Thursday, April 7, 2011

One Year Later

Last October was my year anniversary here. October has gone by. In the winter I bought my first apartment here. It is on the same street as our old place. We wanted to live in Copacabana the money I have saved I could probably only get a small studio. Here I bought a three bedroom ( four with the servant's bedroom ) with a back veranda. The living room is pretty large and the ceilings are high. The bathroom has a shower and a bath which is rare here. We are on the fourth, Top, floor of the building. It is a small condo with only 16 units in the building. It was $150,000. reais. The building is nice and in good condition. It just does not have any doorman, no pool etc. It is worth it though to have space...especially with two dogs. They now sleep in the servant's room and have the veranda to hang out on during the night. Toni is doing well. Work was slow in after the new year but is starting to pick up a little. He is still studying English. I am also still going to my classes twice a week and am getting ready to move to the third level. I just finished my resume so I can look for a job...maybe teaching English. Yeidy came in February. She was my first visitor from the states. It was fun. We went to all the tourist attractions that I haven't seen since I visited the first time. Toni got along with her really well...they were teasing each other by the end of the trip like sibling. I made the mistake of telling Yeidy that Toni does not like sand so of course she kept on throwing sand on him at the beach. It was sad when she had to go and leave me here with all these crazy people ( just partially joking about the crazy part ). I miss New York but probably will not visit this year. Not until I have a job. I have a little bit of money save but I want to keep it for emergencies. Until then I will have to love New York from a far.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

House guests

One thing that is different here then New York and Ohio is the length of time that guests come to visit. In Ohio a person may visit 1 or 2 hours for friends and maybe 5 or 6 for family or real close friends. In New York visits are very short. Friends may visit for an hour...but mostly you meet out in the city and it is only a long visit if you see a movie or go to a cool bar. In South American you may have a guest visit for days. I am serious. Toni's sister is still in town. When she arrived they only bought the arrival ticket so I don't even know when they plan on leaving. They are not spending all their time with us. They have stayed at Toni's brother house. The husband also has family in the favelas. Toni's older brother Manuel came here to visit them last weekend. The visit lasted for 2 days since they ( Manuel and his wife and son ) decided to sleep on our living room floor. Toni's other brother Serverus ( with his wife, daughter and son ) is visiting this weekend so I am assuming it will be a two day visit also. We visited him for Churrasco a couple weeks ago and ended up spending the night and leaving the late afternoon. The visits are also almost like a holiday with the women cooking and making lots of food. Of course there is also lots of beer.

Last week Marcelo was in the neighborhood with two friends. They wanted to stop by so I was thinking they would be here for a couple hours since they all live an hour away. I was wrong. They stayed here all afternoon and we drank a lot of beer. One of the things that attracted me about Brasil was the friendliness of the people. The long visits are just something you have to keep in mind. Especially when it comes to family....because it is not like you have a choice.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


The other day Me and Toni visited the Favela Rocinha. Rocinha is the largest favela in Rio and is home to around a quarter of a million people. It is located past Ipanema and Leblon and before Barra de Tijuca. The word Favela is the name of a tree that grows on mountains. When the slaves were freed in Brasil there was a time when they could not own land and they could not find work. Because of this they built here temporary communities on the mountain side. As more and more people came to the city and could not afford housing there towns became larger and more permanent. In the 70's the government tried to destroy there favelas but were unsuccessful because the people did not want to leave and the government did not have the money to building affordable housing for them. The Government now more or less accepts Favelas into society and supplies them with water and electricity. The favelas have businesses and stores like any other town. Because of the twisting and turning small alleys and streets most of the houses can only be reached on foot.

The favelas have little to none police pr essence. Because of this the drug trade has flourished there. This of course has led to crime and shootings. The police do raid the favelas now but it is almost impossible with the way the favelas are organized to really police them. As soon as the arrest one drug trafficker there are a line of others that will take there place.

Many people do live and work in the favelas. A lot of the facionistas ( domestic help ) and lesser income workers live in the favelas. The favelas are a fact of life in Rio.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cafe de Manha

Breakfast, like many Americans, is my favorite meal. In brazil we normally have a bread roll, Paozinho, which is basically a french Beget. Some people eat it plain or toasted but we normally have it with cheese and cold cuts. It is also common for us to have a fried egg with it. We also normally have coffee, Juice, Yogurt and fresh fruit.

Since Toni saw Tera eating pancakes on True Blood he has wanted me to make them for him. Since I also enjoy traditional American breakfast I agreed. They have bacon here so that was not a problem. I got a Pancake recipe from online and making them was relatively early. Finding Maple syrup was a little more difficult. They normally use Honey as a sweet topping. They also have Strawberry and Choc late syrup for Ice Cream. I am a traditionalist so I had to find Maple. After a couple weeks I found a small bottle in a Import section of a liquor store. It was Imported from Canada and $30 reais for a tiny bottle but I bought it. A few days later I woke up early and made it. It was a complete success and I am looking forward to making it again ( but next time I will try with fruit...blueberry pancakes are my favorite.

I am also missing macaroni and cheese. I have a recipe and have finally found a place that sells Cheddar cheese in Ipanema. It is $20 for a small piece but I think it will be worth it. They like Cheddar here because they have cheese slice and spread ...just not a block of the cheese itself.

Tomorrow I have class. I have tried to study today. It is coming, not as quick as I would like, but I think I am getting better. Even so I think my first job is still a ways off.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Spring....Goodbye to a friend.

It is now Spring. It is also almost a year that I have been here. I moved here on October 11th. I was back in New York for 3 months during the summer but we will just call that a very long vacation. I am still taking classes with my Professor. She is nice but it is still a little strange. She says " Tranquilo" to me a lot. I don't know if she thinks I am nervous. The fact that she keeps saying "Tranquilo" to me is starting to make me nervous. I am getting the language but I still have a lot of work to do. Especially with pronunciation. I am still practising rolling my Rs. It took me three years of Spanish to remember to pronounce J as a soft guttural sound but now I have to remember in Portuguese to go back to a hard J. Hopefully eventually it will all come together and I will find work. Toni has been speaking more English so hopefully he is finally getting it.

Today was Helena's funeral. Her stomach cancer ended up being to much for her. She was not in very good health to begin with so it was not a complete surprise but still very sad. I put on my Etro suit for the viewing and was the best dressed there. Brazilians also dress casual for funeral. Most people were in Jeans and sneakers...including her family. The funeral home was large and modern. It was in the middle of a cemetery. When you entered there was a coffee shop on the left and them 7 or 8 chapels. Helena was in Chapel 5. Most of the people were in the common hall that had a lot of seats. The room with the coffin was small. The coffin was covered with flowers with just a small window to look in and see her face. I did not look in. Since I have no idea what to say to her friends and family I kept quite and just followed Toni around. Some men came and took her coffin at the end of the viewing time. We all got into cars and went to a little building in the back of the cemetery. This was the crematorium. We all waited in the lobby as they took her in. After half and hour more time it was over and we all just left. Me and Toni came home with Marcelo. We had a churrasco last night and we still had meat here so we had lunch. Toni is sad but he is dealing with it. We both know how short life is. We will miss our evenings drinking wine with Helena. As spring is here we say goodbye to our friend.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Winter is almost over. Winter ends here on September the 22ND. It has been warm still ...only cool on occasion. Saturday was Gay pride again in Mesquita so Toni wanted to go. We took a taxi there with the dogs on Saturday. A taxi ride there costs 50 reais. We went to Marcelo and Marcos house. There friend Janene was singing in the Plaza in the afternoon. She was at Marcelos house practising with her band which was a girl on keyboards and a guy doing drums. We had Churrasco and drank beers. Later in the night Toni made Caiparinhas. Somehow after the band stopped practising the speaker and microphone were there so the night turned into Karaoke.

The next day we got up, hungover, with more friends in the house. We all showered and had breakfast...and then an hour later started drinking again. We went to the town plaza and listened to a band and drank beer. In the late afternoon there was a parade and then a show that was only a block away from Marcelos' house. At 9pm the taxi came and got us and we all ( us and the dogs ) went back to Rio.

The next day Toni and Marcelo worked in the house. Afterwords we went into Copacabana to visit Helena who is really sick. They have stopped chemotherapy and her health has not improved. Her birthday is this week and the doctors think it will be her last. Afterwords we walked along the beach and then had dinner at a new restaurant along Lagoa that serve food from the northeast of Brasil.

Wednesday I had my second class with a professor in Copacabana. I also have my third class tomorrow. They seem to be pretty good. I had to translate a two page history article that was a challenge. I am glad I am making some progress towards speaking Portuguese and one day finding a job.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

time goes by...

The search for Portuguese are still continuing. I was thinking about going to Puc ( which is a famous Catholic university here ) but it is really expensive. It is $800 to enroll and then 4 payments of $600. That is just for one term of classes. We then were thinking of wizard language school which is cheaper but we found out that you only meet with a teacher for 15 minutes and the rest of the class is listening to tapes. Toni is talking to a lady who says she will teach me for $45 an hour...but she will discount it if we take 30 hours worth of classes. Until then I purchase a workbook and have been doing exercises at home.

Monday we went to centro. We walked around and I took Toni to Catadral Moderno...which has never been in. We took the ferry to Niteroi and went shopping. Niteroi is across the bay and is famous for its Museum of Modern Art. Tuesday we woke up late and went to the supermarket. Toni argued for about 3 hours on the phone with our cable company NET because the bill was wrong again. The last time he argued with them we got HBO and Cinemax for free. This time I don't think we will get anything. In the evening we studied.

Today it is hot. Toni has had two clients in the apartment and tonight is going to Copacabana to do Jinatas hair. We were looking at apartments to move to a different neighborhood but Copacabana and Ipanema are at least double then what we are paying now. It looks like we are here for awhile.