Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Easter, and Holy Week, are a big deal here in Brazil- I celebrated them by locking myself up in the house and ignoring all invitations for Good Friday meals and the like. On Saturday I let myself out and painted something, and on Sunday I went and got Lucas at his aunt's house.

Lucas had been counting the days on the calendar until he would get his big, chocolate Easter egg which are the big thing for kids here in Brazil. They are usually big enough to contain a toy, and this year he got a Cars egg with a little Lightning McQueen car inside. He devoured half the egg and got covered in melted chocolate as a result, so I pulled the car over to wash his hands. The spot where I stopped was at one of these automobile graveyards that build up around the Police waystations they build along major roads- for some reason they bring the smashed up cars there and leave them. I had my camera so I took some pictures:

The vast majority of the wrecks were head-on collisions. I know this road well and I've seen dozens of people do crazy high-speed passes of multiple vehicles around curves so I'm guessing this is the sometimes result of that kind of dangerous driving. One time we came upon a recent accident with multiple fatalities on this road - it's a horrible story and I don't want to get into it.

When I was in college and took my photography more seriously, I wanted to do a body of work of smashed up cars like these- now that I'm older and presumably wiser I'm not sure I'd have the stomach for it.

ANYHOW then I took Lucas to the 'new park' to ride his bike. They built a bike path and put in a playground and grass and such underneath the Metro that never seems to get finished. This is the first time we went there, and Lucas rode a couple miles at least on his bike.

I heard on TV that this will be, when they finally 'finish' it, the shortest Metro in the world at 6 kilometers. I don't know what the hold-up is, apparently they've done test-runs on it and everything. 'The Metro from nowhere to nowhere' was how I heard it described - they lopped off the other 11 kilometers in order to get something finished.

Lucas got tired of riding (and I got tired of running along behind him), so we stopped at the playground so he could use the slide and see-saws and such. I will now take the opportunity to complain about a piece of playground equipment:

These have got to be the stoopidest see-saws I have ever seen in my life. I'm no engineer, but I know enough about levers to understand that these see-saws are either a) too tall or b) too short (lengthwise). They are almost impossible for kids to use due to the brutal angle. I might not be complaining about this, but for some reason this is the padrão (standard) for all the see-saws in all the parks here in Salvador.

And I'm done complaining. These are the funny things that bother me now that I'm a parent. Moving on to the next item, I finally got a close look at one of these:

These towers have been appearing all over the city over the last year or so. They tell the temperature and measure UV radiation, and are rumored to provide wireless internet although I have never tested them. I was mystified by the displays until I finally had this chance to see one up close:

The scale on the left I presume is the relative UV risk, the numbers on the right are much more interesting. They are a suggestion of the SPF you need based on your skin color. They read, from top to bottom:

  • Redheads and Blondes
  • Light Morenos (roughly 'brown people')
  • Dark Morenos
  • Mulatos (this gets confusing) and Negros (literally 'blacks').
I can already feel myself entering dangerous territory as I prepare to talk about skin color. It is well known that Brazilians recognize a wider range of skin tones than we generally do in the US. One of the frequent ones I see is pardo, a brown that is not on this list. Moreno can be confusing because it can refer to a dark-haired as well as a dark-skinned person. Maybe that's why there are both light and dark morenos listed. Mulato is a term I've never really understood. The dictionary in my computer defines it as 'a person of mixed white and black ancestry, esp. a person with one white and one black parent.' By this definition Lucas would be mulato. But here in Brazil I believe it refers more to a rather dark-skinned person, but not quite 'black.' Very confusing. Also not listed on the scale is the colloquial (and possibly pejorative) azulão, which refers to someone who is so dark they have a blue cast to their skin. I wonder if there is an equivalent to this in English.

And that's all I have to say about skin color for today. I hope I didn't offend anyone, it was not my intention to do so.

After our time in the park Lucas enjoyed chicken nuggets, french-fries, and Spongebob Squarepants.

And that was Easter.


Fabio Bossard said...

That's a badass tower.

Yeah, we freak out when we see Americans/Europeans referring to someone as black when we consider the person mulato/a.

Lucas is mulato to me. Some people feel that saying "negro" (what americans call black) is offensive. So they just say escurinho. When I hear that I promptly he/she is black. There is nothing shameful about that.

Azulão is a very informal word. That's why it's not in the list. You should only use that if you're real close friend of the person. In any case, I wouldn't reccomend it.

To finish off, belated happy easter!

markuza said...

Happy Easter to you too Fabio!

Thanks for shedding some light on the skin color issue. I realize that azulão is informal- and I don't know that I've ever spoken it with anyone but my wife!

AkuTyger said...

These signs are in fact brodcasting wifi, but there is not internet running, so what is the point really. Also, you have to be within 10 meters to get the signal, so unless you are going to sit around with your netbook near the sidewalk at the beach, they aren't much use. That and the lacking internet. It shows up as "Prefeitura Municipal" or "internet prefeitura" on the wifi list.

I'm glad you did a post on these, I have been meaning to for a while, but it's been about a year since I did anything blog related. Too much time sewing I guess.

markuza said...

Somehow I'm not surprised that there's no internet hooked up to those things. And no way am I gonna sit near one with my laptop- unless it's inside of a van! I hear you about the blog thing - haven't been real motivated on it either lately.