Streetwise Professor

December 17, 2009

Odd Sights, Rio Edition

Filed under: — The Professor @ 8:16 pm

Alternate title: Something to Do While Bored, Sitting out a Flight Delay in Rio.  This gives me some time to relate some odd sights from the last couple of days.

  1. On the tram to Corcovado, a statue of Jesus.  (Not the big one at the top–a small statue in a shrine next to the tracks on the way up.)  Yeah, I’m sure you’re saying: big deal, a statue of Jesus in a Catholic country.  Who ever saw one of those before?  But with a hockey stick in its hand?  In Brazil?
  2. Sitting in the hotel lobby, waiting for a cab to the airport, drinking a caipirinha (a discovery of this trip)–and watching a show on the History channel dubbed into Portuguese about Russian bodyguards practicing the martial art of  ÑÐ°Ð¼Ð±Ð¾.  It’s amazing how every scene in Russia, from the gyms, to the streets, to the apartments, just looked tired and worn and beat all to hell.  Also brought back memories of a trip to Moscow, and seeing all of the guys with bullet heads, 19″ necks, black turtlenecks, and sport coats (in 90 degree heat), lounging against expensive black automobiles in front of expensive and trendy clubs.
  3. A bus with an advertisement (in Portuguese) in the back window for Sidney Sheldon’s new book.  I mean, he’s like, you know, dead, so how new can it be?  And even when he was alive, he was Sidney Sheldon. I really wonder how that translates, not just linguistically, but culturally.  Maybe there is an appeal in a macho Latin culture, because Sheldon supposedly wrote about “determined women who persevere in a tough world run by hostile men.”  Or so says Wikipedia, because I can’t give you a first hand review.
  4. Guys putting bags of nuts on the side mirrors of cars stuck in traffic, presumably for sale, then running like hell to pick them up when the traffic starts to move.  In the rain.  Does anybody buy?  They must, as otherwise nobody would be doing that.  What is the mechanism for providing quality assurance?  Can reputation work?  What is the mechanism that prevents people from just driving off, or taking the bag, rolling up the window, and mocking the poor vendor from inside a locked car?  Maybe it’s better not to know.
  5. A guy in Ipanema dressed up as Pele juggling a soccer ball during red lights.
  6. Rio taxi drivers who are constantly stalling their manual transmission cars, even on level roads.  This happened repeatedly, and with literally every taxi I took.  I don’t drive a stick much, but after a little while to re-familiarize myself, I hardly ever kill it, even on hills.
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2 Comments »

  1. Good to know that you had a good time. And for sure “caipirinha” is a hit!

    Comment by Yuri Kasahara — January 8, 2010 @ 5:58 am

  2. Sounds like a fun trip. I took a taxi in Morocco a few years ago and where a Catholic driver might have a picture of the Virgin Mary, he had a picture of Saddam Hussein. I only noticed after we set off that the car had no back window. In Russia I had a bodyguard pick me up (long story) in their version of a Hummer with a Kalashnikov strapped to the dashboard. Didn’t make me feel very safe at all !

    Comment by Airport Person — April 30, 2010 @ 12:30 pm

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