CAXIAS do Sul, Brazil, May 15 – Did you know that lunchtime in Brazil literally brings businesses to a standstill?
Twice, when I passed through the central business district on my way to the site of the 24th Summer Deaflympics, I wondered why the normally bustling streets of the city were practically deserted around lunchtime, all the shops and businesses being closed during this period.
I found the hustle and bustle of the city dying off like what one would expect in the CBD of Nairobi on a Sunday morning.
According to the Brazilian Consolidated Labor Law, the employer must allow at least two hours break if the work period lasts more than six hours.
This is the reality on the ground that will shock you on your first visit to the South American nation.
“In Brazil, lunch is taken very seriously. The hotels open from 11 a.m. to serve lunch until 2 p.m. They then close and reopen for dinner time from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.,” explained Pablo Escobar, a hotelier who is hosting part of the Kenya team delegation at Nova Petrópolis.
Wait a minute! In Brazil there is a notice posted in every restroom which was also a culture shock for many foreigners in Brazil.
In all toilets, it is reminded that only human waste should be flashed, in case you use toilet paper for a long call, then it is advisable to throw it in the bins and not flush it!
-Parking for pregnant women-
Away from the toilet side, another amazing thing is that pregnant women can shop in the malls of Caxias do Sul without any problem. There are designated packing slots for them!
Brazilian authorities have provided places to pack their suitcases next to those of people with disabilities with spaces strategically located next to entrances, making access to shopping centers convenient for mothers-to-be.
-Day or night driving with your headlights on-
It is very common to find cars on the roads with all lights on during the day. The government of Brazil passed a law in 2016 that lights must be on at all times, day or night.
It is claimed to be a means of preventing road accidents.
-A different ball game in Brazil-
Brazil is known for its dynamic samba dancing and football.
Their legendary brand of play is a facet of the sport that continues to endear them to football-mad fans around the world.
A mere mention of Brazil’s greatest footballer will forever raise the pulse of fans around the world.
These are names like the world’s greatest Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as Pelé, the elegant Bebeto, the valiant striker Ronaldo, the indefatigable Jairzinho (the first player to score in every World Cup match , including the final), 1982 World Cup captain Sócrates Brasileiro Sampaio de Souza Vieira de Oliveira known simply as Sócrates and Ronaldinho to name a few.
But in his cosmopolitan southern town of Caxias do Sul, in the state’s mountainous Serra Gaúcha region, the game was different this time around.
One of the most skilled ball players in the world, Ronaldinho (Ronaldo de Assis Moreira), comes from Porto Alegre, located 130 kilometers from Caxias do Sul.
However, the current head coach of the Brazilian national football team, Tite (Adenor Leonardo Bacchi) and who is a former midfielder, is from Caxias do Sul.
The streets and hotels of Caxius do Sul were all flooded with activity related to the deaf sports community.
The 24th Deaflympics – which took place from May 1-15, 2022 – had been postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, becoming the first Deaflympics to be held in South America and Latin America.
–Where football is not so popular–
But that doesn’t mean football doesn’t exist here.
Caxias do Sul is home to SER Caxias, a team Tite managed and played for and Juventude football clubs.
Although both teams have won the Campeonato Gaúcho, Juventude have achieved more domestically, having played in the top division of the Campeonato Brasileiro for over fifteen seasons and winning the 1999 edition of the Copa do Brasil.
Caxias has been playing in the fourth division since 2016.
Juventude, meanwhile, returned to the top division in 2020.
Juventude have the third largest fan base in the state, second only to the two main teams in the state capital, Porto Alegre.
-Welcome to Italians and Germans-
The arrival of Italian immigrants, mostly farmers seeking a better life from Veneto, Lombardy, Trento (northern Italy) as well as other parts of Italy, began in 1875 in Nova Milano.
Although they received government support such as tools, supplies, and seeds, everything had to be paid back to the federal government.
Today, Caxias do Sul is one of the region’s central hubs, home to some of Brazil’s most diverse economies in addition to its size; with its industrial parks, vast vineyards, wine trade, livestock and plantation farms give the territory another dimension.
The city also hosts the National Grape and Wine Festival, which celebrates Italian heritage.
It is one of the most famous events in the country and it is called Festa da Uva, when a lot of merriment, wine, grapes and people enliven the month of February, every two years (on even years) .
Visitors can eat cheese, grapes and various Brazilian wines.
Visitors interested in the region’s wine can also visit Chateau Lacave, a 6th-century-style medieval structure that currently functions as a winery.
Caxias do Sul is also one of the four localities along the scenic tourist route Caminhos da Colônia in the Serra Gaúcha.
-Alex Isaboke reports from Caxias do Sul, Brazil-