I’ve been living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil for the last 3 months.
I got to get this out there: this is the most frustrating city I’ve ever lived in. I feel like even the simplest of things here can become a real pain in the ass. Just to give you an idea, here’s a list of stuff that’s plainly simple yet absurdly frustrating here:
- Taking a bus is the most random thing ever. Even in Colombia, a fairly disorganized country, you can expect a constant flow of buses on every line. In Belo Horizonte, if you want to take bus, you might as well get comfortable on the bus stop as you might wait over 40 minutes for a bus that’s supposed to pass by every 10. Then you’ll see 4 of the same kind in a row. Seriously, it’s so unpredictable that if we plotted the waiting time we’d end up with a probability distribution that would make the most clever statistician in the world feel like being run over by one of the buses (of course, he wouldn’t know how long that’d take).
- You can’t get a local SIM card for a cellphone if you don’t have a CPF number. A CPF number is a tax-related number that’s used to track your credit history and stuff like that. Nobody who lives outside Brazil is supposed to have this number. Did someone in one of the cellphone carriers ever thought that there are foreigners out there, that they might come to Brazil one day, that they may want to buy a local cellphone number and they won’t be fucking able to do it because they don’t have this number?
- Of course, when you do manage to get a CPF number you can only buy a prepaid SIM card. I wanted to sign up for a monthly plan to save money in the long run, but they told me I’d need a proof of residency: a document showing my address and my name. “Bank statements are best”, they said.
- Off I went to open a bank account, but surprise, surprise: you need a proof of residency to open a bank account, too. Apparently putting your money in their vaults is not enough: they seem to think you’ll deposit your hard-earned money and then suddenly disappear without leaving a trace and leaving your money back. But here’s the best advice they gave me: when I explained I had just moved to Brazil and didn’t have any kind of proof of residence yet, they said the following wise, unforgettable words: “Bring your cellphone bill. We accept that as a proof of residency.”
- I found a place to live, with 2 roommates. I didn’t get to sign any rent contract or anything since they had already sorted that out, so no proof of residency yet. I called to install an internet connection under my name which was the only service that hadn’t already been installed in the apartment. One month later the first bill arrived. “Finally, a proof of residency.”, I thought. I opened the envelope only to discover they had written my name as Andrés Meijía Cosada. Yeah, that’s 2 typos in 3 words. Now the cellphone company won’t accept it because they say it doesn’t match my passport name exactly.
Anyway, the point of this post is not just complaining. I used to get infuriated by all this adversity but this had made me think of something: we are never in control of what happens around us, but we can certainly control how we react and adapt to it. Great things can come out of terrible circumstances. I need to let all this slip off and focus my energy on stuff that’s worth it.
This very words are my first step to adapt: the 5 megabit internet connection I installed is down for the 4th time today and I’m forced to write this post offline to upload it tomorrow, or next week, or whenever the internet connection feels like working again.