Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Rose By Any Other Name... has a lot of explaining to do to the Brazilian Authorities

I’m about to enter Brazilian bureaucracy hell, dragging Brian and the kids with me. When the four of us went this past Friday to register with the authorities as foreigners living in Brazil, there is a mountain of paperwork you must fill out as well as provide numerous documents that have been notarized in addition to paying a chunk of change to be legally here. On one of the required forms, I put my parents’ full names, as it states I should. Unfortunately, six years ago when I first came to Brazil (and knew even less Portuguese than now) and had to register with the authorities as a foreigner living in Brazil, I mistakingly put my parents’ names as just their first and last names, Nancy Perry and Phil Perry, omitting their middle names. Well, now the federal authorities consider me two different people and in order to correct the mistake, I have to go to several (at least eight) different local, state and federal agencies to prove I have no criminal record under either name, as well as provide oodles of documents proving who I am. What a mess. Brian thinks this will be a very long and expensive process and that we’ll probably have to hire a lawyer to straighten this out. So if you think your (or more precisely, your parents’) middle name doesn’t mean much, you’d be sadly mistaken!
On a positive note, we were eventually able to put this fiasco behind us in order to enjoy the weekend. We headed to the city’s zoo where there are almost as many interesting animals wandering freely around the large and open grounds as there are in cages. I felt a bit like one of the foreigners who comes to the US and take pictures of the squirrels which are a bit of a nuisance to those who don’t think they are so novel and cute. We also took a wonderful hike in a large park located on one of the surrounding mountains and got a fabulous view back down on the city.
So, here are some other things I’ve/we’ve learned the hard way (but not as hard as being two different people at once):
*A pedestrian never has the right of way, even in a crosswalk. The only time you can assume complete safety is if you are in a crosswalk that has a pedestrian light that is green at the time.
*Never assume that just because you are on a sidewalk that you are safe from cars and motorcycles. Cars are constantly cutting across sidewalks to enter parking garages located in building basements or small lots squirreled away between apartment buildings, while delivery motorcycles often park on sidewalks if they are dropping something off for someone in an apartment building (note: there are no houses in the center of the city, just large apartment buildings).
*There is never toilet paper in public bathroom stalls. Either there is a huge roll located somewhere near the sinks where you tear a few pieces off for yourself or someone is at the entrance and you request some from this person.
*Do not go outside with newly washed, still wet hair. It will immediately soak up all the exhaust fumes of passing traffic and smell of pollution for the rest of the day.
*Do not bother doing laundry on rainy, cool days. Not only will your clothes not dry (obviously we don't have a clothes dryer), but they will become mildewy and have to be re-washed. Ugh.
*There is no way to take a left-hand turn here. You make a big clockwise square to get where you need to go - take a right, then a right, then a right, then go straight on the street you originally wanted to take a left on!

There’s so much more to say, but I’ll save something for another day. Ciao!

Bas’ quote of the week: ‘Why can’t everyone just speak English in this country?’

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