9th day – back at Bom Retiro

Fieldwork requires a boldness of spirit and an endless reserve of energy. To start the day on a high note, I detoured through the street market on the way to the metro to pick up an empanada and cane sugar juice.

Stall selling empanadas

Then, I returned to the Arab restaurant in Bom Retiro as the owner told me last night to speak to his wife about their experience starting a business together. However, when I got there in the morning, the wife told me I should return to speak with ‘the owner’ at night…

… this was frustrating.

After some clarification, she chatted with me, but explained that she was not involved in the process of starting the business, as it was her husband’s idea to start the restaurant, and all the legal work was done by their business partner. She advised me to return on Wednesday when both her husband and the business partner would be around.

I’ll need to restrategize how to approach these guys.

After that, I popped into a bakery on the same street. The owner was there: an older man. (It’s noteworthy that the owners seem to be present at their stores in this neighborhood.) He was not at all interested in talking. He claimed to have nothing to say — but then proceeded to lament about the government for the next half hour. It was the same story about high taxes and high rent, pointing out all the closed shops along the street. He, too, inherited this bakery from his father (like the textile shop owner).

I asked him how he accesses credit, and he said he would sooner shut down his shop than deal with the banks and their devilish interest rates. I asked about organizations such as SEBRAE, and he said he had ‘heard’ about them. Customers in the bakery started chiming in with their opinions on the taxes, and then the owner disappeared behind the counter…

… he was a lost cause.

To end the post on a sweeter note, here’s a bowl of ice-blended açai with granola sprinkled on the top. It’s a popular dessert in Sao Paulo.

Açai dessert – ice-blended with granola topping


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