Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Taxi Conversations #2

I've had so many interesting conversations with taxi drivers since I've been living in Rio.  Only now did I realize that I should have been writing them down so as not to forget!  So I'll attempt to remember the most interesting conversations and record them here.  These are not presented in chronological order.


Conversation #1 here.

Taxi Conversation #2

One day I had a long-ish ride from Barra (Barra da Tijuca) to Copa (Copacabana), and luckily my taxi driver was so nice!  

I asked him if he was excited about the World Cup coming to Brazil.  He said "No," but then again, so has every Brazilian I've asked, no surprise there...  

I asked him if he was going to learn any English before the World Cup and Olympics, since there will be so many tourists (almost all of my taxi drivers have had minimal English skills - "Where you go?" "Good evening" "Thank you").  

He surprised me by saying, "Nope - I'm fluent in Japanese!"  

What?! Of course I responded with, "What?! Wow, that's so awesome! How did you learn Japanese?"  

Turns out he lived in Japan for 25 years!  He has already partnered with the Olympic committee in Brazil to be an official taxi driver for the Japanese tourists, come 2016.

This story is short and sweet, but I thought it was interesting.  It's rare to find working-class Brazilians who speak another language, and most of them are trying to learn English, if any.  The fact that this man was fluent in Japanese was very impressive.


Travel Tuesday

I think the key to having a good conversation with someone in a language you're just learning, is to master the phrase, "I'm learning [language]."  Every time I get in a taxi I say, "Disculpa, estou aprendendo Portugu√™s."  They are instantly thrilled and excited that I'm taking the effort to learn their language and talk to them.  They almost always speak more slowly and clearly, too.

So tell me, am I a weirdo for talking to my taxi drivers?  Do you talk to people you don't know when overseas?


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