A few tips for your travels in Brazil

Well, not actually sure if these apply to the entire country, but as of yesterday they were true in Porto Alegre:

  • You will not be able to keep up with the servers at the Churrascaria. Don’t even try. They are there to feed you like kings, and if that means 25 kg of meat on one plate, that is what they will do.
  • Eat at a churrascaria for lunch, forget about dinner. Maybe even breakfast the next day.
  • The cashiers will come find you if they accidently undercharge you for two chopps.
  • Chain translation (Using an English to Spanish dictionary, then a Spanish to Portuguese dictionary, so on and so forth) sounds like a good idea until you have to carry them around. Plus, finding a Portuguese to Japanese dictionary isn’t really going to help me next month.
  • The locals do not go out till late. I don’t think they sleep. I’ve seen them work, eat, sleep, drink, dance, drink….but so far, no sleeping.
  • While they are not sleeping, they are occupying clubs that are too small. This seems like a problem, but only if you think Brazilian women are unattractive. And noone thinks that. No-one.
  • Make sure your driver picks you up a litte later than usual if you plan on going out….see above posts regarding the lateness of clubs involving drinking, dancing, and women.
  • You can always make small talk by asking if they speak English. Someone in a group of Brazilians usually does, and he’s usually 6’3” and wondering why his girlfriend sat down next to you.

More to come from the weekend and week two of Brazilorama 2006!

Turn to page 18 if James should take the elevator. Turn to page 20 if James decides the stairs would be the safer alternative.

I woke up to the sound of my hotel room’s air conditioner turning off. Abruptly. My hand reached out to find the remote, fancy AC’s have remotes (and you probably don’t refer to them as AC’s), and pushed the on/off switch futilely. Rolling over to see how much time I had left to sleep, I couldn’t find the alarm clock. Because it was turned off. Lights? Nope. Great. Awoken too early by a blackout in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

No alarms were sounding, so I figured this was a common occurence. I made sure my cell phone’s alarm was still on and the power outage wasn’t mysteriously affecting the treo. Good to go, time for a little additional shut-eye. Well, for about 20 more minutes. 5:45am used to be so much earlier.

Stumbling on the way to the shower, I found that two lights in the room worked; one directly over the door and one in the shower. I opened the hinged window in the shower and peered out into the illuminated street. “Not as widespread of a problem as I thought,” I thought, as I waited for the water to get hot.

The curtains usually serve as my morning insulation, but today they gave way to the light. It was the easiest way to make sure that my socks matched for the rest of the day. Still no progress returning to a state of electrocution as I exited my room more than an hour later, but the hallway lights were triggered when I stepped into the corridor. Now, do I risk the elevator?

What? Where?

Local news in smaller towns can be brutal. Denise whatshername’s workout show is shot at very scenic ocean overlooks, but if you aren’t into jazzercise, it’s time to move on. The banter on Fox and Friends is almost unbearable. Saved by the Bell isn’t on early enough. So recently I’ve been in a rut of watching CNN/HN in the morning at hotels. The seugues can be a beating, but at least it fills in the gaps until I can read my gratis copy of USA Today (which I have a theory that 99% of their circulation is based on delivery to hotels).

Head On has been advertising a lot lately, and the commercials are amazingly repetitive and uninformative. But damn if I don’t want to apply it directly to my forhead to see what magic happens.

This is exactly why I don’t have a television in my bedroom.

Like a drifter I was born to walk alone

Another 5AM wake up call, quick shower, throw the laptop in the backpack and double check that I have clean underwear in my carry-on. You know what mom always said, “If you’re not going to wear clean underwear, at least pack some in your carry-on.” What sage advice.

This morning, however, my radio alarm clock gently awoke me from my slumbering coma with a soft string melody that sounded vaguely familiar. Mind you, I don’t have the radio tuned to classical music, just not exactly the thing to get you moving in the morning. Then the lyrics began.

“I don’t know where I’m goin
but I sure know where I’ve been
hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday.”

This isn’t what I think it is, is it?

An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
but here I go again, here I go again.

So I turned on the light and jumped in the shower singing.

Here I go again on my own
goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known.
Like a hobo I was born to walk alone.
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
but here I go again, here I go again,
here I go again, here I go.

They really shouldn’t play that song at 5AM in the morning, at least for the sake of those of us who thought they had finally escaped Whitesnake.

DC Draft

Just wanted to get these pics up. I should be updating the formatting soon. It was a gorgeous evening in D.C., even if i did walk like 20 miles in 2 hours to see these sights.

White House



WWII Memorial

Washington Monument

Lincoln Memorial

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie

Making connections are just a part of traveling the friendly skies, and although the gates are wrong as often as they are right, it is still appreciated when the flight attendants announce the gate to which you must make your mad dash. Yet for DFW, many of the first five letters of the alphabet which correspond to terminals sound very similar, leading the voice over the loudspeaker to resort to the phonetic alphabet.

Now, I don’t know about you, but if I were American Airline’s marketing team, I wouldn’t want every mention of the quaternary letter of the alphabet to be an advertisment for a competing airline.

And since we’re on the subject why isn’t phonetic spelled fe-net-ik-lee?

Red Baron

Driving home with the rest of the Thanksgiving traffic today, fighting 30 MPH wind gusts and people driving slower than those gusts, I really wanted for a detachable toy world war II artilery gun that could clamp to the steering wheel. I think that might releive a lot of road rage…or at least my boredom.

Look through the artwork

Hotel rooms seem to have all the same ammenities from place to place. A bed to lay your head on. A shower to refresh from a long day or wake up for a longer one. A television with pay per view channels you will enjoy. But one thing they seem to lack is interesting artwork. The themes are mostly regional and the prints of landscapes banal. The next time you are traveling and staring at the walls in your hotel room, imagine what might be under the corporate sanctioned mediocrity.

Going on a flight?

Apparently European regulations are making airlines think twice about effeciency versus safety. If you have a problem with a trans-atlantic flight with only three engines of a four engine jet working, you are not alone. But you may not get a choice in the matter. Professing that the plane can still operate with only two engines doesn’t calm my nerves entirely either. With 35,000 feet seperating me and the ocean surface, I want to know that I have as many safeguards in place as possible, EVEN if that makes me a couple of hours, nay days, late.