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.