There are days in Rio de Janeiro where one neither feels like cooking nor speaking another word of Portuguese.
How can we solve this one... well...
I just learned about Disk Cook. It's a service that provides an online delivery food service from some of Rio's best restaurants. www.diskcook.com.br I haven't tried it out yet myself but friends swear by it.
Where does the food come from? Places such as Amir, Benkei Sushi, Antiquarius, Mr. Lam, Milfrutas, Sushi Leblon, Esch Cafe, Juice Co, Giuseppe Grill, Zuka, etc. To be honest, if you are ordering takeout from some of these places you are really missing out on the eating out experience in my books.
Soon it will be too hot to cook. My solution was going to be eating fruit salad for the next few months. The plans always change, maybe instead I'll have options... ;)
I may have mentioned in the past the obsession Brazilian women have with their nails. The Canadoca is no exception. It used to be really difficult to get her to sit still long enough to trim her little nails. Actually, I've even referred to it as the weekly dogfight in the past. Not so much anymore now that I've discovered something about that little Canadocers. She's even more Brazilian than I thought. Can't stand even a little bit of dirt under her nails. This - along with her obsessive teeth brushing - is not a bad thing. I can think of several worse stereotypically Brazilian qualities she could have. But we won't talk about those today.
So the recipe for giving an 18 month old a manicure without any whining, screaming, or even wriggling? Feed child acai for breakfast, let her play with it with her fingers, let her realize the purple under her nails is not going to go away on her own no matter how many times we wash hands (in Canadoca's case it bothered her so much that she apparently pointed it out to the babysitter all morning! Even tried to convince us it was hurting her!), then enjoy the peace and quiet of having her relaxed and cuddly in my arms while I cut her nails without any fuss...
New Year's Eve in Rio is truly spectacular. The countdown is on. I can't wait! There are tonnes of events in every corner of the city (tickets to some of which are available here). What are YOU doing New Year's Eve?
Many events and concerts around Rio de Janeiro have been canceled as a result of the violence and general unpredictability going on.Today's #'s were slightly better though - hopefully that trend continues.
I checked the government of Canada's travel advisory site and nothing has changed in terms of travel advisories to Rio. Mr. DRL's mom is flying in next week for a visit, hopefully things will calm down before her arrival.
One thing I keep wanting to mention - please remember that anyone who buys drugs basically anywhere in the world is connected and contributing to this violence in Rio and in this case, innocent people being killed. A two year old girl was shot in the arm today. Something to think about if you like to get high...
Rio readers: are you doing anything differently this weekend? Staying in more? Going about your daily rio life?
A case near and dear to my heart... we miss you, Anne & Mike.
Air France is planning to launch a fourth sea search for the black boxes which hold the answers (cockpit conversations, flight data) as to why the crash occurred. The search will begin in February 2011.
If you follow me on twitter, I've been re-tweeting a lot today, snippets from here and there, things I'd heard. For example, when they shut down Avenida Brasil this afternoon. Also a very popular tweet today is a warning not to go to Shopping Leblon on Saturday as a mass attack of armed favela residents is expected. I don't know how much truth there is to that but I can tell you there's nothing in that mall that I need that badly!!!! I'll be avoiding that area, thank you very much.... Since writing this there have already been more tweets talking about the mall being closed on Saturday. Like I said it's just heresay on twitter but sometimes where there's smoke there's fire...
Speaking of avoiding areas, I'm certainly glad Mr. DRL came home early today and avoided the Tunel Reboucas as an Antarctica truck was burned close by, causing a big cuffuffle .
If you search Leblon on twitter these days there's also a lot of gruff being said about Leblon residents and the governor's residence. As I've mentioned we live in very close proximity to his place. So any talk about that freaks me right out!
Stay safe everyone. It is my hope that this difficult time in Rio will not be in vain and that the city will be safer in the long run. I hope that no more innocent lives are lost.
Here is a photo of two of the front pages of papers in Rio de Janeiro today (OGlobo and Extra). Scary stuff.
I have spent countless hours researching "where to stay" in Brazil. There isn't much written. It's not always reliable. Usually I am a big TripAdvisor user but it's not used enough in Brazil to be as useful a resource as it is in other countries. (Not to mention that it seems hackers skew it at times. Here's an example: while Togu is a cute little spot, my apologies to the lovely people at Togu but it is DEFINITELY not the #1 best restaurant in Rio, yet on Tripadvisor it has apparently somehow achieved that status).
Since finding a place to stay can be incredibly frustrating and a wild goose chase Hidden Pousadas Brazil has been a fantastic resource for me. I've stayed in a few of the properties featured on the site such as Pic It consists of reviews you can trust, of amazing little spots around Brazil.
My only complaint? It is a boutique web site, meaning it only concentrated on a few special properties which are highly recommended. However, web site founder Alison McGowan has now launched a sister site, Pousada Hotel Brazil, featuring information and reviews of a much wider scope of all sorts of pousadas around Brazil. Check it out!
There are a number of articles you can read about the current violent situation between gangs and police in Rio. It's been a bad week. Blockades have been set up by gangs, cars robbed, buses burned, people shot. Supposedly two of the gangs might even be working together on this attack. It's awful news. 14 people were killed in Rio just today, including a 14 year old girl who was hit by a stray bullet. Today seems to be the worst day so far, 22 is the total death count since Sunday. The one positive note is that 25 people were arrested (which brings the total since Monday to 150).
Here's the lowdown from what I've read tonight:
Earlier today bomb squads were called in to several areas of Ipanema where wooden boxes were left on the street (near a park we go to regularly, in one case). They contained promotional materials, not bombs. Thank goodness.
This morning a car was bombed in Copacabana on Rua Siqueira Campos. As a scary-for-me sidenote, Mr. DRL picked the Canadoca and I up from the Pao do Acucar store a block from there, yesterday evening. Crazy.
Cars were also set on fire in Niteroi and Recreio. In other words, this situation is NOT just taking place in the Zona Norte as many of Rio's unpleasant situations are. It seems to be almost everywhere.
R$200 is apparently the going rate for drug traffickers from Vila Cruzeiro to pay someone to set fire to a bus in Rio.
Eduardo Paes is calling this week's acts terrorism.
That said, to be honest if you want to know how I have personally been affected when going about my daily busines - I haven't. It is a chilling reminder, however, to read later about things go down in areas I frequent. With the exception of noticing a lot more helicopters and police around, there doesn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary around here. Which just goes to show how diverse life is in Rio. In one minute it's paradise and around another corner, a warzone.
An interesting sidenote - I was talking with the Canadoca's babysitter a little bit this morning about the situation (she lives in Rocinha) and she seemed pretty un-rattled by it. In fact she was much more excited to tell me about seeing the latest "SAW" movie. I guess when one grows up surrounded by these situations it just doesn't phase one the same way. The last thing I feel like doing is watching a scary movie...
I don't know about other expats but personally I am every online retailer's dream. My husband works late, I live in a country where I can't seem to locally source so much as a bra that fits, or baby wipes that are unscented.... and I have a constant flow of visitors and family and friends coming back and forth to mule my goods (love you all!!!). Let's charge it!
I particularly like shopping online when I have a US address to send it to, for example when Mr. DRL is traveling there on business, we are heading there to visit friends, or when American friends are coming down. There are sooooo many retailers that won't ship to Canada. There are a few who do, but most of them end up charging an arm and a leg in shipping (and then there's duty as well).
Canadian retailers seem behind on the whole online-shopping trend. Not one Calgary grocery store delivers/does online orders. Along with other trends, but we won't get into that. Meanwhile I'm told the Sears Wish Book is still being printed... yikes. I guess catalogue shopping is still all the rage there. We can't order from Target or Amazon (yes we do have a Canadian Amazon but it doesn't have nearly the selection that the American one does, mostly still books/dvds/media, etc.) Gap and its family of stores and brands (Old Navy, Banana Republic, etc.) just launched a Canadian online shopping site recently (though the prices are still much better on the American site).
Imagine my delight when I found an online drug store last week that delivers (free shipping), and has a tonne of organic food as well! It's called well.ca
My sister just had a great experience shopping for clothing and swimwear from Venus
Since starting this blog I have made no secret of my plans to at least try to move somewhere other than Calgary when we leave Rio. Namely, Vancouver. This house made me think I could definitely move to Calgary anytime soon a couple weeks ago, (the one condition of course being that I would move into the house) but since then it has apparently been at least -20 C. It must be a sign I'm not supposed to return there. Don't mind me using the blog as a record of all the reasons not to move back there... you never know when I might need a list handy!
Even the cars are cold, apparently:
Today in Rio it was only about 25 degrees but it felt a lot warmer....
Last year I conducted a survey of expats in Rio. I had a lot of interesting feedback from the expat community (also heard via the grapevine that a couple of unnamed expat organizations had their feathers ruffled by the whole thing... how silly!) and am considering doing another survey this year. However, it's only worth it for me to do it if it is content that my readers want. To help me gauge the level of interest, please respond in the comments forum or send me an email at dailyriolife at gmail dot com with any suggestions or ideas - what did you find helpful last time, what do you want to know, what should I ask. Here is a link to all of the results of last year's survey of Rio de Janeiro Expats.
Oh I should mention - there is a possibility that there will be a really SWEET prize for one lucky participant to win...
Zona Sul Supermercado (grocery store) has a loyalty program which allows customers to give personal information in exchange for discounts. Kind of like your safeway card back home, likely the data of how many times you buy milk in a month is sold to marketing firms. I have no issue with this. It's also handy for deliveries because when you use your card, your address automatically pops up on the screen, so they have it. Now, the VERY security conscious would probably not want to use a Zona Sul card at all, for this reason.
As I've discussed I'm a medium-security-conscious kind of person. I have a Zona Sul card, but I don't carry it on my keychain, because I figure that if my keys are ever stolen, all the person has to do is buy a chocolate bar using my Zona Sul card and they will have access to my address. Something to think about.Instead of using the card, I just give my CPF # to the cashier, and it pulls up my account.
A human trafficking ring was busted in Brazil this week with 12 people arrested. The scheme? Smuggling people (using false documents) into the US through Mexico but upon arrival, holding them for ransom. 10 of the 12 were arrested in Minas Gerais.
I am not the only person out there with concerns about Brazil's airports! These people have obviously also been to a Brazilian luggage carousel and know what I'm talking about.... maybe I can get some funding and support now for that "Acceptable Behaviour at the Luggage Carousel" instructional video? All joking aside, Giovanni Bisignani, CEO of the International Air Transport Association has stated that Brazil's overburdened airports cannot meet demand and are a "growing disaster" that could embarrass the country during the upcoming Olympic Games and World Cup if they aren't improved. Article on ESPN. From the same article, earlier this year, the IOC's principal concern was the lack of planning to revamp Brazil's airports.
Even the royal engagement has a Brazilian twist - the Issa dress Kate Middleton wore for her engagement announcement to Prince William is by a Brazilian designer, Daniella Helayel:
In Rio, Issa items can be purchased at from the store Alberta, which has locations in Shopping Leblon and in Ipanema (Visconde de Piraja 302). In the states, it can be purchased at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
Strangely enough, on a similar note, I just discovered that a friend is designing men's clothing for Hardy Amies, known as the couture house of the Royal family... maybe he will be designing some things for the royal wedding....
This email has been circulating the expat community over the past few days, I've now received it several times, so thought I'd share. It is from one of the big corporations with employees in Rio. When discussing it with friends over the weekend we were reminded that really you should not even open the door for your porteiro unless you've requested him to come to your door (he could be knocking on your door with someone coercing him to do so....)
We would like to warn employees living in (and visitors to) Zona Sul, Zona Oeste (Barra da Tijuca, Recreio dos Bandeirantes and Jacarepaguá) and Zona Norte (Tijuca, Grajaú e Méier) about a gang specializing home invasions.
These criminals act in such a way as to trick victims and facilitate entry of the gang into a residence. The gang members wear uniforms and even drive vehicles with the emblems of telecommunications and cable TV companies to deceive victims. The gang also has a device that identifies phone lines and the address of residences.
After choosing the victim, they cut services such as telephone, cable TV and/or Internet, and then present themselves as maintenance technicians for the service that’s been cut. Two gang members have already been arrested. One, aged 39, with previous convictions for theft, receiving stolen goods, and weapons possession, has worked in an outsourcing company providing services for the former Telemar.
a) Share this information at home and in your apartment building;
b) Access to the condominium/property should only be authorized after the OK from the tenant for previously scheduled services. This approach is of vital importance to prevent this type of crime. We reiterate that such service personnel should remain outside the property/building while the service is being confirmed.
c) Do not be fooled by appearances (uniforms, badges and vehicles with emblems etc.); the modus operandi of criminals is increasingly sophisticated.
d) Whenever in doubt, contact the company responsible for the service.
Generally the stories about favela life in Rio are scary. These ones are not, highlighting positive changes that are happening today. Having spent all of about 3 hours in a favela since arriving here, I obviously don't claim to know much, but I'm certainly interested. I do know that favelas are not all about drugs and poverty the way people picture them, they are also about families, community and every day life.
Remember a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned that when I tried to make an appointment with the federal police to handle the Canadoca's Brazilian passport renewal, the next available appointment was at the end of January? (I should mention that her Brazilian passport expired in October. So she currently doesn't have one). Insert jeitinho. It's right across the bridge, folks. Niteroi! Got in via an agency in less than one week's time. Just a little tip for you....
Breaking Dawn, of the Twilight series, has been filming in Rio recently. Pictured to the left are the stars waving from a suite at the Copacabana Palace. Apparently filming wrapped up over the weekend and the big stars (Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart) have now departed. I personally haven't seen any of the movies or read the books, but am much more interested to now that it was filmed here in Rio and in Paraty. Stangely enough supposedly the rest is being filmed in Canada.
I feel like a Rio old-timer lately. Many of our friends who are leaving moved here after we did!
Just a little piece of trivia for you - who is most likely to be the loneliest expat? My answer is someone who has lived somewhere the longest. Their friends have probably all moved away!
It's also because I have noticed so many little changes around Rio. Things I can now easily source which were previously unavailable. Here's a funny one: when I moved to Rio, there wasn't anywhere to buy frozen yogurt and now the oversaturation of the frozen yogurt market in the Zona Sul has now become somewhat of a joke. You cannot go half a block in Ipanema/Leblon without coming across at least one froyo place. Thinking of opening a frozen yogurt place in Rio? Don't do it.
So the other day, in Sendas (I know, I need to stop talking about my epic, annual trip to Sendas) I spotted Agave syrup. These random findings excite me to no end because these are the types of ingredients I buy at Costco back home and smuggle to Brazil in my luggage, praying they don't explode in my suitcase. Can you imagine the mess a bottle of Agave syrup would make.... no wonder I can't sleep well on the plane.
What can you do with Agave? Well you can make a damn good caipi with it, for starters. You can thank the Canadoca's "Glamma" back home for that tip. There, your holiday Monday just got even better!
There's a bit of a phenomenon going on here in Rio - terrible weekend weather. We're not just imagining it. Makes me feel very sorry for the working folk like my hubby who has to drive the entire length of Leblon/Ipanema/Copacabana beaches on his way to work every day, watching everyone having fun, to end his 50+ hour work week (not counting the 10 or so hours he spends commuting) with.... cloudy skies. Bizarre how frequently this happens in Rio!
I have had a ton of requests for a good English speaking, reasonable hairdresser in Rio de Janeiro. Until today, I really couldn't help out with that, had two previous experiences, and in one case received a truly terrible cut, in both cases it was terribly expensive. Finding a good hairdresser here is very exciting because it is not an easy endeavour. When I moved to Rio I had a short bob hairstyle and went to the person who was written up in a bunch of publications as being the best at cutting short hair in Rio. Let's just say I left completely disappointed - a major mess was made, which luckily I was able to have fixed in short order upon reurning to Canada.
Today was a much different experience. A great experience! I had my hair cut by Tatana (pronounced like Tatiana) at HBD Spa in Ipanema. She did a fantastic job. She is an incredibly attentive stylist and very genuine person as well, I really enjoyed her and she seems very passionate about what she does.
So do go see her! When you do, tell her you read about her on the blog.
When I started this blog about two and a half years ago I quickly found a photo of my neighbourhood, applied a zany little font with "Daily Rio Life" making it into a banner at the top. A graphic designer I'm clearly not.
A blog is kind of like a baby, and much like my own appearance since having a baby, I've been so focused on keeping the blogging ball in the air so to speak, meaning freshposts on the blogroll, that I haven't given its appearance much TLC since. Until now. My blog has a new look! Finally!
I think I should get a makeover next. Seriously. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I have yet to have a good hair day in Rio!
What do you think of the new look? Here is a shot of the old one in case you already forget.
I went to Sendas last week for the first time in.... I'd say about a year, maybe more. I was hoping to hold out until it turns into a Pao de Acucar store but I needed frozen plain acai and couldn't find it anywhere else. Turned out I couldn't find it at Sendas either that day, but I did find some other interesting things! It smells slightly better than before and they really, truly do have several things that are difficult to source in this area.
First treasure I found was the Monica Soft Touch NIGHT TIME diapers. I thought the line had been discontinued as I haven't seen them elsewhere in months. Sendas still has them.
2nd special treasure - plain (meatless) cooked beans in packaging! One of the conveniences of home I miss is plain black beans in a can. They have them in plastic wrap at Sendas. You might not want to use them for those black bean brownies though, as there is a bit of onion in the ingredients. Have you tried the black bean brownies? They are AMAZING.
Other fun finds around town - Castelinho - a baby store on At de Paiva in Leblon has a ton of things that used to be impossible to find in Brazil. Things like Munchkin snackholders, stroller fans, etc. Smart stuff, good brands. Prices, well... they don't list them, you have to ask. Never a good sign. But the stuff is available and that's an improvement!
Stroller liners are difficult to find back home, maybe a new concept? But every Brazilian baby in a buggy seems to have one in this area. I saw some really fun ones at Dona Chita this week (Visconde de Piraja 444 Galleria), really nice to have something cottony soft in this hotter summer weather for when babies sleep in strollers.
I was out for lunch a couple of weeks ago with a group of expat women when one of them received a text message. "Shots fired on the street in Gavea," she announced after glancing at her phone, then wondered aloud if it would interfere with traffic on her drive back to Barra.
The company her husband works for text messages its staff and their spouses with such security alerts whenever there is an incident of interest in Rio de Janeiro. This information gives employees and families an opportunity to avoid these areas. Some may consider it to be a bit over-the-top.
I find a wide variety of attitudes when it comes to maintaining safety in Rio from the mixed bag of expats I talk to. Some get very comfortable and do all sorts of things they would never dream of doing back home, one example I come across often is having little ones not riding in car seats. Some people really relax on it here for convenience's sake, though they say themselves they would not dream of it back home. Others I've encountered live in complete fear, and restrict their family's activities beyond anything I'd consider to be normal.In most cases, the people I've encountered who fall into this category work for large companies with a lot of support (such as those helpful text messages I mentioned). In other words, someone has scared the pants off of them. Usually HR. Or maybe a course from a private security firm like this.
I'm not saying there's nothing to fear in Rio. Just this week a friend of mine told me about an incident where her husband was recently targeted and shot at in the Zona Sul while driving home (he managed to get away, thank goodness). Despite this, she is not one of the scared-of-her-own-shadow people I'm talking about, even though you could argue she'd certainly be entitled to feel that way.
Fear is just one more thing we need to manage differently while living in Rio de Janeiro, but I think it's important to remember that stuff happens everywhere. I. Maintain awareness without letting it ruin too much of the fun. We seem to fall somewhere in the middle, maybe a bit on the less-security-conscious side. We drive here, nothing is bullet proof, we don't have 24 hr security in our building, yet we are security conscious in that so far we always have the Canadoca in a car seat, and mostly stick to the Zona Sul.
The weather has been too nice to blog. Plus my blackberry is at Mr. DRL's office and on it are trapped a number of photos for upcoming blog entries. You'd think I'd have all the time in the world to blog since the Canadoca is NO LONGER BREASTFEEDING (big step, people, big step!) but it turns out we just use that time to do more fun stuff. Maybe it's because my phone has been ringing and Rick Mercer even called me, yes on the telephone, at home (more on that soon!). Whatever the reason, all my excuses, I haven't been writing, but believe me I'll be back.