APR 2006: Student Dorms
Experiences of a Dutchman living in Belo Horizonte, since December 2004, from month to month.
April 2006: Apartamentos and repúblicas, Brazilian student dorms
Hammock and cachaça
Like the previous months, April 2006 was a very quiet month for me. No traveling, no social gatherings in the weekends. But I had to leave the apartment, where I stayed since last July. Initially I lived there with a PhD student from Ceará, who has a strong preference for sleeping in a hammock, and to consume large quantities of cachaça. Only a few weeks later, two friends of his department arrived at our apartment, but they did not stay long. Due to a student party, that lasted a full day, complete with a barbecue, a lot of beer and very loud music, the three were forced to leave. I remained in the apartment; once and a while, the professor – the actual tenant – arrived to check his mail.
Crispy, fresh bread rolls for breakfast and supper
Since the beginning of the year it was clear that I eventually had to move. For a gringo like me, it is far from easy to find another location. Brazilians have their connections and their friends, but I had not that much. Every month, the moving date was postponed. In January, a master’s student and her Canadian boyfriend joined me in the apartment. I lost part of my freedom and privacy, but I could economize two-thirds of my rental. Less than two months later, the couple moved to another apartment, where they lived together, until they split up, and the Canadian decided to leave Brazil for good.
In April, I received the news that the professor, who rented the apartment, was no long able to keep the apartment. He had moved to the state of Roraima, near Venezuela, where he gave lectures. To keep the apartment in Belo Horizonte, he had to spend expensive flights from Roraima, every two months. Immediately I had to ask my friends to help me searching for another place to live. And indeed, another place was found rather quickly. Two students were searching for a roommate (apartment mate in fact), to have more control of the rental. Since I only had collected a small amount of personal belongings in a year time, I was able to move everything on foot, with the help of my new roommates.
The little church in Pampulha, illuminated at night
Pile of mattresses
The apartment of two students was about seven hundred meters away from the previous apartment, and was part of a large apartment complex, which consisted of blocks with 4 floors each. The complex was fenced and had an access via the porter, who was present day and night. I had my little room between the shower and the kitchen. There were no windows. I had no bed, but I used a pile of thin mattresses and sleeping bags to sleep on. There was no furniture in my room, but I could freely use the furniture in the living room. I also was free to use the kitchen and washing machine. I started to know the way of life in a so-called República: a dorm full of freedom and free of rules.
‘Fatboy’ and ‘Cockroach’
The two students had been given nicknames by their fellow students; they were called ‘gordinho’ (fatboy) and “Barata” (cockroach). Did I receive nicknames? At most, “Holandês’ or ‘Alemão’ because of my background or my white appearance. The duo studied pharmacy at the university. Almost every night, a number of befriended students arrived in the apartment, to play video games or drink some beers. Fortunately, the guests went home early or slept early on the sleeping mats in the living room. Barata and Gordinho were not very trained in cleaning and maintaining the apartment. Quite often, I almost tripped over sneakers and socks spread around, I had to battle various obstacles in order to reach the kitchen or my room. The kitchen was a real bagunça, a total mess. Only once every ten days, on average, Barata and Gordinho spent some time to clean up that mess.
Fortunately, the two were not noisy. They liked to talk with me, and were very helpful. I accepted their shortcomings in terms of cleaning and maintenance, and spent a nice time in the República. One night, I was surprised by the arrival of a student, holding the hand of another – female – student. He introduced himself in English, and explained that he had permission to ‘use’ Barata’s room. I allowed him to go there. Less than five minutes, later he came in the living room, with a red head, and asked if I had a “camisinha ‘(condom) for him. I did not have, and he went out to find one at the chemist’s. He told me, that I could ‘use’ her meanwhile. I did not react, and went on with my work. That student was far from pretty, and I had much work to do. Half an hour later, he returned, and disappeared into the bedroom. An hour later, Barata arrived. Since the lovers had fallen asleep, there was no other option for him, than to sleep in the living room, on a number of thin sleeping mats. That is what friends are for…
By Dr. Adriano Antoine Robbesom
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- Travel in Brazil: Bus Travel Belo Horizonte – FORTALEZA (07). Colorful Sunrise in Canoa Quebrada (CE) (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Brazilian Days (230): August 18 (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)
- Travel in Brazil: Bus Travel Belo Horizonte – FORTALEZA (09). One Day At The Beaches in Canoa Quebrada (CE) (insiderbrazil.wordpress.com)