Brazil diary Day 3: Search for Ofe Nsala

My third day here at Sao Paulo’s Ibis Hotel (the one located opposite the Airport) started with breakfast as usual and then I caught up with Bright Gogo, a member of the House of Representatives from Rivers State where we had a short chat.

After that I guessed it was time to do some shopping and madam wants Brazilian hair so I had to go search for it.

I headed out to Braston hotel 456 Augusta street to see my man, Arafat Aliyu who had been of great help to me so far and couldn’t reach him because I still did not have a simm to make calls and like I found out later, I was at the wrong hotel.

Taking a walk to locate a call center I discovered a salon where my travelling colleague, Tonye Orabere decided to have a shave.

As has been our plight since we got here, explaining a haircut to the Brazilian lady took a while because a certain, Cafu who was supposed to attend to us was out.

She continued to go upstairs to talk to another lady who seemed to speak better English and at a point we decided to wait for whoever was upstairs to come down.

As soon as she came down, I couldn’t help but notice.

She smiled at us and said we should hold on a it and that was when I got a bit worried.

She didn’t sound as Brazilian as she looked so I asked her, “Are you Brazilian?” and she said, “No.”

My next question was simply elementary, “So what country are you from?’

Julia Umulele gave that radiant smile and said, “Nigeria”

My shock/ confusion immediately turned to relief as I now realized I had someone I could speak with and we would both understand each other

So I changed to pidgin English, “How long you don dey here?” which simply means, “How long have you lived here?” and she said 23 years?

I didn’t believe her… especially when she said she came to Brazil when she was 17.

I did a rough calculation, 17 plus 23 makes her 4o years old? She certainly did not look it.

The rest of that story, as they say is now history as I interviewed her for my news bit on radio and my colleague, Tonye Orabere had his hair cut and shave.

Meanwhile, Cafu, who was supposed to do the hair cutting and shaving was Julia’s cousin, Okafor.



Communication break down


Communication is a big issue here as between the Portuguese speaking Brazilians and the English speaking Nigerians hardly get by.

To buy a simm card takes 25 to thirty minutes and to buy recharge cards takes even longer because one, they do not call them simm cards like we do, they call them chips.

We then tried to get to the Shopping mall at Ibirapuera and stopped a taxi.

We told him where we were off to and he immediately turned on his GPS to lead us there.

Problem was, wherever the GPS was taking us was not the shopping mall at Ibirapuera because it was more like a facilities tour of Sao Paulo.

We kept going on and on and not getting close to our destination while his meter was running, and really fast too.

By the time his meter read RS 40 which was about $20 I stopped to ask him if he knew where we were going and of course he didn’t understand me but kept on mentioning the name, Ibirapuera and pointing forward.

I lost patience with him and shouted out loud at him giving him my best Pete Edochie impression of an angry man and he immediately stopped his car and asked a colleague who gave him what seemed like the address and our journey continued.

RS48 later and we angrily stopped him, paid him off and started finding our way on foot, while laughing how we “Fell mugu” to this Brazilian chap, spending so much money and not in any way getting to our destination.

A thirty minute walk later, we saw about a hundred meters from us, a sign post that read- Shopping Ibirapuera and it was relief as we had found our way even in the confusion of not knowing where we were going.


Looking for Ofe nsala


After shopping our souls away, we took a taxi back to the hotel where we met Nollywood man, Emeka Ike at the lobby.

Emeka had flown with us from Lagos and stayed in the same hotel. Pity I do not watch Nigerian movies and can’t name a single movie he has been in, but I found him a very interesting person to hang with.

He asked if we had eaten and we said we were tired of whatever it was we were eating so he said he was given an address where we could find real Nigerian food and not very expensive so we set off.

It was a bit far as the bill was RS 42 (about $20) but as soon as we arrived we could tell we had just landed somewhere in Enugu.

Official language there was Igbo and the kinds of food you would get at 9th Mile or Ogboloafor were easily found there.
As soon as the igbo chaps around sighted Emeka Ike, he got into a photo shoot session that lasted as long as it took our food to get ready.

Because of the rowdiness there and the fact that the “natives” wouldn’t allow Emeka be, we decided to take our food back to the hotel to eat.

I didn’t need any finesse on this one. I had ordered Ofe Nsala and semi with beef. I sat on the ground in my hotel room to eat. That was the only way I could enjoy that food.

The food was cheap, RS 10 which was just about $4, but the journey to get the food and back cost RS 90 (about $45) so it didn’t really make sense to do that every time we wanted to eat, did it?

Next for me is Porto Alegre as the Super Eagles play Argentina and qualify for the 2nd round of the World Cup.
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