As I have mentioned in the previous posts, social norms no Brasil (and especially in Rio) are more laid back compared to in the United States. As the director of international programs at my university, Pontificia Universidade Catholica, was explaining people’s concept of time during orientation, she put it bluntly that, brasileiros and cariocas are always late. If you plan to grab drinks with a friend, one should show up at the bar 15-20 minutes after the established time. If you are invited over for dinner party at someone’s home at 6pm, never arrive within an hour before 7pm. Even for important business meetings, it is perfectly acceptable to be more than a half hour late if you bump into a friend who is having bad day and need to get a quick coffee with them to catch up.
As someone who has a mild (mild could be an understatement according to some who know me) tendency to rush in order to be punctual for different events, I fully welcomed the relaxed attitude that is jeitihno brasilero (and used it to receive full attendance and tardiness my first month of class despite showing up after 8:30 am several times). People are not accustomed to hurrying and worrying here. They take things slowly and soak it all in. It is no doubt, a refreshing change of pace from the States.
I discovered last week, however, that jeitinho brasileiro certainly has a more negative side. I was at the Policia Federal (immigration authorities) to verify my student visa and pay my taxes for the duration of my stay. Although I showed up way past my scheduled appointment, I was still accommodated (eventually), but the process was maddening. There simply was no standard protocol. The fine folks who work there frankly did not give a damn about it either. People not in line bypassed those standing patiently to complain and were heard out, if the employee beind the counter took a liking to them. If they didn’t like you, good luck, because they would fault you on any technicality possible and make your time there living-hell. I know someone who arrived at 10am and did not leave til well after 4 pm while someone arrived at 2pm and waited a mere hour and a half. ON THE SAME DAY! You quickly understand how some of the World Cup stadiums are so far behind schedule and why so many brasileiros are up in arms about bullshit bureaucracy from the government and FIFA.
But on that note of soccer stadiums, lets transition to a more positive subject. Yesterday I attended my first futebol match at the legendary Maracana. The stadium was the site of the World Cup Final in 1950 when Brazil was upset by Uruguay, and will again host the final game in 2014. Hopefully O Selecao reach the last game and are victorious this time to boost the morale and attitudes of locals who adamantly oppose Brazil hosting the World Cup due to exorbitant public spending on the games and corruption.
This weekend, local rivals Flamengo and Fluminese squared off at the Maracana in their first match of the year. And although the construction fees may have come at a premium, the venue is indeed beautiful–there is not a bad seat in the house. The stadium was not full, this being the Rio Cup, instead of the more importantly rated Serie A league competition, but the atmosphere was still incredible. I was sitting behind one goal right next to the Flamengo socios (ultra-fans). Flamengo boasts the most supporters in all of Brazil and are considered the people’s team. No particular class is now associated with the team, but the club has an interesting history involving political prisoners during the country’s military dictatorship and the Comando Vermelho drug-trafficking and criminal organization. Fluminese won the match 3-0 and were the superior team in my eyes, but the Flamengo socios far outnumbered there counterparts, with their many songs and chants constantly reverberating around the stadium. The Flamengo team did not bring their A-game, but their supporters certainly did.
When it comes to futebol, fans certainly are not relaxed and casual.
They drop the jeitinho brasileiro in favor of hardcore passion.
Can’t wait for the next game.