For those of you back in the UK I have had a piece published in July’s The Simple Things magazine. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Following my post about ‘expats’ in Brazil, I stumbled across an article in which its Brazilian author uses the metaphor, ‘You don’t walk into a house and say the couch is ugly, do you?’, to infer that foreigners should never criticise other countries, including Brazil.
I’ve no doubt that I myself would also be offended if you, my dear reader, visited my house and told me yours is superior because: my furniture is cheap, my choice of decoration garish, the dinner I cooked you disgusting or the living conditions inhumane because the toilet doesn’t flush properly.
Back in the real world, it’s similarly understandable why Brazilians take offence to foreigners posting lists full of vitriolic and banal reasons why they hate living in Brazil. I’m sure most of you would be a little peeved if a foreigner wrote something as insensitive about your country.
Only someone from the UK would move to Brazil, start a blog and then write their first post about the weather. Only someone from the UK would bother to write a sequel.
And this, I guess, doesn’t do much to challenge the depiction of us Brits as a bunch of grumps, whose approach to communicating with strangers – to whom they’d probably prefer not to have to talk to in the first place anyway – typically consists of half-hearted utterances lamenting our perennially mild and temperate climate.
Or perhaps that’s just me.
Yet, whilst we may be the weather-forecasting, small-talk champions of the world – let’s face it, there’s not much else we’re good at these days – the more time I spend in São Paulo the more I realise that we are not alone.
There are others.
For a start Brazilian football commentators seem to be more obsessed about British weather than we are. Next time you watch a Premier League game on Brazilian TV count how many times the commentators mention how cold or rainy it is – even when it’s not that cold or rainy. It’s enough to warrant some sort of drinking game.
My favourite example of this was a recent Champions League match wherein the ESPN commentator remarked upon some slight drizzle.
“And it’s 15 degrees in London, and it’s raining as usual”
Meanwhile, outside my window in São Paulo a bibilical storm was causing whole part of the city to grind to a halt with flash-floods.
“And the second half begins. It’s 15 degrees in London and it’s still raining a little.”
Indeed, just look at that drizzle.
The word boteco (or botequim /butiquim) is derived from the Portuguese word botica (bodega in Spanish), which is itself derived from the the Greek word Apotheke – meaning a place or store where goods are sold.
However, if in Portugal a botica was a place of storage, in Brazil a boteco evolved into becoming the place where you go for a beer. In other words botecos are the Brazilian equivalent of a pub.
Where can you find botecos?
Brazilian botecos, like pubs in the UK, are ubiquitous and can usually be found on most street corners around the country.
Botecos do not discriminate, regardless of social class or standing and you can find them in most parts of Brazilian cities, from the favelas to the most ‘chic’ (or chique as Brazilians like to say) neighbourhoods. Unlike bars they do not charge entrance fees or add service charges, and there’s certainly no dress code.
What are they like?
Well, like pubs it varies, although there tends to be a ‘typical’ type of both.
For example, at one end of the pub continuum you have the rough locals-only boozer where you can buy stolen DVD players for a tenner, whilst at the other there are poncey gastropubs serving gourmet burgers for £15 (excluding chips).
Avoid both where possible.
From afar it would seem that Theresa May’s plans to impose tougher visa controls on Brazilians have largely been met with dismay in the UK – even, it would seem, from within the coalition itself.