Renting an Apartment – 1940

Versão em português no final. Btw, 50 mil réis = R$18 +/- today

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An Apartment for Sale by Lucia Benedetti
RdS, January 20 1940

Scenario: The front of an apartment building, with a hanging sign at the entrance that says: “FOR SALE 1 APARTMENT”. A customer (C) talks with the manager (M), solicitious and a flatterer.

M – You haven’t factored in everything. Since I’ve been in charge here, there’s been no empty apartments…Everything is renting like crazy…Also due to the prices!

C – Ok, well…the apartment is kind of small, but it’s not all bad…

M – Bad? It’s great, splendid! And the location? Excellent. Tram 10 minutes away, bus, 20…And the price? Very low!

C – Very low?

M – 200 mil réis, fees aside…

C – 200 mil rés, fees aside. Yeah…that’s not bad. 200 mil réis…

M – And fees…

C – So about 50 mil réis in fees…

M – 50 mil réis for building upkeep. But it’s nothing.

C – Yes, of course. 50 mil réis for the upkeep of the elevator…

M – With the elevator, 50 more…

C – 50 more?

M – But it’s an advantage. You understand, who’s going to want to climb the stairs to the 6th floor multiple times per day? No one. That’s why there’s an elevator. No one could handle such exercise…

C – Yeah…it’s too much for one’s legs…

M – Comfort is everything, my friend. Everything. It’s worth it to pay 50 more than to have legs that hurt, swollen feet…

C – And cruches cost a lot now.

M – Yeah. The cost of cruches went up a lot due to the war.

C – Agreed. And…is there a lot of water?

M – Wha…it gushes out of the faucets. It never runs out here. The whole neighborhood comes to get water here. An incredible abundance!

C – Great! Great! There’s nothing more comforting than a good bath…

M – Bath included, another 50 mil réis…

C – But that’s crazy! 50 mil réis to take a bath?

M – But…and what about your comfort? And the cleaning? Aren’t they worth it?

C – Yeah…With the heat one can’t get through it without a bath…I’m liking the apartment more and more. It has a nice view, there from the balcony…

M – With a balcony, that’s another 50.

C – Another 50?

M – Fees…The city government is very jealous now of its landscape. We have to defend ourselves…More and more it’s worth it, after dinner, sitting in a lounge chair and looking out over the sea, the boats, the sunset…

C – The sunset is free?

M – Yes. A bonus.

C – My wife loves sunsets…

M – Being married, another 50.

C – But you think that I’d need a 2 bedroom apartment and a living room if I were single? That’s a good one! I’m married, yes sir! Legally and religiously! Look at that!…You thought I didn’t have a wife, huh?

M – There’s a lot of single lads around here. They pay less, it’s true. But also, it’s not something to praise. Just another 50 mil réis…

C – Just another 50 mil réis…Well, with another 50 I can buy two pairs of shoes for my kids!

M – You have kids?

C – I have 2…

M – Boys?

C – A boy and a girl. Not to brag, but they’re very intelligent. The oldest is 6 and already knows how to read. The youngest is 3 and sings on the radio. It’s a delight…

M – They really are smart. At 6 I only knew how to ask for candy and make trouble…With kids, another 50 mil réis.

C – Another 50?

M – That’s right because it’s you and you already said it’s a boy and a girl. If it were two boys, the fee would be higher: 100 mil réis…

C – 100 mil réis? But why is that?

M – Vital space!

C – My lord…My wife is going to have another baby by the year’s end…and I don’t know if it will be a boy or girl…

M – While the stork has yet to arrive, you’ll just pay 30 mil réis more…

C – Before it’s born? That’s absurd!

M – Look at the advantages before complaining. Moving, you’re going to want to bring your wife, right?

C – Of course.

M – And doesn’t she like the sunset?

C – She loves it.

M – So then? It’s happiness that you give her. In this delicate state, women should be treated with much affection. She will be content and the little one will be born healthy and happy…

C – Thinking twice, ok…

M – So, you agree…

C – I’m kind of alarmed. Adding it all up how much is it?

M – 200…300…400…450…500…550…600…680. 680.

C – And the contract?

M – Look, don’t worry about the contract…It’s for three years, at least. But in general those who come here never leave. They stay the rest of their life. However, the timeline isn’t important.

C – I have a good co-signer…

M – Congrats. It’s hard to find one these days. But we don’t like co-signers. We prefer deposits.

C – A deposit? And…and…how much is that?

M – Two and a half years of rent as a deposit isn’t asking that much, is it?

C – It could be more. Five years, six…

M – Exactly. But we ask for just two and a half years in advance because we have other small demands. Things of little importance, you’ll see…

C – Yeah? Like what?

M – For example, if you wanted to move somehwere else…

C – Another 50 mil réis…

M – No…quite wrong…Nothing like that. We just would want you to leave the apartment as clean as it was when you got here. With a recent paint job, clean windows, brand new faucets, spotless floor, walls without nail marks, repainted stove, bathroom perfect…

C – Bright ceiling, doors without stains, in effect, everything perfect as if I had entered one day and left the next.

M – Perfect. You understand. All this kills us financially. There are 300 apartments here. If it would be necessary to fix them all, rent money wouldn’t go to anything else…

C – You’re right…

M – So you’ll take the apartment?

C – No. I’m going to make an amusing story of it.

I0000123-02PX=000000PY=000000 (clique 2x para ler em português)

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Hotel Pharoux – Rio’s First

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Louis Pharoux, born in Marseille, France, fought beside Napoleon and later decided to exile himself and rebuild his life in the tropics for political reasons.

Located near the Praça XV (back then called Largo do Paço), Rio de Janeiro’s first hotel was the Hotel Pharoux (1816-1959), built shortly after the Portuguese court came to Rio. The old pier at the water’s edge of the Largo do Paço was also given the name of the French soldier and businessman. The Cais Pharoux (seen here in a 1916 postcard), just like the hotel that sat beside it, revitalized the area.

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The undertaking of building the hotel with international standards practically created a new sector, and others followed suit in the decades that followed (like the famous Hotel dos Estrangeiros). Aside from good accomodations, the public was immediately won over by the excellent food and quality French wine on offer, making the Pharoux a true oasis of civilization and good taste in a rather brutal land, isolated from the world for centuries. – Source (PT)

By 1858, the hotel started to fall into disuse and Mr. Pharoux returned to France several years later, at which point it began to be used as a hospital. In 1959, the building was demolished to make way for the Perimetral overpass (which was recently demolished, too).

Valongo slave market

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(The Valongo market, around 1830)

The second largest slave market, in downtown Rio de Janeiro, started in the middle of the 18th century and was known as Valongo. Actually, the name comes from two beaches, that no longer exist, called Vallongo and Vallonguinho and they both formed a small bay where the slave ships would dock. A British clergyman named Robert Walsh, who visited Rio in the early 1800’s, had this to say of the slaves in Valongo,

“They were all doomed to remain on the spot, like sheep in a pen, till they were sold; they have no apartment to retire to, no bed to repose on, no covering to protect them; they sit naked all day, and lie naked all night, on the bare boards, or benches, where we saw them exhibited.”

I’m actually reading Mr. Walsh’s account of his travels and finding it fascinating, as I often wonder what people must have thought about foreigners in Rio centuries ago, slaves included. Having lived in favelas brang me pretty close to how life was in colonial times since I’d be awaken by roosters and calls of fresh bread by the local baker passing by with a basket on his shoulder. Suffice to say, my day was full of a myriad of other examples that correspond to my current and past readings on the era. I’m not sure how I would have dealt with living in a time where slavery existed. One could have tried to ignore it, been openly against it or have simply been a part of it and treated them with dignity. I’m not sure there’s a clear and correct answer.