Saturday, July 30, 2011

New shoes and other thrilling adventures

Today it was still cold, wet, and so thickly overcast that it felt dark all day.  The rain actually let up long enough for me to walk downtown and shop for shoes.  The sandals I brought are not right for the cold and constant rain and I've been wearing my running shoes constantly.  So I found a nice pair of black leather shoes for work.
I was able to shop for and buy the shoes in Portuguese, which made me feel rather proud of my meager ability.  Apparently there are a surprising number of foreigners here for such a small town, as the staff in all the shoe shops were very understanding once as I stammered out my "I don't speak Portuguese very well" phrase.

This morning I had my last lesson of the week.  After class I sent a load of laundry out to be cleaned.  I made the mistake of hanging a damp bath towel too close to the ground, and a cat peed on it.  Ugh.  It's been raining for 4 days and, with rain forecast for the next 5 days, there is no way to get laundry dry in this 90%+ humidity without a clothes dryer, which are not common in Brazil.  For this reason, this is a busy time for the laundry services.

I went to the other supermarket today, which is a bit closer than the first one I visited, and spent a long time familiarizing myself with the products.  I'm sure the staff thought I was crazy, shopping for an hour, but I was busy reading labels the whole time!  The checkers seem to get very confused in both stores when I give them my reusable shopping bag, either pushing the bag off to the side, or putting the groceries in plastic bags and then in the reusable bag.  And they only put a couple of items in each plastic bag.    I was a bit surprised by this, since in China most people brought their own bags.  I've only been here a week and already I have two months' worth of bags to line my trash cans!

I had a conversation with one of my studetns about this, and we decided that education about the environment was good, but ultimately the way to make people change the plastic bag habit is through their wallets.  In the USA, some stores offer 5 cents back if you bring your own bag, which is kind of nice but not a big motivator.  However, in China, the stores charge you for every plastic bag they give you, and that is a big motivator.  Clearly, people respond more quickly to being charged extra than to receiving a discount. 


  1. Sounds like you are beginning to get settled in Brazil. We hope that your year goes well for you. Great pics by the way! They really give a sense of what it is like.

  2. Thanks, Ray! Funny that you should turn up in a post about new shoes, since you helped me buy my last pair of new shoes, too. ;)