Thursday, July 21, 2005

In Brazil for real

Well, here I am in my office -- that´s right, I have my own little escritorinho, if that´s a word -- after my second day of work at Clifford Chance, São Paulo. So far, so good.

First things first -- the city. SP, as promised, is gigantic and sprawling. Driving from the airport to Jaime´s apartment, the city reminded me a bit of a wintry version of Havana, but I think that´s just because it has roundabouts and ugly public artwork. There are a lot of skyscrapers, tinted glass windows, and halfhearted palm trees throughout. The neighborhoods, as I predicted, range from gritty and depressing to carefully manicured and cutesie. I happen to be staying in one of the tony neighborhoods, Vila Nova Conceição, which is chock full of ritzy boutiques, hair salons, restaurants, and apartment complexes. For the time being, I´m staying in Jaime´s apartment, until he gets back on Monday and I get a flat of my own. It´s a really quiet and safe area, although last night when the wind was howling and banging things around outside my window, I was positive someone was breaking into the apartment and was going to come murder me. I tend to think in worst-case scenarios when in an unfamiliar situation.

The work environment is quite nice -- the office is in Vila Olimpia, another nice area that is populated mostly by big, foreign businesses. The office building that houses Clifford Chance is big and modern, with a marbled lobby and electronic codes for all the doors. The office itself is clean and tastefully decorated, and there are ladies in blue who come around and offer coffee, tea, and cookies all the time. Everyone who works here, with the exceptions of the coffee ladies and janitorial staff, speaks English and Portuguese -- it´s pretty impressive. Portuguese has been going surprisingly well for me, especially in the realm of comprehension. I understand almost everything that is said to me, and can pick up most of what is said in general. For some reason, I don´t have the mental hangups about speaking Portuguese like I do with Spanish. I think it´s because I imagine that no one really expects me to speak Portuguese, while I have this weird notion that everyone expects me to speak flawless Spanish because my mom´s half Mexican or something. Don´t ask.

The food so far is great. Jaime´s housekeeper made me a Brazilian almoço (lunch) when I first got to SP, with rice and soup and a chicken/potato dish (plus gross fruit juice that probably took hours of hard labor to make). Today we went to lunch at one of the wonderful Brazilian buffets where you fill up a big plate with food and then pay based on the weight. They had an awesome and beautiful selection of food -- kebobs with salmon and pineapple, all types of salads, moqueque, cheese, desserts, you name it -- and it was pretty cheap, which is definitely a plus. Tonight I am going to grab some Japanese food with people from the office, which I am looking forward to. SP has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan and the cuisine here is rumored to be outstanding. By the way, I´m famished.

I guess that´s about all for now. I can´t wait to explore the city and get acclimated.

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