When I arrived in Rio I had no idea I would end up living here – I thought I would stay for 3 or 4 weeks, one last hurrah at the end of nearly 12 months away from home. So I was in holiday mode – lots of sight seeing, trips to the beach, going out and drinking. And lots of drinking means plenty of trips to the banheiro (ban-YEAH-ro – toilet, bathroom, restroom, loo).
After a few days I noticed that many establishments seemed to be trying to tell me the same thing: “2 folhas para mãos suavemente secas”. And they would always provide this information in the same place – the paper towel dispenser:
Here you see a slight variation on the traditional wording of the message. The meaning is just the same.
Now you don’t have to be an expert in Portuguese to get the general idea here. It’s saying that you should just use two sheets to dry your hands. And that is a good message right? It’s saying economise, it’s saying save the trees, save the planet. And yet there is something about this message that seems to get people a little bit wound up for a variety of reasons…