That time of the year has come…

…when I repeatedly repeat the yearly repeat “I hate Carnival”.

Tips for foreigners, whether you are in Brazil or not:

  1. DO NO ASK A BRAZILIAN IF HE LIKES CARNIVAL OR ABOUT CARNIVAL AT ALL . Do not ask a brazilian of he likes samba. Do not ask a brazilian for carnival party tips. Brazilians are pretty obvious and outgoing about their love for carnival. They will practically harrass you to go to a carnival party of any kind and get drunk, to the point you'll say 'yes let's go' only because you will realize the brazilian will not stop bugging you unless you agree to go out. So, if YOU ARE IN FRONT OF A BRAZILIAN WHO DID NOT MENTION CARNIVAL AT ALL, SHUT UP AND DON'T EVER BRING IT UP, BECAUSE YOU ARE IN FRONT OF A BRAZILIAN WHO HATES CARNIVAL. JUST GO WALK AROUND and you will find plenty of people just hanging out around the corner or asleep on the gutter, who can give you tips about where to party.
  2. DO NOT SAY “I LOVE BRAZIL.” D.O N.O.T S.A.Y I.T. especially if you are a celeb or if you are going to appear on media of any kind, unless you wanna sound as dumb and clueless as Alicia Silverstone on Clueless. If people ask you what are your thoughts abotu the visit and your country, be short, smart and stay true to yourself. DO NOT SAY “I LOVE BRAZIL”.
  3. Do not expect exotic, hot or “spicy” food. In general Brazilian cuisine is bland, non-creative and very simple in the matter of seasonings. The main “spices” of Brazil are salt and sugar, and all food tends too be either too salty or too sweet. Most meals are made with ingredients not very different from the ingredients in other western countries, and we have a huge network of fastfood imported from America. Brazilians have a sweet tooth and you'll find dozens of varieties of candies and chocolates and sweet places with a dedicated desserts and sweets buffet. Also, you'll find a coffee place every 50 meters, and every coffee place will always have espresso, which may be simples or dulpo (yes, double). Coffee places do not offer cream or creamer as an option here. You can only get straight milk.
  4. Don't expect to get your change straight. BRAZILIANS HATE COINS. They always round the price up or down to whatever amount of coins you have that is closest to the real change. Actually we hate coins so much that we pretty much eliminated the use of the 1 cent coin by simply ignoring it. If you find one, send it to me, I collect them. I actually have ONE 1 cent coin in my piggy bank. I even wonder if it's worth more just because of it's rarity.

“Roadside Picnic” by Arkady Strugatsky – Book Review

I read this book because I watched a film based in it, “Stalker” (1979). As usual, the book is much better than the film, and in this particular case, the book has almost nothing to do with the film. Roadside Picnic is not regular easy fiction, with beginning, middle, end, and all the sci-fi tidbits already chewed up and spit there on the paper for the reader’s digestion pleasure. When you start reading it, it feels like you’re in the middle of a book and the first pages are missing, because you can’t quite understand: all these things that the characters are talking about, where do these come from? What are this things? What happened? These questions are slowly elucidated through the characters dialogues. There are only a few occasions in Roadside Picnic where things are actually openly explained to the reader.

Half way into the book I was starting to ask myself “why on earth is this called Roadside Picnic”? Am I missing some big obvious metaphor? Then the answer to my question came in the book’s greatest philosophical passage. And after that the reading only gets more interesting… until we get to the end, that leaves you with the same feeling you had when you started the book: there must be some pages missing. Which is not a bad at all. 🙂

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