August 13, 2006 GMT
(9) Brasil: Miscellaneous Ramblings

I found my first scones today.

I walked into the room and scanned my surroundings. There nestled in the corner was a group of scones. I almost overlooked them, but there could be no mistake. They were definitely scones. I donīt know who brought them here...the British I presume. I managed to put three of them out of their misery before I moved on.

The Service Stations here have definitely put the service back in Service Station. They pump the gas. They give you a discount for VISA. If you need some air they pump the air. They use a digital air pump. Just set the required air pressure and hook up the hose. The machine does the rest. There is no need to check it with a pressure gauge...no need to add or subtract air...it is exactly right every time...how very civilized.

Normally Service Stations provide a complimentary cup of coffee or glass of water. On one particularly hot day I was given a cup of ice cream. At the last Service Station the young lady attendant filled my tank, offered my a glass of water and then spotted my empy 5 liter water jug strapped to the bike. She filled it for free. Now thatīs service.

The venerable Volkswagon...the peopleīs car, the gift of the Frueher, lives on into eternity. Even though it is no longer in production Brasil has revitalized the BUG. They sell plastic bodied KIT CARS using the VW drivetrain. Transformed into Dune Buggies they have become an all important component of the Yuppie lifestyle, especially here on the northern coast where sea and sand merge into huge dunes, and life is easy for some at least. Modernized with fuel injection and electronic ignition it has become a reliable and necessary component of beach life.

They are always scratching their balls. Just like baseball players, whenever they get a spare moment the hand drops down and they spend a few minutes massaging those puppies, just like it was the most natural thing in the world to do...perhaps it is. Try it, you might like it.

Way back when, a couple of weeks ago, Sandy and I were checking into a hotel. In my best Portugese I asked the room rate and then with my practiced phrase I asked if I could see the room first. All I received was a blank stare in return. After my third attempt with no success Sandy had had just about enough. "Give me the F---ing Key. I want to see the room," she almost shouted. The clerk sprang into action and moments later we were on our way. I am glad the room was to her liking.

Motorcycle tires are out there in all shapes and sizes...you just need to find them. Today was the day. I spotted a shop with some BIG bikes in the show room. I did a 'U' Turn and pulled up front. After exchanging pleasantries and reviewing the trip with them, it was time to re-direct their attention to MY needs. They didnīt sell tires. Sooo, could they please make a few phone calls to see who had the tire I needed? Carlos stepped to the plate and in no time had located a Michelin Anakee. He even offered to buy it through the shop so that I could save an additional 15%. Now thatīs service. 15% of 530 Reals is a good saving.

OK, could Carlos give me directions to the store. No!! We would take the wheel off here and he would drive me to the shop so I could buy the tire. Michelin tires are sold through the Michelin Distributor who sells mostly car tires...easy huh, and sensible too. They however, didnīt mount tires so we were off to another shop that Carlos used. The mounting machine at this shop was broken so the Owner put the wheel in his car and drove to his friendīs shop to get the tire mounted, while we waited. Now thatīs service.

Back at the moto store I took Carlos and his wife out for Churrasco (barbeque buffet) while someone else washed and waxed my bike. When I returned it looked cleaner than new. The soap and cleaners they use down here are just incredible. They remove everything but the paint. The cost of all of this service and attention...nothing!! Simply incredible...just the cost of lunch. I am glad that I could at least contribute that much...well, and a CANADA pin.

July 28, 2006 was a memorable day for Brasil. That was the day they became self sufficient in oil...an honorable achievement considering all of their reserves are offshore.

I had a 1/2 chicken for dinner the other day. I had conjured up a mental image of a nicely prepared chicken breast with thigh attached, juices running out as I cut into it, potatoes and salad. I received a plate full of chicken parts cleaved into submission. Broken bones stuck up out of the meat which had been fried to desert dryness. So much for memories.

When I talked to people, especially those at the service stations they returned the same phrase..."You have a lot of courage." Initially I took this to heart and was intimidated by the fact that everyone made the same statement. I took it to mean that Brasil was unsafe to travel in. I pondered the statement. I measured the risks. Finally I had the answer. I am convinced they were referring to the entire trip...To travel South America alone, on a motorcycle. With that conclusion I felt more at ease with my program and moved on to the next refilling station.

Churrasco. You see the signs everywhere. They come in a variety of forms but Carlos showed me the best. You pick your salad and condiments from a salad bar. Then a series of waiters work their way through the restaurant with fresh barbequed parts on a skewer...every cut of beef imaginable, pork, chicken, chicken hearts, etc. etc. When you see something you like the waiter cuts you off a piece or two or three. Eat as much as you want but eat all you take. We did! Not bad for $6.00.

Bony Fish. More often than not I end up with a complete fish on my plate, head and all. Then you have to pick your way through the mess removing bones and fins and assorted body parts as you try to consume the best parts. They seem content with this technique but I much prefer a filet. The trouble is the most interesting sauces and methods of preparation seem to apply only to the fish and not to the fish filets.

Perhaps the sign of a 3rd World country is the fact that they always seem to have trouble with pipes and wires...plumbing and electrical wiring. In almost every country now, I have had at least one room where there are no traps on the sinks or the floor drains have been hooked up to the sewer vent without traps. I stayed in a 2 year old place the other day and it suffered from the same problem. They still havenīt got it figured out yet.


Posted by Robert Bielesch at August 13, 2006 08:34 PM GMT
 

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