For over a month we’ve been living in Curitiba but we still continue to be amazed every day about the subtle yet significant differences compared to the Netherlands.
At first glance the street looks quite similar to what you know, everything seems familiar. But once the first pickup-truck/stereo-installation combination passes, which produces sound waves that activate the inner ear pain nerves, you’ll remember that appearances are deceiving. The dogs on the street don’t bother, unlike the many dogs behind fences, whom feel the need to give a vocal expression of their emotions that will drown the action potentials in the auditory nerves caused by the pickup-truck.
For everybody who’s got a problem with punctuality, this is the place to be! Arriving 45 minutes late seems like the national standard. When we attended a barbecue waaaay to late, our hosts didn’t even give the slightest notion of annoyance.
As you enter the gates, and the agitated dogs are being held by their bosses, you come to realize ‚garden’ here, means ‚dog-toilet’. It is highly unusual to put a chair in the garden with a cold drink and a good book to enjoy the sunshine. Though, if you do feel the need to do so, the following proces will be put in motion; First, mutual amazement and disbelief is being exchanged. Second, pictures are being taken and immediately posted on Facebook, with the title „Os Holandeses no sol”.
After all this is done, you’ll be given a 30 minute lecture on sunblock, holes in the ozone layer , the angle at which the sun hits your skin and skin cancer.
If you have the strength to endure all of this and maintain your comfortable position in the sun, they’ll walk away nodding their head while predicting you’ll be terminally ill within 20 years.
At nights it isn’t common practice to visit the city center because allegedly it’s way to dangerous. In the tiny tourist part of the city you can find a couple of bars which are open at night but shady types frequent this area as well. A less authentic but safer option are the various (and huge) shopping malls. These malls hold food courts which are great because you can sit wherever you like, surrounded by all types of food. One likes to eat sushi, the other pizza? No problem!
As the scent of heated dog turds continually reach your nostrils you’ll hear somebody clapping his hands. By now you’ll understand this is the equivalent of what we call „doorbell” in the Netherlands. While walking towards the gate you’ll notice two men handling wheelbarrows loaded with pillows, blankets and tablecloths. It’s convenient that you look like a foreigner because you feel justified to repeat the words „não entendo” until they give up, even though you understand very clearly they try to sell their goods. As you feel a light tingling sensation on your shoulders you decide to go inside to take a look in the mirror. Noticing your head is as red as the nose of a clown you wonder if those crazy Brazilians might be a having a point when it comes to their desperate fear concerning the yellow dwarf.
A cool refreshing shower seems like a good idea. In the shower you’ll notice there’s only one knob. The water is heated by an electrical shower head. Anxiously you’re looking at the electrical wire sticking out of the wall and you hope it will not make contact with the water. As you try to turn off the shower, little shocks of electricity pass through your hand.