With the first game of the World Cup kicking off in São Paulo in just a few days time, this city will be the first to find itself under the glare of the international spotlight. From what I’ve read online, the media has done a good job of stirring up a curiosity about Brazil for those in the UK….which gave me the idea of doing something a little different with this post.
Whilst people back home are judging Brazil, I wanted to give some of my Brazilian friends the opportunity to do just the same to my home town. Or rather towns. You see, I actually grew up in the market town of Northallerton but I was born in the coastal town of Scarborough. These can both be found in the north east of England, and I consider both to be ‘home’. So what I’m going to do is split this into two posts, with this first one focusing on some of the better known attractions of Scarborough.
For those of you who’ve not heard of this town, here is a Wikipedia rundown. “With a population of around 50,000 Scarborough is the largest holiday resort on the Yorkshire coast. The town has fishing and service industries.” Admittedly this makes the place sound incredibly dull, but as anyone who has had the pleasure of experiencing a night out there will be able to attest; this isn’t always the case!
Here is what my Brazilian friends thought about it!
“What are they doing?” asked my friend Carlos as he contemplated this picture of the children at the arcades.
“They’re playing on the slot machines. After they’ve put their money in the top, their coin could move the other coins, and then if they’re lucky they might win more money!”
Carlos’ face then creased into an expression of disbelief.”Andrew, are you telling me that those little girls are gambling?”
“Well sort of, but this is not really gambling…it is more playing for fun.”
“Andrew, maybe you don’t know much about this” he responded, “but when these little girls are more old, absolutely it won’t be fun. Not when they have nowhere to live because they’ve gambled all of their money at places like this. Gambling is not really a good idea, maybe you need to tell this to the children in your town!”
Admittedly this might seem like a bizarre comment to be making about a beloved British past time, but over in Brazil, gambling is actually illegal. Slot machines like this and games of bingo are not allowed (although the country is keen on the lottery). So if those two girls were playing on the slot machines here, they’d actually be breaking the law, which goes someway to justify Carlos’ way of thinking!
“Wait, is that ice cream?” He continued as he took another look at the picture.
“No, its an ice cream tub. We need something to hold all of our coins in when we go to these places”.
“Money in ice cream tubs? Really? How much money do you need? Are these people rich?”
After affirming that the coins were of a very low value and the girls didn’t have to spend much, I then spent a few minutes assuring him that the girls probably wouldn’t grow up to have addiction problems. But still, Carlos looked at me suspiciously. In this moment I decided not to show him the picture of Scarborough’s casino.
“Oh, this is nice!” said most of my friends as they glanced at this picture, before asking me to show them the other pictures I had. To be fair to them, I’m not really sure what sort of reaction I was expecting outside of this.
Just one person wanted to know a little more about it, although I suspect she asked me more for the sake of saying something than because she was genuinely interested. “And how old is this?” After conceding that I actually had no idea, I later did some research and discovered that work first began on it in the 1130s. So my original answer of “I’m not sure, but I know it’s pretty old” was spot on!
I’ve never seen a Brazilian child riding a donkey on a beach over here. So naturally, I just assumed it wasn’t something that Brazilians did.
“You do this in England too?” asked one of my friends. “Children also ride donkeys in the north of Brazil. I’ve never been on one though, have you?”
“Erm, yes” I replied.
“What was it like?”
“Well it’s been a while since I was last on one” I answered. In this moment I began to reminisce about the time I WASN’T a lanky 6″4 (193cm) guy who could sit on a donkey without giving it crippling back ache!
“Andrew, I LOVE Double Decker buses!” commented one friend enthusiastically. “When I lived in Ireland, I used to sit on the top of one ALL the time. It’s too bad we don’t have them here in São Paulo.”
When another friend saw this picture, he responded very differently. “What is that behind the bus?”
“That is the Grand Hotel”
“Andrew, that is not a hotel”.
“Erm…yes it is!”
“Andrew, no. It is Hogwarts!”
At that he began to laugh to himself, “you have a bridge that takes you to Hogwarts in your town! Really, I LOVE it”
Are you Brazilian? What do you think about the town of Scarborough in the UK from these pictures?
If you’re interested in learning more about Brazilian Culture, let me remind you that my ebook Trying to Understand Brazilian Culture is out now through Amazon, the link to it is here: