Canadoca, Mr. DRL and I are heading to Canada next week for awhile. It will be really good for my husband as although he was home last December and February for about 4 days each trip, the last time he was really there for a visit was almost a year and a half ago. Crazy!
I've been busy packing, visiting, and online shopping in anticipation of our trip. Oh and also spending hours making arrangements to make sure we fit everyone in. We watched the movie Four Christmases last night (it sucked, don't bother watching it), and with two sets of divorced parents (now grandparents) well, it's busy that's for sure.
We also had some visitors from Minas Gerais over the weekend - Eric, Emily and Gabriela came down. Canadoca and Gabriela are 3 weeks apart and enjoyed one another very much (and we really enjoyed spending time with Eric & Emily - they have some great parenting tips!)
Although I will be away, the blog will tick away with posts from our big fall trip to Peru/Argentina/Chile and of course the Rio Expat Survey results - last chance to participate!!!!!
Some friends and I did make it up to the two memorials in the Mirante Park in Leblon last week to see the beautiful setup that has been erected in honor of the victims of the crash. I do love what they've done, and there is someone there making sure they aren't vandalized, which is nice.
A very interesting article about the crash came out last week as well in the Times Online, it really personalized the tragedy. The article also states that it seems the tragedy could have been prevented. I know one thing for sure, if the airlines would start uploading flight data in real time, the mystery surrounding the tragedy would have at least been eliminated. I hope that someday we will know more, for now, we remember our friends.
Stuff on other people's blogs that you should check out:
I've never really been that interested in going back to Ilha Grande (we went for a little excursion there once on a boat) until I saw this article in the Gringo Times. Now I think I should go there...today...
For anyone who has had the experience of grocery shopping in Brazil, check out this post from Blondie in Brazil's blog, she makes me feel less.. alone!
Emily & Eric are raising awareness of a very special family in order to try and help them out. More here, including very cute baby photos...
Wallpaper Magazine has issued its Fab 40 featuring 40 reasons to stay (or head to Brazil). They did lists for 10 different areas of which Canada was another. Of particular interest to me on the Brazilian side were a bunch of places and things I've never heard of, there's always more to experience and see in this country, it's more than just the corcovado, sugarloaf and the foz... click here for the list.
My mom sent me this article which is about Stockwell Day's time in Brazil recently. Funny enough, he met with Mr. DRL on one of his trips. The article doesn't say much, but here it is anyway.
An article I'm sure that would be dear to Mr. DRL's heart... further complications to the already atrocious to navigate taxation in Brazil. This article focuses on a new 2% tax on foreign investment in Brazil. Article here, from the Wall Street Journal.
Around a patio table earlier tonight in Ipanema (did anyone see the beautiful moon over Vidigal tonight? Amazing), we were talking about the use of fireworks in Rio... and how prevalent it is. And how none of us could think of a single place to buy fireworks. Anyone??
1) Spotted along Viero Souto on Saturday: something that I doubt you'd often see in Canada - two guys in hardhats, on a construction site, hugging. Heartwarming stuff. And it had to be about 33 degrees too, nothing was stopping these guys.
2) WTF (but "who" instead of "what") are these freaks? Did you hear about the spider stealer they caught trying to smuggle 1,000 spiders out of Brazil over the weekend? EEEk. I am not really a scared-of-bugs kind of girl but this wigs me out a bit. Wasn't there a movie about snakes on a plane a few years back...?
3) If you want to send Christmas cards from Brazil, you have to be DEDICATED... I just spent over an hour and a half affixing postage to my Christmas cards. Those suckers had better not get lost in the mail. Note that I also spent about 40 minutes in the post office obtaining said stamps. But the stamps oh they are soooo cool. I LOVE the stamps here!
I admit it, I've peeked. At the responses to my 2009 Survey of Rio Expats, even though the survey is not officially over. Thanks very much to everyone who has participated so far. You've inspired, entertained, validated and in a couple of cases reprimanded me! I appreciate all of the responses and can't wait to share them with you soon. Much like everything in Rio, I find there's very little "happy medium" - people either love it here or, er... don't.
For those Rio expats and former Rio expats (if you lived here in the past year or so) who have not yet had a chance to fill out the survey, I'm keeping it open until the end of the month in hopes of getting a few more responses. I'll start sharing the results in December. Click here to access the survey.
You've gotta love the specialty shop here. They have them for almost everything. I once saw a luggage repair shop here in Leblon or maybe Ipanema, now I could use it and I can't think of where it is - can anyone help me out with that one???
Brazil has sure had its share of press coverage this week with the BLACKOUT, a visit from Madonna, and a spread in the Economist.
I find it a bit suspect that Brazil had its first big blackout in a long time just days after 60 minutes reported on hackers causing the ones in 2005 and 2007... but anyway.
The blackout was definitely interesting. Mr. DRL has been working horrendous hours so Canadoca and I were at home on our own when the lights went out. At first I figured it was just my place (and fault, as I was running MAD AC! It's been sooooo hot here the past couple weeks) but then I looked out the window and quickly realized it was not. Mr. DRL called me from the office and said he was leaving (about 10:40 or so). I was a bit nervous about this, being that you never know what kind of ruckus might be kicked up in the streets with the power out and all but he told me to relax, it would probably take him no time, and not to worry about it because at night no one pays attention to the traffic lights anyway. Touché.
He was home in record time (minus having to climb the stairs as the elevators didn't work) full of reports of which hotels in town had generators and therefore lights.
Where were YOU when the lights went out? I am personally just glad that I was not one of the many people who were IN AN ELEVATOR!!!
Recently, on the birthday of my friend who passed away in the Air France crash, I thought I'd find out what the latest is on the investigation. There wasn't much news, other than that Air France does intend to continue looking for the black box, and that the families have filed suits.
Then, this weekend, there was a memorial held for the victims, here in Leblon. Apparently several people at the event wore black armbands to protest
the lack of transparency of the French authorities in the
investigation. Article here.
A glass plaque was also erected in memory of the passengers on board. 228 birds, one for each passenger. Canadoca and I will go for a walk there this week to see it.
I think that Rio and I are now like family. In the sense that it's okay for me to say how it is, and reveal its negatives, but I sure don't like it when other people do...
On the Oprah episode.
I will preface my comment by saying that I think that Oprah has gotten awfully used to getting what she wants. Can't blame her, really. But it sure seems as though she has sour grapes over this lost Olympic bid. I was also watching SNL the other day and there was a sketch where "Obama" wishes the Olympic committee good luck with Rio with a bit of an eye roll. I'm not sure if that sketch was based on an actual event or not but it indicated he was a bit bitter as well.
Anyway! On the episode of Oprah about women around the world, I have the following comments to share:
It seems a bit absurd to even attempt to "show how people live" in 5 different countries in a span of an hour. Lofty goal at best. I've been here almost 2 years and every day I feel as though I have it LESS figured out.
I felt that Oprah was unnecessarily negative about Brazil, compared to how she was about other countries. Given the fact that she gushed on and on about the bread in Denmark (who cares?) and then basically only asked questions about Rio that referred to the negative aspects such as favelas and plastic surgery. I liked the woman they chose to "represent" Brazilian women, and thought it very interesting that they also went in to the favela.
I watched the "after the show" extra footage on Oprah's web site and was disappointed to see that her negativity continued towards Rio. The subject at hand was how long children remain living at home, and the woman's children were still living at home in their early 20's, which she said she loved. Oprah's comment was that in her country that would be considered to be mooching off of the parents. I think if you look at statistics, this is actually becoming more the norm in North America as well, while young adults are still going to University, etc.
It wasn't just the Rio portion that irritated me about this episode. Oprah did not seem to be paying attention in the least. For example, she asked questions that had already been answered five minutes earlier in the pretaped segments, and then had a very difficult time wrapping her head around a simple concept of cost of living and pay/taxation being different in Denmark and Dubai. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you are trying to portray what "life is like" in another country in such a short period of time, repeating questions is a total disservice to the viewer.
The reason her attitude towards Brazil is so disappointing is because most people who watch her show will never make it here themselves, rather this is just one glimpse for them which will likely form their opinion, and hers is based on having lost a competition, not even her own experiences here as she hasn't even been here.
As I haven't done one of these posts in ages, some of these news items are a bit old but have been in the back of my mind to share for awhile... I'll start with newer items and end with older ones.
Perhaps the craziest news I've heard out of Brazil in awhile; Futebol on the praia (beach soccer) is being BANNED as of December 1! Article here. Apparently hundreds of police will be enforcing this law. Don't get me started on that use of resources... this is part of our new mayor's mandate to clean up Rio. I wonder when he plans to get started on the public urination problem? This is right up there with stopping people's household good shipments because of a lone jar of peanut butter but then letting a container of automatic weapons go through. Which is by the way something that happens like every day... Maybe I should write him a letter. And for those who think it is not a problem in Rio any more than anywhere else, I have to tell you that my husband's auditors were in Rio last week and it was one of the only things that they commented on about Rio! (the xixi).
Brazil is expected to publish a list of trade sanctions against the US tomorrow, in retaliation for Washington's cotton subsidies. Article here.
Curious about what the view is like from the Penthouse in the Copacabana Palace? Click here to see, part of an article on luxury resorts in RIo.
Madonna is expected to come back to Rio tomorrow, and is rumoured to be staying at Fasano. Portuguese article only, here.
60 Minutes reported that a series of power outages in Brazil in 2005 and 2007 were caused by cyber attacks. Article here.
This article is crazy. Maybe this explains why Halloween is so disliked here - the dead walk in Brazil on a normal day, why would we need a special day for it.Click the link but the gist of the story is that there was a man falsely identified by family members as being killed in a car wreck. He later showed up at his own funeral.
The key question that comes to mind: I wonder how much "paperwork" will be required to clean this mess up?
If you are here in Rio, try and catch The Oprah Winfrey Show on GNT at 8 pm. It will feature a segment on Rio de Janeiro. As Oprah runs about 2 weeks behind here in Brazil, I've already heard different things about this episode from a number of people back home, and therefore have had to try not to form too many opinions about what was featured until I see it for myself... it is an episode about women around the world, and apparently a woman from Ipanema and her maid were interviewed for the Rio portion. To view some "after the show" questions asked, click here.
Also on Oprah's site about Rio - a guide to traveling here (there is one for each of the Olympic 2016 Candidate cities)
I'm hoping some of you come back and let me know what you thought of the episode and how Rio and its women were portrayed. Can't wait to watch!
I went out on Halloween night, and left Canadoca at home with Mr. DRL (he hates Halloween, remember?) - the night was great, to the point that I really feel I was destined to go out that night. Why?
At 3 pm I had no costume, and was not convinced to go. By 4 pm my fairy godmother had outfitted me completely as a devil complete with red fishnets.
Canadoca isn't really known for her bottle taking skills. She was really good at it at first when we left her with my mom and sister a few times when she was a few weeks old, but simply has not had a lot of practice lately and therefore is not too interested when it is offered to her, we've been working on it so that I can have a break occasionally. But Halloween was her big night - Mr. DRL texted me a photo of her feeding herself a bottle! Sweet!
It was an almost-full-moon-spooky night out there, kids...
Finally, the real reason it felt like I was supposed to be there - there is another 20-something Canadian girl living here in Rio with whom I have several mutual friends. I knew she was going to be there, and one of my friends had previously said, "Oh you never know, you might know some of the same people back home." I thought mayyyyyybe... and thought of that old beer commercial, "Do you know Glen from Canada?" But it is a SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL, even in a city of many million people. This Canadian girl had guests in town, one of whom is a girl who I figure skated as a child, with in our little home town of 2,000 people. I was also in a play years ago with her older brother, and was in her cousin's class every year in Elementary school.... craziness.
The Canuck coincidences didn't end there. I met another Canadian woman,who knows of my aunt and uncle and cousins who live in the same area of the lower mainland.
So... the coincidences were so great that I figured I should maybe buy a lottery ticket or something, but rather I think I was just supposed to go out!
I would like to preface this post by saying that when the incident I am about to write about occurred, I had NO intention of writing about it. However, in the few days since it occurred, in talking with other people, it occurred to me that this is anything but an isolated incident, so I think it's worth mentioning!
Last week a well-meaning acquaintance fed Canadoca some cake when she was being held by another friend. She is not quite 6 months old now, and hadn't previously been given anything other than breastmilk. Put it this way - according to the books I'm reading (and my pediatrician) there are a few foods recommended for babies this age, and cake is not one of them. Not to mention that I am a bit anal about these things (food) despite being a pretty relaxed mom about other things, like, you know, traveling. For example, the night before, my mom and I were analyzing what would be the best foods to first introduce to Canadoca based on what her blood type is. Silly us, cake is the obvious choice.
Suffice it to say I didn't anticipate her first food being CAKE, and I had kind of looked forward to being around when she first tried solids, to see her reaction, you know... I figure I've earned that you know with all the late night feedings, giving birth, gear schlepping and gazillion loads of laundry I've done. These first are the fun parts, the mommy rewards if you will. But no. I also have severe (anaphylactic) allergies to nuts and shellfish, so I will be very careful when introducing certain foods to Canadoca because of the family history, baking is something I have to be extremely careful with. Anyway, the person did not mean to cause her any harm of course, as she did not see any issue with giving a five month old cake. Apparently it was par for the course for her. Got it.
I thought I was the only one who could possibly have such a bizarre incident occur, until I read Eric & Emily's post on another well-meaning South American trying to give their daughter cake, saying it couldn't hurt. Then a friend told me about how every time she goes for coffee, the barristas stuff her 14 month old full of chocolate when she turns her back to pay. You often see babies with bottles of chocolate milk, or perhaps it's milk and coffee, as in the story in Emily's post.
I get that nutrition is about personal choices and opinions and that South Americans have a different view on it than North Americans in many cases (do you really need fries, rice and pasta with your beans and meat? Not to mention no vegetables besides the beans...sugar in EVERYTHING) but I am really not okay with people feeding things to my kid without asking me first, especially when it could be putting her at risk. I also get that this is something we will have to contend with back home with people wanting to give her treats, but I didn't expect this to start before she'd even started eating. For now, cake will be officially listed as her first solid food in the baby book, no long term effects, and heck she even seemed to enjoy it. But I'll be more careful next time...