In the hotels and even in some public bathrooms there is a hose next to the toilet that you are supposed to use to clean yourself with. There usually is toilet paper available too but this is to be used to dry yourself off after first using the hose. Then you are supposed to put the used toilet paper in the wastebasket. Do Not Flush the Toilet Paper. The septic system cannot handle it.
Yes, it took me a while to figure out that the hose was a bidet. Before then, I was left to wonder how people could stand the expected stench and flies with a wastebasket full of excrement strewn toilet paper in the bathroom. So I flushed the toilet paper! Luckily, I did not clog the toilet. How embarrassing would that have been? I’ll admit, it’s going to take a whole lot more practice to get used to the hand-held bidet. Imagine launching a jet-stream of cold water to your arse. <Shudder> Splatter everywhere. Haha!
What ever could they mean? I saw a similar sign at almost every elevator I encountered leaving me to wonder if elevators stopping in between floors is a routine problem in Brazil. Hmmmm!
I don’t know if it’s because of the World Cup (I suspect not), but it’s perfectly ok to walk around town and board buses with cans or plastic cups of alcohol in hand at any time of the day. Okay! Just this past Tuesday, I almost forgot myself and was prepared to walk out of Haapy Hour to go watch the pre-July 4th fireworks with cocktail in hand. How would I have explained myself to the cops?’ “Well, you see I was just in Brazil….”
I typically ate my breakfast buffet-style in the hotels because it was complimentary. I don’t normally eat breakfast but I made sure to fill up so I could have caipirinhas with grilled meat or grilled shrimp later on in the day. But, by the end of the trip I was tired of the breakfast spread. Runny “Mexican eggs” (scrambled), what looked like frankfurters in hot sauce, local cheeses with ham to make a sandwich with, breakfast couscous which was quite interesting actually, various dense cassava based cakes, breads, and crepes and loads more carb fare. I tried a yogurt once and had to add honey to it to thicken and sweeten it.
Talking abouting sweetening things, everywhere you go there is a lo-cal liquid sweetener on the table. I don’t do artificial sweeteners so I pushed it away. Come see me later on. Returning to my hotel the night of the Ghanaian concert in Natal, I ordered a suco de maracujá (passion fruit juice) and sat in the lobby with other guests witting for it to be delivered. Just then, there was a blood-curdling screeching of car tyres followed by a very loud BANG! We all run out to see the accident. Apparently, a taxi had been weaving in and out of traffic, causing another car to run off the road and hit the concrete pole in the middle of the pavement. Luckily, there were no casualties and I was reminded of how lucky I was to have had a safe taxi ride home. In either case, I returned to the lobby where the waitress had put my juice at the wrong table. No worries. I got it ignoring the bottle of sweetener next to it until I took a sip. How horrendous. How can fruit juice be so nasty? It’s almost as if after extracting the juice from fruits, they extract the sugar as well and reconstitute what’s left with water and serve that up. Now the lo-cal sweetener was my friend, just a couple drops was all that was needed. It was the same with all the other fruit juices and even a piña colada a once ordered. Yuck!
Speaking of safety and cars on sidewalks, I don’t think the pedestrian gets to go first when the lights turn green (including the pedestrian light) if there are cars waiting to turn right. In my case, it was a bus that tapped me at a light as I was crossing the street with my green walk light on and he turning. I stopped, shocked, pointed to my green light and continued to cross the street. Wouldn’t you believe it, he tapped me again I think trying to tell me that he had the right of way. I felt like we were playing a scene from The Three Stooges or Charlie Chaplin. He finally let me go without running me down, but what the heck? And here I was trying not to jay-walk. <sigh>
Language. I’m so glad I went to Brazil in 2014 where most everybody I encountered had a smartphone or a laptop. Google Translate was a Godsend and I wasn’t even the one to pull it up. The conceirge at the hotel and the taxi drivers all Google Translating me. You would think they would learn some basic English being in the hospitality industry and welcoming so many foreigners from around the world for the Confederations Cup last year, the World Cup this year, and the Summer Olympics coming up in a couple years. Well, I didn’t get around to learning Portuguese like I intended to, like I had attempted with basic Italian when I visited Rome a few years back, but I was surprised how much I could understand. A few times the Brazilian would tell me I speak Portuguese well, which obviously was a bunch of nonsense, but I think they were impressed that my one word answers and gestures revealed comprehension of whatever it was they had just thrown my way. Repeated and slowed down of course. So I guess my theory is right. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, my first language – my baby Portuguese – lingers. That or years of listening to Spanish (which I don’t speak), studying French, and that little exposure to Italian helped. Or maybe I’m just a seasoned traveller that I can anticipate the usual order of questions.