Granola and the 80/20 Rule

Trip Start Aug 19, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Brazil  , State of Parana,
Monday, November 8, 2010

This entry is going to be a little short.  Not a lot happened to me while I was in Curitiba because I was there only a short time - but that's not to say that I didn't like the city - it's actually one of the best cities I've ever visited.

I arrived in Curitiba late in the afternoon of November 4.  I stayed in a hotel there because I needed to take a break from hostels and to sleep in my own room for a change.  My first impression of the city was that it was so green.  It's such a large city but there are trees and parks everywhere.  Later I found out that it's not only green because it has a lot of trees, but also because people here are obsessed with recycling and environmental issues.

The concept of Curitiba as a Brazilian city was described to me (before I got there) as both anomalous and model-worthy.  The person who I spoke to about this said that while in most Brazilian places 80% were either rich or poor and 20% were middle class, Curitiba had an 80% middle class weighting.  (Sidenote: why is this 80/20 rule so universal and applied to everything?)  I was told that many people would like to see the rest of Brazil be more like Curitiba where the standard of living is high for a larger proportion of the population.

I did get the sense that the city was very middle class. It was clean, it felt safe, and the city kept up planters with flowers along the sidewalks of the center - plus, the fact that many residents were overly concerned about environmental issues suggested that their concerns went beyond getting basic necessities.

Strangely enough, the place where I saw this middle-classness most evident was in its central market.  Curitiba's small central market reminded me of many markets in Europe - it was super clean and organized, and along with the local stuff, many stands had all sorts of imported stuff.  Plus, there were maybe a dozen or more stands that sold nothing but various types of granola, museli, nuts, and dried fruits.  I hate to say it but it seemed like it was a Whole Foods…even the prices were comparable to Whole Foods.

I didn't stay very long in Curitiba.  It's not that I didn't like it - I actually think it would be a good place to live in for a while; it was more that it didn't seem like it was that much different from what I already know.  It really could have just been another city in the 'Western' half of the northern hemisphere.


Reading list: the hostel I stayed at in Floripa had a book exchange shelf, so I exchanged the last book I read (Man and Boy) with the only book in English on that shelf.  That book was Dr. Zhivago.  I'm not really that excited to read it, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

Playlist:  I caught up on the This American Life podcasts that have built up on my itunes.  Can I just say that the "Unconditional Love" episode was one of the saddest ever and that the "This Party Sucks" one was one of the funniest ever?  I also caught up on the Planet Money podcasts - I used to hate this program but it's grown on me the past few episodes.

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