No, I dont' mean as a human being though I hope there has been some general progress in my lifetime.... I mean since we arrived here over 2 years ago. I had this revelation on Saturday when I had to go to TIM (cellphone company) because I had lost my phone (again).
1. I can speak Portuguese (mais ou menos)
2. I know that I need to bring my passport, RG, CPF and proof of address
3. I got there before lunchtime so there was no queue
These are the 3 vital points that made this visit SO pleasant, particularly when I look back to our very first visit to get some sim cards when we first arrived in Sao Paulo. Our questions back then were:
1. Why do you need my parent's names?
2. I want a pre-paid sim card, why do you need my address? Of course I don't have one, I only arrived in Sao Paulo yesterday.
3. Why doesn't my passport count as ID? What is an RG? What is a CPF?? F**k, I have to wait until we get all these before I can get a sim card??!!"*
Except my portuguese was so basic back then, all we could ask is
3. "Porque !!$%???"
My visit this time took 20 minutes, thankfully, as I was really hungry and kept telling Deborah that she needed to hurry up : ). She gave me a new sim card (R10) which is why your pre-paid sim card phone number is registered to you, and I also swapped from pre-paid to a post-pay which means I get a contract in the mail every month instead. My blackberry contract comes with pretty much unlimited calls, SMS and data for R110 a month but an iphone contract is R20 less for some reason....
Another thing to take note of is if you have a pre-paid phone you need to recharge it every 3 months (you can do this at newspaper stands, supermarkets, loterias etc) otherwise you will lose my number and with post-pay you need to make sure you use it within 4 months. If you are travelling out of Sao Paulo for a while but want to keep the same phone number, make sure you call them to let them know you still want to keep your number. You can close the number while you are away so you don't have to pay the bill, and then open the line again when you return. My fab TIM agent Deborah gave me all this information at the same time as she was registering my details. Multi-tasking in Brazil.. made me feel like I was back in Hong Kong! Maybe I was just lucky to have sat down with Deborah... hunt her down in the TIM store in Shopping El Dorado.
*We got my pre-paid sim card based on Tim's work visa, using his office address.