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You Know You’re in Brazil When…

You can buy delicious savoury empadas (mini pot pies) which are a nice change from empanadas found in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. Common fillings are frango com requeijão (chicken and cream cheese), presunto e queijo (ham and cheese), espinafre e ricotta (spinach with ricotta), camarão (shrimp) or bacalhau (dried and salted cod).

You eat at the comida a quilo, buffet-style restaurants where food is priced per 100 grams. It’s usually cheap and it’s a great way to try new specialties.

Goodbyes facturas, here comes the bolo! Brazilians seem to love cake and you can buy a slice of carrot cake, banana cake, apple cake, etc. pretty much anywhere.

City centres empty out around 6 p.m. and most small shops close from Saturday around noon to Monday. Good luck finding the above-mentioned buffets past 3 p.m. Breakfast and lunch are taken seriously but you’re on your own for dinner—or you have to wait for the serviço de entrega, food delivery is always an option.

You stop at the posto de gasolina at least once a day even though you don’t have a car. The loja de conveniência is usually open 24/7 and well stocked with drinks and salgadinhos like warm pão de queijo (cheese bread), fresh bread, ham, cheese, cake, etc.

You can see the German influence—beer is the beverage of choice. Brahma, Skol and Antarctica are the most popular brands I’ve seen so far.

Any public square or street is a jungle with trees you’ve never seen before. I walked by trees with spikes, trees with trees growing on them, straight palm trees, Tipuana trees, trees creating incredible green archways, trees that make me feel like I’m in a mythical forest… and I’m just in Porto Alegre, not in the Amazonas.

Coffee is delicious. For 50 cents, I can get a small cup of black coffee anywhere and it tastes awesome. Gas stations or tiny hole-in-the-wall lanchonetes get me a cup ready in less than a minute, offered with sugar or sweetener at any time of the day.

Street names are long because Brazilian names are long. Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho, Avenida Borges de Medeiros, rua Antônio Klinger Filho… finally a country with my hyphenated last name is perfectly normal!

Men walk around wearing Havaianas sandals even if there’s no beach around. Women do too, but most wear high heels or fancy sandals. You can also buy Havaianas straps in different colours to customize your two-element footwear.

You “oi” people to greet them. I don’t know, it sounds cool, right?

Gas station in Porto Alegre: all kinds of coffee available, but tea? NO!
Tree at the Parque Farroupilha in Porto Alegre
Porto Alegre in bloom
Parque Farroupilha in Porto Alegre
Parque Farroupilha in Porto Alegre
Rua Gonçalo de Carvalho, Porto Alegre
R. Gen. João Telles, Porto Alegre
Empadas in Centro Histórico, Porto Alegre
Havaianas straps in Centro Histórico
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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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