Getting home late at night (or early in the morning) can be challenging for many reasons (crocodiles, muggers, ropes courses, etc.), but Brazil adds another level of difficulty to the problem.
In every (or at least most) apartment building there are two elevators: the “social” elevator and what we shall refer to as the “peasant” elevator (for people either returning late at night, with animals, from the beach, or etc.).
Now these two can be sometimes be found side-by-side, or other times rooms apart from one another; more often than not they are located at least within sight of one another.
The two-step process associated with arriving home late consists of:
- Wake up your porteiro (doorman), who has fallen asleep at his post (sometimes even with a pillow)
- Decipher, based on the current hour, which elevator you are permitted to use.
In some cases, you will have to enter a door directly behind the porteiro (which requires that he stand up and let you pass) to access the (secret) elevator room.
Usually the rising of the porteiro is accompanied by audible grunts and guttural noises indicating the inconvenience you have caused his napping (whilst at work, mind you).
Then again, I know a lot of people who feel this way about their jobs.