Wednesday, 10 February 2010

In Torres

This is my third time in Torres, a beach town two to three hours North of Porto Alegre (depending on who does the driving), at the border of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina and it feels quite different from my previous visits. Ricardo had warned me that it wouldn't be the Torres that I knew for this time it was the holiday season. Which means: packed beaches and substancially increased hotel prices. One of the very stable things was the owner of my pousada who looked as sullen as the previous times.

Late in the afternoon, I always go to the same restaurant to have a fruit juice (my present favourites are Açaí, Mango, Caju, Acerola) and a pastel filled with shrimps. When one day the waitress doesn't show up to cash the bill, I go to the counter where I'm met by a very attractive woman in her forties who smiles and says: Visiting again? I was not sure whether I had heard her correctly. Again? I would have surely remembered this beautiful lady if we had met before. I remember you from last year, she smiled. I was flabbergasted. And then decided to remember her too.

One evening I sit at my Laptop in the hotel lobby when a young girl approaches me. Her name is Graziella, she is eight years old and says that she likes to "jogar aqueles joginhos de corrida e bistagulo". Since I do not know what "bistagulo" means, I ask her to explain it. It can be many things, she says but basically it is something that is in your way. Um obstáculo? Yes, that is it. Graziella is from Santa Cruz and her parents are up in their room, she says, so we chat a bit. I ask what her favourite TV programme is. She names six: two in the morning, two in the afternoon, and two in the evening. The next morning, I see her leaving the breakfast room with her mother who greets me in a way that I think she must know me. From Santa Cruz, maybe? A couple of minutes later, a guy, followed by Graziella and her mother, passes by and waves ... I'm not sure, I can't really see him well from that distance ... at me? at the people sitting behind me? When a few hours later, I run into Graziella and her parents I know who they are: we know each other from the gym in Santa Cruz.

When I inquired at the Rodoviaria about buses to Porto Alegre, the guy behind the counter rattled through the full timetable with such a speed that I could not follow. When he realised this, he grabbed pen and paper and jotted down the whole timetable for me. A day later, I had to make a call to Zurich and asked the lady at the internet café whether I had to put a zero before the area code or not. What is the number? she wanted to know. I had it written down and gave it to her. She took a piece of paper and a pen and copied my numbers ("Is this here a 1 or a 4, and this here: a 9 or or is it a 0?") and finally handed me over the number I wanted to dial in her own writing (which, I need to admit, was more easily readable than mine). Difficult to imagine such service in Switzerland or any other place in this universe.

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