I spent the last night in Santos at the Ibis Gonzaga because the Airbnb was no longer available. Trust me, the chain hotel was the best option—I didn’t want to stay in Centro and most pousadas listed on Expedia were both overpriced and really shitty.
The room felt somewhat familiar and vaguely European. Not that I’ve stayed at many Ibis before but it had the modern, sterile look-and-feel of a place designed by executives for maximum profit and positive guest feedback. I could have written the PowerPoint presentation—“busy on-the-go professionals will enjoy the desk, just wide enough for a laptop, as well the extra power outlet by the bed…”
It was strange to check in at a front desk and get a magnetic card after weeks of staying in Airbnb studios and picking up a set of keys from doormen or hosts, strange to be in a functional hotel room instead of having to learn to work with the usual minor apartment flaws—wonky door, broken switch or clogged drain pipes. On the other hand, I quickly realized I was back in the land of weird beds—the Ibis offered a two-inch-thick mattress and a flat sheet that didn’t cover it completely. So it’s not that beds are weird in Brazil, it’s that hotels have weird bed. Very strange.
It had been a strange day altogether. Suddenly, it got very hot in Santo, temperature reached 42⁰C. I was sweating more than in Salvador, which I didn’t think was possible. Good timing, the Ibis has air con, for once I needed it.
It was too hot to go to Guarujá so I just enjoyed Santos’ beaches and relaxed. Not a particularly exciting day but it was hard to plan anything when I felt I was melting and a major thunderstorm could break out any minute.
At night I called Feng and Mark as usual.
“Hey, turned out Mark wasn’t being crazy last night, he does have a beach day!”
“Yep, at school tomorrow. Wait, let me find the email…’We ask all students to wear appropriate beach attire that can include sunglasses, a summer hat, summer shirt and shorts. Bathing suits of any kind is not appropriate for tomorrow’s spirit day.’”
“But… the heat is broken and it’s fucking cold in the classroom!”
“Don’t get me started on the school, you know nothing makes sense to me. Just go with hat and sunglasses.”
Then Mark and I played “devinettes” in French and we had a long discussion about what a synonym is.
“Okay, I’ll call you guys tomorrow. Gotta go, I have work to do!”
Strange day but easy night. My dinner was ready and I hadn’t really unpacked so no need to go through the whole packing routine. No need to rush in the morning either, there are buses every twenty minutes to São Paulo and I had an Airbnb booked for the week of Carnival.
The one task left before a shower, dinner and sleep was an assignment to complete.
Everything was under control, I’d be done soon.
I opened the document and started working.
My mouse froze.
I logged in but I quickly realized the laptop touchpad no longer worked. I used my phone to find a fix using IT troubleshooting 101, i.e. Googling the problem. Probably a driver issue since I couldn’t see Asus Smart Gesture in the device manager anymore. I downloaded it again but I kept on getting the same error message at setup, “there is a problem with this windows installer package,” apparently another common issue according to Google. I tried different solutions. Nothing worked.
How the fuck was I supposed to complete my assignment?
Maybe the front desk had a spare mouse—after all, hotels sometimes have spare chargers, right?
This is when I realized my IT vocabulary in Portuguese was non-existent. I should have spent less time at the beach and more time in a professional environment.
“Desculpe, tenho um problema com o meu computador. Você teria um… você sabe, o que você usa para clicar em links e… Não sei a palavra para isso em portugués…”
But no, there was no spare mouse.
At 4 a.m. I gave up on troubleshooting and completed the assignment somehow using arrows and keyboard shortcuts.
When the alarm rang, I felt I had just fallen asleep.
Taxi, rodoviária, a but leaving in ten minutes… perfect.
The Cometa bus had Wi-Fi so I spent the entire trip trying to troubleshoot the damn laptop again, listening to the front seat passenger yap yap yap for the entire 80-minute trip, only pausing to take pictures—rain, no rain, rain, fog, no rain, rain.
First thing to do in São Paulo—buying um mouse.