Observations from a week in Brazil

Brazil was only the second country outside the United States that I visited, so some of my observations may apply to many other places and probably do. But in terms of my experiences, here is a list of notable observations from my recent trip to Brazil:

  • Dessert is a big deal in Brazil. It's eaten after every lunch and dinner. This is not a complaint. 
  • The mall is a serious piece of business in Brazil. Brazilians flock to the mall in droves. They are like American teens in the 1980's when it comes to their affinity for the mall. 
  • The motorcycles in Sao Paulo are insane daredevils. They weave in and out of traffic like it doesn't exist. I'm told that two motorcyclists die each day in the city.
  • Elevator banks lack a central calling button. You press the button on one of the elevators and then watch all three or four, waiting for one to arrive. Many elevators also have an additional door that swings on a hinge before stepping into the car. I have been told that this is a safety door, but I can't for the life of me figure out how it makes the elevator any safer. 
  • Service in Brazil is outstanding. A waiter is standing beside your table for most of your meal.
  • A chair is set aside at restaurants for purses and other bags, because it is considered bad luck to place your bag on the floor. It has something to do with money escaping your bag if it's placed on the ground.
  • There is no Diet Coke in Brazil as far as I can tell. Coke Zero rules the country. 
  • American music (in its original English form) is the dominant form of music played in all public locations.
  • American restaurant and retail chains dot the landscape, including Outback Steakhouse, Starbucks, McDonald's, car dealers, and dozens of stores in the mall.
  • When eating pizza in a restaurant, the waiter serves you a slice and then removes the pizza from the table. When you have finished your slice, the waiter returns almost immediately with another slice. It is slightly unnerving how efficient they are.  
  • I ate in a total of nine restaurants during my visit. I saw one female hostess but no female members of the waitstaff. I am not sure if this is the result of a low sample size or evidence of a demographic reality. 
  • Many houses are built behind walls in much of Sao Paulo. Many of these walls are topped with electrified wire. It is a reminder that despite its beauty, there is still a great deal of poverty in this country. 
  • I am not a fan of shopping of any kind, but the Mercado Municipal in central Sao Paulo turns shopping into art. Stained glass windows and foods of all kinds make it feel as if you are walking through a painting, and the streets outside the Mercado, while slightly wilder than the Mercado's interior, are just as alluring.