The Sims

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This blog entry about the events of Sunday, February 01, 2004 was originally posted on February 02, 2004.

DAY 106:  “The C Phase,” a phrase I coined (or at least I think I did) is that inevitable period of time when a non-Spanish speaker first enters Latin America and, confused with the language, just says “si” (“yes”) to everything. 

“[Would you like me to charge you more money than I normally do to a local?]”

“Si.”

The C Phase got me in many predicaments, like on a mountain bike ride through the Ecuadorean countryside and on a cargo boat trip through Peru, until I eventually got the hang of Spanish and started to understand the gist of what people were saying.  However, in Brazil, the only Portuguese-speaking country in South America where “yes” translates to “sim,” I was back to square one.

CONTRARY TO “CAMPO GRANDE” TRANSLATING INTO ENGLISH AS “BIG COUNTRY,” Campo Grande was more like any big modern city, complete with Pizza Huts, Dunkin’ Donutses and McDonald’ses.  With a population of over 650,000 people, the state capital had many establishments where I could, behind the language barrier, revert back to my old ways in The C Phase.

Determined to get out of this phase, the first thing I did after my complimentary breakfast was head out to the used bookstore I noticed in my wanderings the night before.  There I managed to buy a small little English/Portuguese dictionary, which would help me with the rest of my day.  But the problem with the dictionary was that it didn’t really explain grammar or sentence structure, and it definitely didn’t explain how to decipher the words coming out of Brazilians’ mouths at a rate of about a hundred words a minute.

I still didn’t have a map to guide me through the city, but I managed to find a nearby museum with the word “turismo” on a sign outside.  The door was closed, but a man came out to me and said something I couldn’t understand.

“Sim.”

He looked at me confused and I looked at him confused back.  I reckoned the museum was closed for the day or something.  “Disculpa, no entiendo,” I said in Portuguese and Spanish.

[Something, something] “mapa?” the man said.

“Sim.”

I now had a map to lead me around the city.


USING “SIM”, SOME SPANISH and my finger to just point at things, I managed to get by in the city on the off-and-on rainy day.  I made my way across town, through the Praça Ary Coelho and all the way down the main Avenida Alfonso Pena.  On the map the road didn’t look too long, nor the city too big, but as I attempted to walk the entire avenue I realized just how big the “big country” city was.  The tall buildings of downtown that surrounded the Praça da Republica, with its monument to commemorate the seventy years of Japanese immigrants in Brazil, led me passed an obelisk (picture above), through a residential city neighborhood and out to the suburbs where luxury condos were in construction.  I had walked about three and a half miles along a designated walking path in the middle of the highway, until I arrived at the deserted Parque das Naçôes Indigenas, which didn’t offer much — the museum there had burned down.

While in the suburbs, I did the most suburban of things and went to the big shopping mall, uncreatively named “Shopping Campo Grande.”  Parched from the hot, tropical weather outside, I went to get a milkshake at Bob’s, the “100% Brazilian” fast food chain whose outdoor ad campaign had a striking resemblance to that of McDonald’s. 

“Milkshake.  Morango.  Grande,” I said like a caveman, hoping single words would suffice in lieu of complete sentences.  Coincidentally, I didn’t know what “morango” meant, but I figured it was blackberry since that’s what “mora” was in Spanish.

The disgruntled teenaged guy behind the counter said [something, something].

“Sim,” I replied.

He looked at me like I was the moron.  “Que sabor?”

“Morango.”

[Something, something.]

“Sim.”

In the end, I got a vanilla shake.  I sat on a bench and looked in my dictionary — “morango” was strawberry, but I figured he was trying to tell me they had none left.


IT’S ONE THING TO BE A “MARKET,” and another to be a “supermarket,” but in the mall was Carrefour, a self-proclaimed “hypermarket” that sold everything from DVDs to eggs by the dozen.  A woman approached me in the hypermarket as I wandered down the main aisle.

[Something, something?] she asked.

“Yo no se,” (“I don’t know”) I replied in Spanish — another common expression I frequently used in The C Phase.  I figured she thought I worked there and was asking for where something was.

[Something, something?] she asked again, this time a little annoyed.

I just looked confused.

“[But you’re wearing a watch,]” I figured she said as she pointed to the timepiece wrapped around my wrist.

“OH!  Quatro y media,” I answered her in Spanish, showing her the face of my watch in case I said it wrong.

“Obrigada.”

She walked away, shaking her head.


LIKE BEING IN “THE C PHASE,” traveling with the “sims” got quite humbling after a day of wandering.  However, the one encounter during the day that didn’t stupefy me was when I went to a tour agency to book a safari through the Pantanal for the next four days. 

“Você falla ingles?” (“Do you speak English?”) I asked off the bat.

“Yes.”

“Excellent.”

I gave them my business right away. 

* * * * *

ON AN UNRELATED NOTE that I couldn’t resist but include here (you’ll see why in a moment), my stomach heeded the words of wisdom from Blogreader Christy and led me to the American Embassy in town:  the local McDonald’s.  I managed to order in Portuguese by simply saying “numero dois” and “sim” to a question that went [something, something] “Coka?”

Do you know what they call a “Quarter Pounder with Cheese” in Brazil?  They call it a “Quarterão with Cheese.”  A “Big Mac” is a “Big Mac,” but they call it “O Big Mac.”  I can’t tell you what they call a Whopper though, because I never went into Burger King.


OKAY KIDS, I’m off to the N.I.Z. (No Internet Zone) for the next four days, as I go on safari through the wetland region known as The Pantanal.  Assuming that I survive the mosquitoes, wild pumas and snakes, I should be back on the 7th of February — hopefully with more desktop wallpaper-worthy pictures!

NEW & SILENT READERS:  Please don’t let the “Blog Hogs” intimidate you from posting a comment.  I’d love to hear from anyone else that’s out there!






Next entry: Eight Hours to Nowhere

Previous entry: COPS in The Pantanal




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Comments for “The Sims”

  • woo hoo!!! first again. you are definitely a riot man. hope you don’t say sim to some big hairy guy asking if you want to go into a back room with him.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  12:00 PM


  • well I guess I’ll settle for second, since Edwin beat me out. One day I’ll get first. Have fun in the jungle. sim.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  12:29 PM


  • third.

    its cold in michigan!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  01:03 PM


  • hmmm…fries. i think i am gonna cheat on my diet and get some good ol’ american big mac.

    have fun in the jungle!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  01:21 PM


  • wahah. this is great. how are you on languages that are not latin-based? i can’t wait til you head over to africa and asia…..  =)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  02:16 PM


  • Hey man—try and look up my homeboy Gustavo if you get to Sao Paolo…he is aware that you are in Briazil, and will make time to meet up with you for a beer or two!! When you come back to New York, we’ll have dinner at his brother’s restaurant in the West Village!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  02:24 PM


  • the kid prolly was like morango?  you’re a moron…hahahahaha

    who’s a blog hog?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  02:32 PM


  • Carrefour!  There’s one in the mall in Szczecin, Poland… There is a reason they are called Hypermarkets… In europe, markets are the tiny shops on the corner and supermarkets are slightly larger grocery shops (maybe a couple of isles).  As most people just run out and get what they need at the market and supermarket they needed to call the super duper markets something else with the advent of the mall and stripmall they are usually attached to (a New Jerseyization of the world… muhahahaha).  Anyway, the company that owns Carrefour has the nasty habit of building said malls, and sticking their hypermarkets in them.

    Shouts to my fellow blog hogs.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  03:06 PM


  • Good luck in the jungle!  Looking forward to reading more adventures!  smile

    (I feel like having a Big Mac now.)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  03:07 PM


  • Blog Hog!

    E: maybe my dad could help you out with the Portuguese translations.

    Markyt: I love the insultmonger site, thats gonna be very useful!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  03:07 PM


  • Erik - come to Japan… you’ll get along great with “hai” (Japanese for yes).  Frequently it just means, “I can hear you speaking”.  Respond with “hai” and it is always appropriate here LOL
    And you just got back from a NIZ… I’m suffering withdrawal wink  Have a fun safari!

    Posted by Liz  on  02/02  at  03:14 PM


  • Pulp Fiction once again! Remember the “Hash is legal there, right? Well, it’s legal but it ain’t a 100% legal”-conversation in Cuenca? Been having the same one with about every American I met since then. Even made it the basis of one of my own blog-entries. In Dutch though, so you won’t be able to read it. Been reading your stuff every day though and I likes it. Enjoy Brazil and maybe catch up with you in BA.
    Cheers,

    Posted by Pepe  on  02/02  at  04:08 PM


  • cure for the NIZ;
    http://home.mn.rr.com/t1camp1/Focus.swf

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  04:55 PM


  • Thanks Yes, I mean Sim.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  05:22 PM


  • ERIK: Here’s some phrases that might come in handy that my friend passed over:

    In taxi: Por favor me leve para + name of place

    Is this far? - Isso esta longe?

    Where is this? - Onde esta + name of place?

    Where is a good place to eat “BBQ”?-  Onde poco comer um churrasco?

    Please, bring me a “caipirinha” - Por favor, me traz uma caipirinha?

    Where is the bus station? - Onde e’ o ponto de onibus?  or Onde e’ a rodoviaria?

    Hi - oi

    Hello - Ola

    Good Morning - Bom dia

    Good Afternoon - Boa tarde

    Where is the beach? - Onde e’ a praia?

    You can ask for “lanca perfume” - Onde poco arrumar Lanca Perfume? This is a thing that you inhale to get ” happy” but be careful, don’t inhale too much, just a little to get some good laughs…:)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  05:39 PM


  • markyt: anytime

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  06:03 PM


  • find out what the brazilian equivalent is to the finger…we’re gonna use that a lot when we get there. 

    go up to the hottest girl and say ‘Veng Caminina’ and tell me what happens…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/02  at  08:03 PM


  • Erik:  When Adam & I (along with another friend who didn’t make it to Peru) were in Chile a few years ago we came up with “The Bueno Theory of Law Enforcement Evasion.”  We like to use a bit more grandiose names I guess…

    To put this into affect, you need to do something against the law (but not TOO against the law).  When the officer approaches you, hopefully he/she does not speak English (we never ran into any that did).  You simply shake your head and say “bueno” to everything they say to you.  If our limited research is any indication, after a few minutes they will just figure it’s not worth it and let you go.  This got us out of a parking ticket and two speeding tickets in the course of a week.

    In other news, Adam (the other one of the “Ohio Boys” from Cuzco for the uninitiated) got engaged this past weekend.  He told me to tell you he will always love you, but he needed to move on.  Sorry…

    Posted by Tony  on  02/03  at  01:35 AM


  • Tony: LOL… smile

    Erik: When you said “Blog Hog” you wern’t referring to me were you?!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/03  at  02:58 AM


  • Well you said for new and silent readers to speak up: so here I am! I randomly came across a link to your site on the internet. I studied and lived in Spain last year and am hoping to work in latin america this summer…soooo I love reading your stories as they remind me of my own past experiences…and get me excited thinking about new experiences to come, and new places to see in the future!!! So thanks, and keep up the good work! grin

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/03  at  03:08 AM


  • we’re all Blog Hog in HIS eyes…..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/03  at  01:00 PM


  • I’ve been reading every blog I meet on the internet.

    I guess that makes me a blog whore.

    Posted by matto  on  02/03  at  03:21 PM


  • is anyone else going through serious blog withdrawal? i have nothing to read when i’m in class!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/04  at  10:42 PM


  • cristina - why don’t you trying learning something in class, huh?

    grin

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/05  at  02:22 PM


  • DUDE ... !!! Where is my BLOG!!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/05  at  04:34 PM


  • All you world travelers, come watch my rock band, maybe we’ll play YMCA, LOL

    Kendal and the Sound
    Friday Night Feb 6, 2004 @ 10:30 PM SHARP!
    Kenny’s Castaways (157 Bleeker Street, cross street is Thompson in Greenwich Village)

    Please e-mail me if you have any questions.  Hope to see you all there, I’ll buy the first 2 people I see a drink, that’s a promise!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/05  at  04:46 PM


  • Since Erik’s still in NIZ, how about a little NES?

    http://web.utanet.at/nkehrer/ONE_Play.html

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/05  at  06:09 PM


  • KELLY:  Hello and welcome to the Fellowship of The Blog…  glad you enjoy it, pass the word around!

    I’m back from the NIZ but am sore all over from horseback riding—but I have all day tomorrow to catch up on Blog duties…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  01:53 AM


  • LIZ:  Hai!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  01:54 AM


  • MOMAN:  Not sure of my Sao Paolo plans yet…  I only know where I’m going next, and nothing after that, other than I have to be in Rio around the 16th…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  01:55 AM


  • TONY:  Dammit… I go off to Bolivia and Adam goes off and does that!  NOOOOOO!!!! (Fists in air, camera zooming out from atop, as birds in a cornfield fly away.)

    Pass my congrats to him…  Is he in Beantown yet?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  01:59 AM


  • PEPE:  Shame I can’t read Dutch… glad you’re keeping up…  When do you think you’ll be back in BA?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  02:01 AM


  • FRANCIS:  Congrats on the jazz band… gigs in NYC already?  Shiet…  Are you just doing keys or mixing it up with the violin too… Jazz violin is the best.

    ALL:  Francis will keep his word on the two drinks…  go and see him play!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  02:05 AM


  • DUAINE:  If it were a real NJization of the world, all we’d hear is Bon Jovi…

    Whoa, we’re halfway there… Whoa oh, we’re living on a prayer…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  02:07 AM


  • SARA:  Thanks for the PayPal donation!  Your address will be added to my postcard list!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  02:11 AM


  • DTELLA:  How different is Portuguese Portuguese from Brazilian Portuguese… or Azorean for that matter?

    Does your dad read the Blog too?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  02:12 AM


  • BLOG HOGS:  You know who you are!

    Don’t fret with the withdrawal… entries coming real soon!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  02:13 AM


  • WOW!  According to my counter, the average monthly readership is over 2,500 now, with a unique IP address count now over the 7,000 mark.  Thanks guys!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  02:20 AM


  • You’re welcome. I have you linked on my journal now, too.

    Posted by Alyson  on  02/06  at  07:49 AM


  • E: I told my dad yesterday that you might need his translation help and that you are saying ‘sim’ to everything. He laughed. The words are the same, but they use a lot more “g” sound as in gigantic.
    example: “Bom dia”, would be “Bom gia”
    He is very interested in your adventures in Brazil, I will walk him through the blog today.
    conversa a voc? mais tarde

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/06  at  04:01 PM


  • Another Blog hog here.

    DUAINE: NJization?! I LIKE that. Scary, but funny. I’m sure the 80’s big-hair thing started here, but MALLS??!! 

    And I’m digging the shout-out! See what hogging can get you all you quiet folks out there?!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/09  at  09:47 PM


  • Another Blog hog here.

    DUAINE: NJization?! I LIKE that. Scary, but funny. I’m sure the 80’s big-hair thing started here, but MALLS??!! 

    And I’m digging the shout-out! See what hogging can get you all you quiet folks out there?!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/09  at  09:50 PM


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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by BootsnAll.com. It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.


Next entry:
Eight Hours to Nowhere

Previous entry:
COPS in The Pantanal




THE GLOBAL TRIP GLOSSARY

Confused at some of the jargon that's developed with this blog and its readers over the years? Here's what they mean:

BFFN: acronym for "Best Friend For Now"; a friend made on the road, who will share travel experiences for the time being, only to part ways and lose touch with

The Big Trip: the original sixteen month around-the-world trip that started it all, spanning 37 countries in 5 continents over 503 days (October 2003–March 2005)

NIZ: acronym for "No Internet Zone"; a place where there is little to no Internet access, thus preventing dispatches from being posted.

SBR: acronym for "Silent Blog Reader"; a person who has regularly followed The Global Trip blog for years without ever commenting or making his/her presence known to the rest of the reading community. (Breaking this silence by commenting is encouraged.)

Stupid o'clock: any time of the early morning that you have to wake up to catch a train, bus, plane, or tour. Usually any time before 6 a.m. is automatically “stupid o’clock.”

The Trinidad Show: a nickname of The Global Trip blog, used particularly by travelers that have been written about, who are self-aware that they have become "characters" in a long-running story — like characters in the Jim Carrey movie, The Truman Show.

WHMMR: acronym for "Western Hemisphere Monday Morning Rush"; an unofficial deadline to get new content up by a Monday morning, in time for readers in the western hemisphere (i.e. the majority North American audience) heading back to their computers.

1981ers: people born after 1981. Originally, this was to designate groups of young backpackers fresh out of school, many of which were loud, boorish and/or annoying. However, time has passed and 1981ers have matured and have been quite pleasant to travel with. The term still refers to young annoying backpackers, regardless of year — I guess you could call them "1991ers" in 2013 — young, entitled millennials on the road these days, essentially.




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