Campus Par-ty! Campus Par-ty!
Finally, some internet access.
Culture shock is: Getting into the shower to find the knobs labeled "Q" and "F".
Ah, well, there's only 2 possibilities right? I took a guess that they were probably something like Qaliente for hot and Frigido for cold and I was right.
In general Portuguese seems like a fairly easy language for an English speaker to pick up. It doesn't take a linguistic genius to figure out what "Sanatario Masculino" means, for instance (men's bathroom). It's all just Latin roots. (I am told that Brazilian Portuguese has significant borrowings from Native languages as well.) I'm picking up some of the basics just from listening to what people are saying around me - thanks is "obligado", yes is "si", good morning is something that sounds like "bonjerr" (I'm sure I'm spelling that wrong).
Culture shock is: passing like three neon signs reading "24H SEX SHOP" on the taxi ride from the hotel to the convention center. I swear one of them was like right next door to a Catholic church, that also had neon signs. Brazil reminds me of the Philippines in that it combines a lot of overt displays of religiosity (cross necklaces everywhere) with a much more relaxed attitude about sex compared to the puritan tradition in the US.
Last night when I got here by taxi, I was supposed to meet up with some dudes from the Brazilian Mozilla community, who had arranged the badge and stuff I would need to get in. But when I tried to call them from the hotel phone I just kept getting a Portuguese recording that sounded like it was probably saying "that number does not exist". The bouncer wouldn't let me in without a con badge. And I couldn't get on any wireless networks to email my friends. Hmm, a conundrum.
That's the worst thing about travel. You're always in the position of navigating an unfamiliar bureaucracy in a language you don't speak exactly when you're least mentally fit to do anything of the sort: right after the sleep deprivation of an intercontinental airplane ride and associated time zone change.
Brazil has every race and combination of races imaginable, so being a white guy doesn't mark me as obviously foreign like it does in Asia. So unlike when I'm in China or Japan, people here will just casually come up and ask me something in Portuguese and be surprised when I respond "Sorry, I don't speak Portuguese".
Anyway, I eventually found my way to the people in charge of giving out badges, and lucky for me some of them spoke some English. I explained my situation and showed them the invitation letter for my talk. It was signed by Carolina Hanashiro; I had no idea who that is but apparently she's a big shot because they were all impressed: "Wow, from Carolina herself!" I had the letter in order to apply for my Brazilian visa but I'm glad I printed an extra copy to take with me. They made me a badge right there, and I was able to get in and meet up with Armando and friends who were giving a Jetpack demonstration under the "Software Livre" sign.
I got stopped again on the way out, though, because my laptop wasn't registered. They check everybody on the way out to make sure nobody's stealing computers, so you have to have your laptop registered to your badge and put a sticker with a matching code on it. Of course I had no idea that was something I needed to do. We explained the situation and they just waved me through, though. My new friends explained it was all just security theater.
Later, when on my way to get some overpriced convention food with some other free software guys, we passed a bunch of men in military fatigues carrying submachine guns. I was like, OK, just mind my own business.
Later my new friends were like "Hey, you didn't think those were real soldiers, did you?" (Yeah, I kinda did). "Dude, no, those were Airsoft guns. Those are just some college kids who like to dress up as soldiers and play paintball. We don't want you to think Brazil is some kind of really violent country!"
I did not expect that my first meal in Brazil was going to be... Yakisoba!
It turns out there's a huge Japanese immigrant population here (the largest outside of Japan) and so Japanese food is a big thing. Brazilians have even adopted "hashi" as the word for chopsticks.
Oh, that reminds me, apparently one of the biggest sponsors of the Campus Party is Cup Noodle. There's giant Cup Noodle signs and giant inflated Cup Noodle cups everywhere.
The central area of the event is taken up with dozens of long tables with Ethernet cables and power strips (European-style plugs here; glad I bought that adapter at the airport) so everybody can camp out with their computers.
Dudes are zooming around indoors on roller blades. I just saw a guy with a Death Note T-shirt. Lots of people are wearing something related to internet memes. The dude to the left of me just fired up Portuguese Starcraft 2. He clicked on his Centre de Commando and made some VCEs.
At least half the computers I see are running Ubuntu. There are some crazy, crazy case mods too. One I saw had a plastic Incredible Hulk holding up the motherboard.
Don't expect pictures of that or anything else on this trip, though. My camera broke. |:-(