Friends of our recommended we watch the movie "Outsourced" which is about a guy who goes to India to work temporarily and his adventures along the way. Not having been to India yet but having now lived abroad I thought a lot of the concepts and principles were true, not to mention heartwarming and hilarious...
If you are doing an overseas assignment, have done one, are interested in doing one... watch it!
It is available on iTunes for rental :)
Today is Mr. DRL's birthday and we have lots of people to celebrate with!! My mom & sister are still in from Canada and our friends and their two kids are arriving in a few hours as well. Birthdays abroad are kind of tough (mine really was for me!) plus being that his is smack in the middle of the holiday season, it always seems to get downplayed so I am happy that he'll have a good one this year for sure. Bring on the cake!
Frequently in Rio I hear noises that could easily be interpreted as gunfire. I try to tell myself that it is one of a few things other than gunfire: a car backfiring, fireworks or firecrackers (especially on a night where there's a football game) or something really loud falling and making a big noise.
Now I have something else to add to the list of things it could be other than gunfire...
Meet the Dumano. Dumano's are small little white things that kids can throw on the ground and stomp on, making a very loud, startling, crackling sound. My friend's little son's feet will demonstrate below:
I love how he put his spiderman flip flops on the wrong feet... so cute.
I've been meaning to post about this for awhile!
Muscle Beach has set up in Rio for 3 months - the "summer" - is free of charge, offers lots of classes! To use the facilities you do have to register and it is open to tourists as well, but what I don't know is whether or not it is still open to registration. Anyway there are a lot of outdoor "gyms" in Rio along the beach but this one is certainly the most state of the art I've seen, apparently there is also one in Barra.
To read more about Amil's Muscle Beach on Ipanema or Barra beaches, click here.
I ate at McDonald's for the second time since moving to Brazil last weekend. I was at Shopping Rio Sul and just felt like it.
I love how fast food restaurants, in an effort to be "cultural", add "local items" to their basically-the-same-around-the-world menu. Local items I noticed: agua do coco, suco do maracuja and banana pie in addition to the apple pie.
Since I only eat there about once or twice a year, in moments of weakness, call me crazy but I like my order to come out the way I order it. No such luck. Wrong burger, no fries! (And I was home by the time I opened the bag so it was far too late.) It really was just like at home... (this happens there too!!!!)
Speaking of pretty things...
Wait a second... come to think of it, no wonder I like it so much, it's not that different from the dress I wore for one of my bachelorette parties... (yes, my bridesmaids gave it an 80's theme)!!
I'd been meaning to get to Ipanema for days to get a shot of this bank at night - and this Christmas display was actually even better than what I thought it was - it has a singing "caroler" Santa and everything! Note: this is a BANK. I don't think I've ever seen any bank get this into the Christmas spirit back home... The bank is located kitty corner from an amazing nativity scene at a church (on VIsc. de Piraja) that I will post tomorrow.
Typ0 did a brilliant post earlier this week about the "Love Market" in every marriage... now it is my turn to lay on the queijo ("cheese" in Portuguese! See, I am trying to make my blog more educational!)
The idea is simple, we all have our ups & downs in our relationships but as long as trading isn't halted, and love continues to grow overall, we're good. There is a saying that goes something like the secret to a good marriage is to fall in love many times, each time with the same person.
I must say that despite the stock market's recent performance, my love market is doing pretty well! Being pregnant has definitely made me appreciate my husband more, and is bringing us closer together. I'm not one to gush. He's definitely the romantic one. But he has really been impressive lately and I'm going to write about it!
Last week, he made a trip back to the US and Canada for some meetings, and of course was sent in pretty much every direction possible to buy stuff that we (mostly me) and our soon to be baby will need. Despite having a crazy travel schedule and a 16 hour delay in the Houston airport after a snowstorm (wtf?) he got it ALL DONE. I'm talking everything from bottles with different "levels of nipples" to bra extenders to maternity bras to a specific honey mustard sauce I'd asked for. Protein powders, teas, salt and vinegar chips, quinoa power bars. Swaddling blankets, scratch mittens (he got them in both pink & blue), onesies galore... and no, he did not flinch at our thousand dollar stroller, rather he thinks it will be a "sweet ride" for our baby, and is very impressed with the quality and therefore my stroller research.
It's obviously not about material things, I'm trying to just give you an idea of the amount of effort and quality of his attitude. He is making great strides now, ahead of time, at changing his work/life balance so that he has more time for the baby once it's born.
When I found out I was pregnant, I was pretty nervous and surprised but had one overwhelming feeling: I'm glad that I am doing this with him. I found this onesie and ordered it right away, because if there's one thing I know it is that our baby will be lucky to have him for a dad, because this baby will always know it:
Am I the only one whose favorite Christmas music consists of whatever my parents played most as a kid? Which consisted of whatever tapes Auntie Janet copied for mom and dad, and whatever records we had?
Last night, I realized that it is Christmas in one week. Seriously, I've been oblivious. I was at the mall last weekend and was like, wow, the mall is sure busy, I wonder why...? Hello! You'd think the English Christmas Music they play in the malls constantly, and over the top decorations would remind me but apparently not... still doesn't feel like Christmas!
Being that we did minimal Christmas shopping this year (my husband and I are not exchanging gifts, my immediate family is not exchanging gifts as we are going away together for Christmas, plus we cut back significantly with my husband's family as well, and most of their shopping consisted of "Oh I'll buy that from your baby wish list!" My sister handled our buying for my dad & stepmom, yeah I've hardly shopped at all!), and we are in a tropical climate while back home they are getting beaten with snow (anyone hear that it is snowing in California and in VEGAS? Unreal. Wonder how many de-icers they have in the Las Vegas airport. According to my husband who was stuck in Houston in a snowstorm last week, Houston has ONE, and is a major hub. So I doubt it looks good for Vegas... They are also calling for a white Christmas all across Canada, and despite the fact that a lot of people think that we live in igloos and it's nothing but snow year-round up there, I assure you that a Canada-wide white Christmas has not happened in a long long time. Calgary generally doesn't even get a white Christmas, and neither does Vancouver...), wow anyway the traditional Christmas stuff is pretty anti-climactic around here this year. And that might just be the longest sentence ever.
So last night I did Christmas cards, and then realized most people will probably receive theirs around Easter...
I also realized that we did not have any Christmas tunes here in Brazil, so I quickly went on iTunes and was delighted and a little SHOCKED to learn that ALL of my favorite Christmas albums growing up were available for immediate purchase and download. Want to hear my hitlist? It is a weird mix... This is so embarassing that it totally justifies me keeping my blog anonymous...
It is ironic that these are my favorite Christmas albums as I don't listen to any of these artists' non-Christmas music... kind of strange when you think about it! This is very different from my regular taste in music, the one exception is that I love everything by the Carpenters...
1) Celine Dion - These Are the Special Times - ok, not an oldie but I really like it and reminds me of snowy recent Christmases at my mom's, my favorite track is the "Another Year has gone by" song.
2) John Denver & The Muppets - A Christmas Together. This is where the SHOCKED it was on iTunes part comes in... It reminds me of when I was a kid, okay? We Wish You a Merry Christmas is a highlight with Miss Piggy singing about the figgy pudding.
3) The Carpenters - Christmas Collection. I hear this being played in Brazil a lot. I think Karen Carpenter has the best voice of any singer I've ever heard, it is very warm, smooth and comforting.
4) Anne Murray - Anne Murray's Christmas Album. Anne's "Silver Bells" is the best.
5) The Oak Ridge Boys - Christmas with the Oak Ridge Boys. Thank God for Kids is my fave.
6) Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers - Once Upon A Christmas - this might actually be my favorite overall Christmas album. The title track is good and I also love "With Bells On"
SIngles to complete the playlist:
The Beach Boys: The Little St. Nick
Mariah Carey: All I want for Christmas is You
ABBA: Happy New Year
Alvin & The Chipmunks: Please Christmas Don't Be Late (My husband HATES it when I put this on!!! haha... which amuses me...)
Now that I have thoroughly humiliated myself, I will proceed with the Christmas sighting of the day.
It's even a musical one (I assume...) Here in Rio if you are behind on your Christmas shopping there is really no excuse for you, as vendors are even set up at intersections selling Santas to motorists, it appears that they are Santas which do a variety of impressive things! Although none as impressive as my soccer, James Brown singing Santa I'm sure... (see video a week or so back).
I have heard a bunch of different information on this topic from different people so I thought I'd throw it out there for discussion, help & advice... What is customary in Brazil when it comes to Christmas tipping or gifts?
For example for...
What I've heard:
See why I am confused?
I look forward to your comments and I will post again soon letting you know what we did with ours, just for interest's sake.
Today I went to Shopping Via Parque in Barra, among other places. Via Parque was recommended to me as a great place to find baby stuff, and let me tell you there are a lot of baby stores there! There is also a great office supply store as well! I was impressed. Back to Christmas! I promised I would post a bunch of Rio Christmas stuff and I have not been doing a very good job, sorry! I'm camera - happy and on it now, though.
They say to thank god for unanswered prayers... I get it as I sure was happy we did not get tickets for Madonna's first show - Sunday night - as it poured rain that night and she even slipped and fell at one point, yikes!
Monday night's show was fantastic - cool weather for Brazil, which was welcome, in that crowd! We had floor "seats" so we were especially thankful for the lack of rain. As we walked down the platform and I saw the huge glittering "M"s I admit I got a little choked up. I was so excited!!!!! I figured I would cry when I first saw her (this was pre-pregnancy me thinking this... so I figured I was really in trouble now!) but I held it back until she sang "You Must Love Me" from Evita... loved that.
She opened (an hour and 37 minutes late - this is according to our friend who "wasn't watching his watch") with Candy Shop from her new album, and had a good mix of old & new, she played for over 2 hours. Highlights for me were Borderline (she did sort of a rocker-style version, loved it), Devil Wouldn't Recognize You & Heartbeat from the new album, La Isla Bonita (which she really seemed to Brazilian-ize - went over really well!), especially with one of our friends, that was his one song he wanted to hear! The Brazilian crowd seemed to love it most when she sang Human Nature, 4 minutes, Vogue, Ray of Light and Music.
I was shocked at how calm the crowd was, reportedly there were 70,000 people there and we were a bit timid to find a place to stand closer to the front as we didn't want to get squished (me especially!) but it all stayed quite civilized, which almost made me sad we hadn't gone up further. Better safe than sorry, especially in my condition!
She closed the show by waving a Brazilian flag.
I can't even describe in words how much energy Madonna has. To be honest it's frightening in a way. I don't understand how she literally whips herself from one end of the stage for hours on end, day after day - it has got to be the most exhausting show ever to perform, and she does it for days on end at 50 years old. No wonder the woman is so ripped (and oh, is she ripped...) She seemed much more "Edgy" and maybe even hard is the right word, in person in concert rather than when I have seen her on television, had to comment on that as well (for example she called us motherf*...ers more than once... and yelled for people to "show the queen you love her" and staked a claim she will never leave). She sure has been through a lot and it does show!
I was so grateful for the opportunity to see Madonna live, especially at Maracana, it was an experience I'll never forget. It was overcast that night but every so often I'd lift my head to look up and remember we were outside and the odd star would reveal itself from behind the clouds. What a venue! Great night.
For updates on all things Madonna-in-Rio, the Made in Brazil blog has got it under control! Check it out there is even a video of her before-show prayer!
We didn't take many photos - mostly video (and if you've seen the soccer santa post, you'll forgive me as you'll know how terrible I am still at posting video...)
Oh, right! China.
Ordering from China in Box was a breeze. The woman actually understood what I was saying, I understood her (hey, it can be really hard on the phone!) yaaaaayyyy!
The food came fairly quickly, it all was boxed, as per the name.
It wasn't bad, I have certainly had worse Chinese food. I suspect they use a lot of MSG though as I tend to get eczema when I eat MSG (just soy sauce doesn't bother me but any more than that and it does) and let's just say I've got a breakout happening. So I'd err on the caution of not ordering again, personally!
But my curiosity is now satisfied!
One of my favorite memories with my nephew was about two years ago when he was two years old. He had slept over at our house just after Christmas (and Auntie gave him one too many mint flavored chocolates and he "gurfed" on the floor - his word, not mine... "Auntie I gurfed"... minty gurf... ok not the favorite memory I was talking about but I am getting there... ) and that year my father in law had given us this beautiful Father Christmas which stood just a bit taller than our nephew at the time. He thought it was the greatest thing ever.
Fast forward to May, which happened to be the next time that a get-together happened at our house. He walked in the door and exclaimed: "Where's SANTA?" He thought Santa lived at our house? Now it was my turn to think that it was the greatest thing ever. Needless to say I didn't have the heart to tell him that Santa was in a box in the basement, rather just said he'd be back at Christmas time.
Kids HERE, in Rio, must think that Santa resides at our neighbourhood supermarket, Zona Sul... here are some photos of how far the Christmas decorating has gone. I'm particularly a fan of the little carts with reindeer on them...
Santa sure rolls a little differently in Rio!
Is what I feel like my new nickname should be. I feel like one. Why? Probably because I had McDonald's and fast food chinese on the weekend (I must be pregnant... seriously. I'm usually a super healthy eater. My full review on both fast food experiences to follow soon) followed by Domino's for lunch today at a friend's place, plus I just downed half a can of salt & vinegar pringles my husband smuggled into the country for me (I have yet to see anything salt & vinegar flavored in Brazil).
I lecture about pregnant women not indulging in this kind of behaviour! "It's no excuse to sit on the couch and eat ice cream..." Thank god I still work out. But it's time to snap out of it. Seeing Madonna in less than 3 hours should help... if that woman doesn't motivate you to look after your body, nothing will!!!
I got goosebumps today when I passed by the Copacabana Palace where Madonna is currently staying. I can't WAIT for the concert!!!!
There were a lot of people loitering around outside the hotel waiting to get a glimpse... like some people did yesterday.
I'm lethargic. I'm lazy. My husband's out of town. Oh yeah and right, I'm also pregnant.
I have more excuses I could list but basically what it comes down to is that after months of listening to the hilarious commercials, I think the time has come to order me some China in Box. (Fast-food Chinese here in Brazil). Last Friday we ate at Mr. Lam... (Rio's answer to Mr. Chow in NYC) so this week I should really try this out to compare, right?
Having had a cold myself for the past week (which seems so weird to me, having a cold and being in a hot climate...) but I digress, and being that I'm pretty sure this is the first you're all hearing of it, I agree wholeheartedly with Erin at "Not Rocket Science since 2004" that people should really stop putting their cold symptoms as their facebook stati. (Among with most other things people put as their status...) Because really, no one cares, and it's also super gross in a lot of cases. For the love of god, people! Her entry is pretty funny.
This is a real life actual transcript of a conversation that happened with me and my four year old sobrinho (nephew) on his birthday on Tuesday.
TDRL: Tia DRL
CSE: Cutest Sobrinho Ever
TDRL: Happy Birthday!
CSE: Thank You!
TDRL: How was your birthday party?
CSE: It was good. We had a pinata, it was really hard to break it open. And cake with flags of Brazil!
TDRL: Sounds like fun! Flags of Brazil, really?
Enter CSE's mom with his birthday present from Tio DRL & I for him to open while on Skype with me... which by the way arrived just in time. She also arrived just in time to clarify that the flags were in fact from Mexico, for the Mexican themed party he had specifically requested.
CSE: Ooh it's a movie. No it's a game! For my Wii! With Diego. Oh! There's another one with animals. (stares at the games for a long time....)
CSE's Mom: Do you know who those are from?
CSE: From Auntie & Uncle! Thank You! Mom, can we go play them now?
CSE's mom: In a few minutes, we just have to finish our call here. Oooooh (looks on the package) one of these is a ONE player game...(looks at me) NICE!!!
TDRL: You're welcome... both of you.
CSE: I play two player tennis for Wii by myself, you know. (CSE then demonstrates his skills which basically involve a lot of flailing of both arms almost simultaneously which looks even more hilarious with the slight delay of Skype).
TDRL: That is impressive! You know, CSE, I really love living in Brazil but I sure don't love missing your birthday...
CSE: It's okay. I like it that you live in Brazil.
TDRL: ... Really? Why is that?
CSE: Because now I get SO much mail!
CSE: Mom, can we go play wii now?
And there you have it.... the way to a four year old's heart... wii games, diego, tickelopes and mazes in the mail...
It never fails to amaze me how small the world is. And I am the type to get really excited about coincidences so I live for this stuff...
The first person I met in Rio was a fellow Canadian. One of a total of two I have met since moving here, I might add. She was an enormous help to me when I first moved here and I highly doubt I would have any of the social life I do now if I had not met her. I was put in touch with her before I moved down here. Her father and my best friend's father-in-law are close friends and when they learned of two Canadian girls headed for Rio, they figured we should meet.
The weird connections and coincidences don't end there. She married her husband on the same day I married mine, and her husband also bought her the same gift that my husband looked at to buy me as a wedding gift (weird!). They have sadly since relocated to Australia, but we do keep in touch, and I am still finding out how small a world it is - I recently found out she even knows my sister-in-law, back home. So strange!
Our visitors are always amazed at how in a city of several million, we see people we know just walking down the street here in Rio. It's not that we are winning any popularity contests, really, there are factors I think play into it, specifically:
I met a woman two weeks ago who spends half the year here in Rio and the other half in Connecticut. As she shared more of her story, I was reminded of an article I'd read in the New York Times - which I posted on the blog on May 31st - about a couple who wintered in Rio. Sure enough - same couple!
This one is pretty funny too... I met a girl in the past month or so who keeps cropping up everywhere I am - she left her umbrella at the same table we were sitting at at Parque Lage last weekend, we saw her at the Hippie Fair the next day, we joked we were following one another. Then I went to the doctor this week and mentioned the people who had referred me to her, she asked if I also knew this girl, as she'd been in the day before... so funny! Then yesterday I found out she really is following my lead - she is expecting too! Yay!
I always thought the best story of "small worlds" was from my fourth grade teacher, Mr. McCormick. He travelled to Japan and was on the subway, and realized he was back to back with a guy he went to highschool with back in Canada....
So let's hear it - in your experience, is it a small world after all??
Ok I occasionally frequently ask my readers for help. Today is one of those days.
There are several windows in my apartment which are welded open. (Note to potential psycho's out there or the overprotective mom types: there's no way anyone could possibly fit through these windows, be they welded open or not!)
I think I need to have some screens installed on these key windows. Pretty much everyone I've asked about this looks at me as though I am nuts. Anyone have an idea of where to start?
This ornament is so great - many of my visitors were looking for unique "Rio" ornaments and we didn't seem to have much luck. Enter Brasil & Cia on Rua Maria Quitera (around the corner from the Cesar Park Hotel). These are great!
According to the people I spoke with at the store, Brasil & Cia is the only store which carries these ornaments, which are handmade by an artisan out of Teresopolis.
Earlier this month we thought it was bad that there were 10,000 jobs lost in October in Sao Paulo. Then we found out that there were 70,000 jobs lost in the month of November in Canada. When you consider that there are 41 million people in Sao Paulo state and just 33 million in Canada, well....
Canada is now officially in a recession. The Bank of Canada cut interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point which was more than what was expected. The article also credited the political upheaval in Canada last week with dragging investor sentiments.
Recent depressing headlines:
I've been using this site Splendia to find hotel rooms for my guests and for myself over Christmas. It features unique, boutique style "Luxury and Character hotels" from all over the world and is a central bookings system. The rates are also quite good!!!!
A word of warning : if you are booking in a hurry, skip the destinations that only allow you to send an "inquiry" to the hotel rather than ones which allow you to book immediately. In my experience this saves you a lot of run around.
There are a good selection of hotels in Rio & Buzios on the site - check it out! I highly recommend booking this way for people who don't speak Portuguese as it is possible to do it all in English.
I frequently comment on the "extremes" of Brazil; how everything seems to be black & white, no shades of grey. Here is an example, except it's er... green.
It seems that more and more I see dogs around that fit in one of two categories: poor little scrawny street dogs, or over-indulged princess pups.
I have not ever seen even one street dog in my neighbourhood. Which makes me wonder how that is being enforced...
Also: don''t get me wrong - I see many responsible well adjusted pet owners in my community who clean up after their dogs, run them, and spend time outdoors. You know, take care of them without overindulging them or making them look ridiculous!
Which is a challenge, as at times it seems unavoidable to over-indulge dogs here; most people live in apartments, and then without a lot of effort on the owner's part (or dog-walker's) receive minimal exercise, and then there are the appointments at the doggie-spa, where they are pampered. In some cases I am not sure which is worse, the overindulged or the overindulged... my case below...
No one asked her if she wanted her dog to be... er... decorated. And I certainly don't imagine anyone asked the dog, either.
I realize it looks pretty funny but when you consider that these were GLUED onto her little ears it seems a bit cruel for the benefit of what? Entertaining a few people? My friend was not very impressed when it came time to remove the bows. (Nor was the poor dog!)
However, these are not as bad as the fake doggie eyelashes I've seen a few little dogs wearing...
My friends back home react:
- You do what?
- Oh sweetie, are you bored?
- Isn't that for old people?
- Do you at least get drunk first?
- Um... why?
- Well at least you are keeping busy!
Hey - there's no shame in it! Have you played Canasta? It's actually pretty fun. But that said, when I go to Canasta (generally about twice a month), here is what I am going for:
1) The social interaction and visiting. Because it's fun, & I learn a lot about this city from these women! I've met a ton of wonderful people through this group.
2) The food. Because it's always really, really good!
3) The cards. Because I am not really the best Canasta player. In fact I have yet to win!
I used to also go for the alcohol but if you are a regular reader you will know I am not exactly consuming any of that these days...
So here's a shout out to you Canasta ladies! (Some of them have started reading my blog). Now go and pick up the pile (as long as you are my partner, or sitting at another table!)...
As this post goes live I am actually hosting the Canasta game this week in my home. Wish me luck!
I CAN'T WAIT!
Not long now until the Madonna concert....
Our guests asked us: "Is everyone HUGE Madonna fans here or something?" As in every store/restaurant/place they seem to go, Madonna is blasting from every speaker. I assured them that it is normally not like that everywhere and it's probably just in anticipation of her concerts.
Some media outlets are reporting that she is bringing "A-Rod" with her to Brazil...
I've heard that Madonna loves Rio, usually stays in Ipanema, and eats at Satyricon. Apparently she arrives here on the 12th (her first concert is on the 14th and she performs the 15th as well).
If you read my blog you know this: I did not plan to have a child in Rio. In fact, after moving here I questioned whether or not I would ever like to have children of my own. I was set on adopting. (My husband does not share my enthusiasm though). Having my own children seemed frivolous when there are street babies here who could use a proper home. It must be my own child, why? So that I can have a little mini-me?
That said, adopting in Brazil is no piece of cake. According to several people I've spoken with who have tried, it's practically impossible.
When I was home this summer I shared some of my opinions (no, not with the 10 friends & family who just gave birth... I left them alone!), no wonder some people were surprised to hear our news.
Rio Gringa did a very descriptive post earlier this week about what it's like to pass by these children and families. Imagine how I felt the day I found out I was "for sure" expecting, and after going out for a fancy dinner with our family friends who were visiting, walking by a similar scene pretty much on our doorstep when we returned home.
Despite this, I have come to terms with the guilty feelings and refuse to feel guilty about having this child, and am very excited about this new chapter. I just wish I could do more for the rest of those babies too and imagine it will become even harder to see children in poverty once I am a mother myself.
I wrote this as a draft on September 26th, the day after I found out I was "for sure" pregnant and had my first prenatal visit... now that the cat's out of the bag, here are some genuine first impressions, not to mention advice for anyone finding themselves "knocked up" in Brazil...
First thoughts on finding out one is pregnant or "gravida" in Brazil
1) I am not sure if I was really "just a little bit pregnant" (I know, there is no such thing) but I did multiple at home pregnancy tests which were inconclusive. Just FYI. The first was negative, a week later the second and third were neither positive nor negative (was supposed to have 2 stripes on one side for prego or two stripes on the other side for not prego. What did I get? One stripe on each side... TWICE. Two separate tests.) Then finally I bought a "Clear Blue" and it was positive. Go for the North American pregnancy tests, in my experience they were accurate and the other local brand was not!
2) If you think you might be expecting, go for a blood test right away, it will cost R$20 at Sergio Franco clinic - which has many locations - and they say you will have the results within 8 hours. My first thought should have been: "this was too good to be true..." no, the results were not ready until the next morning (after I had called two additional times and frantically tried to check them online in the bathroom while we were out for dinner, on my blackberry)... but once I did get them the next morning, they were accurate and at only $R20 it is a steal of a deal. Most at-home pregnancy tests here are in the $R30 range, and not necessarily reliable (see point 1!). Which gets expensive in comparison, when you have to buy 4 of them like I did... And then you know sooner. I felt certain I was pregnant 3 weeks before I found out for sure but thanks to the faulty tests, did not get confirmation until I was 9 weeks along.
3) After all this runaround, I really needed to hear it from someone in a white coat, in English, that I was pregnant in order to believe it. As soon as he did, he gave me supreme sh*t for getting too much sun the day before and told me I would have to be very careful in the sun while pregnant and went on and on about what kind of cream to use to prevent stretch marks and to help my skin heal itself afterwards. As much as I thought: wow this is his main concern? I also think: wow I might be lucky to be having my kid here! Sounds like some good stretch mark cream! Note that despite he mentioned the cream no less than 5 times when I was there and even provided samples, he did not once tell me anything about diet, drinking (ok maybe because it's obvious! But still...), exercise or any restricted activities. Or my health other than my skin health...
Thanks to the mayo clinic web site I now am all up to date on that stuff anyway... but good to know where his priorities lie.
For the past 6 months or so my husband and I have been stalking watching this painter at the hippie fair in Ipanema. We knew he was our favorite, he uses such vivid colors, such texture... unreal. But were waiting for the "right painting"... they were either too small - ideally I wanted a large piece from this painter to go above my couch - or it was just difficult to decide between them as they all featured different, separate aspects and places of the city and I wanted them all. The markets, the bonde, sugarloaf, corcovado...
Then, last Sunday, we saw it... the painting that had it all. It was big, too. I love love love love love it... it was worth the wait. Now all I need is to actually hang it...
Want one? Go check out the feira in Ipanema tomorrow - he typically is in the middle with the rest of the art, on the side closest to the beach, towards the right if you are facing the beach. (Now how's that for directions - ha!)
Every group of my visitors luckily does something slightly different. It keeps me sane! One group and I went to the show at Plataforma one night...
The guidebooks I've seen all feature Plataforma in them, don't really recommend it and call it a tourist trap, but fail to recommend an alternate place where you can see the same variety of Brazilian dancing.
I agree with the guidebooks on the point that it is a bit pricey -$130 per ticket- and also admittedly a bit cheesy, but being that I don't personally know of another show where one can take in an evening of samba, capoeira, fantastic carnival costumes and bahian dancing, I would still recommend it to someone who is looking for an evening of Brazilian entertainment. But maybe suggesting alternatives is something my readers can help me out with?
I did not eat there (they have a churrascaria) but have been told by Brazilians that it is very good.
Our male guest commented that he had paid more to see a lot less in Vegas! (In the T&A department). In fact, one of the costumes the girls wore featured a bra sort of thing that only really covered the nipples (with little, pink round sparkly pieces)...
The funniest part of the night? A toss-up between this guy who did an act with a whip sort of thing that was so macho and needed his ego fed so badly that he really spurred on the crowd (in a funny, fantastic, amusing, entertaining way!), and the part where they try to get some audience interaction by surveying the crowd on which country they were from, then invited each well-represented country to come up and do a little song and dance. The night we were there the people from France and Puerto Rico were especially entertaining. A big group of French people got up and did sort of a big congo/can-can number while the representative from Puerto Rico was an older gentleman who was obviously quite intoxicated and got up, grabbed the mic and sang a long song. Oh and by the way, we were not totally sure he was actually from Puerto Rico because we had already noticed him earlier when he kept putting his hand up for pretty much every single surveyed question (of which country we were all from)... It was great. I loved the audience interaction part because it reminded us how many different countries were all being represented in the same room rather than just being "the audience"... pretty cool.
Plataforma is in Leblon, Rua Adalberto Ferreira, 32 Tel: 2274.4022
It has come to my attention that Matthew McConaughey and Camila Alves were in my hood on Friday night. As in about 2 blocks from my house, people....
Here is a photo which I poached from www.gossipgirls.com Please don't sue me.
They had dinner at sushi leblon, which is one of our favorite spots. We actually were just down the same street that night, meeting friends for drinks. We even grabbed a KONI later (see, we ate sushi too... Just like a block away...)
In my neighbourhood, the paparazzi are often lurking around, taking photos of people who I have never seen before (Brazilian stars). Being that I have no idea who these people are, they don't really get any special treatment from me. But Matthew McConaughey, yeah I think I'd recognize him.
They also ate at Zozo at the base of the sugarloaf gondola, another one of my favorite spots (and incidentally, where I told my dad he was going to be a Gramps!)...
Apparently they stayed at the Hotel Fasano down the beach in Ipanema/Arpoador.
On Wednesday, the Real hit a 3 yr low vs. the US dollar (2.475) after hitting a 9 yr high in August.
UBS has named Brazil as its favorite pick for equity markets for 2009, citing that Brazil's shares are undervalued and the economy may expand faster than predicted. There's more... click the link.
Gazeta Mercantil is predicting that Brazil may produce more oil than Russia as early as 2014.
Apparently Lula is trying to fight off a recession by encouraging Brazilians to spend more money. Ummm what? Because everyone can afford their interest payments here already, right? Even more ridiculous: on Nov. 6, Lula told Brazilians they needed to “lose the fear of buying a home, owning a car, changing the TV and buying the first bra.” Interesting commentary - check it out.
Brazil is selling 100 state of the art radiation missiles to Pakistan. I realize I don't really know enough about this situation to comment but my first instinct is I don't really like the sounds of it... But rest assured, Brazilian defense minister Nelson Jobim says that: "Brazil negotiates with Pakistan, not with Pakistani terrorists." For more info click here or here
Good news for the Americanos: The Brazilian & American governments have closed an agreement extending visas for visitors from 5 years to 10 years. The agreement is valid for Citizens of both countries. Brazilian National Congress needs to approve the agreement to be effective.
On a lighter note, from Portuguese Blog (a great resource for those of us trying to learn Portuguese) - In an effort to promote wellness and fitness among seniors, the city of São Vicente (in São Paulo) organized a calendar of senior pin-up girls. The calendar launches Dec.10 - for more info click here.
From "The Moment" - The National Museum, an Oscar Neimeyer design, was recently completed in Brasilia. Check out the post for some photos.
From "Eyes on Brazil" - some news on the stock market (ok this is getting a bit old but I only have so much time to blog with all these visitors, people!) - the quick version here, click the blog post for more details:
A Brazilian research group has released some statistics on murder rates in Latin America. The results? Latin America has the highest homicide rate for young adults in the world, the Caribbean is a close second. Based on figures from 83 countries, a person age 15 to 24 is almost 15 times more likely to be murdered in Latin America than in Canada. El Salvador was found to be the most dangerous country. Want to live somewhere in the Caribbean that is relatively safe? Bermuda was found to be the safest fo young people and even recorded ZERO murders in 2002. Elsewhere, Britain, Ireland and Japan were found to be the safest.
I feel terrible for a reader who emailed me a couple of weeks ago because they were heading to Rio and the forecast called for nothing but rain and everytime they had checked it in the past few days it had said it was constant rain in Rio (which at the time, was not the case). I emailed them back and confidently said I doubted that it could possibly rain the whole time they were in Rio.
But I think it did.
As you know I have had company from Canada for the past 6 weeks straight in addition to 2 sets of visitors each here for 10 days or more a few weeks before that. This last group has had terrible weather with the exception of today (so far so good!), Monday and Tuesday.
I must say this though: the international weather reports and forecasts seem like they are off. Before one group came down they'd been checking the weather in Rio online and it was claiming a high temperature of 23 Celsius which was far from the truth (at the time 27 - 28 would have been more accurate).
Advice for visitors (this is what I always tell my own): you never know with the weather here and frequently a beautiful morning does not last the day, and ends at noon. Just as a cloudy morning can clear for a gorgeous afternoon and sunset. So get your beach time in when you can and find things to do when it socks in with clouds. Plus: go and do the "views" (Sugarloaf, Corcovado, Vista Chinesa) at your first opportunity because you just never know...
Because, of course, THAT is what this blog is actually about. Well, supposed to be. When I am not talking about myself, my baby, my family, my husband, international politics, or, er... food.
So today I went to the physiotherapist, which is actually always a lot of fun. It's more massage-like than the physio I've had back home, and the two physio's I go to both speak a smattering of English and Portuguese so it's kind of like a mini Portuguese lesson for me and mini English lesson for them.
They were telling me about places to buy baby things here in Rio, and we got talking about bedding. Specifically, sheets.
One of them knew what sheets were but the other thought we'd somehow got onto the topic of diapers. Why? Well in the cute little Portuguese accent, sheet, and sh*t pretty much sound the same! (Kind of like gringoes saying coco and coco...)
So then we got into this pronunciation demo where I tried to show them how to pronounce the difference, about 10 times, so then they each repeated me about 15 times, so you can really see how a bystander walking in might have thought someone really sh*t the bed...
Sheet! Sh*t! Sheet! SH#t!
It was quite amusing...
Just a couple more things then I will move on. Back to, you know, Brazil, where I currently am (and am oh so happy to be!!!) But first, a few things to clarify:
1) I am not some sort of Stephen Harper Lover or closed minded conservative. There are many aspects of his policy that I can't stand (such as his views on gay marriage!), can't say I really feel all that great about any politician in Canada (I used to live in Rob Anders' riding when I lived in Calgary...yikes. I moved!) but in this instance I really don't think my political stance based on which party happens to be ruling affects my feelings on what is happening right now. If Stephane Dion had won the election (you know, the one that was about 2 months ago? I know, it's so hard to keep track... ) and the other parties were pulling this stunt, I really don't feel I would be any more pleased about it. I think the timing is terrible and it makes Canada look awful from an international standpoint (which is the point of this blog - all things international!). And no, I don't think throwing buckets of money at the problem (or the auto industry) is going to help. And no, I am not excited about the prospect of having the liberals in power again - it was not so long ago they were, and how it all ended up was far from pretty.
2) I must apologize and retract my statement about Stephane Dion having publicly stated he would step down. I am sorry, and have misinformed you. Apparently he has not been talking about it, just everyone else has. Gleefully, I might add. Oh and apparently his French skills are better than I thought... wow I sure have lost a lot of French in learning Portuguese...
3) Here are some more entertaining facebook "stati" on the topic so that I can prove I am not the only one, well, excited about this:
Today I am not so proud to be Canadian... good thing this baby is going to be Brazilian! haha...
In times of global economic uncertainty, what does Canada do? Have an unnecessary election (in October) costing taxpayers god knows how much money, then this month have the losers band together in a coalition to try and overthrow the government (which they can do when the government is not a majority, which it never seems to be).
The waste of money never ends - the new cabinet was appointed just after the election, and they have spent the past months spending spending spending so that they could brush up on their new posts (remember, Stockwell Day was just here?) which they possibly may not have in the very near future.
Wow, how can we possibly make Canada look less credible and stable from a global perspective? Let's all sit and ponder this one for awhile. 'Cause I'm not sure we could possibly do more at this point... For once I am really glad no one outside of Canada really pays attention! haha. Except investors... it's no coincidence that yesterday the TSX, Canada's stock exchange, suffered its biggest one day drop.
But what about Canada's citizens, those who are being laid off, losing their retirement savings, how is the government providing them reassurance? They aren't. Rather, more turmoil to keep people up at night. Wonderful.
I am also concerned about the fact that it is Canada's socialist parties banding together to take power... oh good, let's spend even more money in these horrible, uncertain economic times... arghhhh! Before you say but what about the people who were laid off you just referred to a paragraph ago, I doubt that any of the millions these guys would spend would actually end up in those people's pockets...
While we're at it, let's put someone in power who can barely string a sentence together in English or French! Makes George Bush look eloquent in comparison (no joke, dead serious). I'm super confused - weren't the liberals supposedly going to get a new leader? (Stephane Dion has publicly been talking about stepping down as the leader of the liberal party, making this move especially underhanded - even some hard core liberals are not excited about the prospect of having him as prime minister at this point...)
Some recent facebook statuses on the topic that I read this morning (which sadly were what alerted me to the issue in the first place, haha!):
"V is wondering if we live in a democracy? Why vote if someone can overthrow the government!?"
"W wonders how one unelectable regional representative + another unelectable representative that represents NO regions can represent a democratic country?"
"X is wondering wtF is going on with the government in Canada."
"Y: coup d'etat..... Embarassed 2 b Canadien..."
"Z is reading up on Constitutional Law for Dummies. The sad thing? It's above me."
Well to look at the bright side, it should make for an interesting episode of the Rick Mercer Report tonight... glad I have my season's pass via iTunes!!
Being that I have had guests for pretty much the past 6 weeks straight (plus another 2 weeks before that!) I am really getting a taste of what it's like to be a tourist in Rio again. Most of it's fantastic, but some of it is definitely not pretty.
To make a huge, potentially unfair, sweeping generalization, many Brazilians seem to fail to see the big picture. As in: they are more concerned with winning the battle than the war.
What do I mean by this? Well many seem more concerned with getting their R$5 extra out of unsuspecting tourists than building a reputation on which they could garner more traction for their business. I will give a few examples.
In so many instances, I see Rio depicted in the international media as a scary place where tourists are robbed and taken advantage of. With the internet being one of the main sources of travel information and word spreading more quickly than ever about where to go and to avoid, I wish that people in the industry here would realize this and be less concerned with the quick buck and more concerned with Rio's overall reputation and not ripping off tourists - because then there would be more of them, and more to go around. I realize a lot of this stems from genuine desperation to feed families, etc. which is heartbreaking but I still don't like to see people get ripped off when they come here and I take it really personally when I am the one who has invited them here/recommended a place, etc.
Does anyone have a good recipe for alphabet soup?
I just have so many words to eat!
So... it turns out that our friends and family, not to mention my blog readers, know us a lot better than we know ourselves. Since we have been in Rio we have done almost everything we said we would not do. I think we should take the hint and start never saying never! All summer when we were home everyone kept asking us if we thought we would have a baby in Rio.
So we said...
LIttle did we know, that we were wrong.
Probably not as surprised as me...
And yes, it seems as though my husband really got his way this time... haha!
So... I am due in early May, the baby will be born in Rio, and hopefully truly be a citizen of the world.
Oh and the number one question I'm fielding these days - am I getting fat? Sure am. 3 kilos I've gained! Of the maximum TEN allotment the doctors here recommend... and that is apparently being generous, yesterday I read an article recommending no more than 7 kilos weight gain... yikes that would make me about halfway there in terms of weight gain...
I promise not to make this a total Mommy Blog but will definitely include some interesting anecdotes on what it's like to be pregnant here/going to doctors/having a baby abroad. But will try to keep it as Brazil-relevant as possible!