice mail. This is really annoying since its generally the phone companies that call and leave voice messages, I once spent like 10 minutes trying to figure out how to check my voice mail and it was a stupid message about promotions from the phone company. Needless to say, I have never checked a voice mail since.

4. Gatos (also known as death via electricity)
Gato is Portuguese for cat... hot girl/guy... and this electrical monstrosity. Now I've seen this in the Dominican Republic as well as in the favelas of Brazil. This is the electrical set up outside my house. The electrician responsible for this I believe works at the bar below my house. One time when someone took a really hot shower for a long time the power went out in the house. The guy at the bar fixed it, but ever since we only get about 3 minutes of hot water in the showers (see more about showers here below). It's a strange and confusing system. The even stranger part is that we PAY for electricity, at least in the Dominican Republic when I had to deal with this the electricity was stolen....

The electrical set up outside of my front door... complete with 
a wooden broom handle

Another electrical wonder here in Brasil is the medal ladder against live electrical wires. This one I dedicate to my good friend Martin who came to visit from Ireland. Upon seeing this for the first time he literally stopped and stared at it for a good 5 minutes. If someone could explain how this doesn't result in immediate death, I would highly appreciate that!

5. Showers or lack there of....
It's not just a shower, its not just a bathroom, it's... it's... damn I had something for this. Whatever, it's an odd combination of the two of them together. This is common in Favelas and um... I don't know, other small spaces.

 The shower head it to the top right next to the sink, leaving a space about the width of my hips to take a shower. Most of the bathroom gets wet when showering, so finding a safe place to put your clothes and towel can be quite annoying. Once you've accomplished that task and are ready to proceed with the shower, there is only hot water for about 3 minutes. Afterwards, there is a click and then its cold water! Cold showers, no matter how hot it is, are never enjoyable! The shower comes complete with a squiggy because you have to mop the floor when you're done because obviously, you have just gotten the entire bathroom wet! I've said it before and I'll say it again, Nova Uniao has the best showers in all of Brazil! I do anything I can to avoid showering at home.

6. Siestas
People sleep everywhere here in Brasil. I've seen this man below sleeping on his cart, I've seen workers sleeping on the side walk, I've seen delivery guys sleeping on motorcycles, and women sleeping alone in semi-deserted streets (because, seriously, that seems safe). I'm not sure why but it is quite normal for people to plop down anywhere and take a little nap.

My good friend Nicole had the amazing opportunity to encounter a bus driver that decided to nap at all of the red lights! Apparently, he had to be woken up several times, one time he was asleep long enough to cause a traffic jam. 

7. Luzis (at least thats what they tell me it's called)
I love this kid, but unfortunately he is fallen victim to what I would call one of the worst trends to hit Brazil. I'm not quite sure where the recent obsession with people doing this to their hair came from. I'm pretty sure there is some rapper that came up with this ridiculous trend and now its catching on in Favelas everywhere. On top of blonde poka dots, it is also popular to dye blonde designs into your hair, mainly initials, but I had the pleasure to see one guy rocking  huge weed leaf on the back of his head.

Oh and since I brought up rappers... I feel like I should take some time to mention Funky and the Quandradinho. The Quandradinho is the way that Brazilians dance to Funky (Brazilian Rap). It involves moving your butt around in a circle with 6-8 different points... that's kind of really hard to explain, so take a look at the following video. Not only will you get to experience the Quandradinho (brought to you by preteens), you will also get see the "butterfly" version which gave me nightmares for a couple weeks.

8. Brazilian Bikini Wax
Ok this one proved somewhat hard to get a picture of, so just close your eyes and try to imagine. You've heard of the Brazilian bikini wax right? Well that's not something you can only see in Brazil, you can get that at a spa anywhere in the world but this, this is unique. It's actually the antithesis of the Brazilian Bikini wax. Girls will shave their legs (or not shave at all) up to their knees and then bleach the hair on their thighs blonde causing a shiny effect when hit with direct sunlight. So instead of removing the hair that they have, they are glorifying it.
Its hard to tell but thats a mass of bleached
blonde leg hair. Thanks to Nicole who 
snapped the picture on the bus!

On another note. After moving to Brazil I totally understand why the "Brazilian bikini wax" even exists. It turns out that the average Brazilian bikini is about the size of 4 fingers (that's tiny fingers not like a huge man's fingers). They are, to put it lightly, quite revealing, which would obviously require extensive removal of hair. I'm somewhat horrified by the idea of having to buy a new bathing suit here! And its not only the girls that wear small bathing suits, oh no!! It's not uncommon to find men walking around in sungas. Sunga is American for a tiny, tiny speedo. It's not just young, sexy men that wear sungas, its old men, fat men, skinny men, working men, basically, everyone. And it's not just on the beach either. There is a 5 block radius around the beach where you can encounter this phenomena.

This is 5 blocks away from the beach in a 
residential neighborhood right outside of the metro!

9. Elevators
Every country has elevators, but tell me that last time you have seen an elevator employee in the U.S.? In Brazil they actually hire people to sit in an elevator for 8 hours a day and press a button! Up and down, up and down. It has got to be one of the most boring jobs ever (I have seen worse jobs though).

The worst time to be in the elevator is when kids get off from school. They pack into the elevator and they scream and throw stuff! It's already hot enough here in Brazil, so being packed into an elevator with hot, sweaty kids is not on my list of things to do every day.

10. Fat people need love too!

Look at the picture. Do you see it? I know it's in Portuguese, but do you see it? This sign is found on buses and on the metro here in Rio and it designates the preferential seating on for old people, pregnant people, people with kids, AND obese people. They really give preferential seating to fat people here in Brazil. And not only that it's accompanied but a picture! Ya gotta love that!