Friday, February 17, 2012

Carnaval, 2012

Carnaval is always odd, but this year is off to a particularly weird start.

We've got an apparently jealous boyfriend calling the house, repeatedly, insisting that we wake up his girlfriend so he can talk to her. That's annoying, but nothing particularly special. I heard a battalion of military police barking some pledge yesterday and let me tell you it was music to my ears, but of course it would have been much stranger if they weren't there, barking their pledges.

Before I continue my tale let me tell you that, as someone who likes to run, Carnaval kinda sucks. It's made it all but impossible for me to run in the places I am accustomed, due to all the infrastructure that gets carted in. I don't know if I'll be able to run at all until this whole ordeal is over.

My last run was almost comical, like running an obstacle course. What normally would have been a quite boring half hour of going around and around Campo Grande became a lesson in crowd control and logistics. I had to run around temporary structures for various functions, past steel barricades set up to shunt people away from places they aren't supposed to be. I ran over wooden platforms and had to detour around a quarter of my circuit because it is now occupied with bleachers. Perhaps most humorous was the great bank of porta-potties I had to navigate on each turn, which were being ported onto a truck, so each time I was dodging a different potty wheeling along on a dolly.

And today? I'd like to run today. Just don't see it happening though, because I don't know where I'd go. If I was a morning person I could run down the principal avenues of Salvador traffic-free, as they are all blocked off- kinda like my Bonfim run. But I'm not a morning person, so it's all moot.

So the really weird thing that happened yesterday concerns this Turkish couple who rented our guest room for four nights via Airbnb. To be honest, I wasn't too excited about the reservation, not because the guy claimed to be a 62 year old dentist and wanted help learning to samba, but more because he didn't really seem to get how the site works and wasn't communicating very clearly. Reservations have been way down this year, and I figured his English wasn't that strong, so we accepted the reservation.

They arrived yesterday morning at 7:30 in the morning, I was very much asleep but I went and opened the door for them- I have a feeling they may have been ringing the bell for some time. The guy was friendly enough, but the woman didn't even look at me or say hello when she walked in to the house. I didn't like that at all. They had the tiniest of bags, smaller than a day-pack, for both of them, for the whole trip. Not a day-pack apiece- one bag. That wouldn't fit one change of clothes for both of them.

I showed the guy where the bathroom was and then he told me to go back to bed, and that they would also lay down for a while. I got up and went to the store, everyone else in the house got up and went about their business. Evani spent the whole day keeping Lucas quiet, as they didn't emerge from the room- all day. When I came home at 6:00, they still hadn't gotten up. We could hear the fan running, so we started wondering what the hell was going on. A long trip? Sure. Jetlag and timechange? Okay. Maybe they took some sleeping aid? Possible. Maybe they were both dead in there? Also bantered about.

I had to fix a bed in the room right above theirs, and I hammered with gusto, determined to wake them up as we were concerned at this point. Nothing. Finally, at about 10:00, I knocked on their door, realizing that it wouldn't be locked, as I hadn't even given them a key for it. I opened the door, and there was nobody there.

They're gone, and there's no sign of them. The bed was at least laid down in, but they took their little bag and split, and have not come back. The thing that is so strange is that we don't know how they got out of the house. Nobody let them out, and the door is always locked. No keys are missing. The most likely scenario is that they just unlocked the door and left, shutting (and thus locking) the door behind them, and we didn't notice that the gate was unlocked.

So what happened? Did they hate the place at first site? The woman's reaction would seem to indicate that... Did they get lost and can't find their way back to the house? Are they in jail/in the hospital? Were they smuggling drugs and using our house as a cover? We have no idea, and they left no note, no email, no nothing. I suppose I should try to find them, but I think they just went somewhere else. Plus they made no effort, and the woman was very rude.

The big question is whether they will cancel their payment for the room, which I suppose is possible. Airbnb doesn't release payment until 24 hours after the guest arrives, stating on the site that "This gives you and your guest time to make sure that everything is as expected." Well, if it wasn't what they expected, that's not our fault. Our house is described and reviewed, and the price is competitive for the location during Carnaval. If they do cancel payment, I will make a fuss as Carnaval comes but once a year and that's why we ask for deposits beforehand. Since Airbnb doesn't provide for a deposit, we may not be able to use them in the future for Carnaval, which would be unfortunate. But I'm getting ahead of myself. If we don't get a payment by tomorrow, then I'll be annoyed.

8 comments:

markuza said...

This just in: Airbnb has processed the payment for this mystery couple, so we've been paid. I sent them an email, no reply yet.

Pernambuco Gypsy said...

Why don't you go out for a run, dodging the revellers will increase your fitness!

markuza said...

I ended up going, and it was awesome! No reveler dodging though...

Jennifer Souza said...

I lived in Turkey and taught ESL there. Turkish women are notoriously reserved and typically do not me eye contact or speak with men they don't know well/are related to. It's a sign of respect all-around.

markuza said...

Thanks for pointing that out Jennifer. I'll strike 'rude' off the list of bizarre behavior... although I'm wondering if walking out without a word of explanation is common behavior in Turkey...

Jennifer Souza said...

Uh, I hate to say it, but you think Brazilians are indirect? OMGosh are the Turks. They don't even say the word 'no' for fear of sounding rude. If you as a restaurant if they have something, they never would admit to not having something. They will go out and buy it for you. SO, it is predictable and acceptable in that culture from my experience.

markuza said...

Hmmm so maybe just splitting was the best way for them to deal with a situation they weren't happy with... I guess I can accept that. BTW we ate at a restaurant relatively recently where they ran out to get stuff at the supermarket rather than tell us they didn't have something... it meant we waited an hour for our food, but whatever.

Jennifer Souza said...

Yeah, there are A LOT of similarities between Turkey & Brazil. Middle income countries, lack of infrastructure, ruled by iron-fisted dictators (although Ataturk is STILL in every classroom, staring over every teacher's shoulder like a blue-eyed vampire), mono-religious for a long time, and you can lie but you cannot offend people (as my hubby said)