Despite it being Friday the 13th, yes that is a superstition here as well, this past weekend started with a trek to Dublin. No, not the city, just a bar on Padre Chagas in Porto Alegre. I almost went there the week before as had made tentative plans to meet the guys from the Friday night pizza outing there after the Vive la Fête show and when it lasted until nearly 2 due to the late start figured that they would not be there anymore. I actually figured wrong as they were running late as well that evening.

Anyway, moving forward, a large group of folks, probably 20 or more, from the office decided to head to Dublin Irish Pub after work on Friday. So I dropped my computer at my apartment and headed off to meet back up with co-workers. This meant that not only did I have to get home in a cab, which is getting routine, I had to get to an address on Padre Chagas as well. I did my normal trick of writing down the location on a piece of scrap paper in case I need to show it to the driver and this time it wasn’t necessary. I was able to communicate the address vocally. Now I didn’t say it exactly right in the format of 3 hundred 40 and 2, instead saying 3-4-2, but it worked.

Entry was fairly standard where you get a card on which they record your food and drink for the evening as you order, a pretty great system by the way as there are no issues with splitting the tab and no credit cards left behind bars. One thing was a bit different here as they wanted ID as we entered, I’m not exactly sure that they were carding as they were getting our names for the cards from what we gave them. However, if they did think I was too young to enter that’s pretty awesome.

Interestingly in my case they didn’t exactly write my name on the card. My first name was there and then instead of my last name it had the name of my street. I am not sure if the person at the door had just never seen and IL driver’s license and didn’t know where to look for the name, or if they just couldn’t comprehend my last name enough to write it down.

Being that we were at an Irish pub they had quite a nice selection of beers, including Guinness which I would have later in the evening as I opted to start out with an Erdinger Dunkel, yes it’s German, not Irish, it just sounded good and tasted good as well. Since we had come right from work we also ordered some things to munch on, including the fish and chips I has seen on the menu, they were OK, after all it was just bar food.

When I did move on to Guinness, with my second beer, I was treated with a Guinness like you get in the UK, not the watered down version served in the US. I kind of figured when I ordered that this would be the case since it was listed under chopps and not beers on the menu which from what I have been told simply means that is is unpasteurized thus it tastes better. And after tasting the Guinness here it is a story that I can buy.

As Dublin has live music every night it wasn’t long before the band (Marcelo Brusius) started, I couldn’t find much on them on Google so I don’t have a link for you. What was interesting is that everything they sang was in English so some of us got to talking about this and figured that they actually must also speak English pretty well since while it is possible to sing a song or two in an unfamiliar language it would be hard to do a whole show with feelings regularly without understanding what you are singing.

Over the next few days this made me think more about how much English you actually hear on the radio here. One cab driver even gave me a CD he had pressed of Elton John songs. Given that most people don’t speak much English it seems interesting that there is that much programming. My guess is that people just like the melodies and are OK without understanding the lyrics. That said, I was talking to some folks from the office last night who commented on how they work on their English skills by watching US movies and TV programs with subtitles which is something I have been doing as well, but to work on my Portuguese and is something I have done with French as well. They also commented on how they think it is easier for folks from the US to come to Brazil and feel welcome than for others because they can discuss said TV shows and movies with them so there is a shared culture that does not necessarily exist with folks from other countries.

I spent the rest of the weekend pretty much doing nothing, which was awesome. Partly it was because I have been fighting a cold and wanted to rest up and partly because I know that when I get home I will be faced with all of the unfinished projects I left behind when I came here.

The only other tale of the week revolves around cab fares. Last Thursday I noticed little posters in the windows that showed there was a fare increase and how to calculate the new fare off of the meter until the meters can be reprogrammed. That alone isn’t remarkable. What is more interesting is the conversation I had about this increase with Verónica who mentioned that it was because petrol had gone up, again not super remarkable. The good part is that I related to her how we have the temporary surcharges in Chicago to deal with such increases and decreases and how she was amazed that the price would ever go down. So apparently here they don’t have the seasonal fluctuations nor those tied to the prices of oil, just increases ever so often.

Also somewhat interesting is that while for the first few days the drivers were all diligently consulting their charts for the actual fare by yesterday they were just estimating it. And that brings to mind how the fare is generally only an approximation anyway, as nobody seems to care about monetary demarkations of less than R$ 0.25 and sometimes even R$ 0.50 so the fare is rounded, sometimes down, to a workable number.

Tchau,

Wendy

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