No Pyjamas

None of them will do

None of them will do

The weather has changed again in Curitiba.  We have glorious autumnal days without a cloud in the  clear blue sky.  If you are in the sun the temperatures can reach up 24 or 25 degrees Celsius (that’s about 77 degrees farneheit for everybody using the old antiquated system).  Walking around the city is a distinct pleasure and I often have the feeling of being very lucky to live here.

As soon as night falls, the temperature falls.  On Wednesdays I have an early class and so I leave home at 6.30am, just as the son is coming up.  There is a street thermometer just around the corner from the flat and it said it was 4 degrees.  Very chilly.  I am never sure if I believe this street thermometers or not.  It felt quite cold, but not as low as 4.

The colder nights have coincided with a brand new phobia for Thomas: pyjamas.  I have no idea why, but all of a sudden he doesn’t want to wear his all-in-one pyjamas.  He screams and shouts  as soon as he sees them.  He has at least five sets of various colours, designs and material so the first time this happened I got all of them out and asked him which one he wanted.  The answer was obvious when he picked them all up and threw them back in the drawer. (I thought this was cool.  If it had been me I would have thrown them out of the room, but with him being a mini-OCD he threw them all back where they belonged.)

I managed to find a compromise by putting two layers of normal pyjamas on and then a long-sleeved t-shirt with a car on it over them.  This seemed to pacify him enough to get him to bed.  I tentatively tried again the following night, but as soon as he saw the big pyjamas he was off again so I quickly resorted to the previous night’s ploy.

The problem is though that the compromise leaves him open to his other great problems: he is incapable of keeping socks on for more than 10 minutes and he always throws his blankets off during the night.  With the last few nights being so cold he has woken up with ice-cold feet, and this has meant a runny nose and sneezes in the morning.  I think I might have to tape his socks to his feet tonight.

There is always a bright side, though and on this occasion it is the fact that  the tantrum seemed to wear him out and he was asleep within minutes.

Getting Around Curitiba: Taxis

Orange Colour Taxis.

Orange Colour Taxis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So you have decided not to risk life and limb by walking to your destination.  Your next idea is to get a taxi.  Good luck with that.

Getting a taxi

In 1974 Curitiba had a population of 610, 000 served by 2,252 taxis.  Since that time Curitiba has experienced a rapid growth and is now over three times the size with a population of around 1.8 million.  This much bigger city is still served by the same fleet of  2, 252 taxis.  (Source Curitiba em Dados.  Incidentally, this source also claims that there is a grand total of 4 taxis for people with special needs.  So disabled people can’t use the pavements and can’t get a taxi.)  You can see that there might be  a problem here.

If it is raining in Curitiba (something that can happen quite a bit), or if it is rush hour you will wait at least an hour for a taxi. That is assuming that you can get through to somebody on the telephone to order a taxi in the first place.  And don’t even think about trying to hail a cab on the street as they are always full.  If the taxi driver sees you and deigns to acknowledge your existence he will inform you that he is carrying a passenger by way of the Brazilian body language sign for when something is full up:

On a wet Friday evening the taxi service in almost any city would be stretched.  There have been many such times in both London and Birmingham that I have had to wait ages for a taxi.  The problem is that this can be the case on any given day and at any given time.

The problem has recently been exacerbated by a long overdue crackdown on drink driving.  In previous times, when I have had a row with people who constantly drink and drive one of the reasons they would give was the fact that it was impossible to get a taxi.  Now that they are scared of actually getting caught by the police you might as well walk home as try get a cab.

I have been told that the people who own the taxi licenses rarely actually drive a taxi.  Instead they rent out their cars three times a day, making about R$1, 000 ($500) a day.  I’ve also been told that this is illegal, but then again what does that matter?

Because of these reasons it is virtually impossible to flag down a taxi.  You are much better off ringing one or finding a taxi rank.  There aren’t many taxi ranks around the city, mind.  You might be lucky near a shopping centre or the coach station usually has a queue of taxis, but apart from that you’re on your own.

Cost

While not cheap, taxis in Curitiba are not prohibitively expensive.  In Brazil, Curitiba is the 14th most expensive state capital for taxis when there is no traffic, and the 8th most expensive in traffic (source Veja).  In a survey from 2011 Rio was found to be about half way down the list of most expensive cities in the world to get a taxi (source: Price of Travel) and Curitiba is slightly more expensive than Rio.

Inside the taxi

Once you have found a taxi you are normally quite safe.  The drivers usually know where they are going, and if they don’t pretty much all of them now have GPS to guide them.  They are relatively safe drivers, especially compared to some of the maniacs I encountered in Rio.  The cars are also of a pretty good standard and are quite new and comfortable.  If you can speak a bit of Portuguese you will usually be quite entertained by most of them.  There seems to be a growing trend for female drivers, but this might just my own impression.

A true story

My brother and some of his friends came out to Curitiba in 2005 for my wedding.  We all went off to some restaurant and then ordered taxis to take us back to the hotel.  All the taxis got back at about the same time, except for my brother’s.  After about 15 minutes some people were starting to worry whether they had been kidnapped or something.  I wasn’t too bothered because if anybody can get lost in a foreign city and then miraculously find his way home again, it is my brother.

Lo and behold, after another 5 minutes my brother and 3 of his friends turned up in the taxi with huge grins on their faces and beers in their hands.  It turned out that the taxi driver had a TV in the front with a supply of porn films to pass the idle few moments when he wasn’t working.  He had taken the boys on a trip around Curitiba while they had a beer and watched his porn.  When he eventually arrived he only charged them the normal fare.  You don’t get service like that in Birmingham.

The airport

Curitiba airport isn’t actually in Curitiba.  This means that when you arrive you can only get a taxi with the Sao José dos Pinhais colours to drop you in Curitiba.  They charge an extra fee to get back to the airport because they can’t pick up a fare in Curitiba.  The same works the other way because you have to get a Curitibano taxi but they can’t get a fare at the airport.  Basically, a taxi from the airport to Curitiba city centre is going to cost you about R$60 assuming there is no serious traffic.  At the moment they are doing a lot of work on the road into the city, so there is a lot of traffic.

Related reading

World taxi prices – priceoftravel.com

Ranking of taxi tariffs in Brazil (in Portuguese) – veja.abril.com.br

Curitiba in figures (in Portuguese) – ippucweb.ippuc.org.br

Where the Wild Things Are

I never really got it

I never really got it

I didn’t read this book when I was a kid.  In fact I had never even heard about it until the film came out.  There was quite a bit of hype around the film with a number of people saying they had loved it when they were younger so I got the film on DVD.  I am not sure if I was more disappointed or confused.  I couldn’t quite see the point of the film, nor why it might have been a children’s classic.

No matter.  When Thomas was born it was one of the books I decided to get for him because if so many people thought it had been so influential in their young lives then maybe the problem was with the film, not the book.  Well, I was pretty wrong about that.

The book tells the story of a young boy who is sent to his bedroom for answering back to his mother.  Once in his room his imagination takes over and he travels off to the place where the wild things live.  After while he gets bored with this place and then comes back to real life where his dinner is waiting for him.  The text is very short, giving just the minimum information and allowing the pictures and your own imagination to do the rest of the work.

I didn’t get the fascination with the book.  I thought it was ok, but that was about it.  I have tried reading it to Thomas, but he never picks it as the one he wants.  When I show it to him he shakes his head forlornly and says ‘noooo’.  This might be because I wasn’t enthusiastic about it in the first place and so I never transmitted any positive energy about it to Thomas.  Or maybe Thomas is too young to know about answering back to his parents and then letting his imagination go wild.  Or it might just be that he doesn’t get it as well.

A Different Point of View

Where the Wild Things Are – suebe.wordpress.com

Where the Wild Things Are – commonsensemedia.org

Where the Wild Thngs Are – childrensbooks.about.com