Asking for help here - where is the best place to buy and sell used goods online in Brazil? I checked out the Brazilian Craigslist for Rio but the lack of listings made me suspect it's not the most popular place for this. Any ideas?
Asking for help here - where is the best place to buy and sell used goods online in Brazil? I checked out the Brazilian Craigslist for Rio but the lack of listings made me suspect it's not the most popular place for this. Any ideas?
The closest thing to a "Yellow Pages" I've found in Rio - the best addresse in the city. A lot of household type stuff but also has restaurants, services, etc. Wish I'd had a copy when I moved here! I bought mine at Livraria da Travessa.
Actually, the jury's still out on that one. But if you are looking for fresh (non-UHD/boxed) milk in Rio it is now easily located in the refrigerator section of Zona Sul stores. The bottle looks like this:
"Leite no saco" is also available at the Rio Lisboa grocery store in Leblon, I've been buying it as well, but they frequently run out.
Beware that if you buy fresh and give it to your kids, if they get any sort of stomach upset, the maid will advise you that the fresh milk is "too strong" for them, and that you should water it down. At least, that's what happened to me, and apparently I am not the only one!
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...
Though it's not far from where I live, I visited the market at Cobal for the very first time last week. Amazing! Many hard-to-fin items and gourmet treats. I'll let the photos do most of the talking...
Gorgeous (albeit a bit pricey) flowers...
I have some dandy blog posts up my sleeve, coming soon, as soon as I get a chance, I promise. Until then, maybe someone can help me out? Can anyone recommend a good place to stay in Olinda or Recife? Restaurants and must-see recommendations are welcome too!
Much has been written in the media lately about Rio being reinvented, particularly with the Olympics and World Cup coming. When I am asked about the current state of Rio I am always hesitant to answer. I realize that my answer is totally dependent on my experiences there, which are in no way representative of what is going on in the city as a whole. We've been in Rio for over two years. Touch wood, we have not had any "incidents" happen to us, a few near-misses, sure, but nothing major. My opinion of Rio's current security state is largely dependent on this continuing to be true.
I also realize that after living in the big city for as long as we have, we've become hardened to certain things, again, we are not objective.
Nevertheless, in true Brazilian fashion, I will still offer an opinion! I do think that Rio is changing for the better, and it is being cleaned up. I hear about less incidents of horrendous crime, the drive to the airport doesn't seem to scare my guests the same way it used to before the "walls" along the road went up, and I feel safer overall. Maybe it's the Polyanna in me, who knows.
Smithsonian magazine put out an interesting article on Rio's reinvention this month, check it out here. It talks about the opportunity Rio currently has to repair itself, and the hows and whos, shortcuts and challenges of getting Rio "there".
On the other hand, an interesting quote from a piece The Guardian put out on the recent gunfight at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sao Conrado:
"We have been sharing in the illusion that Rio is entering another chapter, turning the page on the horror," he said. "But this shows that the pacification units are merely islands of excellence in an ocean of barbarity that is very much alive."
My only comment on this incident is that since living in Rio I have not heard of a single incident of a tourist being killed here, though I have heard of SEVERAL meeting such unfortunate fates in countries such as Mexico. Yet people seem to have no fear of going there, but Rio is terrifying to them. Strange. Apparently this incident was enough to scare off the stars of Twilight from filming in Rio!
Anyway! I think I have been sharing in the illusion, too. I have relaxed, about a lot of things. Or maybe just become lazy? Maybe I have changed.
What do you think? Is Rio getting safer? Has it changed?
I firmly believe that we get what we expect out of people. If we expect our mother in laws to say something off, they probably will. When I started to call the Canadoca my little monkey, she started monkey-ing around... and climbing...
Most apartments with kids + balconies in Rio are netted or wired in. I need such nets and wires. Who can help? Where do I find them?
Because it would only take buying a few items back home rather than here to pay for your airfare. No wonder so many Brazilians hit Miami for shopping... meu deus! Mr. DRL will be in the US and already has a ton of stuff waiting for him at the hotel that he is bringing back with him (yes I warned him and sent empty suitcases).
Lately there have been a number of articles and studies put out about the exorbitant cost of living here in Rio, these examples highlight it as well. If you are moving to Rio, these are things you need to think about.
These are just a few things that I saw while out and about this week that I felt the need to price-compare as examples for you. By the way I'm not searching for the lowest prices online, I'm just using Amazon, and xe to convert today's exchange rate. I would also like to mention that it is significant that some of these items are even AVAILABLE here now, as many of them weren't as recently as a few months ago.
Anyway - here we go:
At a drugstore - the MAM Bite & Brush teether. R$24.90. Today that's $14.08 US.
The same product on Amazon:
This is a Fisher price Rainforest play mat - the price tag is pretty clear though $R329.50. Which is US $185.69 today. Or you could buy it on Amazon and save yourself ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS.....
At this rate you might even be able to justify first class airfare...
Next up, the bumbo chair.
So, this is why it is always always always worth the extra $100 or so for an extra piece of luggage. It quickly pays for itself.
Anyone in Rio want to...
Anyone in Brazil want to...
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."
It was tempting to name this post "the biggest load of malarkey I have encountered in my two years living in Brazil" but I figured that I should at least try to keep on topic. Besides, I may need the title for something else in the future.
Mostly for tax purposes (to keep ourselves at arm's length a bit from Canada and show our intent to stay in Brazil, as Mr. DRL's license was expiring, and he didn't want to get a new Canadian one), Mr. DRL and I both underwent the process for obtaining Brazilian driver's licenses. As to be expected, there were countless forms to fill out and fingerprints to be stamped, a few visits to DETRAN (the Brazilian version of the DMV or Registry as we'd call it in Canada) but we got through that part a few months ago. Since we had valid Canadian driver's licenses we did not need to do an actual driver's test behind the wheel, but we did complete small physical exams (eyesight, blood pressure, etc.) as a requirement.
Then, we had to take a 2 hour long psychological test. Which is where the malarkey comes in.For the record, I passed (surprised, are you? Maybe a little?).
I arrive, fill in some paperwork, do some fingerprints, have my physical exam, meet some nice people (mostly young Brazilians, one other gringa), then am brought into a room with about 8 others to complete the exam. The instructor speaks a tiny bit of English, which is helpful. But before the exam begins she goes on a tirade in Portuguese about foreigners coming in and taking Brazil's oil resources, THEIR resources, and how if you were to go for a driver's test in another country there would be no help with translations. The part about the translations probably true, but not super for making us feel all that welcome/comfortable in this tiny room for two hours with all that hostility. But anyway!
The test is the biggest joke I have ever encountered. I was warned by Mr. DRL and a friend that it was bizarre but no amount of warning prepared me for it. Every opportunity I had I stealthily took photos to share with you. Because that is the only way you can ever understand begin to understand... what is involved to get a Brazilian driver's license. OH.MY.GOD.
Pin the horseshoe on the??? No, I am not kidding, this was an actual multiple choice question on the test.
This part was interesting too - you had to put a tiny dot in each of the triangles on the line (far left box), then in the middle you had to complete a maze with a steady hand, finally on the right, put two small check marks in each box. I feel so much safer on Rio's roads knowing that the driver's have completed these crucial tasks.
This page took the cake for me. Really, swastikas? Finger + Ring = Finger with ring on?
There was also a section of the test which required us to memorize items in a picture and write them down, and a bizarre exercise where we had to write matching straight small lines on a paper for a predetermined amount of time, then count them up. It's a mystery as to what they are looking for in that exercise? Is it better to have more lines or for them to be uniform? I went for more uniform and was glad after as I didn't have to count as many tiny little lines in the end but who knows?
This entry concludes the results of the 2009 Rio Expat Survey that I conducted. I hope it's been helpful for some of you, particularly those considering a move to Rio!
My final question: If you could give a single piece of advice to someone moving to Rio next month, what would it be?
I asked survey participants what is the most difficult thing about living in Brazil as a foreigner. This is not meant to be Brazil-bashing, of course living everywhere has advantages and disadvantages. it is meant to be helpful to those considering a move to Brazil. The responses are as follows:
1) I asked where they most frequently buy food/groceries in Rio - they were allowed to list up to 3 options:
Zona Sul was most popular by far, followed by Hortifruti, Feiras (the open air markets), Sendas, Pao do Acucar, Extra, Carrefour and Wal-Mart.
2) I asked which creature comforts Rio expats bring back with them from home countries on a regular basis.
83% bring back beauty products and toiletries
73% bring food products
56% bring electronics
30% bring other household items (DRL note: I know of several people who bring in garbage bags and dish soap!)
Other items participants specifically listed with this question:
3) Not what the folks at Shopping Leblon want to hear... when asked where they buy their clothing, ex-pats in Rio responded that they buy most of their clothing back home:
Here is some more demographic info about participants in my survey:
61% originated from North America,
33% originated from Europe, with the remainder from places scattered around the globe.
Brazil is the first international assignment for 41% of respondents. It is the second or third for as many respondents, meaning that less than 20% have had four or more international assignments.
34% of respondents volunteer their time in Rio on a regular basis.
There is still quite a bit of information to share with you from the survey - watch for posts in the next couple of weeks.
Amazon is now shipping books to Brazil free of import taxes. I tried it out this fall with a couple of dvds and books and it worked great!
A fellow expat mom just told us about this site called myus.com - she has used it to shop and send things down to Brazil and had a good experience. Most companies do not ship to Brazil, in my experience, and if they do, you end up paying import taxes on your stuff.
Myus.com is also a great site for Canadians who want to shop online at US stores that won't ship to Canada. Basically, you use their address and have your stuff shipped to them, and then myus.com sends it to you. Anywhere within 225 countries. Very good! The fine print is that there is a (minimal) registration fee, a % based personal shopping fee, and then shipping fees, obviously. But hey we have to pay for convenience, right?
55% of respondents said they work more hours here in Brazil than they did in their previous job.
I also asked what was the most rewarding thing about working in Brazil and the most frustrating. Let's start with the frustrations and finish on a positive note with the rewards:
Participants reported that their biggest frustrations working in Rio de Janeiro are:
Participants commented that the following makes working in Rio de Janeiro the most rewarding:
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.
I am coming to Rio for a law school study abroad program for one month. The program is putting is up in Copacabana in Post 5 somewhat close to the Cantagalo Subway station. However, everything I read about copacabana says it is incredibly dangerous for foreigners and it is really not a question of if you get mugged but when. Do you have any specific knowledge about the Post 5 area of copacabana and how safe it is? I will of course take all precautions necesarry not to become a victim but I am quite worried. Also, my girlfriend will be with me with me and she likes to run. Is it safe for her to run alone in the mornings along the beach? Will it be okay for her to wander around alone at all during the day? Any specific advice on how to protect ourselves while in Rio?
When I first arrived in Rio, I walked from Ipanema/Leblon to Copacabana and back four days per week (to school and back). Never once did I have an issue, but often times I was concerned for my safety/creeped out by certain people. I suggest sticking to the beach street as much as possible.
I feel that if you take strides to blend in, you can easily live in this area without issue. However, I also hear stories about people being mugged in Copa within 3 hours of arriving from the airport, and so will you (hear of such things). Sometimes it is luck of the draw, but I have been fortunate to have good experiences, as have most of the expats I know here.
I feel it would be perfectly safe for your girlfriend to run along the beach path in the morning, this is a highly populated area and there are tourist police everywhere. It is actually very safe to walk around on the beach street at night as well (but don't go down to the water itself at night). There is a market set up on the beach street every night and as a result, lots of people. Meaningm, safer. As I mentioned, I walked in this area almost every day, alone, when I first moved to Rio and did not have a problem and so I hope she will not, either.
To give you some specific advice:
1) Try to dress like a local. This means for your girlfriend - actually wearing jewellery (just not expensive jewellery).
2) I think body language is the biggest giveaway when it comes to identifying tourists. Try and look as though you know where you are going (even if you don't), and try to master the "blank stare" most people have on their faces at all times. I think that many times people are targeted because they are gawking at everything - obvious tourists. To be fair, there is a lot to gawk at here...
3) Don't carry a lot of bags around at any times. This includes groceries. Locals do not do this, they have them delivered. Unless it is just a couple of bags, have them delivered as to not stand out.
4) Vary routines (especially her, with being alone during the day).
5) Always, always, always comply if you are robbed. Do not resist!! This is the only way to be safe.
6) VERY IMPORTANT: Familiarize yourselves IMMEDIATELY as to where the favelas are in your neighbourhood (there are a few) and steer clear of them).
I find the zona sul easy to navigate - being that there are so many landmarks, etc. which is good.
I seem to have a number of new readers lately- welcome!
A project I've been talking about doing for a long time and have finally started is a survey of Rio's expat community. The point? To help out those looking to move to Brazil or those interested in expat life here. The survey is almost ready but before I add the link/send it out to my contacts, last chance to let me know what you'd like me to ask the group, in case there's anything I am missing. Leave your questions as comments to this post or email me. I plan to get the survey out in the next week or so.
This is part of a new series in which I am posting excerpts from reader emails and my responses in hopes of helping more people who may have the same questions or concerns.
I received an email from a Brazilian living in Canada recently:
I will be on my way to Rio, to visit family, next month. I'm going with my spouse ... and I am kind of freaking out. I have been here for so long, I am terrified of all the violence, and high rate of car accidents and things like that. It's all just so different here! I actually don't think twice about going out with my digital camera, iPod and cell phone... whereas I wouldn't dream of doing it in Brazil (granted I haven't been there in nearly 3 years... but still).
Now I am sure I am amping it all up... I did live there for 20 years and was never even mugged... but still! Heh. I was just wondering if you had any thoughts on that, as a foreigner in Rio. I can't talk to my relatives or friends about that as they just wouldn't understand why I'm so scared. So yeah...
I just flew back to Rio from Canada myself. I understand how you feel, and had a lot of the same feelings myself coming back this time, especially with having a daughter now, but I think when you arrive you will feel okay. I understand not wanting to talk to your relatives/family about it as they could take it the wrong way. Just be sure to take precautions - and walk around like you own the place - I think body language is a huge thing! Also remember that much of the violence is segregated into the favelas, which is not the case withgang violence in other cities! You have to remember that things can happen no matter where you are in the world, so we always need to be careful but to try to live without too much fear. I hope this helps?
I've been getting more and more emails from people coming to Rio. Which I figure is good because a lot of people have just LEFT US! We should be recruiting!
I figure if one person asks a question, the answer may be beneficial to others too. Since I am heading out on holidays I figured I would use some of these as easy blog posts over the next couple of weeks (sorry, I am getting worse with the upkeep of this blog by the day!
Now you are a mum, do you feel safe going about your daily business with your baby? We have an 18 month old, and that is my one concern. I’d be grateful if you could give me any insight into this.
There is a baby & toddler group here in Rio that is organized through the INC (though you don't need to be a member!).
I feel pretty safe going about daily business with my baby, on foot, within Ipanema and Leblon. We get out everyday and so far have done so without incident. I do not like to travel with her in a car as carjackings are frequent, so I avoid this whenever possible. I do not drive with her alone under any circumstances, and someone is always in the back seat with her in case there is a need to get out of the car in a hurry. Enough said...
Something I think would be more challenging for you is that your child is mobile... traffic is crazy here and I already dread taking her out in the streets when one step (or slip) in the wrong direction could be very bad! You will sure have to be careful!
The final question of the survey: Any recommendations or words of wisdom for future guests?
My Bridesmaid & her Boyfriend: Oh this is simple.....GO TO RIO!
My Mother-in-law: Perhaps to learn a few extra Portuguese words to help with their travels.Thank you so very much, Mr. DRL, DRL, and our grandbaby, for a wonderful holiday!
Engaged Couple Friends: Try to avoid the Citibank bank machines - we paid a fortune there - they convert your withdrawal into USD first and then into Canadian. We did better at HSBC and even at a bank machine we had never heard of before in Buzios. And, buy stronger sunscreen then you would normally use. I don't know if its the closeness to the equator, but we burned way more than we do somewhere like Mexico, on a comparably hot day.
My Dad: Take some time to review the language, simple words/sentences. Bring along a dictionary and sunscreen. Make sure you do your share and more as the parents to be will need the extra sleep. Can you believe how much company they are having???? Crazyyyyyyyyyyy!!
Part 7 of a series of questions I asked my guests after they left Brazil.
Question 7: Do you plan to return? And if so, what would you like to do in Brazil next time?
My Mom: I am booking for June, (DRL comment: mom has already been back since the survey was made!) will spend lots of time holding the baby, will go to Sugarloaf.
My Bridesmaid & her Boyfriend: We would like to return, but it all depends on timing and the thousand other vacations we would like to take in the next couple of years!
If we came back, we'd like to see Paraty, Iguazu Falls in Argentina and MORE SUN!! Haha, we just had bad luck. Apparently it was nice before and after we were there!
My Mother-in-law: Would be nice... We would love to see the heritage buildings in Salvadore, the Amazon River, there are semi-plans to meet at Machu Picu in Peru....who of your readers will grant us an unlimited supply of funds, please?
Engaged Couple Friends: There are lots of amazing-sounding places we'd love to see in Brazil, and the rest of South America . . . I'm sure by the time we hear about the rest of the DRLS' visitors' trips, we'll be wanting to go back to do everything they did!
My Dad: Would love to go back and take (my partner) this time, otherwise I'm sure Uncle will be game again....
Question 4 on the DRL visitor survey: What was your impression of the Brazilian people?
My Mom: I found the Brazilian people friendly and cooperative with the communication barrier, they like to talk to you whether you could understand them or not.
My Bridesmaid & Her Boyfriend: I found some to be very friendly and really try to communicate with us even with the language barrier, but others didn't want to even try to understand us. We had really nice cab drivers the whole time though! That was a relief.
My Mother-in-law: Certainly noticed the difference in driving habits between the hired drivers and taxi drivers! And now that Mr. DRL drives like a Brazilian, new shocks are needed for his vehicle! Something to do with flying off speed bumps....
Engaged Couple Friends: It was hard to get an impression, because of the language difference. They certainly don't go out of their way to communicate with you. It really is true that they have absolutely no self-consciousness when it comes to their beach-wear! That speaks a little to the overall bravado of the people. But, the people in the stores and the vendors on the beach for the most part weren't pushy, while I had expected they would be for some reason.
My Dad: I feel sorry for the poor, lots of poverty. They were not overly courteous on the streets, cutting you off, etc.
Or... the economic downturn? I am often asked how the downturn is affecting Brazil. I am not really sure, my opinion changes constantly, but on a consumer's-view level, lately I've observed things like:
Less crowded restaurants. We walked right into Sushi Leblon on Saturday night. At about 8:30. Seriously. Nice patio table.
Closed-down restaurants. Barra Downtown Shopping - wow there are a lot of empty storefronts that used to be restaurants. Scary. But I hate to break it to you - here in Leblon, Haagen Dazs is gone too. Not that I'd been there more than once, but it was nice to know it was there if I needed it...
Closed down clothing stores. This is sort of akin to Starbucks closing 600 locations in the US. Some businesses oversaturate w/number of locations. LIke one on every block or corner. Take the store Eclectic here in Rio for example. Everywhere. So a couple of locations closed down. They probably should have. Efficiency, people!
Super-crowded Movie Store. People focusing on less-expensive forms of Saturday night entertainment.
All is not lost, there are still new businesses opening up here in Leblon, I will introduce a couple of them in the next few days.
Part III of a series on how my guests responded to a little survey I gave them after their time in Brazil...
The third question in the survey:
Did you feel nervous or afraid for your safety at all? If so, in what situations?
My Mom: I was probably the most nervous and hot:) when we were walking in Lapa and trying to find the steps.
[DRL's note: I try to make my tours of Centro & area "authentic"... meaning that I take different routes every time and without fail I lose my way for a short period of time each time. You know, as though my guests were wandering it on their own! This time, it was really hot and we walked from the cathedral to the steps in Lapa, after a taxi driver told us it was too close to drive us... I don't think we took the most "express' route and it took about 40 minutes in scorching heat. My mom has since told me that she does NOT want her grandchild going there (we passed some sketchiness on the way!)].
My Bridesmaid & her Boyfriend: For the most part we felt pretty safe. We just kept our wits about us and if something didn't feel right, we just went the other way. There were only a couple of times that I felt a little threatened. One being on the last day...it was an overcast day so hardly anybody was at the beach and 2 very young girls started following us. I saw them and turned around to face them and pointed right through them saying "look at the waves" and they hesitated and then took off.
My Mother-in-law: Not so much, certainly due to the forewarning (didn't wear jewellry) and organization of DRL on our expeditions. Without the Portuguese expertise of Mr. DRL and DRL, I think we may have felt more nervous.
Engaged Couple Friends: No, we didn't (except for that one crazy cab driver who pulled out to the oncoming lane to pass some cars!). Our tour guides definitely steered us straight!We were certainly aware of the danger though, and very thankful that we weren't staying in hotels in Rio or relying on public transportation and maps to figure out our own way. Thanks guys! You made this trip so much easier! We have been spoiled for our next trip.
My Dad: A bit uncomfortable in Buzios in the wee hours when walking back to our accommodation. Encountered a group of 10 guys walking towards us and made a quick 180 and ran like hell once we were around the corner. Would not have been out like that in Rio. Also both of us had our credit cards compromised which was surprising since mine had the new microchip technology. My brother and I stuck out like a sore thumb....whitest guys in town and definitely looked like tourists...
I would like to do an informal survey of expats here in Rio, to provide some info and insight and different perspective to the blog. Recently I made a page on the blog about things that were hard to find in Rio and it seemed to be a hit, the expats I knew were willing to share trade secrets which was great.
If you are an expat living in Rio and interested in participating, either send me your email address to dailyriolife at gmail dot com, or in the comments section of this post. If you are an expat in Rio I am already in touch with, I already plan to send the survey to you once I get it all figured out ;)
All others: what are you interested in learning about expats in Rio? What questions would you like answered? Leave your suggestions for survey content in the comments section.
Just as a sidenote, most of my guests who have visited travel doctors back home were advised to get Yellow Fever vaccinations to visit Rio, something that is NOT actually required!
It's Dengue season again - Expat American Living in Brazil has a travel alert/update on the situation - check it out here.
Luckily Rio is not yet affected. Thank goodness for me because pregnant women's oxygen-rich blood is apparently a magnet for mosquitoes!
As I mentioned in a recent post, I was quite irritated by the "service" I received from a local travel agent. I was trying to book a multi-destination trip (babymoon) for us, and enlisted his help, which ended up being a fairly pointless endeavor. Why?
In the end, he quoted me US $6,266 for a trip that is sub-par to what I just booked myself for US $2,490. Ummmm yeah that is a US $3,776 difference, not to mention the waste of time in even dealing with him!
Let it also be known that my booking includes very nice hotels in prime areas. His didn't. Unbelievable.
As an aside - I got a smoking good deal on our multidestination flight with TAM, even better than what was quoted to me on Kayak.com. All I did was phone TAM and book it that way. Just FYI.
It sometimes seems to me as though "sales people" be it travel agents, real estate agents, retail shop girls, etc. take a very different approach to their job than what I am used to back home. Sales tactics back home: listen to the customer and find out their needs, then recommend products. Here I don't see much regard for what I as a customer want. If I don't know what I want, that's one thing. But here are some examples of such situations I have found irritating over the past year:
I don't find that a lot of sales people take the time to read the customer, do the homework, or anticipate needs. It honestly feels like they are just trying to get rid of whatever inventory is getting old, whichever hotel rooms offer the highest commission for them, etc... but maybe I am wrong!
Can anyone comment on how sales people are trained here in Brazil? What are some of the fundamentals? How do they differ from North America? Are there some philosophies?
At the event we attended on Thursday night, we spoke at length with a woman from the Canadian Consulate. It turns out she will be the one we need to speak with once our baby is born, about getting our baby its Canadian citizenship and passport.
We had been planning to take the little one on a vacation to Canada once it turned 3 months old (the most widely-recommended youngest-safe-to-fly-a-newborn-14-hours age I can seem to find) to meet our families.
We assumed (why oh why would we? I know, I know) that we could initially just get our baby a Brazilian passport and a visa to enter Canada. We were wrong. We will need for the baby to already at that point carry both Brazilian and Canadian passports. Apparently Brazil will not let the baby out without a Brazilian, and Canada will not let the baby in without a Canadian. I specifically asked about the "visa" to visit Canada with option on a Brazilian passport but was assured we'd be denied.
Once the time comes I will of course keep you all posted on how long this in fact will actually take. I am keeping my fingers crossed that our child gets to meet its family before its first birthday ;)
Feedback: I am very interested in any of your comments as always, but specifically would find comments on experiences with first long-haul travel with babies helpful, as well as any experiences anyone might have with how long this passport issue has taken in the past if you've had to do it.
Although we'd shopped at Barra Gardens before, and heard of this legendary ice rink in Rio de Janeiro, we hadn't yet seen it for ourselves. Two weekends ago, we headed to Barra to do some errands and made a quick pit-stop, as we wanted to see ice skating in Rio for ourselves!
We immediately felt right at home when we saw the Vancouver Canucks jersey in some advertising on the wall...
Mr. DRL had been excited about the prospect of perhaps picking up a game or two of pickup beer-league hockey here in Rio. However, when we saw the PILLARS in the middle of the rink, we were both less enthused about this concept...
I mean, look what happened to poor Frosty's face...
There were a number of Brazilian adults & children out there having the time of their lives on that half-melted ice in their plastic skates, many wearing outfits I'd not ever seen in an ice arena, such as dresses and tank tops! What a great way to cool off on a hot day. But now we know... yes, there is skating in Rio. There is an arena. Just in case anyone else was wondering...
Here I go asking for help again...
My husband and I love photography and since moving to Rio have been talking about having a "lifestyle" shoot done of the two of us, featuring some of Rio's incredibly picturesque locales. Now that I am expecting, the timing (and excuse) is perfect for doing a maternity shoot. Now just one issue... getting a photographer.
I've done a bit of internet research but haven't found anything I'm loving yet... can anyone recommend a good portrait photographer in Rio and if so do you have a website for them so I can see some of their work?
Having visitors with two young children has opened my eyes in many ways to what life is like in Brazil with kids. More specifically, how kids are received here. It's much better than in North America, I'll tell you that!
For example, here, walking into a fine dining restaurant with two kids under three - no one flinches. My girlfriend who is visiting and I find this so funny because back home there is a chain called "Earl's" which fancies itself to be upscale but in reality it's just a place to grab a bite. At the location we would go to, they really don't cater to kids, it's impossible to get a booster seat even, and the official "line" of the restaurant is that it's not as though they don't like kids, they just don't do anything for them. O---kay.
Then there's Brazil....
We've taken the kids to Carlota and Sawasdee in Leblon and were treated exactly as we would have been without the kids.
We took them to Porcao and my goodness it is a parent's paradise...
The servers (all male) were all over the kids, lifting the 2 yr old in and out of the highchair, feeding the baby her bottle (see photo below). In fact at one point when the baby had less than oh, six or so, adoring (all male) admirers doting on her she pitched a fit. Pretty funny!
I like how men feel more comfortable to reach out to kids here. I think in North American society there is such concern about pedophiles that it has made men scared to even show that they like little kids in a lot of places. For example, men won't come up to strangers with babies to say hi to the baby, whereas here you can't go anywhere without it happening. Some people may find this creepy, I find it helpful even! It's help keeping the kids entertained!
Ok here is a very not fun post...
I need some help - does anyone know who to call about MOLD? I just love publicly declaring this... there have been a couple of items around our house that have gone moldy recently and being that we are hypochondriacs, we want to get someone in to do a thorough inspection of our furniture etc. and also a deep cleaning/inspection of our AC units to ensure we are not blowing mold spores throughout the house... any recommendations? These are the days when you just love there not being a yellow pages here in Brazil!
I must say though it makes this less embarassing because it seems that everyone around here has issues with one little nasty invader or another. If it's not mold, it's termites, or ants, or cockroaches, or worse!
I have heard a bunch of different information on this topic from different people so I thought I'd throw it out there for discussion, help & advice... What is customary in Brazil when it comes to Christmas tipping or gifts?
For example for...
What I've heard:
See why I am confused?
I look forward to your comments and I will post again soon letting you know what we did with ours, just for interest's sake.
Ok I occasionally frequently ask my readers for help. Today is one of those days.
There are several windows in my apartment which are welded open. (Note to potential psycho's out there or the overprotective mom types: there's no way anyone could possibly fit through these windows, be they welded open or not!)
I think I need to have some screens installed on these key windows. Pretty much everyone I've asked about this looks at me as though I am nuts. Anyone have an idea of where to start?
...Who find me by looking for a place to rent a cell phone in Rio: try presscell.com apparently they will even deliver to your hotel. Maybe I should have tried this option, huh?
...Who were on my blog because they were hunting for a place to have Thanksgiving dinner in Rio - I tried checking out a few places for you, but no luck. There are turkeys at Sendas in the frozen food section, hopefully your hotels have ovens? Yeah, maybe not...
...Who find me by looking for places to go for live music in Rio - how the heck did you end up here? Try this link to Gringo-Rio's site where you will find a great listing (which is what I use when I want to know the same thing).
...Who arrive here because they have googled "hot brazilian bunda" or bunda of the day or hot brazilian girl... best of luck to you, best of luck.
...Who keep checking my blog just to find out what the heck my announcement is? Sorry, you will have to wait a few more days (December 1st!) but I like that it keeps you coming back!
What do our visitors typically buy as souvenirs/mementos/additions to their wardrobes/gifts for friends and family, while in Brazil? This post could also be titled "good buys in Brazil"...
1) The number one item, hands down, would be Havaianas. Everybody buys them. I spend a lot of time frantically texting and emailing people back home for their shoe sizes while standing in Centro with my guests while they shop and try to figure out their girlfriends/wives/daughter in laws'/sister's/brother's shoe sizes.
We have had visitors leave with more than 25 pairs. Below are the acquisition of a recent Casa DRL guest...
What's the big draw for Havaiana's here? Well they are quite a bit cheaper than back home. For plain jane Havaiana's in Canada you generally pay $20-$25. Here, the plain jane ones are $R10 in Centro (which is about $6.50 Canadian). There are much "fancier" designs available here, as you can see, and besides people love to say that they were purchased in Brazil!
2) Shoes & Purses. As I may have mentioned before, shoes in Brazil are, in my opinion, are a great price for excellent quality shoes. Wide variety of styles and colors, very funky and unique styles. Although I don't have photos of shoes my visitors bought (as in the case of the Havaiana's, above), here are a bunch I've purchased in Brazil. Yes, I realize these photos are already on the blog in different places.
Biquini's & Sungas... gotta do it. With a lot of the styles at places like BlueMan, they are easily enough worn back home as well. Here is a selection of swimwear I've purchased in Brazil...
Be it handmade wooden jewellery, strands of beads, cascading earrings with semiprecious stones (there is an amazing kiosk in the Ipanema 2000 "mall" on V. de. Piraja in Ipanema with tons of beautiful sets of these), or some serious bling from Amsterdam Sauer or H. Stern, Brazil is a fantastic place to buy amazing, unique jewellery!
Everyone asks me about the clothing shopping here and to be honest, I find it hit-and-miss. If you are looking for something specific, forget it! But if you come here with an open mind and don't need anything per se, clothing shoppping in Rio can be a lot of fun. Items I don't recommend buying: for women - bras (weird weird sizing...) and business clothes (generally of pretty poor quality - but men's are much better).
Seems silly & simple but there are some beautiful stone coasters here - like little works of art in fact- we started buying them for hostess gifts for friends & family back home when my husband started working down here, they come in a wide array of colors and are just gorgeous and very unique.
The Hippie Fair & Copacabana Art Markets (are there other regular ones we should be frequenting? Let me know!) make some great sales thanks to our guests - art is incredibly unique and cheap here in Brazil. Most mounted canvases can be removed and rolled up (you just have it re-stretched and mounted upon returning home).
After trying to capture as much of this fantastically picturesque city, many of us have not quite admitted defeat but enlisted the help of a coffee table/photo book to remind of the bluer than blue skies and mountains that emerge straight out of the ocean. Also a popular read with our guests: How to Be a Carioca.
10) Funky cooking stuff
Like this beautiful limestone and copper fondue pot (they also have pizza stones - Santa Teresa shops) or a wooden mortar and pestle set for making caiprhinhas with the cachaca you already bought...
I would also like to divulge that guests purchased 12 sparkly wigs, 12 pairs of light-up sunglasses a six pack of Guarana, and two pirate hats. But I am not saying who's who...
I think I should have gone to the eye doctor while home this summer... anyone know of a good optometrist in Rio? Preferably in Zona Sul? If possible, who speaks English (sometimes it really just is better to speak English in my case...)
Disclaimer - no, I am not a mom. I realize I don't fully understand what it's like to have kids of my own. I promise to read this again someday if I do. I love kids, respect parents for doing a great job (and one hard job!). Ok? End of Disclaimer.
I get a lot of hits from people looking for info on moving to Brazil with kids. While I can't say that I have done this myself, I do have a few observations which I will share.
Mom's? Anything you can add to help inform people with children who are trying to make the decision of whether or not to come and live in Rio? What is easy, what's hard?
When we were leaving Canada (we flew out of Calgary), we saw a team of female Brazilian futebol players (in full uniform with Petrobras across the back) in the airport. They also had a Flamengo emblem on their pants. We saw who we assumed to be the same team again in Rio but think they flew through New York (we flew through Houston).
I have tried to do a bit of research to find out what they might have been doing there and where they played but to no avail... anyone know?