The Quest for a SIM Card

Not having Internet data on my iPhone kinda bites. I’ve got GPS, and the ability to take pictures and videos and compose emails of things that I see and experience… and no way to use them unless there’s open WiFi. Unfortunately, a lot of folks around here actually lock down their networks (good for them, bad for the casual traveler in search of a few kilobytes of data to find out where the heck he happens to be).

The first step was finding a cell phone store. Despite what I’ve heard about the crime rate in Brazil, everyone on the street seems pretty comfortable and casual so I figured I’d be fine as long as I paid attention and didn’t wander down the wrong street. If you’re reading this, I didn’t.

I found one store that was closed, stopped two women on the street and asked if they could direct me to another one (which was just a couple of doors away). Although the store does carry GSM phones and SIMs, and has a pre-paid plan with unlimited texting, Facebook, and Twitter, my iPhone didn’t work with their SIM. It looks like I forgot to unlock it after jailbreaking it this last time around. Oops! So I just followed these handy instructions to unlock the phone again. Of course, I can’t test this until I get another SIM card when my host returns and I can borrow his Nokia to verify.

Yup, you can take the tech-geek out of the country, but you can’t take the… wait, that’s now how it goes.

Coffee Grounds in my Neti Pot

I brought coffee as a last-minute gift for my hosts. So far, it’s been well-received, although I do not yet know how they’ll like it. Not that I’m worried, mind you, as coffee is coffee, and our coffee at Breaking Grounds is pretty darn good, but still, there’s the whole cultural differences thing. Who knows how wrong things could go because their cups are metric and ours are English measure? Egad!

One thing I learned was this: Whole bean coffee, always. Some of the bags I brought were pre-ground. Those are the first I am gifting away, as some of the coffee has leaked out and into my luggage. Fortunately I kept all of my clothes in Lewis & Clark bags, so I don’t smell like coffee, even though my bag does. I also found small coffee bits in my neti pot. It’s a good thing I look in there before I use it, or I’d be smelling coffee for a while.

Note to self: You never know how contents may settle in transit.

I’m just glad I didn’t decide to try to bring Maple Syrup.

Today, I may explore the city and see if I can find a capoeira studio or aikido dojo.

Brazil: Day 2

This morning my hosts too me to breakfast at a local bakery. They served it buffet-style, with a huge assortment of baked goods, fruits, and scrambled eggs and bacon. I tried a few things that didn’t look familiar, but the small roll, I couldn’t tell if it was topped with coconut or cheese until I tasted it, had a savory filling (and was indeed topped with cheese). I also had a cappuccino, which, at least at this place, included chocolate syrup, cinnamon, and possibly some extra sugar or sugar in the whipped cream topping. Whatever it was, it was sweet. As of now I am officially on calorie watch. Continue reading “Brazil: Day 2”

First Day In Brazil

At the airport, I had the pleasure of seeing a Windows error message on one of the terminals’ computer displays.

When I asked my hosts (while staying at their daughter’s apartment) “What can I do?” The response was “take a shower.” I’m hoping that was just polite for “we’ve got this covered, you do what you have to do” and not “you really need to take a shower.” Then again, I had been traveling for more than a day, so…

After that, we ate a light dinner of fruits, bread, and cheese. There was also a dessert which seemed to be made of custard and cornmeal. It was yummy, but I forgot the name. I washed it all down with Passion Fruit juice. Yummy.

I’ve Landed in São Paulo

The trip here was uneventful. I spent extra to get a seat with more legroom and bought a Tempur-Pedic neck pillow, which is a lifesaver.

I made it through customs, which took a little longer than it should have, due to a bit of a miscommunication. The guard handed my paperwork back to me, instructed me to “get [my] luggage and keep [the paperwork] when [I] come back.” So I went to get my luggage, then wondered how the heck I was supposed to get back to the customs desk. What he meant was “when you go back to the USA.” Clearing that up opened the door to go through the “something to declare” line, which was completely empty and moved more quickly than the “nothing to declare” line. Hah!

Now I’m hanging in the airport, where the food is overpriced and absolutely horrible. Somehow I managed to resist the temptation to try Pizza Hut or McDonald’s a la Brazil…

No AT&T service here on my phone, even roaming. Wireless costs R$9.95 for two hours, but was worth it to let the folks back home that I arrived safely and relatively soundly.