You must see it to believe it. Click here for the slideshow of the flooding north of Rio de Janeiro.
If you have missed it on the news there is a horrible flooding situation north of Rio de Janeiro, in communities such as Teresopolis and Novo Friburgo. Almost 500 people are confirmed dead and many more remain missing. The rain is expected to continue as well.
There is a shortage of blood, to donate blood in Rio de Janeiro:
Banco do Sangue: Rua Cde Irajá, 183 - Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro - 21 2527-7300
Yesterday the lineups to donate were apparently really long but you can make an appointment to donate blood by callling Hemorio (21) 2332-8611 or 0800 282-0708.
The Hemorio runs from 8:00 to 18:00 hours (including Saturdays and Sundays) at Rua Frei Caneca 8, in Centro. To donate you must be between 18 and 65 years, more than 50 pounds and in good health.
Many malls and shops/grocery stores are accepting donations as well.
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.
As of September 1st, in Brazil it is now mandatory for babies and children up to 7 years old traveling in private passenger vehicles to be strapped into carseats. Previously use of carseats was simply a recommendation. It seems that taxis and buses are exempt.
Police in Rio began issuing fines on September 8th.
Those who disobey the rules will receive a fine of R $ 191.54 and seven points in the driver's license, plus the seizure of the vehicle until the deficiency is remedied. The new rule was initially to begin to be enforced in June, but was postponed because the seats themselves were in short supply. As it is, there are currently 3 month waiting lists at some stores to buy the seats. So, I am guessing that you could probably sell a carseat for a pretty penny here in Brazil these days! Especially considering they are about 4 x the price of the ones back home as it is!
One article I read estimated that previously just 32% of mothers in Brazil were using carseats to transport babies.
The Canadoca's "Grams" lives near the lagoa, in one of the buildings with its back to the mountain. Just last week we were at her place and she was commenting on how much the trees had grown since she moved in...
Last weekend there was a massive fire up on the mountain. To see it now, you'd almost not be able to tell!
Sure hope that Mountain Man is ok! Grams says she hasn't seen him around in awhile...
Anyway - check out these photos of the fire and firefighting efforts. Photo credits go to Grams...
I will post many, many items on world cup, just need to get organized... I will post about the special edition world cup Gilette razor, the special edition world cup pringles, the M&M's. The Brazil colored streamers hanging from nearly every building, the Brazil-flag covered VW bug, the painted faces. The fact that Mr. DRL and the rest of Rio's business community get extra time off to watch Brazil's games. The fireworks and how on earth I am going to get the Canadoca to sleep when on a normal day here in "quiet Leblon" we have three noise makers (one on rain, one on babbling brook, one on ocean waves, all on full blast) and an air conditioner going to get her to sleep. So far, so good ;) But Brazil hasn't played yet!
But what an energy in the city - something to unite everyone - it's amazing. So grateful to be here to experience it.
Copacabana Beach! Where there will be FIFA Fan Fest, from June 11th to July 10th, with daily shows & a giant screen to broadcast all World Cup games. Rio was one of the cities chosen to host the Fan Fest simultaneously in Rome , Paris , Berlin , Sydney & Mexico City . An arena is being assembled for the public to watch every World Cup game, free.
Head on down to Centro and pick your world cup gear at Saara. I found this getup for my nephew back home, which is being modeled by his little sister:
I get a lot of inquiries from people who would like to move to Brazil to work. My advice is to find a multinational firm operating here and get here on an expat package. As it's been said, Brazil is not for beginners, folks. We use all the help we can get our hands on! Make sure your have a generous living allowance...
So if you've read my blog entries and are still interested in job hunting for something that might take you to Brazil, here are some companies that are making waves in the media recently about either entering the Brazilian market or expanding their presence here:
It is currently NOT raining. Mr. DRL headed to work this morning. The mayor has kept schools closed today again and asked people to avoid non-essential travel. Apparently it is essential that Mr. DRL go into work. As you can tell I'm *thrilled* about this... (Ok he just called me from the office and made it there really fast and said the roads had basically no water on them on the way there. Good news!)
Here is the full report on the situation for today.
According to OGlobo, the situation is still pretty bad around the lagoa and motorists are asked to avoid it. There have also been many cases of cars stuck in traffic being looted. Lovely.
This situation puts a spotlight on Rio's everyday issues such as homelessness, unsafe building in the favelas (many of these homes are now lost due to mudslides), terrible living conditions in the favelas, litter (because it hampers drainage and thus contributes to more flooding), traffic woes and overall organization and readiness to deal with situations that arise.
As you may have read on the news it's been storming in Rio, up to 30 people have died because of the flooding and mudslides - click here to read more.
Despite the mayor's warnings to stay indoors, I took my guests shopping in Ipanema today (The Canadoca stayed home with her Papai as he was home from work today, don't worry I didn't take her out in this!) and about half the stores were open for business. The streets were pretty quiet, and the canal looks like this:
I receive emails daily from readers of this blog. I really appreciate it all! Yes, even the ones that criticize the blog. For they too have their purpose...
This email in particular I wished to share with my readers, (its author OK'd it).
Trying to better understand Brazil, its culture and its citizens is a huge part of my journey. Emails like this help. So without further adieu...
"As I said in my commentary I found your blog on the site expat-blog. I was searching information about Canada (what a coincidence!), I study architecture at university and I’ve read somewhere that in Canada, as in Brazil, there is a huge market of work for people in my area (architecture/engineering). So that’s why I have interest in move for Canada. I was thinking if I should or not send this e-mail to you, but I decided it isn’t a big deal, if I had a blog I’d love to receive some of my readers.
Foremost I’d like to introduce myself, my name is X (18) and I study English for few years (about 3), so be tolerant with my English. I’ve read all your blog since the first post, and some comments of the visitors in the most “polemic” ones, I’m happy because I understood around 70% of everything you wrote. Of course I didn’t agree with every single opinion of yours, but I think you were very fair and exact in the most of the things you said, and that’s something very rare for a foreign – I say this by self experience. I “worked” as a volunteer in an Interchange company called AFS. For me it would be a good way to improve my English skills and make a kind of cultural share, I also hosted a boy from Germany for one year (the worst experience in my whole life). I can say I talked with many kind of people from many countries: Sweden, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, France, Indonesia, Iceland etc. Talk with them about Brazil was a frustrating experience, it was the same stereotyped vision (I’m truly tired of this), I think they weren’t mature enough for an experience like that.
In one of your posts you said something about Brazilians be very negative with their own country, I think it is absolutely true (with some exceptions), I usually say the patriotism of Brazilians is limited to football, for sure it is the only thing Brazil is 100% good in the world. It is very easy understand why Brazilians are very negative with Brazil. We see the problems of Brazil every day on TV: corruption, urban violence, drugs, pollution etc, add to this the fact of really few people say good things about Brazil, so it created a culture of “complaint”, people sit on their chairs in front of the TV, or in bar, hear the problematic news and just shake their heads (the most of times rolling their eyes) and say: “Oh, it just happens in Brazil, in a developed country it would never happens” or worst “This country isn’t a serious country… tsc tsc”, well, in my opinion it is the most typical Brazilian, and it is the type of Brazilians that Brazil doesn’t need. The most of people here ignores the situation of our “neighbors” in South America, mostly of them with a worst situation than Brazil. My uncle works in a oil company, he lived in Angola (also speaks Portuguese) for two months, and he said he looks different for the Brazilian poverty after know the real poverty there, the favelas in Brazil are bad, but I dare to say it is a better situation than the mostly slums in Africa and India, for exemple, here the favelas has a small (but present) structure, with sidewalks, small hospitals, schools, a modest trade, lan houses and also banks (the example in the bank Bradesco in the Heliópolis favela, São Paulo)! While in the other countries they literally lives over their garbage. I can be wrong, but it is how I think.
It’s difficult be proud of Brazil (and it is not my case, I love my country and I know the exact position of Brazil in the world) when the people has the addiction of say bad things about the country, minimizing the good things and maximizing the problems. Many Brazilians has the puerile fantasy that the other countries in the world, specially Europe and North America are just perfect, and the wrong/bad things just happens in Brazil. We know that’s not true, I visited Portugal and I were really impressed with the newspapers, it could be perfectly a Brazilian newspaper, the same things: corruption, violence, poverty etc (in Portugal 18% – data of 2009 – of the population lives in misery, something difficult to understand, Portugal is member of EU). The corruption in Italy is the same or bigger than in Brazil, but nobody knows about it, right? We think Brazil is a very corrupted country (I’m not saying it isn’t true) because the people know it, the newspapers say the “secret” cases all the time, and in my opinion this freedom of expression is one of the positive things in Brazil. Some people say: “Oh, in the government of Lula there was much corruption”, I simply don’t agree, the difference of the Lula’s government and the government of the previous president (Fernando Henrique Cardoso) was because in Lula’s time we knew all the cases, while in the other government many of the news were censured or hidden. Your father said the drivers here are mad, well in Italy is twice worst, and Italy is a developed country.
In beginning I didn’t agree of Rio hosts the Olympic Games in 2016, for the same reasons of all people that were against: favela. Slums are the most shaming thing for me about Brazil, but now I’m 100% into the idea of those games here, and I totally agree with Lula when he said those games could make better the low self-confidence of the Brazilian people and their relationship with the nation. I am very impressed with all the projects for Rio, that goes beyond the stadiums and arenas. The security project let me with my mouth wide open, they will contract a company of NY to project the security system of Rio, this company is the same that made the project of the New Yorker security system in the government of Rudolph Giuliani. I know the current security in NYC isn’t the same of the Canadians cities, but ask any New Yorker and you will know the big difference of this before and after his government. Rio is planning with the help of the federal government the most modern department of public safety that already existed in Brazil. For you have an idea, they will install pickups sound of shots throughout the city. Just a shot sound be captured, the center will be immediately activated and the next cameras will monitor the location of the shot and within minutes a car will come to the site. This system exists only in Israel and in U.S. (If I’m not wrong). It is just about the security, the public transport (don’t forget the high speed train) and many other things will be improved.
When Rio de Janeiro won the games many television reporters of many countries arrived in the city to make a “special” about it, and the biggest example was given by an Australian television, they came here and just showed the worst side of Rio, the most deprived areas. OK, it will help a lot Rio with tourism. When I knew it, I were very sad, because as a writer said “being Brazilian is an ache”, this ache begins without much fanfare, partly in the belly, partly through the stomach. Then it goes and settles in the left breast. So It’s how the pain of being Brazilian looks like. Give up of Brazil is easy, but the pain of being Brazilian that’s more complicated. I just hope this e-mail don’t look very tireful for you, I liked very much your blog and how you write, and it is good to know your baby is partly Brazilian! But I want to say, before you move from Brazil, you need to travel to the historical cities in the state of Minas Gerais, such as Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, São João Del-Rey, Diamantina, etc."
I replied to my reader and asked him what he thought would help his country. Here is what he had to say:
"Well, I don't think there is a thing that can help, Brazil is in the right way to development now, if you read more about PAC you will find out, it is a program to improve many areas: health, education, security etc, it is like a list of goals, and some of those goals are already being made. This year it will be the presidential elections, an important step for the future in this moment we are living."
When I make an error on this site, readers are quick to point it out. I appreciate this. What's the point of having a blog where nothing is true - this is supposed to be a resource for people. By no means do I consider this blog to be "news" - I mean, come on, it's my point of view only! I do as much fact-checking as I can, but let's face it sometimes sources are wrong. It's getting out of control how wrong the ACTUAL media is, on such a regular basis. It seems as though anytime something is covered that I do personally know about, the media gets some aspect of the story all wrong. Which doesn't give me much hope that the rest of what is reported is accurate, either. And yet I still pay attention. Why is that?
Here are some examples of ridiculous recent goofs:
Terry Fox/Michael J. Fox: This one is crazy. Terry Fox was a Canadian hero, in fact I've written about him before on the blog. I find him incredibly inspiring. Yes, Michael J. Fox is also an inspirational Canadian (though I am pretty sure he now calls himself an American), very accomplished, but I am pretty sure he hasn't run across Canada... or attempted to. I believe they are both even from the lower mainland in BC... but to mix them up? I know it must be confusing that more than one person's last name is Fox... but come on guys... link here.
Samba Parade: It was reported that a seven year old girl performed as a samba queen in one of the parades - in fact she was supposed to but didn't end up doing it. After the fact, CNN reported she had. Was the CNN reporter drunk? Did they actually go to the parade? Or even talk to anyone who did? How does this happen? (In my opinion - lazy journalism!) By the way, in case you missed it, they also reported that Rio is now the capital of Brazil! They are really on a roll over there...
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.
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.
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!
Well, Rio, you did it! I think I am still in shock. I am the first to admit when I am mistaken and in this case I certainly was - I did NOT think that Rio would be awarded the games, but I sure am glad it was.
I had a tear in my eye as I watched - up until the part when I saw Lula, red faced, bawling uncontrollably into a handkerchief, at the press conference and then at that point I switched to laughing... So cute. Brazil certainly brings the passion!!! I wish I could have been down on Copacabana with the masses, celebrating.
Now comes the hard part, and it will be interesting to see how Rio pulls it off. No matter what the outcome, the 2016 Olympics are sure to be picturesque, entertaining and one of a kind. I hope this brings about changes for the better for Rio.
I am anxiously awaiting the result of the IOC vote today - where will the 2016 Olympics be held?
According to what I've been reading, against all odds, Rio is now considered a frontrunner... who would have thought?
I remember how emotional I was the day that Vancouver was selected to host the 2010 games, and I think if Rio is selected this will be even moreso the case for me - it would just bring about so many opportunities for Rio and Brazil in general, and give it some exposure to the world. There are so many misconceptions about Brazil and this would help educate people on what it's really all about. I hope it would also result in the improvement of many living conditions and infrastructure in the city - much needed.
I've been a bit vocal about my disapproval of the amount of money spent on what seemed like a long shot bid, considering that Rio wasn't initially intended to make the final ballot (Doha was vetoed by the committee because of its hot climate, despite scoring higher than Rio in preliminary rounds of city selection). Recent crime sprees in the Zona Sul while the world's eyes are on any news coming out of Brazil also make me curious if this is sort of a demonstration of protest coming from the city's less fortunate - one could hardly blame them for thinking the money could have been spent elsewhere, considering the price tag of the bid and the lousy living conditions for many in Rio. Considering how many issues first world countries have in preparing a city for the frenzy of the games, I've often wondered how on EARTH Rio could ever get it together - but when it comes down to it, I hope Rio gets the games. I wish I were in Rio today to head on down to Copacabana for the big announcement - but I am still traveling.
HELP Discoteca is a famous "landmark" on Copacabana beach. Here is the web site. I've often heard it referred to as the biggest brothel in South America.
It's right along Avenida Atlantica in Copacabana, across from where the outdoor market sets up nightly. Most of the female "clientele" consists of prostitutes and transvestite prostitutes. The male clientele consists of 1) men looking for this type of thing and 2) men who are gullible. I did a quick internet search while looking for the web site, and came across some hilarious travel reviews from men who didn't clue in to the club's actual setup 'the chicks were all over me!' haha... yeah you the man.
Anyway, word on the street is that Help Discoteca is closing its doors, and that the building will become a music museum.
Obviously there are positives to a place referred to as the biggest brothel in South America being shut down. However, there are also negatives.
Such as... displaced sex trade workers. Where will they go? Where will the work? On the streets? This does not seem like a positive thing to me.
The Gringo Times is one way to read news about Rio in English. They even have an RSS feed you can set up (also available for this site, folks!)...
I also read online news in Portuguese but then usually take advantage of Google Translate on my toolbar to make sense of it all. Helps a lot!
Rio's new mayor is making a serious effort to demonstrate his intent to crack down on crime. Even though it seems small, recent examples I've witnessed. Note - this is having not EVER seen anything like this before - when my dad was here, he commented that he hadn't noticed a single police officer doing anything - my response was that neither had I, and I'd lived here for months. Anyway, I've noticed:
Other items I didn't personally witness:
Rio residents don't seem to be loving the new system. I've seen people yelling at the tow truck drivers (no, it didn't appear as though it was because it was their car), and according to this report, police officers at the checkstops have been receiving verbal abuse as well. Many Carioca's feel like this is a post-election tactic that will disappear in time, but I hope not, because the city could use a bit more order and less crime.
So I was reviewing some local news last night and came across a very tragic story - a couple was driving home from the shopping center after purchasing clothes and things for the bedroom of the baby girl they were expecting in a couple of months. They were in the Zona Norte, and they were hijacked, the wife was shot as she tried to exit the vehicle, and killed. Through some sort of emergency c-section the baby was saved, but at 28 weeks it is touch and go as to the baby's survival. What a horrible story! To read the full (Portuguese) story click here.
As a sidenote, being pregnant I have been slightly less concerned with something happening to me as I figure it's a bit of a security blanket and people will not mess with me, rather would have more compassion. Clearly this was not a fair or good assumption to make. Note that this has not meant I've been taking any extra chances, rather just a matter of feelings. Also good to note - many victims of random violence in Rio are not "targeted" so much as they are bystanders.
I hate to make this such a regular thing, but such is life, of course...
Friends of friends were carjacked in Barra yesterday at 2:30 in the afternoon after leaving a bank. 2 guys pulled up on motorcycles (one on each side) and both people in the car were shot, both are alive, but wounded. Not cool.
I also received a news bulletin detailing some stolen uniforms in the Rio area. Apparently this had happened in the past with the postal service, now it has happened with the "Dengue Patrol" from the Minister of Health. Meaning that if you are living here and someone just randomly shows up from the ministry of health for a dengue inspection, or a utility company for example, do NOT allow them access to your apartment. If you did order it, ask for company ID. This may seem obvious but still.
If the representative of a Public Agency with whom you have not scheduled to visit to your residence (i.e., CEDAE, LIGHT, SECRETARIA DE SAÚDE - DENGUE, PREFEITURA, etc.) ask to see their identity as well as the identification of the Agency they work for.
The situation in Rio this week has started to hit the international media...
I don't like having to make these posts all the time and do not intend to be a source of things to fear, but there have been a number of incidents in involving the gang in Rocinha recently, and last night there was a shooting on the street at 7 pm right by the Jockey Club/Lagoa. Apparently Rocinha is warring with a favela in Copacabana, and yesterday there were many people shot, (four of which were killed) in Copacabana, on a main street (traffic was interrupted for an hour and a half). (Article here). I don't have a lot of details but wanted to mention it to people...
Bloggers are constantly getting a bad rap because we can basically post whatever we want and no one is "checking our facts" (except of course our readers, I know mine certainly keep me in line when I make an error, and I appreciate it, and when this happens and I have put misinformation on my site I do what I can to correct the situation). I realize not all bloggers do this, and also realize that there is a lot of BS out there on blogs. But bloggers should not be the only ones under fire when the professional media apparently does not have standards that are any higher! Take this example, which is currently creating a bit of friction between Canada and the United States.
See "How to Lose Friends and Alienate Countries" on YouTube.
Although the Canadian military seems to have taken the stance that FOX's moronic comments don't deserve more attention and should be ignored, I would like to address it.
The gist of it - a late night (I believe it airs at 3 am in some time zones) American political satire show made some rather inappropriate comments about Canada's military's plan to take a 1 year break from field operations after its tour in Afghanistan ends in 2011. From what I understand, Canada at that point will have been there for about 10 years and has taken on much of the most dangerous territory.
So people have an opinion about it, that is understandable. However, this is where it gets ridiculous:
"Isn't this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country? They have no army!"
– Greg Gutfeld on Fox News's Red Eye, March 17
Later, the apology: "I
realize that my words may have been misunderstood. It was not my intent
to disrespect the brave men, women and families of the Canadian
military, and for that I apologize."
– Gutfeld's official apology (which understandably has failed to satisfy most...)
Ummmmm no I think "isn't this the perfect time to invade this ridiculous country" is pretty clear. I don't think anyone misunderstood that one...
The show did not stop there and began poking fun at Canadian "culture" and police. As the daughter of a retired RCMP officer I do feel the need to clarify a few things for those who may not know. One of Gutfeld's sidekicks made these genius comments in a very mocking tone (see video):
"Does this surprise any of us?... We have police officers and they have Mounties. Our cops ride heavily armoured cars, they ride horses. We have bullet proof vests, they have wonderful little red jackets that can be seen a mile away. This is not a smart culture, Greg!"Just to clarify...
Another panelist, a comedian, commented that he did not even know that Canada HAD troops in Afghanistan (so in that case, why are these people so upset that they are leaving in 2 years, if they didn't even know they were there in the first place?). I read this morning in the Canadian media that said comedian was scheduled to perform in Edmonton next month was forced by the venue to cancel. Probably a good idea.
As always, I love what Rick Mercer has to say on the issue... "If you're going to do satire, three of the most important rules are you have to tell the truth, you can't be a bully and don't be an asshole," he said, adding: "Being a bully is not satire." He added that the fact that Red Eye airs in the middle of the night is a sign that it isn't experiencing "the pinnacle of success."My point:
I believe these stories are meant to hit a nerve... mission accomplished.
From the BBC, on Saturday.... A nine year old Brazilian girl is pregnant with twins, after alleged abuse by her stepfather. She is legally allowed to have an abortion, as Brazil does permit abortions in certain situations, such as when there are risks to the mother, or in cases of rape. The mother & doctors who came to this nine year old girl's aid have been ex-communicated from the Catholic church... and the vatican is now defending this move. Sick.
President Obama uses a teleprompter. A lot. I think this is a big SO WHAT? I mean, doesn't the guy have better things to do than memorize a million speeches? He represents his country well when he speaks. Read more here.
Check out RioGringa's blog for the latest on the Goldman saga, aka "the other side of the story"... poor David Goldman!
Vanity Fair explores the world of plastic surgeons... by having an attractive 27 year old 5"9, 120 lb woman go to three of them to see what she "needs" - check out the recommendations. Unreal!
I really don't intend to just write about the scary, horrible, crime related things that happen in Rio, and do not want anyone to get the wrong idea - living in Rio can be quite the fun adventure, if you read more of this blog, you will see that I feel very passionately about this. However it is not fair to only share one side of this very complicated city. The incident I am about to tell you about has really shaken people up here.
So today it's necessary to do two scary posts in a row, because two scary things have happened! It's just the way it goes.
I am a bit late to write about this, but I am writing about it nonetheless. Last Tuesday night, a couple had dinner at Pomodorino, a favorite restaurant of mine on the Lagoa. It's the "little yellow house" restaurant I've written up in the past. From what I could gather after reading several articles from different new sources, they were getting into their car at about 1 am, when another vehicle pulled up. It does not sound like they used the valet service, rather that it was parked outside the restaurant. They thought it was someone they knew. Instead, it was a group of 4 carjackers, 2 of them armed. They got out of the vehicle in an attempt to hand it over, but were forced back into the car, he was headbutted, they had a gun to her neck, they were robbed, told that they would be killed, driven to Sao Conrado, and thrown over the cliff/into the wall down 10 meters near the VIP motel for those who are familiar, and left for dead. She held on to some rocks, he luckily got stuck in the branches of a tree, but they both lived. They yelled for help and were rescued by police.
The police located the suspects in Leblon and began pursuing them, they led them to an entrance of Rocinha and fled on foot.
Here is an interesting portion of the story - it has been written that traffickers lend weapons to such individuals as these carjackers, in exchange for a cut of what is stolen. In this case, once it was known that the police knew the assailants were in Rocinha, supposedly the traffickers beat and subsequently turned in the suspects to the police in order to get the police out of Rocinha so that "business" could continue as usual.
At the time of arrest on Wednesday night, three of the suspects had the stolen documents, credit cards and jewelry from the victims. The fourth suspect was arrested in the Miguel Couto Hospital, where he was being treated for injuries sustained by firearms.
These men are also suspected of having committed four other similar robberies in 2009, three of the four on that same Tuesday evening.
So... how are expats affected by the recession?
Well, it depends on the expat. In our situation, we feel pretty well-positioned. For the time being my husband has job security in that he has a contract for at least the next year, yes our portfolio has taken a hit, but we're young, yes his company recently went through a bit of turmoil but it is weathering the storm. He makes US dollars and so the weakening of the Canadian dollar is good for us (and good for exporters and most of Canada, too). Our living costs are covered, so fluctuations are not an issue... we feel very lucky. That said, my husband has worked VERY hard and continues to do so. One item we may potentially be affected by in a big way is our home in Canada - we decided to keep it, and my sister and her boyfriend are currently living in it. We said right from the start that we probably would not move back into it once we repatriate, as we may even change cities. We'd decide then what to do, it is in a very desirable area so renting it out could be a good option. Now with the baby coming, moving back into it is looking even less likely. We do like having our stuff stored there and cared for and it is certainly convenient to stay there when we are visiting Canada, also my sister has a great place to live at a significantly lower cost to her than she would find anywhere else. However, being that it was probably worth at least $100,000 more when we left than it is today, we probably should have sold it!
This week there was an article in the Independent (UK) entitled "Move Abroad to Beat the Recession Blues" - encouraging Brits to move abroad. Interestingly enough, Brazil was the first destination mentioned in the article. Other recommended locales: New Zealand, China, Malaysia, Abu Dabi, Qatar. The article also features a "where not to go" - Spain, Australia & Dubai. I love how articles like this just make it sound so easy. I can see why this article came to be, though. It's tough to beat the expat lifestyle right now.
However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Other expats are not as lucky. Some projects are being shut down due to cost cutting, and people are being sent home. It is not surprising, as expats are very expensive for companies. I often joke that shareholders should be enraged, then I am reminded on a daily basis of why we are all here when I hear stories from the offices...
The International Herald Tribune recently published an article about expats in the banking industry losing their jobs and being forced to return home. The article discusses the trickle effect of losing these expats, for example the impact on private schools, as this is a very common perk in expat packages - private schools for children. In many cases where an ex-pat loses employment, they cannot afford to stay in their city as the cost of living is simply too high once they are paying for their own costs. This would certainly be the case for us!
So expats, what do you have to say? How is the recession affecting you? Do you feel more affected or less affected than you would back home? How so? Are you like me and sorry you didn't sell your house back home???
Sadly, I must inform you of two incidents that happened to friends of mine in the past week.
One friend was riding her new bike (which may have made her a target) in the morning along the beach in Leblon. She stopped to cross the street, and a fellow came up to her and tried to grab her bike away. She resisted a bit, and a couple who were walking nearby also came to her aid, they scared the guy off.
Another friend was riding her bike at 9:30 in the morning along the Lagoa, when a man sitting on a park bench jumped up suddenly, and stole her bike, knocking her to the ground. She was shaken up but not injured, thank goodness.
In both cases I am very glad that it was not worse, obviously, but it is still sad that this has happened. I will be much more careful on my bike... not that these women weren't being careful! I don't really think that there is anything they could have done to prevent these incidents, besides staying at home, and that's no fun.
So bikers, be aware!
As an aside, it seems as though many incidents in this area that I have been hearing of, have been happening around 9:30 in the morning, a time of day when I probably feel safest (and obviously shouldn't!).
... of the economic crisis:
Each city bidding on the Olympics has an Edge...
For Tokyo: The Government will take on all cost overruns. And the games will be green! The plan is to install large solar panels on the stadium.
Madrid: Claims to be the safest choice, as 77% of the facilities and venues it would require are already built or currently under construction. Makes sense. "Madrid deserves the Games for three reasons: unanimous support from its citizens, nearly all of the installations are finished and organizational experience," former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch said.
Chicago: Word has it Obama wants it there... which alone could even get your average Brazilian to vote for it being there, seriously! (Not that they get a vote, of course... I'm just sayin'). Other bonuses - it's charming lakefront, US olympic games typically garner more funds raised by sponsorships, TV money, etc.
Rio: Plans to use facilities from the 2007 Pan American Games as well as the new and renovated venues from hosting the 2014 World Cup. Brazil's claim it has not been hit as hard as other nations by the economic crisis. The fact that the Olympics have never been held in South America. The natural beauty, youth, energy, diversity and splendor of the city. Here's something funny from a member of Brazil's Olympic Commitee: "Barack Obama is more Rio than he is Chicago," Osorio said. "We are the ones saying 'Yes we can.' We are the city of change."
Of course, every venue or city has challenges as well!
Tokyo's: Include having hosted before (in 1964).
Madrid's: It is notable that Madrid recently bid on the 2012 games, which of course went to London, and would mean two consecutive summer Olympic Games in Europe.
Chicago's: The city won't provide international officials with the kind of safety net they want—a blanket government financial guarantee... I'm not sure that any of the cities are providing this, though.
Rio's are of course its infrastructure and crime issues. The fact that Doha actually scored higher on the initial bid process, but Rio squeaked in by default as Doha was vetoed by judges because of how high the temperature is there in the summer. The high projected cost of Brazilian games ($14.4 BILLION)
The big decision/announcement of course takes place October 2!
Expat friends of mine in Rio were recently asked by a local they had met on the street if some sort of crime they had committed back home had attracted them to moving to Brazil. A little offended, they answered no, job transfers had brought them here.
Recent cases in the media have made me realize that the question was not as off-side as we all initially deemed it to be.
Take the Goldman case. A Brazilian woman living in the US, raising her child, an American citizen, married to an American, kidnaps her son, brings him here and the child's father can't seem to get custody back, even once the mother passes away. Sounds like a safe haven for kidnappers to me... For more info, check out RioGringa's site as she has the full scoop on the background of this story and first introduced me to it.
Recently Brazil made the news for being involved in a legal battle with Italy, after Brazil refused to extradite an Italian militant that Italy describes as a "terrorist". Brazil has granted this terrorist political refugee status. You can read more here.
Does it concern me for my personal safety living here that Brazil welcomes these types of people with open arms? Not particularly. However, what IS frightening is how quickly the numbers of these types could multiply now that the word is out that Brazil makes it so easy for them.
I must also comment on the irony of how seemingly "easy" it is for these people to be here, considering how difficult it was for us and all expats to migrate here. Have I mentioned that we don't have our Residence Cards yet????? And if you are a longtime reader of this blog, you know how long it took for us to get our visa's...
Here is a link to David Goldman's interview with the Today Show after being reunited with his son Sean. Very moving! This poor guy. I hope he gets to take his boy home. Watching the video again is just so emotional, especially seeing how much this poor guy has aged from the stress over the past 4 years. Unreal. I also feel so sorry for the son, this must be so confusing for him.
I'm constantly checking the news and Bring Sean Home blog today, and the facebook group for the cause as well waiting to hear news...
And apparently, finally there was good news to be had... according to a news report, David Goldman did get to see his son today. Hooray!!! A major feat but what this man deserves is to take his little boy home.
I was first introduced to the story from Rachel's RioGringa blog, she has been a huge support to David Goldman, and really helped get this story out (the Brazilian media has refused to cover the story). For more background on the story, check her site out. David Goldman is the man who was featured on Dateline NBC last week for his absolutely infuriating struggle to see his child, who was kidnapped by his mother at age 4, brought to Brazil illegally, denied permission to see his father by his mother and now by his stepfather. The boy's mother has since passed away, and still despite court orders, David Goldman had not SEEN his son in over 4 years, because Sean's STEP-father, a powerful lawyer, has him. It's absolutely tragic. Terrifying to see what powerful people can accomplish - keeping a child away from his only biological parent? It's horrific.
If you haven't heard anything about this story yet, watch the Dateline NBC hour-long interview with David and Meredith Vieira that aired about a week ago. It tells the story from start to finish and is very moving, yet frustrating to watch because this situation is so infuriating. Watching over home videos and photos what an amazing father David seems to be makes it even more emotional. And emotional I am right now... watch the Dateline piece and you'll be, too...
That life is not always a beach in Rio.
Yesterday at 10:30 in the morning in Ipanema, a British couple was robbed outside their hotel and STABBED by the assailant. The husband in the chest, the wife in the hand. He is still in hospital and expected to survive. A reminder that we can never be too careful here in Rio, and never to resist someone trying to rob you - it's not worth your life!
On January 2nd we heard of a couple who were robbed at a RESTAURANT in Copacabana within hours of landing in Rio, and according to this article, ten days ago, three men robbed two Italian tourists at knifepoint near Rio's Copacabana Beach.
By actually reading my google alerts.
See, I've got a bit of time on my hand right now and am catching up on reading my google alerts, and even a few blogs. Warning: this is about as random as it gets, but most of it is either informative or amusing, so here we go...
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.
So... I still haven't gotten into a novela here in Brazil, despite the fact that I think I'd like to to help with the Portuguese. But from what I'm reading, now might not be the time...
Apparently novelas are "losing their sizzle" - viewership is lagging, and some think that the genre is losing its position.
According to the article, the viewership of TV Globo's 10:00 slot, "A Favorita," which is Brazil's most-watched TV program, is down 9% from 2006.
Why the decline? New options available such as "pay TV" or cable, plus the internet - which is quickly becoming one of the best ways to watch tv in this household, that's for sure. Yaaaaayyy iTunes! According to TV Globo, audiences just fluctuate sharply from year to year...
This could be true - another point made by the article... with the economic downturn, the stats could easily change!
Any recommendations on a new novela starting soon or to start catching?
Does my blog GET any more random, you might ask yourself.... it is apparent that there is no limit to the randomness...
Stockwell Day, one of Canada's most colorful politicians - and Canada's new International trade minister - visited Brazil this week (Sao Paulo & Rio). Day is best known for antics such as arriving at a press conference via jetski (see photo, right) and his hard core Christian beliefs and support for the war in Iraq, among other things.
The Canadian media has reported on Brazil & Canada's distant relationship, but the Government of Canada's official news release regarding the trip hinted that there would be an announcement to bolster this relationship... so what's the big announcement?
A signed framework agreement for cooperation on science, technology, and Innovation between the two countries. Anagreement to increase bilateral research and development in the areas of (among others):
Ok this entry is totally not related to Brazil.
I'm very excited/nervous/anxious about the US presidential election today. Yes, even though I am not American.
This weekend I caught up on the Tina Fey as Sarah Palin skits on SNL and found them quite amusing although maybe not as amusing as this...
When I first saw that Sarah Palin had been prank called by a Canadian comedian I quickly thought: Rick Mercer. However, it was Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel from Montreal who got through to Palin, posing as the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy.
Palin apparently did not catch on that it was a prank until the end of the 6 minute call, despite being told:
Palin only catches on after the comedians have identified themselves and even at that point says: "Oh, have we been pranked?"
The call will hit the airwaves in Montreal this morning...
One of the most interesting/frustrating/funny (cause it has to be or else you go insane) things about living in Brazil is what is in my opinion a misuse of resources. Especially government resources. Which, admittedly, happens everywhere but in this case there's an extreme...
I'll give you an example. We have some friends who have shipped a container of household goods including a few food items to Brazil, for personal consumption. One of these people happens to be employed by a company which is affiliated with the food and beverage industry. Somehow the name of the company was put on the shipping label with the names of our friends. Now, because of the "food contents" (which is apparently like 2 jars of peanut butter), the shipment has been held up in customs for months, because customs figures that the company our friend works for is trying to get into the peanut butter import business. Which they are not. (2 jars? Come on).
Meanwhile, the illegal arms and drug trafficking trade is booming here in Brazil. Kids in favelas have access to AK-47's and grenade launchers, none of which are apparently manufactured here in Brazil. According to many sources it is easier for a child in Rio de Janeiro to get their hands on a gun than a meal. Scary. And yet a couple cans of peanut butter are tying up precious resources in customs for months on end...
If you read my recent entry about my allergic reaction, you'd know that a couple cans of peanut butter are for me just as deadly as an AK-47, however, it's my understanding that for the majority of the population, this is not the case.
When the peanut butter is the priority, and customs officials are more concerned about a couple cans of skippy than drugs & guns, it really makes you wonder.