Shopping SAARA: Rua da Alfândega

Nothing gets a toddler out the door like an adventure and today I promised the train.   I could call the letter of the day “T” for train and temper tantrum, but I am trying to forget the latter.  So we will go letter-less.

L woke up early and we headed out after breakfast.

Purpose: Find dresses/outfits for Saturday’s Festa Junina party (you can find a pretty succinct overview of the holiday right here)

Destination:   SAARA (Sociedade de Amigos das Adjacências da Rua da Alfândega)

Translation:   “Society of Friends of the street next to Customs Street”

I know, it seems like a long and lame name for a shopping area, but apparently, saara is Portuguese for “sahara” and the area was originally populated by Jewish, Lebanese, Syrian and Greek merchants after a ban prohibiting their residence in the area was lifted in the eighteenth century.   And the area feels just like that with all kinds of stores pouring out into the streets.  The area has become more diversified with a growing number of Chinese  and Korean shop owners as well.

L and I left around 10 a.m. and arrived a half our later.   We got off the metro at Uruguaiana (there are other stops that will get you there too).  We took the Rua da Alfândega exit and were smack in the middle of the action.

I left the stroller behind fearing that it would be too crowded to get around.    I was pleasantly surprised that while busy, it wasn’t overwhelmingly crowded.  I am not sure I would venture out on a Saturday when the potential for a larger crowd seems higher.  Like most of the shops here, it is closed on Sundays.   Anyway, getting in and out of the shops would have been a challenge with our over sized stroller, but having it would have saved me a lot of lugging around a toddler.

While I do love wandering through these kinds of places, I get claustrophobic of people and in all honesty, I hate shopping.   So I decided to try to be strategic. Granted, I had the incentive of finding similar poorly sewn polyester dresses in Copacabana for R$70 ($30 USD) to keep me going.  I went into the first store and found a dress that L liked for half that price (we will see if she will actually end up wearing it in the end).  The sales woman tried to talk her into a hat, or a barrette or a headband with a hat glued on it, but L wanted nothing to do with it.    I let it go.  She has never liked things in her hair and if she really wants to wear a hat come Saturday, she has a red cowboy hat that will do just fine.   She hated the flowery girl hats anyway.

At that point I had to fight my instinct to flee.   Upon asking random people if everyone actually dresses up for these parties and having them tell me “yes”, I realized that one trip would be better than two.  I found a hat for S with a red kerchief and a plaid shirt for me with a straw hat that has two random yellow braids glued to it.  By noon, we grabbed a snack and headed home.

All and all it was a nice outing, much nicer than my second outing to the grocery store that ended me carrying a screaming, flailing two year old seven blocks back to my house while trying to push the stroller full of groceries.

It was refreshing to see some more reasonable prices.  That said, L really wanted me to buy her a play tool set that was made out of cheap plastic and I thought it was still too much.    I guess I wait for that point where I stop doing conversions and just live here.    But not yet.

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One thought on “Shopping SAARA: Rua da Alfândega

  1. Read the site about the holiday. Perhaps you and Samir should get re-married at the festival and clean up any marriage license difficulties. Ha! Love that plaid shirt. Your would have killed me if I had ever bought you one like that.

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