As we walked into the restaurant across the street to get food for dinner, and after a little bit of struggle in communication as a group, the woman we see almost every day when we get food here (vegetarian options are few and far between, I’m a regular) starts yelling at the man taking our orders in Portuguese saying “They come here everyday! I know what they want stop talking to them!” It was a wonderful moment.
This week we have had a lot of downtime, this week and next we are tasked with working on our paper and presentation without regular class, which is the second part of our two-part program here. We have been assigned a Brazilian company, Terpen Oil, who’s CEO we were able to meet and interview. Our project is to analyze the company and its operations while making recommendations in our 25 page group paper.
There is a steep hill that runs between our hotel and school, that we have to hike up each day (at least once). We joke that maybe these hills are the reasons for the Brazilian stereotype of beautiful women with beautiful figures, but I just appreciate the exercise. There are a fair amount of little hills within Sao Paulo, not like San Francisco but enough to get your legs working for sure.
Also, a good number of the telephone booths around the city (of which there are a shocking number) have been made part of an art project (by who I do not know) where the round covers of the phones are decorated and painted with fun designs. Some look like frogs (see attached photo), some just have artwork painted randomly, but they get wildly creative, its so fun to spot them around the city.
This city does have an obsession with buffets - Im not complaining. They have every type you could think of, Middle Eastern and Italian seem to be the most common. Some are by weight, where you put whatever you like on your plate and pay at the end, while others are all you can eat for a price. And by price I mean a lot. Some go as high as the equivalent to $50 USD, others maybe half that. We like when our program(s) pay for them, but the unlimited ones are reserved for those times, being abroad all summer is not conducive to dropping serious cash on every dinner.
Argentina is cheaper! I am very much looking forward to my week in Buenos Aires before heading home.
Our hotel has these little lights next to each door that tell you if the room has people in it or not (sensed by whether or not the keycard is in the slot that activates the lights), which is a neat function I wish more places would have. That is, if I want to see if the boys across the hall have already left for class I can glance at the light indicator to see if their rooms are empty or not. Next to the lights is a doorbell, with the most obnoxious sound to be honest – but functional nonetheless if knocking doesn’t seem to communicate the message. We’ve been here long enough (almost 3 weeks, a little over a week left) that Casey and I rearranged our hotel room, moving the beds to leave more room in the middle for either sitting and eating pizza or for working out (the latter of which has happened a limited number of times, regrettably). But nonetheless, it’s definitely a different experience camping out in a nice hotel for a month and making it home (the closets are very big!).
Although you wont find them at our school, being a conservative business school, gauges (earrings that stretch your earlobes larger) seem to be prevalent in Brazil, at least in Sao Paulo and Rio, where we have visited.
Tuesday night the Northeastern Professor who organized this program yet did not accompany us on the trip came to take us out to dinner. He was here visiting and teaching a class and came to meet up with us before heading back to the States, wanting some feedback on the program. We were more than happy to oblige after a lavish Italian buffet dinner. Since our free buffet lunches from FGV are no longer a part of our days and we’re on our own for food, we all ate so much that we almost seemed to hobble back to the hotel. But oh was this food good. Guacamole, pesto, salmon, lasagna, cheeses galore, focaccia bread, the list goes on. Maybe we though if we ate enough it would store within us for later. Didn’t happen, but was worth the try.
It’s the little things.