You Can't Keep A Bad Man Down
Trip Start Oct 09, 2008
64Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Soon we were joined at the table by a few more people, including Harry who had woken up and was shaking off a heavy one. Among the others was Alex, a Romanian who loves Hollywood movies and who speaks perfect English. And because his English is so good, he is often infuriated by how bad the Romanian subtitles are when he sees a movie at home. "For example," he said with disgust. "The character on the screen might say something like, 'Your dad is so cool,' and the stupid subtitles will read, 'Your dad is streetwise and colorful.'" There was Miguel, a fortysomething Spaniard who didn't speak a word of English and was beyond excited to watch Spain take on Argentina in the Davis Cup finals on television later that day. There was Vern, a spacey hippie chick from Vancouver who was moving into an apartment in a few days. And finally there was Leo, a 20-year-old Sao Paolo native and employee of the hostel; a gentle giant who absolutely dwarfed me in size, and who quickly became one of my favorite people on the trip so far. Leo brought out his acoustic guitar, and for the next couple of hours he and I traded off playing songs that the rest of the motley crew would sing at the top of their lungs. Leo had just received news that his Swiss girlfriend of five weeks might be pregnant
So the next few days were a blur. The mornings were generally sunny, the afternoons would have rain, and then it would clear up again in the evening. There isn't much to see in Sao Paolo (the biggest city in South America); it's just like countless other huge cities you've been to before. We found other ways to entertain ourselves. We went to the free Smirnoff bar every afternoon, where--just as Sam had said--people would be drinking free vodka at every surrounding table. Leo told every girl he met that his name was "Amgod Bangyutonitey Andyourmomaswell" and that he was from Indonesia. He never once broke character. A hostel employee named Carol took us to a fun dance club with a group of her friends. One of them, an extremely friendly and extremely large guy named Marcos (wearing an extremely awesome t-shirt that read "The Night Of Passion"), ended up defending himself in a bar fight a few feet away from where I was standing, and badly damaging the face of his unfortunate opponent
Brazilian courtship rituals, I have noticed through careful study, are both forward and remarkably juvenile. On our final night in Sao Paolo, we were at dinner at a crowded bar/restaurant when a waiter handed me a note written by a girl at a table across the room. It read, "I'd like to know you better! Won't you come here for a talk? Xoxo Debora ps. It's my birthday!!!" Seeing it as a perfectly good opportunity to learn a bit more about the city and its inhabitants, Harry and I hopped up and walked over to make some new friends. They were a group of eight Sao Paolo girls having a low-key Monday night birthday celebration, considering they all had to work early the next morning. Through typical touristy questions, we learned a bit more about the city, and when Harry tired of this, he asked them to teach him some dirty phrases in Portuguese
Afterwards we retired to the hostel bar, where, through the foolish wonders of alcohol, we were inspired to go out with a bit of a bang on our final night here. We'd discovered that the hostel kitchen was videotaped by a CCTV camera, the footage from which was always on display on a monitor behind the bar in the hostel lobby
The next morning, when we made our way down to the lobby, we found Harry sleeping on the floor directly in the doorway. Leo was showing the video to two puzzled Frenchmen who had just arrived to check in (and who must have had to step over Harry to get inside). Leo was still howling with laughter. It seems our little group had made quite a name for ourselves and would be remembered fondly at the Casa Club hostel. But for now, the four of us had to catch a bus to Rio, in order to bring our circus routine to my favorite city on the planet.
Reading: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
*Uruguay is reportedly the South American country closest to considering the legalization of abortion.