Friday, October 18, 2013

Changes in Attitudes, Changes in Latitudes - São Paulo

Happy garbage men. Not mine. Photo credit:

When I mention to people that I have lived in this country for a total of eight years, they always ask "so you've adjusted to it?" and I always say "no." Because every single day brings surprises--some of them good and some of them bad.

Yesterday is a fine example. It started out with a name change to our house ownership documents being denied because I forgot to write in my husband's middle name. Names are wacky-official here. You have to always use your name in the exact same order, no changes. Between my first (1998-2001) and second (2008-?) stays here, I got married and changed my last name to his--it took a maximum of a week or so in the US, and there I use his last name. I kept my maiden name as part of my middle name. 

Then there's Brazil. In spite of requesting the change two times with the federal police, I remain officially with my maiden name only here in Brazil. This has caused problems when I have brought the wrong document to fly (reservation in maiden name, passport with changed last name as ID). It works well when my husband wants protection from my rants.

Back to the house documents. My husband's middle name was on every single other document I gave them. Photocopies of IDs, house title documents, etc. My husband has an usual name (Russian first, Portuguese middle and Italian last). It is clearly HIM. But instead of calling me or emailing me and saying "hey, could we add in the middle name?", the entire two-month process was canceled. I have to start again. Grrrrrrrrr is my official commentary on this.I believe it works in both languages.

So after crabbing out about this situation, the next one appears. During the night, a palm frond fell on our electric fence and set off the alarm at 3 am. So yesterday we had three royal palm trees trimmed. I had put it off for four years because I have been quoted upwards of US$300 to do it, plus another $200 to get a "caçamba" for the leaves. Our gardener Doca (remember he of the Lindomar name?) shimmied up the palm tree (why I missed a photo of this, I will never know) and trimmed the bee-jee out of the trees--creating 30 large garbage bags of tree "stuff." It is literally filling the street in front of my house. 

By law, the garbage man only has to pick up two bags. So I wasn't much surprised when at 6 pm the bell rang and the garbageman said "hey, if you give us a tip, we'll take everything." I gave him US$10. He refused. He wanted US$30. I refused. The driver was so mad at my refusal that he burned rubber (who knew a garbage truck could do this?) off down the street without even taking the required two bags. I shall be lodging a complaint shortly with the city. Freakin' mafia.

On the good side, Doca cleaned the gutters free of charge and even re-attached the electric fence without me having to pay $50 to the security company. So, there is good stuff too. Just don't try to walk down my sidewalk right now as you will be killed by the leaning tower of palm junk.

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