Sunday, January 13, 2008

Uma Ausência de Relógios

Rio de Janeiro is everything I was told to expect. There is, however, one factor in the everyday life of Rio that bothers me. Everywhere I go, stores, bus stations, sporting events, places that one would expect might benefit from keeping track of the time, I find the exact same thing: An Absence of Clocks.

Time-tellers of any sort are no where to be found. Many South American countries, and most of the Spanish-speaking world, are pretty relaxed on time. But they at least seem to consider it important enough to merit placing a clock in the bedroom of their hotel guests. In 2006, California-based Hilton Hotels Corporation believed that their innovative new guestroom alarm clock would have such an impact on customer preference, it was made the focus of a year-long multi-channel media campaign.

The five room suite I’m in at the Ipanema Tower in Rio has not even one clock anywhere in it. Correction, there is apparently a clock on the microwave, but it is flashing 12:00 and I can only see it if I am directly in front of the cupboards against the kitchen wall. Neither is there a clock in the gym, the lobby, or the dining area. There are actually three (3) clocks at the reception desk; however, being that they give the hour in Rio de Janeiro, New York, and Rome, I have determined they are more for decoration than actual time-telling.

My own cultural distinction becomes very apparent to me in that I feel completely lost without knowing what time it is. I find myself constantly reaching for the cell phone that has doubled as a watch for me since its inception in 1999. Imagine my frustration now that, since my cell phone can neither send or receive calls, I have ceased carrying it with me to serve in its time-keeper capacity, but have now, instead, left it on the hotel nightstand by our bed. Where the clock should be. --Shawn Butler

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