now i feel like it’s official. i am living in brazil. besides the passing time, i’ve stayed in 4 different places since my arrival. the first place was my favorite of the airbnb experiences. the apartment was cute and clean, the hosts were amazing, and the location was the best for walking and getting to the metro and/or buses. from there i moved to barra funda, the beginning of the red metro line and what appears to be an “up and coming” area a.k.a. at one point it was predominately black and now you barely see any black people there. that was the place with the three cats. the host was great though and we’ve actually been in touch since i left. while there, i was trying to figure out where to go next. i wasn’t planning to move because i really wanted to be in one spot until it was time for me to go to rio at the end of the month. i saw some great places on airbnb but either the prices or the locations just weren’t right. after mulling over a few spots and getting some advice from my parents and one of my best friends i decided to move to morumbi – the burbs. the house was amazing, however, the location was definitely a little ways from the city center.
while in morumbi – i was truly missing the center. i had to take uber to get everywhere even if it was just to get to the nearest train station. although the individual uber trips were cheap, collectively they added up. i still can’t believe the amount of trips i took to get around. it was insane! then to make matters even crazier, about three days in to my morumbi stay the internet at the house was cut off. my first thought was “ok cool, this will allow me to get some writing done without the distraction of the net. no internet is a good thing, right?” little did i know that after all of this silver lining analytics, i woke up the next day and my computer would not come on <mouth drop>. the uncanny thing is that i had this feeling that it wouldn’t come on. i was dumbfounded. i quickly turned to my pre-paid brazilian cell phone and was like ok i have no idea how much data i can use on this thing but i need to get some answers to get this computer running. i tried a few different things as suggested by folks on the web but nothing worked. i was on the verge of freaking out but then remembered that i had to go to the university that day and universities normally have an IT department, right? so i got dressed and made my way to the university of são paulo (usp – ewspee) in an uber of course.
when i got to usp i went straight to the international office and asked the coordinator who is so nice and so great and told her my dilemma. she called IT and they told her they couldn’t help me because they don’t deal with apple products. my heart stopped. ms. office coordinator brought me back to life and gave me the number to apple customer service. i called and the service agent took me back through the motions of what i found on the internet earlier except this time everything was in portuguese. nothing worked. he then told me to take my laptop to an authorized store. i ran out of the office, jumped in to another uber and headed to the mall where the store was for them to tell me that i had to go to the apple store. luckily the apple store was located on the next level up. i couldn’t get up the escalator fast enough. when i got there, the store clerk told me that i couldn’t be seen without an appointment. she then tried to set me up with an appointment but the system was not working. finally she said that i had to go back to the apple site later on around 5pm to view the available dates and times. ugh! the internet at the house is still off at this point. i forgot to mention that while i was at usp my friend sent a text with the number and address to a place in the center that services mac products. so when apple couldn’t help me, i ran to another uber and headed to the center. it took about 90 minutes to get there because the traffic in são paulo is utterly ridiculous. when i arrived, the store had just closed. my heart fell to the floor this time and i was completely outdone. i called another uber to make the long trek back to morumbi traffic and all.
meanwhile, i had also been working on getting my RNE, which is the national registry of foreigners. it is required that one register with the federal police prior to being in brazil for 30 days. this is quite a process where you have to fill out various forms, pay two different tax amounts, get two 3x4cm pictures taken (way smaller than the passport jawns), and get all of the used pages in your passport copied and notarized. all of this has to be done before you take these items down to the federal police to get registered. and of course this also requires an appointment. this is important because the next day after the failed attempts to fix my laptop, i went to the cartório, or the notary that also does marriage annulments and a bunch of other things, to get my passport pages copied and notarized. this had already been planned. thankfully i got everything that i needed in less than an hour. from there, i decided to go back to the apple store and do whatever i had to do for them to take a look at my computer. so, i got an uber from the cartório to the mall.
when i walked into the apple store, i explained to the clerk that my laptop isn’t working and i really need it fixed but i don’t have an appointment. he told me that there was a line for folks like me over there – and of course that line was stupid long. i got in the line anyway because at this point i had no choice. when i got to the front the guy took my info and said that the wait was about 2-3 hours. i was like i will wait for as long as it takes. luckily he also said that i could go grab a bite to eat or go shopping and they’d send me a text when it was my turn to be seen. perfect! i took his advice and did a little shopping 🙂
i was so happy to get the notification text. the service reps were really nice. they tested my computer and let me know that they will need to keep it for a minimum of five days to fix it. that didn’t even bother me because my apple care was still in effect so i wouldn’t have to pay a dime. i ended up getting my laptop back in two days. thank god. fyi – the morumbi apple store is the only one in the state of são paulo and one of only two apple stores in the country!!! i guess that’s why i moved there. either way i was so glad to have my laptop functioning again. plus it was returned to me like a brand new macbook – clean and shiny. so the moral of the story is don’t purchase apple products without apple care.
with the laptop case closed, i could move forward with the RNE process. i had been trying to get an appointment to no avail when ms. office coordinator from usp said that i should go without an appointment. it actually does mention on the site that if you are unable to make an appt., take your items to the federal police anyway, so that’s what i did. when i got there, i was told that i wouldn’t be seen that day but i should come back in the morning at 6am. wtf?!? i am not a morning person so i was a bit perplexed on how to make this RNE thing happen. i decided that i would get there at 7am instead especially since everything here so far has not started on time (not even classes at the university, but that’s for another post perhaps).
the next day, i arrived at the federal police at about 6:45am. there was already a line forming outside the building that was about a block long. i got in line and folks were quickly filing in after me. at about 7am a guard came out and made some announcement that
was inaudible to us folks in the back. i later figured out it was for brazilian citizens picking up passports. some people went in but most of us stayed in line where we were. i was amazed at the amount of people that were outside. men, women, children, young, old, families, friends, etc… i could tell that people were from all over the world but the majority of them were from african countries, which was somewhat surprising and very interesting. we all waited another hour before the doors were officially opened. the line begin to slowly move and we trickled in. after about 45 minutes of getting into the door, going up two flights of stairs, all while still in line i made it to the window. the same lady from the day before who told me to come at 6am was there. the difference, however, was that they had all of these signs everywhere that said if you don’t have an appointment, we can not see you today. a different woman waited on me and i let her know that i need this RNE and that i’ve almost been here for thirty days. she was very stern and would not help me. i got the attention of ms. 6am and told her hey you told me to come here at 6am can you help me? she also said no and that i should make an appointment on their website as they can only see people who are on the schedule.
i told them that it’s impossible to get an appointment. they responded by saying that i should go on the site between 9am and 10am to get on the schedule. so i went to a seat, waited until 9am, and tried to make an appointment using my pre-paid cell phone hoping that my data wouldn’t run out. after several attempts i still could not get an appt. so i returned to the window. i must add that this place was super crowded and extremely unorganized. the line was still snaking up the steps but people were all over the place yelling and butting in front of people in line. although i was there for the RNE, some folks were there looking for asylum, some applying for work visas, registration for foreign spouses and i’m sure many other things. the third floor was for any service for foreigners while the second floor, which was much quieter and with less people was where citizens were being serviced. so in the midst of the chaos, i walked back up to the window to show them that there were no dates available on the site. they still said that they couldn’t help me and suggested i speak with this guy who i’m guessing was some sort of manager. he was yelling and screaming that anyone without an appt. could not be seen. i showed him my phone and told him it’s impossible to get an appointment but he didn’t care. there were other people yelling at him too and i remember a man with his wife and kids saying that he has priority because he has kids and even still the man refused to help them. it was a total mad house.
i left feeling frustrated and tired from waking up at 5am. i wasn’t sure what to do. i ended up calling the federal police for them to say oh 50 new appts will be made available tomorrow morning. be sure to check the site around 9:45am. that frustrated me even more but the next morning came and i got on the site at 9am. after about 40 minutes or so of refreshing the page every 5 seconds, i finally got an appointment. i guess whoever i talked to on the phone was right and there’s so many people trying to get appointments that they get filled very quickly. although my appointment is after my 30 days i’m glad that i got one. but wait. after all of this, i hear from ms. office coordinator that one of the other foreign students was seen at the federal police without an appointment. argh! i have no idea how and i am still feeling some type of way.
the upside is that i’ve moved from morumbi back to the center in the apartment that i stayed in when i was in brazil last year. the area is called higienopolis. i love this apartment and probably should’ve just stayed here from the beginning. the reason that i didn’t is because it’s a little too expensive. but honestly, after all of the rigamarole
i don’t mind kicking out the extra cash. the place is clean, in an excellent location for walking and taking public transport, the shower is the bomb.com, and i have my own space that i don’t have to share. yes i know sharing is caring but living space for me is touchy.