This blog entry about the events of Sunday, February 15, 2004 was originally posted on February 19, 2004.

DAY 120:  The only task Lara and I had for the day was to try on our Beija-Flor costumes for when we marched in the Rio Carnaval and we were back at our tour agent in Copacabana in time for our 10 a.m. appointment.  A pet turtle on the floor walked by, foreshadowing what a slow process it would be to get our new clothes.

We gave our deposits to Carlos in his office.  He was in a good mood, pumping up the musical themes of each of the schools in the 2004 Carnivale on CD, dancing along as he made calls and did some paperwork.  We were given booklets with all the lyrics so we could learn them before our procession the following Monday night.  Luis brought our money to the bank to transfer to the costume maker, and they told us to come back at one for when the costumes arrived. 

Lara and I, excited about the wheels in motion for our participation in Carnaval, killed the time waiting in an internet cafe.  We went back at one in the afternoon, but nothing had arrived yet.  Carlos said there was some delay and that we should come back at three.  Being a gray day (picture above), it wasn’t such a good beach day.  We went out for lunch and went shopping for Flamengo jerseys on Avenida N.S. Copacabana until we went back to Carlos’ tour office/apartment at three.  When the door opened, we saw no costumes and anticipated the bad news. 

Carlos was frantically going back and forth from the waiting lounge to his office in the back with a frustrated look on his face.  He came to us with a paper and pen to draw out a picture of a bank and an ATM, trying to communicate with us by drawing out what he couldn’t say in English.  We understood where he was going, but he got so frustrated with his lack of English that he went in the office to call his friend Paula to translate for us.  Carlos said something to Paula in Portuguese and then handed me the receiver, and then I relayed the message back out to Lara.  It went on and on like that for about four times.

The message was that Luis had transferred our money to the costume maker via ATM rather than a person, and machine transactions didn’t go through until the end of the day.  The costume warehouse wouldn’t release the costumes without the money and thus, the reason why there were none in Carlos’ apartment.  Carlos apologized over and over, but we understood that things happen — we were just happy that there was some resolve for the day so we could go about our business.

The day was still gray and so we just went to the air-conditioned Rio Sul Shopping Center to browse around.  Growing up in New Jersey, USA, I was back on familiar ground.  Lara the Guernsey Girl (Guernsey is next to the British Channel Island Jersey) went in and out many stores trying on many clothes in the dressing rooms — nothing struck her fancy — and she simply hated me when I simply went in a men’s clothing store and came out with some new boxers without any indecisiveness. 

“YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE IN A PERMANENT DAZE, DON’T YOU?” Lara said to me as we walked back to Botofogo from the shopping mall.  I don’t remember what it was that she said when I spaced out, but it was just another example of the many miscommunications we’ve had over the times traveling together off and on since December 2003.  Sometimes it’s my mumbling, sometimes it’s her British phrases that Americans don’t understand, sometimes its my nasal congestion that muffles my ears, but often we end up just saying “What?” to each other.  Sometimes I forget to say the “What?” and just zone out like Homer Simpson.

We were walking on the sidewalk through one of the long tunnels along the highway, just the two of us.  Call me paranoid, but walking through long tunnels really gets my guard up — if you are held up, you are essentially trapped with nowhere to go but run into uncoming traffic going 100 miles per hour.  We were about three quarters through the long tunnel when suddenly behind us there was a man right behind the two of us.  Immediately I increased my rate of walking to make it to the end — Lara didn’t know what was going on. 

“Why did you suddenly just start walking fast?” she asked.

“There was that guy,” I said.

“Did you take a look at that guy?”

I looked back and saw that his right arm was in a plaster cast and sling, while his left hand held a bag.

“Look at him.  There’s no way he would have done something,” Lara said.

“You never know.”

“Did you think he had a gun or something?”


She laughed at me as the injured man walked a different way from us outside the tunnel.

“Maybe I’ve been in New York too long,” I said.

She said something after that, but I think I spaced out again.

WE STOPPED OFF AT THE GAS STATION STORE for snacks and then vegged out back in the hostel by watching a really bad made-for-American-TV movie starring Linda Hamilton as a park ranger.  David the Aussie sat in with us and the three of us decided to try and order Chinese food with the help of the hostel guy.  Being the most language-savvy of us — although not near fluent at all — I was designated as the guy to order.  The hostel guy spoke first to ask if there was someone there that spoke English.  A Chinese guy on the other line spoke enough English to say, “Here is the list in Portuguese…” before reverting back to Portuguese.  In the end, there was definitely some miscommunication because they messed up the order, only bringing two of the three we wanted — Lara’s chicken fried rice was missing.

If it’s not one thing, it’s another when there’s some sort of miscommunication, but I suppose a little in life is okay — just as long as my costume doesn’t look incredibly cheesy and as long as my chicken with broccoli comes when I’m hungry.

Next entry: New Neighbors

Previous entry: And The Crowd Goes Wild

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Comments for “Miscommunications”

  • first?

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  01:24 PM

  • second is the best!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  01:26 PM

  • third is bliss!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  02:38 PM

  • what’d you say?? haha:)

    (i’m jealous)

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/19  at  11:58 PM

  • Erik, your NYC instincts will save you a few times on this trip for sure!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/20  at  02:23 AM

  • Actually the “arm in a sling” ploy is very common among criminals. It makes people react/reason excactly the way Lara did… assume he’s harmless, and let your guard down. I’m not normally an alamist, but another seasoned traveller that has seen and heard most scams. It’s like the guy patrolling a subway platform just walking back and forth with a shady look but an educated newspaper. He’s just using it for cover, and will likely pick your pocket. Keep that NYC guard up buddy, it’ll serve you well.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  02/22  at  08:53 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.

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Next entry:
New Neighbors

Previous entry:
And The Crowd Goes Wild


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