Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Keep your sacks in the right place - Joanópolis

This is one of the simple and efficient tools that I most love in Brazil. It is called a “guarda-sacos” or “where you put your bags.” It is essentially a tube of cloth with an elasticized end, kind of like a sleeve has. When you are done with your plastic bags from groceries or whatever, you ball them up and stuff them into this tube, which gets chubbier with every bag.  I have seen all kinds of these devices—some in the figure of a woman with an apron, who gets fatter and fatter with every plastic bag stuffed up her…well, you get the point. It is a cute and fun place to hide non-pretty plastic

Another guarda-saco. You can buy this one at: http://decoracao-casa-jardim.vivanuncios.com/artigos-decoracao+manaus/guarda-saco-de-lixo-em-formato-de-boneca/78364258

Now, you need to make sure that you use this term properly because there are some similar phrases that can get you into trouble quickly. First there is the “puxa-saco." This means something like a "brown-noser" or someone who "kisses up" in American English. A little research shows that the expression comes from the long-ago military hierarchy. The soldier who carried around, or dragged around, a superior's bags was known as the "puxa-saco" or "pull bag."  But now it is used like this: that kid got an "A" in math, not because he is smart but because he is a “puxa-saco" and charms the teacher.

Then there is “gela-saco” which is “freeze your balls” or ball, really. That is when you go over one of the little rises in the road that drops off quickly and you get that queasy feeling in your…well, I would have said stomach but the Brazilians think lower. When I was confirming my understanding of this one, I ran across this fun blog called SuperSogra (Super Mother-in-Law--in spite of the fact that it is a man who writes it) where he posts about his belief that men feel fear first in their nether regions. If you wish to test this, and you are a boy, watch the video in his post. It doesn't matter if you don't understand Portuguese or Russian, that made me want to throw up. It did not freeze any nether regions.

Apparently there is an old type of air conditioning (mostly in VW Beetles) that was also called "gela-saco" so I'm guessing the vents were positioned appropriately.

And don't forget the exclamation "que saco!" which can translate "what a pain!" or "what a bore!". As in, you just missed your train by one minute: "que saco!" Or you can just say "saco" which means "darn".

Or "encher o saco" (fill your sack) or be "de saco cheio". This is when someone or something irritates you. "Estou de saco cheio com o transito" (I'm annoyed by the traffic) or "Esta mosca está enchendo o saco" which is "this fly is irritating me." Supposedly this last expression is from the 17th century when the agricultural workers brought large sacks to the field, filled them up and at the end of the day, they were "com saco cheio" or with their sacks full--you could not fit one more thing in. Fed up.  So says globo anyway (sorry, Portuguese only).

Now if I were you I would use “saco” as little as possible. Argentinians refer to their suit jackets as “sacos” which brings great hilarity to any office environment. My former boss (from Buenos Aires) once said during lunch that he had left his "saco" in the office and one of my Brazilian co-workers nearly choked on his french fry.  Fortunately we knew the Heimlich.



  1. Actually, I've always seen it called (and called it myself) a "puxa-saco" since the way to use it is to pull a bag (puxar um saco) from inside it. And no, the double meaning is not lost on anyone.

    1. I called it that too but my husband corrected me....