I guess I already had posted today... oh well two for the price of one... oh what the hell, I will post some travel deals too!
I make an effort to post on this blog every single day, despite whether or not I am "available" each day (thanks to typepad for allowing for post scheduling ahead of time...) Today I find myself slipping a single post in shortly before midnight to keep up with what I've started... the past few days I've been working on Mr. DRL & my wedding albums (we were married on October 6th, 2007), let's just say that I now know why the photographers charge what they do to put these things together (especially in our case - with two sets of divorced parents, meaning double the albums and double the double checking of which photos of which relatives are in which albums...) I cannot cannot cannot believe how long this has taken but I think I am finally satisfied with them and will send them off for printing... gotta love technology... and Shutterfly!
We received word today that we get the keys to our apartment on Friday. After a month of questions and negotiations, lickety-split we're in, apparently. So we are quite excited about that!
Today I went to the orchid exhibit at Jardim Botanico, very impressive! The rain was also quite impressive today, which made for an interesting and very wet outing. I will post photos of my favorite orchids soon.
Today I checked out a few more country clubs of Rio and leisure center type places along the lagoa (I will post a full review of my "research" soon), a few interesting Brazil-esque sightings:
The fact that Brazil's middle class is nearly non-existent reveals itself when one goes shopping for an apartment or anything to put in said apartment.
When we were apartment hunting in Rio, we initially were looking for a 2 bedroom place.
We soon realized that most two bedroom apartments were quite small, less than 1,000 square feet (or approximately 100 square meters)... "too small" even though we don't have any "stuff"... right. (We do want a lot of people to come visit us though which is why we do need a bit of space, to accomodate visitors.)
Aside: Exact metric conversions here, for more click here.
100 square meters = 1076 square feet
150 square meters = 1615 square feet
200 square meters = 2153 square feet
So, LOOSELY, multiply by ten is the rule...
Less than 1,000 square feet would be a bit squishy for us especially with guests and especially when we spend much more time at home here than we would at home being that we do not have the same "freedom of movement" as we enjoy in North America (especially after dark). We required space to allow for the option work from home. Generally a less-than-1,000-square-foot apartment here with two bedrooms does not allow for this. So, we thought we'd get a 3 bedroom and turn the third bedroom into an office. The funny thing to me was that once we increased to 3 bedrooms there was not even the need to do this as suddently the apartments (with very few exceptions) jumped 1,000 square feet and there were many options for where to put a comfortable home workspace. Just one example of one lack of ""happy medium" here. Happy medium, by the way, is what we gringoes are used to. Happy medium is almost everyone, back at home.
So now we are getting a 3 bedroom apartment which will have two guestrooms (because there is a long hallway area which will make a fantastic workspace for me), plus good sized quarters in case we had an empregada (live-in maid)... 200 square meters (it's bigger than the townhouse we have back home). We were looking for simplicity!
Much like everything else in Rio, the city of extremes, it's all or nothing, baby!
Buying furniture is much the same...
And as a sidenote:
We came, planning to stay for two years, foreigners in Brazil with seven suitcases, not exactly a house full of furniture (with not so much as a can opener, my new favorite line...), embracing the idea of living a simple life in a rented furnished apartment, and not accumulating many more possessions during this period in our life with the exception of any art we fell in love with. Because stuff is evil and then you have to maintain stuff and clean stuff and store stuff and move stuff and sell stuff. Stuff ties you down. So we thought we'd have no "stuff"... Wrong.
There are some great flight deals if you are coming to Rio:
Miami (MIA) to Rio de Janeiro (RIO)
|$622+||Upcoming Weekends||22 - 26 May||search|
|$594+||May 2008||18 - 25 May||search|
|$602+||Jun 2008||19 - 24 Jun||search|
|$674+||Jul 2008||18 Jul - 11 Aug||search|
|$671+||Aug 2008||14 Aug - 1 Oct||search|
|$680+||Sep 2008||2 - 16 Sep||search|
|$671+||Oct 2008||23 - 31 Oct||search|
|$680+||Nov 2008||21 - 28 Nov||search|
|$725+||Dec 2008||26 Dec - 10 Jan||search|
|$688+||Mar 2009||1 - 8 Mar||search|
Toronto (YTO) to Rio de Janeiro (RIO)
|$1028+||Apr 2008||30 Apr - 2 May||search|
|$1003+||Dec 2008||6 - 13 Dec||search|
London to Rio:
|$897+||May 2008||8 - 18 May||search|
|$992+||Jun 2008||9 - 23 Jun||search|
Seattle to Rio:
|$961+||Upcoming Weekends||29 May - 2 Jun||search|
|$933+||May 2008||19 - 26 May||search|
|$940+||Jun 2008||6 - 19 Jun||search|
|$1134+||Jul 2008||7 - 21 Jul||search|
|$939+||Aug 2008||14 Aug - 15 Sep||search|
|$932+||Sep 2008||3 - 24 Sep||search|
|$940+||Oct 2008||15 - 25 Oct||search|
|$932+||Nov 2008||27 Nov - 4 Dec||search|
|$940+||Dec 2008||8 - 18 Dec||search|
New York City to Rio:
|$680+||Aug 2008||30 Aug - 10 Sep||search|
|$672+||Sep 2008||21 - 28 Sep||search|
|$672+||Oct 2008||19 Oct - 9 Nov||search|
|$680+||Nov 2008||21 - 29 Nov||search|
|$1076+||Dec 2008||16 Dec - 7 Jan||search|
|$680+||Jan 2009||31 Jan - 7 Feb||search|
|$680+||Feb 2009||9 - 15 Feb||search|
Houston to Rio:
|$1007+||Jun 2008||3 - 10 Jun||search|
|$1000+||Oct 2008||9 - 28 Oct||search|
Los Angeles to Rio:
2 reasons this post is relevant...
1)Apparently Armani Exchange really likes shooting their ads in Brazil (including this one)
2)It is swimsuit weather year round in Brazil (for this gringo, anyway) and I think that yellow swimsuit is hot and just might have to get it. I wonder if it comes in other colors. Luckily I can check, there are Armani Exchange stores here. Oh! That makes three relevant reasons for this post. Hooray!
I "borrowed" this first one from Inside South America, a blog I quite enjoy, written by the Washington Bureau's foreign correspondents in South America.
Brazilian hackers show again why they're world famous:
Brazilian computer hackers are known the world over for their ingenuousness,
trio is winning attention in the international tech world this week.
In a nut shell, the hackers physically opened up an ATM in a bank in the southern Brazilian city of Caxias do Sul, replaced the computer inside with an Eee PC, which is an inexpensive laptop that performs basic functions, closed the ATM and then let the laptop collect people's personal info when the customers slid their bank cards in.
To make sure customers used the rigged ATM, they broke all the other ATMs in the bank. The gang was caught on camera and only apprehended when one of them tried to report a traffic accident at a local police station.
As an aside, I had NO IDEA Brazilian hackers were world famous...
Friday was not a peaceful day in Cidade de Deus, the favela made famous by the movie of the same name (City of God) - police entered and killed 11 people (10 of which they say were drug traffickers).
Speaking of violence in Brazil, I am very glad I do not live in Recife, the city has an annual homicide rate of 90.9 per 100,000. In Rio, it's somewhere in the ballpark of the mid-forties, depending on the source. To compare to North America, in 2006, Detroit's rate was 47, New York's rate was 26, and in 2005 in the Great White North, Edmonton's rate was the highest with 4, with other major Canadian cities are around 2.
The search for a missing Roman Catholic Priest missing since last Sunday after he soared
from the city of Paranagua under a cluster of 1,000 helium filled
party balloons wearing a helmet, an aluminum thermal flight suit, waterproof coveralls and a
parachute, carrying enough food and water to last for five days. What a site that must have been. Yep, this time I am spending here in Brazil just keeps giving me one reason after another to reaffirm my "Recovering Catholic" status.
I just found this fantastic news blog, The Good News Network and low and behold they had something to say about Brazil.
Click here to watch a video on Lula's new $1.6 Billion project to increase infrastructure in the favelas (streets, lighting, even cable car links). Construction has begun in Rio's Complexo de Alemao.
After reviewing some of the recent comments on the blog (thank you, I truly appreciate every single one of them! And I mean that.) - something struck me as funny...
I have been accused of being controversial before (not as a blogger, rather as an individual, I have been known to stir up trouble writing letters to media, that sort of thing), I try to make this blog as "through the eyes of the naive gringo" as possible. It's not hard, considering I am said naive gringo. I don't claim to know all, my journey and experiences determine the topics which I blog about. But that all aside, two of my recent posts (Bling Bling and Scratch & Sniff) have struck a nerve with some readers, which considering that subjects and posts such as my abortion rant about Palm Sunday have not... (I really expected to get it on that one, but not even one comment) very interesting! I am enjoying learning more about my readers and your experiences, it is more valuable to me than you know.
Tomorrow marks the one-month anniversary of the date we found "the one" - the apartment we would like to live in for the duration of our time in Brazil, also known as the next two years. I reported on having "secured" said one, on March 30th... secured is apparently a loose term... You will notice there was not an interruption of posts on account of a "moving day" occurring, nor has there been a post about the adventures of said move...
Because after an entire MONTH, during which several lawyers reviewed a number of documents (lease and sublease agreements, it turns out, along with the financial statements of the company my husband works for, guarantees by the board of his company, they apparently drew the line at a letter of reference from our fourth-grade teachers...) we still do not have a signed lease. Which means we do not yet have an apartment. Which means that those appliances I ordered, well, we had to reschedule the delivery of those. Which was supposed to happen yesterday. Silly me thought a couple more weeks ought to be enough time to sort all of this out, but apparently not!
When we found the apartment, being that it was VACANT and had "about four more days worth of reno's" which would need to be done, we figured we'd move in within two weeks or so at most, padding our estimate, Brazilian style. Wrong!
There are of course some advantages to this situation, one of which: some of our furniture is not ready/manufactured, so the time in which we will have empty rooms is lessened. We are just so very excited to move in to our new place and feel more at home and settled.
To put this in context for my Brazilian Readers: Understand that in North America, if we were to rent an apartment we would not even dream of consulting a lawyer, let alone several lawyers. There would be no reason to do this. Even when we bought our house, we spent exactly 20 minutes with a lawyer, which was entirely a formality, as certain documents needed signing by a lawyer representing us. A matter such as putting a rental lease together and having both sides agree would take no more than 48 hours, unless there were special circumstances, in which case a week would be considered to be a very long time to tie up loose ends of this nature. Having lived in a city with a VERY low vacancy rate for the past 7 years, typically a rental property would go on the market in the first week of the month, (while the previous tenant was still living there), have a tenant lined up by mid month, who would move in at the end of the month after the previous tenant moved out. If the apartment was for some reason vacant before this point, the new tenant could move in early. Simple.
Expats: Be prepared for a long, arduous process when renting an apartment as a foreigner in Rio. If you read my previous entries on the apartment hunt in Brazil, it took a long time for us to even find a suitable place, and now we wait even longer to take possession. Be prepared to provide extensive information about yourselves, your company (I am NOT kidding about the financial statements of the company my husband works for or guarantees by the board of directors... and this is apparently very common here), why you are here, etc. in order to secure a place to live. This is one of many situations in which I think we are lucky that we don't have kids down here, having to wait months on end for a bigger place is not such a big deal for the two of us but if we had children we'd probably go stir-crazy in our little apart-hotel...
If you are looking to find a place to live in Rio, I found another site for you - it does not list prices but a quick inquiry email should fix that. www.alanfrombrazil.com
To file on the list of things I don't miss:
Coming from a city in North America which is suffering with a serious case of status anxiety, it is refreshing to be living here in Rio, not be dealing with people only caring about how big the rock is on your finger, what kind of car you drive, how big your house is, where you work and how many stock options you have.
The rocks & cars are noticeably missing in Rio (which is ironic in a way, considering how Rio is known for the exquisite jewellery of H. Stern, also known as the preferred jeweller of Eva Longoria among others), as they attracted unwanted attention and have the potential to make you a "target"... I can't say I miss what they represent as status symbols (don't get me wrong I will breaking my wedding rings out of safety deposit to wear this summer when I go home to visit) but I miss them for the nostalgia of what they represent to me, not the currency they represent. Please note that this new insight is coming from a girl who squealed with glee less than a year ago when my now-husband upgraded the band on my engagement ring before our wedding. On the car situation, I absolutely love (and find it quite hilarious) that a Toyota Corolla is considered a luxury car in Brazil, the only reason I find it funny is that I drove one for years and mine was definitely NOT a luxury car. I quite like the new ones!
These things matter less here. The focus becomes more towards the things that really matter - people, experiences, and the moment at hand. I hope to bring a piece of this home with me when I leave.
One one wild goosechase after another, I've had the pleasure of checking out many of Ipanema & Leblon's little malls along the main strip today, finding many hidden treasures along the way. Worth checking out!
I wonder how long it will be until we have smell technology so that I could share this post with you in a more realistic format. Luckily for you, I am not aware of such technology…
The sights of Rio are easily captured and shared, be it via digital photo, description, etc. The sounds? Bring earplugs! It's loud. The smells, well, those are another story. Much has already been written on this topic and it is never my intent to reinvent the wheel – another post on this topic is RioGringa's "The Scintillating Smell of the City" ...
My take on it: the smells of Rio are just like every other aspect of Rio – a mix of exquisite and disgusting, completely unexpected, you just never quite know what you are going to get a whiff of when you turn a corner. Everything about Rio is a juxtapose of extremes. Every day my nose gets a workout, a full range of scents which change as quickly as the traffic lights and generally go something like this: fresh salt air, open sewer, delicious sweet bakery smell, sunscreen, sun dried meat, French perfume, sewer, sun dried salted cod (worse than sewer I think), coconut sunscreen, delicious food smells, the worst body odour imaginable, fresh bread, soap (a lot of places have a soap smell here), cigarettes, cheap Calgon perfume (the most offensive of all…), open sewer, coconut, garbage, fresh cut fruit, rotting fruit.
Smoking is apparently still much more “moito chique” than it is at home…
I think one of the reasons I do not like to shop at Zona Sul is because of the smell, it has a rotting grape juice smell outside of it. Don’t ask me how I came up with that description, it’s just what it smells like to me. I’ve often said if I ever had to lose one sense, and I could choose which one, it would be my sense of smell. There are also a whole bunch of jobs that I think would be better performed by people without sensitivity towards smells. Like nursing!
Brazilians, I need your help!
I know you read the blog...
I can't for the life of me find a decent health food store here in Rio. I want to find the following items, among others I can't think of right now: pomegranate juice, cranberry juice (the gross, thick, no water or sugar added kind), goji berries. This is apparently a very difficult task here in Rio.
There is a store, Mundo Verde which is ok as far as a health food store goes. It has things like flax seed and oh, you know, cake and many types of cookies. Not exactly a health food store in my opinion. Although I am not sure if they really claim to be a health food store or not so I guess I shouldn't judge.
I plan to check out Universo Organico sometime soon, in Leblon. So will let you know how that goes. In the meantime if you have any suggestions, I would LOVE to hear from you. Thanks.
Until about 2 weeks ago I did not know how to operate our television set here. Or, rather, I turned it on once, thought we only had 7 channels and didn't bother turning it on again until my husband wanted to watch a movie one night. Turns out we have quite a few channels, many of them English. Once in a while, after a long day of struggling to communicate in a foreign language, quick a blast of the tube is just what the doctor ordered. Which is weird for me because I never watch TV at home.
Now in case the few brazilian channels don't have the shows you want to watch, here are a few websites which allow you to watch your favorite shows streaming, online. Many of them offer movies as well. Not exactly legal I don't think, but it seems to work!
Where to watch TV shows streaming online for free:
LA to Rio:
|$966+||Upcoming Weekends||1 - 5 May||search|
|$981+||Apr 2008||29 Apr - 10 May||search|
|$830+||May 2008||18 - 25 May||search|
|$939+||Jun 2008||5 - 19 Jun||search|
|$916+||Jul 2008||13 - 28 Jul||search|
|$830+||Aug 2008||31 Aug - 8 Sep||search|
|$830+||Sep 2008||10 - 23 Sep||search|
|$939+||Oct 2008||13 Oct - 13 Nov||search|
|$830+||Nov 2008||13 - 23 Nov||search|
|$939+||Dec 2008||8 - 19 Dec||search|
|$973+||Jan 2009||29 Jan - 7 Feb||search|
|$830+||Feb 2009||18 - 25 Feb||search|
Houston to Rio:
|$1000+||Upcoming Weekends||8 - 12 May||search|
|$987+||May 2008||6 - 13 May||search|
|$987+||Jun 2008||3 - 10 Jun||search|
|$1030+||Jul 2008||2 Jul - 23 Sep||search|
NYC to Rio:
|$691+||Upcoming Weekends||22 - 26 May||search|
|$660+||Apr 2008||28 Apr - 12 May||search|
|$660+||May 2008||28 May - 3 Jun||search|
|$660+||Jun 2008||3 - 19 Jun||search|
|$851+||Jul 2008||6 - 24 Jul||search|
|$660+||Aug 2008||30 Aug - 10 Sep||search|
|$660+||Sep 2008||20 - 27 Sep||search|
|$660+||Oct 2008||16 - 25 Oct||search|
|$652+||Nov 2008||16 - 23 Nov||search|
|$660+||Dec 2008||4 - 18 Dec||search|
|$652+||Feb 2009||22 Feb - 7 Mar||search|
Today is a holiday in Rio de Janeiro state. But not in Sao Paulo apparently... Although I will not make the mistake of trying to drive back to Rio on the last day of a long weekend again, for vacation planning purposes I was happy to get a hold of a calendar of Brazil's statutory holidays, hope this comes in handy for you as well.
I seem to be acclimatizing at a rapid pace. I did not plan for this. Meaning, I did not bring many clothes suited for not being boiling hot all the time. I’ve been here about 6 weeks and already am turning the a/c off for full days at a time (and not opening windows). I wear pants regularly (not that I have a lot of pants here). If it is less than 22 degrees, I require a sweater. And I hear it’s been snowing at home… how will I ever go home?
If you are moving to Brazil, bring pants! I am having my sister send me more of mine.
There are many delicious desserts to indulge in here in Brazil. I like dessert as much as the next person but also can be satisfied with yogurt, frozen blended fruit (yay for acai in Brazil), or a small piece of good quality chocolate for dessert. So I try to have all three on hand at all times.
I have not
been blown away by the options for “gourmet, designer-style” chocolate in
Brazil so far. I like the dark variety
with as little added as possible. I am
allergic to all types of nuts, limiting my chocolate options. I tried two of the local favorites,
Kopenhagen and Cacau Noir. I am not
impressed with Kopenhagen at all, finding it to be waxy in texture and very
bitter (I do like dark chocolate usually but found this especially
bitter). My husband was not impressed
either, he kept exclaiming: “This has got to be baking chocolate…” all the while I insisted it was not (believe
me, especially considering the price, it is not baking chocolate!), thinking maybe it never really stood a chance though every time I saw a store I would start singing the Jeff Foxworthy Copenhagen (as in chewing tobacco) song that my best friend growing up's little brother was obsessed with... chocolate... chewing tobacco... yuck!
Faring better in our taste test was the Cacau Noir brand, but still I find it waxy. I think it might be the climate, perhaps more additives (such as wax!) are added to make it more relisient to the heat/keep it from melting too easily. Not sure, but whatever the purpose I don’t like it. Texture is important, people!
Still searching for that chocolate fix, and open to suggestions! (If I must try more chocolate for the purpose of research, I will do it, to demonstrate my dedication to this blog.)
Many of you get here via searches directed towards finding employment in Brazil. In an effort to provide more information about multinationals active in Brazil, I bring you the following headlines...
A note to those looking to do an international work opportunity in Brazil…
As I noted in a recent comment to a reader - what seems to be the easiest way to become gainfully employed here in Brazil as a foreigner is to find a company that does business in both your home company and Brazil and is sending ex-pats down. Much has been written recently about the current and expected growth in the Brazilian economy and the amount of expertise the country will need to import from other countries in order to sustain and support this growth, so I would imagine there will be more and more opportunities of this sort available in the next few years. Particularly since the insurance and oil and gas industries have just become opened to competition with deprivatization.
“Bully” – a new video game being launched, has been banned in Brazil as it is “too violent” … while I appload the efforts of the x to take on Rio’s youth violence problem head on, it seems a bit like using a band aid on a bullet wound.
It especially seems ridiculous when a hot topic of conversation about town is how 5 day weekends, such as the one we are having right now, are extremely difficult on kids because many of them only eat when they go to school. Which is typically then followed by a discussion about how it is easier for some kids in Rio to get their hands on an automatic weapon than a meal.
Speaking of violence, according to Amnesty International, women in the favelas are increasingly caught in the middle of violence between drug gangs and police, with many being lured into the narcotics trade to be used as “mules” or decoys. The report also states that women tended to be seen as disposable by criminals and corrupt police officers alike. Just last year, Brazil expanded the legal rights of female victims of domestic violence, promoting the use of specialized courts, women's police stations, shelters and medical clinics, despite this enormous step forward, better enforcement and access to services is reportedly needed. Click here for the full report.
Is it easy to meet people in Brazil?
In my experience, yes and no.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how easy it has been to meet people since we’ve been here, we have been living in Brazil just 6 weeks, and already met many people we’ve become fast friends with (as it is even easier to do so far from home) and for that I am very grateful. How? Through “referrals” through other people (you should meet my friend or friend’s friend or my inlaws’ best friend’s daughter who lives in Rio…), and Portuguese classes. Hooray for group language classes!
There are many ex-pat groups in Rio, however I have not taken part in any activities yet… frankly it doesn’t seem like many of them have a lot going on that interests me. If I am wrong I will happily eat my words on this one, and I do plan to check these organizations out. I should not say I have not been to anything though, I attended one event recently through “Meetup” and although there was one legitimate other expat couple there, it was mostly well-meaning Brazilians with the intention of meeting foreigners in an effort to promote their real estate endeavours. Not a bad idea I guess, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind… If some of these other clubs don’t work out, I think we need to start our own expat group for young & fun expats in Rio. (We are on the very young end for expats as I understand…)
That said, we did not come to Brazil to hang out exclusively with ex-pats! We are here to appreciate a new culture and become immersed in it. Even though it is comfortable and fun to socialize in our own language and be with people we have much in common with, we want to meet some Brazilian friends (our expat friends will not be offended by this, they all want to meet some Brazilians too). Meeting Brazilians seems to be even harder than getting the expats together. Once the language barrier becomes less of an issue I am sure this will change but right now I am a bit intimidated by it. Another factor that does not help – my husband does not wish to socialize much with people from work, he prefers to keep that part of his life separate (he works too much as it is so I am happy there is not much overflow into our time). But then how do we meet other young professionals?
For those of you who have moved to Brazil (and Brazilians of course) how did you break the ice with the Brazilians, so to speak?
We decided to beat the long weekend traffic and go to Petropolis for a couple of nights ahead of the game - so we went up on Thursday and came home Saturday.
We took in the cathedral, as you can see, and the Imperial Museum and Casa de Santos Dumont, went to Bingem, Rua Teresa and then found a fantastic antique dealer and bought a truckload of antiques to have refinished for our apartment. See one of my pretty new chairs below.
A very Positive Brazilian Furniture Buying Experience!
But next time, we would stay at the Locanda della Mimosa, as we went there for dinner and thought it was fantastic. It has a reputation for having one of Rio State's best sommelier's and it did not disappoint. I highly recommend the fixed menu with the wine pairings! Which is why next time we would stay right there overnight...
As I've said before - expats - if you can find a decent furnished place in Rio, get it! Buying furniture in Brazil is no easy feat!
Now, I know there are many Brazilians who read this blog, and I am not trying to offend anyone here but getting certain things done in Brazil is just not the same as getting them done in other places in the world. It's all part of the learning process. A person must be more patient, not have expectations as to timelines, etc. Computers are apparently slower, logistics more complex. I am adjusting slowly (and my lackluster Portuguese is a test of everyone's patience!) but this is what I felt like last week after a day of furniture shopping, Brazil-style....
As you will read, I'm in "quite a mood" after my little shopping adventure...
But at least I have not lost my sense of humour, right?
Thank you for all of your comments in the past week, I am glad to know a little about the perspectives of my readers. And glad to know someone is reading! I am certainly NO EXPERT EXPAT - yet anyway - so appreciate all of your tips, hints, corrections, questions and suggestions.
Twice in the last week we have narrowly escaped being hit in the head by objects falling from trees on the street. I don't think it would kill you but it would definitely hurt to get smoked in the bean by one of these things. There are many of these little fruit looking things on the street at any given time which have fallen from trees (I assume they are not edible - if they were, there are so many of them that surely it would put a dent in the number of people starving in this city - but no one seems to be collecting them for anything but garbage). An army of workers are employed to sweep them up and dispose of them. I just hope to avoid getting hit!
Incidentally if you google brazil + falling object you get all these UFO sites... I will have to look into UFO activity for a future post, should be interesting...
You also get a picture of this object that fell from the sky on a farm in Goias, Brazil. It is reportedly a fuel tank of some sort or a weather balloon but the farmers were scared it was radioactive or dangerous.
Hmmmm maybe I should get a helmet after all...
I always enjoy these little tidbits and lists on the blogs of others I am always interested in how people find me. (Which google searchwords people use to find the blog). Most times it is extremely legit -i.e.) moving to Rio, quality of life in Rio, family life in Rio, housing prices in Rio, house square footage in Rio .... but you do get the odd one such as "Rio de Janeiro Daily Butt Pic" I bet s/he was disappointed when they saw my blog...
I don't claim to be an expert on Rio's less glamorous side. I have not had much exposure to it. I have not set foot in a favela although I do plan to at some point while here. (I will post more on favela tours soon). I don't claim to understand the issues affecting this city but I also try to keep abreast of what is happening without overexposing myself to a point of being afraid to leave the house. It's a fine balance, especially once you start reading or watching certain things.
I do want this blog to be fair and balanced and not all about the airy fairy life of an "expat wife" - I'm still not sure what exactly that all entails anyway. I do make an effort to keep it light and positive. Rio can be an extremely glamorous city. It is also home to some of the biggest slums in the world (1/4 of its population lives in the favelas). It is a city of extremes in almost every way possible.
Being that I realize how naive I am to the problems, I am trying to find out more. I watched a few documentaries recently, one of which that I found to be interesting and shocking without being too "sensational" is available on YouTube. I felt an effort was made to show all points of view in the virtual "civil war" which many proclaim is happening in this city. If you are interested, click here.
I pay attention to how people are finding my blog (thanks for finding me!) and see that many are looking for more information on moving their families to Rio. I am not sure how to comment on that as I think the decision process would have been much different for my husband and I if we had children. This is sort of one last hurrah for us before we (hopefully) have kids, upon returning to North America. I am not sure if we would have come here if we had children. (Partially because of being so far from family). But partially because of safety, I mean, if I can't wear my wedding and engagment rings here, would I feel comfortable taking my kids out here, as a foreigner? I rarely feel unsafe here and have only once felt threatened, but still, I wonder.
What do you think about this? I am interested in Brazilian and international perspectives on this issue.
I am also interested to know what your thoughts are on the little documentary I've suggested - especially from those more familiar with some of the issues Rio is currently contending with. I don't claim to be any sort of expert and am eager to learn more. Are the problems portrayed in a fair manner? How accurate is it?
If it is not accurate (most of the media in North America we consume is not accurate either) - what are good, accurate sources of information about Brazil?
The side effect: Rio is making me cheap.
guilt. I can’t shop or stand the idea of spending money (ok, yes, I am getting the furniture and grocery shopping done, but that is different) when I see people on the streets, know that people are starving nearby, the poverty really gets to me. Every day I wonder: How did I get so
lucky? And I feel so guilty.
This - living in the best "zip code" of all of South America, the most privileged, and yet there are kids and the elderly sleeping on the streets, women with their babies begging ... I can't bear the thought of what it's like elsewhere. I'm not ready for that yet.
Buying groceries for the first few times in a foreign country is quite the adventure. My best friend was an ex-pat in Venezuela a couple of years ago and she said it took her weeks to go to the grocery store by herself. If I had waited for my husband to come with me, well, we would have starved to death by now or gained an unacceptable amount of weight eating out constantly. Besides, I love to cook. So grocery shopping I've been... many times!
Food is cheap here. Well, I should clarify that - anything that can be grown - processed - made in Brazil, etc. is very cheap. Anything imported is very expensive. So your grocery bill is truly up to you. I am always shocked at how much I can buy with a small amount of money. That said, well, see my post on the expensive and hard-to-find in Brazil...
When I first arrived I was doing everything myself (as I am accustomed to doing back home) and getting a lot of funny looks from people. Buying a big foamie to put over our gawd-awful mattress in the apart-hotel we are currently staying in, a few blocks away and carrying it there Done. Buying 10 bags of groceries and schlepping them home? Yep. Soon I realized that this made me stand out (I had a creepy experience - nothing happened - but became frightened enough to realize I want to fit in. Badly.) - so decided to from then on take advantage of a lovely little service that the locals call.... ENTREGA! (Delivery). Grocery delivery costs about $R 5 - 7 here and is worth every penny. Especially since the delivery person actually will help you put away your groceries (score!) which I normally detest doing. When I am buying an average of 15 litres of bottled water every time I go to the store... well, it is handy to have it delivered. Note: in order to get Entrega service you must know your address... this sounds ridiculous but I had a, um, problem with this the first time. I soon realized that even when 8 people are trying to help you at the same time, if you can't remember where you live, they can't help you...
Another bonus of living in Brazil - you can buy alcohol at the grocery store - and man, is it ever cheap!
So... here are the highs and lows - reviews and some tips of where to grocery shop (all my opinions, obviously!)... These places all deliver.
Sendas - I just found Sendas the other day and I think it is my new favorite place to shop for "the staples" - the fruit and veggies and meat are okay - I prefer other places, but are pretty decent here. Tons of selection though in every other area of the store. A big location in Leblon which is open 24-7. To find locations or shop online click here.
Pao de Acucar - I wish there was a location in Ipanema/Leblon. I think it's the best grocery store around - the quality of Hortifruti in the produce & meat section and a ton of selection elsewhere, with a great bakery to boot. You can't go wrong! Near here, there is one in Copacabana that is very nice, also a huge one out in Barra. Click here for the site.
Hortifruti - Beautiful produce and meat selection. The downfall: not much else in terms of staples, meaning, I have not been able to find bottled water there. Amazing fresh juices . A nice bulk nuts and dried fruit section. Great service. It's just all around a really good place to buy food. Plus it smells amazing. Check out the hortifruti site.
Zona Sul - on every block pretty much in Ipanema/Leblon, etc. Pretty standard small grocery store - I should not say that, they vary in size. I have not been to one in weeks as I have found much better places to shop but if I needed something in short order I would not hesitate to run over as it's really convenient. I don't find the produce or meat to be of good quality, compared with other places. But overall, not bad. If you have a CPF you can register to shop online as well and they will deliver - gotta love that!
Other hints and tips:
There are many farmer's markets throughout the zona which take place on a variety of days of the week. On Mondays there is one on Henrique Dumont, between Rua Prudente de Morais and Rua Visconde de Piraja in Ipanema, near the canal (therefore, near Leblon). There are several throughout the week in Ipanema near where the Hippie Fair sets up (towards Arpoador along Visconde de Piraja).
The bakeries here are amazing, so if you have time, buy your bread, etc. separately from the groceries.
There are some places as well with these amazing (looking and smelling) rotisserie chickens - every time I want to pick one up they seem to be out or I am in the wrong neighbourhood but as soon as I get my hands on one I will review for your info...
A final word on grocery shopping:
The carts are different here. I will post a picture soon. And it seems to take a really long time to grocery shop, much like everything else in Brazil. I blame the tight aisles and crowded stores...
Vancouver to Rio (not the best prices - I've seen better lately)
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Calgary to Rio
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Houston to Rio
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|$955+||Nov 2008||7 - 22 Nov||search|
LAX to Rio
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Lonely Planet is checking on three of its books -including "South America"- for inaccuracies after a writer who contributed to them - Thomas Kohnstamm - said he had made up large sections (the Brazilian ones), admitting he broke company rules.
This is fantastic publicity for Kohnstamm's not-yet-released book, Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? about his experiences as a travel writer, where he writes that he invented copy, plagiarised and sold drugs to make up for low pay while working on the guide to Brazil. Apparently he also worked on a book for Colombia, without visiting the country.
More Ex-Pats Heading Our Way!
After 69 years of a monopoly, the Brazilian reinsurance market is scheduled to open up to more foreign competition this week. Some of the big guys, Lloyd's of London, Hannover Re and Transatlantic Re will open Brazilian offices here in Rio, while the two largest reinsurance companies in the world, Swiss Re and Munich Re, have chosen Sao Paulo,
International Investment in Brazil's Hotel Industry
Accor plans to invest 200 million Euros in Brazil to develop a network of 20 Formule 1 and Ibis hotels (5,000 rooms) in Brazil by 2010. 13 hotels will be built in 10 cities, mainly Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia and Sao Paulo.
As it's been pointed out to me by many, the "ok" or "perfect" symbol that I frequently use when hand-gesturing, is not an ok thing to do in Rio. It apparently means asshole or something. So beware! Use the thumb's up instead it is much safer...
I am curious as to how this applies to scuba diving in Brazil, however. PADI scuba training teaches you to use this symbol to communicate (obviously in a positive way). Any Brazilian divers who can elighten me?
I guess I will find out soon when we finally do some diving in Brazil, which we are very excited to do.
And Brazilians please spread the word - although we gringoes are trying to modify our finger symbols, we mean no harm! It's a cultural thing...
For more on Brazilian Body Language and cultural do's and don'ts, check out this site!
I love magazines. I often think I'd like to work for a magazine. Apparently reading magazines is a good way to learn a language so I indulge myself in the name of education (and getting our house decorated soon... I have bought many "Casa" magazines...)
On every block there are little magazine and news-stand shops - almost like kiosks in malls - where you can wander in and buy the latest magazines, newspapers, candy, postcards, etc. You have to love the specialty shop here in Brazil. I think the last "news stand" type store in the city I lived in before moving here went under...
Some of the more "unique" magazines you will find in these shops - and not at home- include:
Plastica e Beleza means "Plastic and Beauty" - its tagline is translated to "Small changes can make a difference"
I added a restaurant reviews page - I have some catching up to do in order to enter in all of the restaurants we've eaten at so far since we've been to Rio (thank goodness we've been back to a few more than once... ) so far featured restaurants include: Deli Rio, Gula Gula, Nik Sushi, Sushi Leblon and Zaza. I will post more soon!
So we went out for dinner the other night with some new friends (our neighbours), had a really nice time. It is amazing how fast you bond with people when we are all so far from home. We miss our friends back home a lot, having people here to do things with makes us feel so much more at home.
But something sooo embarassing happened...
My husband, and the neighbour's wife and I were leaving our building and in a bit of a rush because we were meeting her husband at the restaurant, he went there straight from work. So sitting down in the cab I hear this pop sound when I sit down, and I realize that the seat of my white capri pants have busted a little bit... awesome.
So my husband somehow had ESP (he was in the front seat) and managed to cover for me the whole night so he walks in closely behind me (we follow the couple in) and of course we are seated right beside the entrance to the restaurant and of course I am sitting with my back (and exposed backSIDE) to the door... perfect!
Thank god I was wearing really nice underwear and longer shirts are in style...
Anyway we some how got through the night but I was careful not to drink much water so I would not have to walk to the washroom and they must think we are weirdly affectionate as my husband would stand behind me and hug me whenever we were standing.... thank god they wanted to call it an early night...
One of those things that you just don't want to happen when you don't know the people very well!
A picture tells 1,000 words, right?
What I have not seen yet is a "Thumb's down" - I don't want to be the first to try it.
All flights to RIO
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|$652+||May 2008||18 - 24 May||search|
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|$1092+||Jan 2009||17 Jan - 9 Feb||search|
|The SMOKING deal of the day: From Calgary
17 - 31 May
For the world's biggest exporters and producer of coffee, it is apparently tough to get a good cup of the stuff around these parts. Not that I've been trying, I don't touch it myself, but living here has caused my husband to nearly kicked his once-terrible coffee habit (and is much healthier only having a tiny dose of coffee every day, I might add...)
I have a list a mile long of ideas for blog posts. This one I was saving for a special day and today is the day. Condoms are making the international news today as Brazil began producing condoms yesterday using rubber from trees in the Amazon, in an effort to help preserve the world's largest rainforest and cut dependence on imported contraceptives given away to fight AIDS. For more details on how this initiative will impact the environment (tapping native rubber trees helps generate income for Amazon residents and reduces pressure to fall trees) and the economy (more than 550 families will earn a total of 2.2 million reais, or $1.3 million, annually by producing condoms), click here.
I spotted the first brand of condom I will showcase on my blog at the drugstore the other day and immediately purchased one as a keepsake. (No, I am not some weird condom collector, in fact that and this post are completely out of character if anything...)
I then did some research, and found out that this brand, Affair, hit the Brazilian market in 2000. After a slow start, reports began surfacing that the product was well-liked by the homosexual community, so the product was then positioned towards that demographic. Little did I know, when I made my big purchase!
The second brand I find especially entertaining is one called "Prudence" - in English the name alone may be enough to inspire visions of great aunts and therefore dissolve any sentiments of use one may have previously had, therefore rendering the condom redundant. Restoring the faith, will, or inspiration is of course the panther or other cat which the Prudence packaging provides. Rawrrrrr!
Brazil distributes over 1 billion free condoms annually.
I finally get to go to the new apartment today and see it again and take photos and measurements. We kind of completely forget everything about it being that we saw so many places and we were really only in there for about 15 minutes. It's still under reno's for another 2 weeks or so. Not sure about our move-in day yet... It's Brazil.
It rained all weekend here, we went to Copacabana and Barra on Saturday to shop for furnishings. Had some luck. Everything here is very "safe" and plain here though, when I pictured shopping for furniture in Brazil, I was hoping to find some really fun stuff being that we are in Brazil and it's only a 2 yr commitment... so I guess I will have to go buck wild with the art and embellishments rather than the furniture itself. I am not crazy about any of the stuff we've picked out but we need to get this done, and it will all work just fine!
It's quite the runaround getting furniture in Brazil... for example, we are getting our bed frames & box springs at one place, guest mattresses at another, and our boxspring and mattress at a third place... yes it seems ridiculous I know....but the price differences are significant enough to justify it. I also can't believe how long it takes the sales people to calculate prices when there are only about 5 pieces of furniture in the whole store... (add the gringo tax... carry the four... takes an average of twenty minutes for a price for a couch, I'd say... can't just put a tag on it, that would be too easy).
I will post some reviews of furniture stores and examples of what everything costs, to give you an idea of what to expect, very soon.
I hate B.S. compliments. I don't like it when someone tries to
kiss my ass influence or manipulate me by massaging my ego and using the vanity they assume I possess to their advantage by giving me a fake compliment.
So, I was thrilled to pieces when my Brazilian Portuguese instructor back in Canada informed me that the whole, "Hi, how are you, oh you look fantastic, I love your dress," thing that North Americans do [even when the person clearly just rolled out of bed, gained 35 lbs since you last saw them, hair is a disaster, wearing an ill-fitting polyester dress with vertical stripes (or anything that is completely unflattering)] ... this just isn't done in Brazil.
In Brazil, she says, your friend or family member will tell you when something doesn't look good. They will be honest.
How refreshing! I thought.
And knowing this, I enjoy compliments in Brazil much more, because now I think they are real. At home, from most people I take them with a grain of salt (depending on from whom of course) and I am careful to give them authentically. I am a terrible liar anyway...
My husband is bad for the fake compliment thing, he will compliment people on the most hideous things - I think he does it because he feels awkward for the person or something... I tell him it doesn't bode well for his credibility if he later tries to tell me I'm beautiful...
A fellow expat Blogger, Emily, received a fantastic compliment from a Brazilian last week, which she can hold even closer to her heart in knowing it is not b.s.!!
Dengue fever continues to ravage the city - a pharmeceutical giant canceled a conference of 580 doctors that was to happen in Rio this week.
Late last week, 120 police officers entered the Coreia favela and killed at least 14 people in a shoot-out.The police recovered drugs and guns, but the gang leader escaped.
Although there are no air traffic controller strikes or any type of strikes affecting the air industry currently, air travel is still not problem-free. Click here for a synopsis of a recent incident.
A Morgan Stanley Analyst recommends investors sell the Canadian Dollar and buy the Brazilian Real, as Brazil is less vulnerable to a U.S. economic slowdown than Canada is.