Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas sightings

Here´s some stuff that I´ve seen or heard about over this holiday season:

-The malls totally decked out with tons of decorations, starting in October!

-Long lines of kids and parents waiting to sit on Santa´s lap.

-Almost every store with a wrapped up box at the cash register where you can put your spare change in to give to the employees. (I think) They split the money that they get from the box.

-All the street kids who normally beg for money holding these same wrapped up boxes for people to put their change into. Do they get to keep the money? Well, there is lots of child exploitation here so I imagine that in many situations they have to give what they make to some adult who is "in charge" of them.

-A MUCH larger number than normal of families with kids begging for money on the streets. On one street corner I saw at least 10 kids with only one or two adults.

-The amount of crime in the month leading up to Christmas increases a LOT. I almost got mugged by 2 guys on motorcycles who came up behind the taxi I was getting out of. I had to run into the apartment building I was going into to escape. Luckily the doorman saw them, opened the door for me and the motorcyclists drove off after I went in.

-Everyone who has legitimate work gets what they call "13th month bonus" in December. They receive a month´s extra salary every December. This is one of the reasons that crime increases so much...everyone is walking around with more money.

-Panetone. This is a yummy Brazilian version of fruitcake. It´s more like a fruit bread and much tastier than the US version that often gets passed around and re-gifted. Everyone eats it as a traditional Christmas food. Trader Joe´s sells it if you want to try it in the US.

-Yesterday I saw a group of boys, about 12 years old or so, who had taken over this parking area and were "helping park cars" (this is code for standing around, half-heartedly waving their hands to pretend that they are helping the drivers park, "guarding the cars", and then wanting money when the person leaves as payment for the services). They were obviously poor and I saw a SUV stop close by them and hand out wrapped presents to all of the boys. They opened them up and had received new shirts. There was lots of comparing and trying on of the shirts, but then they went back to "helping park cars" pretty quickly, in hope of more presents or money.

-A more obvious display of the distance between rich and poor in this country because of the consumerism of the holiday and the inability of folks to participate because of poverty.

-Talking to my family and feeling homesick.

-Spending Christmas with Vilma, enjoying the gift exchange and Christmas dinner with her friends.

-Wishing happy holidays to all my friends and family. May 2009 be a year filled with peace, love, security, happiness, and freedom for all.


Anonymous said...

These are so interesting! Many of them break my heart! I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas and I am so glad you didnt get mugged!!

Anonymous said...

Cherylle! So much mugging! No more cabs for you! Panetone is so yummy! I get mine @ Costco every year and it is gone in a day...every slice has something like 800 calories..but I just can't help myself.... Now I love fruit cake....but I love panetone more. I've seem recipies for panetone stuffing, which I must say sounds yummy.

Rachel said...

I'm most homesick during the holidays too. hang in there.

i hadn't realized crime went up, but i think it's probably the same case in rio (also especially due to the influx of tourists).

i loved the little bit about the street kids getting gifts! :)