Tom and I realized this weekend why we both tumble into bed absolutely exhausted most nights. It’s life here in Sao Paulo, where even the simplest things can be stressors: grocery shopping, answering the phone, paying for delivery, trying to open a bank account, or just driving.

The patio furniture we ordered on May 1 arrived on Thursday. It’s gorgeous and well worth the wait. This is basically my new office furniture.

That morning, the store manager called Tom at work and said the furniture would be delivered midday. Tom came home at lunch, since I panicked about speaking with the delivery men in any coherent way (I’d left the water delivery fellow down in the portage gate that morning. I had gotten the porteira to understand that I wanted the water brought to our door, but hadn’t understood that I needed to accompany the delivery guy to our door. He finally just left, taking the water with him).

The truck arrived just before five pm. One fellow had to stay with the truck on the street (no delivery trucks in the gates, I guess), so Tom had to help the kid carry all of the furniture to the service elevator. Then, they couldn’t get three of the pieces into the house through the back door, due to the configuration of the kitchen, so they had to stuff it all back into the service elevator, go back to the bottom floor, carry it all to the social elevator, and bring it up. (Of course, that involved waiting for elevators, as this was the time that all the home help was leaving and kids were returning from school, so they had to wait a long time for both elevators, both directions.) They finally got it carried in, and we put the feet back on the couch and chairs, and tried to pay (the driver was calling impatiently, as he was parked in after-work traffic).

Tom had verified that we could pay the remainder owed by credit card. Turns out, the delivery fellows had no way to accept payment. Someone came the next day to accept payment; I took three credit cards down, determined to have at least one work; they don’t always. His machine wouldn’t read any of the cards; we don’t have the microchip on our cards, only the strip, and his strip reader wouldn’t read. We still haven’t made the payment. Can’t do it over the phone; they won’t accept it that way. Can’t do it online; they’re not set up for it. Tom has to go to the bank today and make the payment to the store’s account in cash.

As we did our grocery shopping this Saturday, I wandered the store with my list and my iPhone, looking up items on my Google Translator, and sending Tom off to find random coisas (things). Who knew that barley would be so hard to find? Well, impossible. The four gals who helped him had never heard of it. And baking soda? Never found that. Bouillon cubes? Finally found an equivalent in the soup section after half an hour. Bread crumbs? Nope, guess I’ll make my own. Sour cream? Apparently, they don’t use it here. No one has ever heard of nata, or its equivalent.

The iPhone also came in handy on Friday night when we took a friend home after an evening at a jazz club. Her place was only 10 km away, but it seems that you can’t get on the major roads here except at certain intersections, which are few and far between. I became the official GPS (thanks to Google Maps), working to get us to her apartment. It took half an hour. Getting home was a breeze, since we found the on-ramp right away and didn’t have to do a work-around. Two weeks ago when he’d dropped her off after dinner at our house, Tom called me an hour after he’d left home, from across the river. “I’m lost.” Boy howdy, was he! I got on the computer, found his location on Google Maps, and talked him home. (I ordered a Garmin GPS yesterday. Could have used it again this morning, as I had to talk him to a business rendezvous near the spot we drove on Friday night.)

I can’t tell you how I panic when the phone rings (not the US Vonage phone, just either of the two, yes two, Brazil phones). I am craven enough that I sometimes just let them ring. I’ve answered too many wrong numbers (or so I believe) and figure there’s no one who really needs to be talking to me yet, so if it’s not one of three people I know here, what’s the point?

It’ll all get easier, we know, but for now, we’re pooped by the end of the day.