The featured image shows a pay telephone. These appear on nearly every corner in São Paulo, Brazil. Cell phone service is by no means in the hands of the majority in this city of 12 million. Perhaps this is why having your cell phone swiped by a drive by bicyclist is always a threat.
Knowing the language of Brazil is Portuguese, I came here somehow expecting to squeak by on my Spanish. Nope. Even though a word reads like Spanish, like “obligada”, which is thank you in Portuguese, if I pronounce it with a soft or “theta” d I cannot be understood. Ds are hard, like d as in dog. In the subject line I wrote the phonetic pronunciation of São Paulo. Like S’mores. Accent on PAW.
Smiles, pointing and pantomime go a long way and cultivate immediate rapport in coffee shops, food courts, etc. Next to my hotel is a nice coffee shop that opens at 7 am. I walk in and point to a large ceramic coffee cup, make a signal to fill to the top, point to the milk and shake my head negatively. Lots of smiles and laughs. The perfect cup of coffee arrives at my booth. I say obligada with a soft “d.” The server says, Thank You in English. This morning, I managed to say obligada with the hard D. High fives with waitress.
My hotel, which I found through Booking.com, is in the perfect location. It also is $59/night and that includes breakfast and dinner. Well, not exactly dinner but the hotel restaurant offers a free buffet from 6-8 pm, consisting of yummy root vegetable soup, salad and a hot pasta dish. People eat very late here, like 11 pm, so this offering seems the equivalent of the senior cafeteria special at 4:30 pm in the US. But my usual dinner time is 7:30ish so it suits me just fine.
The food of Latin America is not my favorite. Wheat is not indigenous and was imported to cultivate during colonial times to feed Europeans. Perhaps good bread can be found in very expensive restaurants. Maybe fly in loaves of baguettes from Paris daily? Local bread is terrible. As are the pastries. It has no flavor and is not pretty to look at. Most street food is thin white bread with no crust, containing a translucent slice of ham and cheese. No condiments. That is what is served on local airline flights. I exist on local fruit, which is excellent. Yesterday on a free walking tour I bought a sack of litchi. Delicious. No wonder I lose an average of 5 pounds when I travel the Southern Hemisphere.
Will post photographs in next post. Am off for another walking tour in half an hour.