Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Sick in Brazil

Sick Toddler :(
 All his meds...

Here you mix your own antibiotic suspensions. 

Add more water Mommy

Link up with your blog's Wordless Wednesday and show some Wordless Wednesday love to other bloggers! 

Above and Beyond

I have always known that the love for children in Brazil goes above and beyond. Today that was displayed to me in the simplest act.

The Menace's teacher called home to tell me he was feverish. Today is also The Chatterbox's night to do Capoeira as an after school activity. Normally The Menace and I wait around playing while Chatterbox Capoeiras his little butt off, but since Menace was sick that wasn't going to be possible.

You see, Mr. Rant could not guarantee that he'd be able to make it by pick up time and Menace was really sickly looking. I went up to Chatterbox's class to break the news, no capoeira today.

My boy was already in his little Capoeira uniform and excitedly talking to his friends about practice. Of course he broke down into tears upon the news because "Capoeira is my favorite thing Mommy!"

His teacher looked at me and asked if there really wasn't someone that could pick him up. That I knew of at the moment, no. Sadly, he would have to be disappointed.

She stepped up. The teacher, who has a 1 yr old at the school as well, said that they would stay an extra hour and walk him home. Both of us live near the school and it would be no problem.

I was so impressed that his teacher, just to take away the dramatic disappointment that only a 4 yr old can feel, was willing to stick around with her 1 yr old just to make him happier.

That, my friends, is dedication. It is above and beyond. It is exactly why I love this country. A little inconvenience to make someone else's day is not a big deal.

In the end some friends, whose child is in the same class, offered to take him home so that the teacher wouldn't have to wait around. Talk about all the love I was feeling. A little extra effort for them made all the difference in the world to my boy and I.

In the end Mr. Rant made it to the school and The Menace and I had to take a little trip to the emergency room. The Menace is ok. Bronchitis and a sinus infection decided that they were going to spike a fever and cause some breathing issues.

By the end of the night, both my boys were home and feeling better than they were earlier in the day, all because of the help of the good people around me. Amazing how a sick toddler, a disappointed preschooler, and  a Mother with her hand full managed to all get what they need. I suppose this story has a moral and if I had to guess what it is I'd say it was that the help of a neighbor can change a difficult moment into one where everyone walks away taken care of.

Thank you to all the wonderful people who made tonight just another good evening as opposed to a disappointment! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

He Told me Off!

You have to love that Brazilians really do feel like they live in a community with the people around them. Of course this also means that elders feel complete liberty to scold a person like a wayward child.

I was minding my own business while walking my kids to the park to meet with friends. This park is a 15 to 20 minute walk from my house, it was already 35 degrees (95 F), and my boys are freaking heavy in their sit and stand stroller. You can imagine how patient I was feeling.

The Menace dropped his pacie, of course, at the entrance of the park and it fell near an older man. He watched me as I picked it up and returned to the stroller.

What he didn't see was that I threw the dirty pacie into the cup holder while informing The Menace that it was dirty and reaching over to wipe the rivers of snot from his nose.

I know what you are thinking, what a glamorous life! Eat your heart out baby.

Anyway, the man started screaming at me! I turned to look at him with a confused 'what the hell is your problem' look on my face.

He preceded to tell me off. How dare I give that dirty pacie to my child. What the hell was my problem! What kind of Mother am I! Seriously, he said all those things to my face.

That is when I pulled the pacie out of the cup hold and asked "This pacie?" I also busted out a "Cara de pao!" And suggested that he first pay attention before he decides to yell at someone.

He apologized and I we went in. I will say this though, the man is lucky my 4 yr old was there. The Chatterbox has turned into the greatest sponge that ever lived and single-handedly absorbs all information that passes by his ears. It was guaranteed that if I used the words I wanted to that the little one would automatically add them to his ever expanding vocabulary.

Lucky for the old man, huh?

Monday, August 29, 2011


So the building put up a camera in the elevator. Since I'm about 50% special, I forget this every freaking time I'm in it.

For some reason I have an uncontrollable urge to check myself out in the elevator mirror when I'm in it "alone."  I check my teeth. I give that thing on my forehead a little scratch. I even pick my wedgies.

Of course right after I remember I'm being watched. Hell, the screen sits right in front of the doorman and there is nothing else for them to look at.

Today was pretty sad. For some reason I looked at myself in the mirror and was checking out my weekend belly bulge from far too much meat and such. I did the whole girl stand straight, suck it in, stick it out, and suck it back in. I even checked out my boobs.

Oh well, I guess it was a little show for the bored doorman.

Where is My Social Portuguese!

This weekend we went to a bbq with the families from my 4yr old's class. It was a great way to get to know the parents of my kid's friends, eat some meat, and realize that I don't understand half of what they are saying in Portuguese.

Yes, this weekend was a wake up call in that I have become a selective Portuguese speaker. I speak the Portuguese of our close Brazilian friends and Mr. Rant's family. The Portuguese of a random mix of people still comes out a half jumbled mess.

It was great. We were sitting around tables, Mr. Rant and I separated at one point as the men were having the universal Brazilian conversation about soccer. Sitting there alone, I missed half of what was going on with the women. The combination of background noises, accents, and people talking over each other made me feel like the half deaf and semi-senile Grandpa who falls asleep at family events. Note to self, bring a recliner next time around so I have an excuse to doze off.

All and all it was a wonderful afternoon. I had some good one on one and two on one chats. The kids ran around like cracked out monkeys and thoroughly exhausted themselves. I was even complimented on my Portuguese as it is rare to meet an American who speaks it so well. While part of me wondered if I should be offended for my countrymen, it was too true of a statement to try to debate.

The most ironic part was Mr. Rant afterward. While he was fluttering around like the social butterfly he is, he stated later that it was kind of awkward. He felt that he didn't have that much in common with the other parents other than being a parent. Duh. Of course, I envy that ease as I didn't feel I got to know anyone enough on a superficial level in Portuguese to judge if I have anything in common with them or not.

Yet another reminder that I have hit the glass ceiling in world of learning Portuguese via osmosis.  I suppose I will have to get off my lazy American bottom and get myself a teacher. At the very least just being American and understand enough Portuguese to get by is sufficient enough to impress. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Sunday

I am really saddened by the Santa Teresa Bonde accident. For those who don't know, we have a trolley (bonde) in Rio that goes up to the artistic neighborhood of Santa Teresa. It was overloaded with passengers yesterday and crashed. The breaks went out for 20 meters and then the thing went flying.

I just keep thinking about the people who got on it. Some of them were probably going home, some just going on a ride on the trolley, others going up to Santa Teresa for lunch, and the tourists were striking another must-see item off of their Rio de Janeiro list.

Then I start to think doubly about the tourists. They are just here checking out the city. They don't have anyone to come visit them at the hospital and, quite possibly, hardly speak Portuguese.  Waking up in a hospital at home is scary, now imagine waking up in serious condition in a Brazilian public hospital!

My thoughts to everyone who was on the trolley and their families.


This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…
  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. 
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.


Friday, August 26, 2011

"Gringoalisation" of Rio as a positive thing?

Q. Rachel, I would be really curious to know: as a long-term resident do you see this "gringoalisation" of Rio as a positive thing? and what about the Cariocas you know? Recently the BBC Uk broadcasted a report on Brazil's economic boom and took Rio as an example, saying that the city's real estate is becoming out of reach for its native/residents. This surely must have something to do with Rio's appeal to international crowds...sorry if sightly off topic... 

A.The first thing that comes to mind is "There goes the neighborhood!"

While development and international status is wonderful for a 3rd world country, there is a charm to my city that seems to get lost in it. The very things that need to be changed in order for Rio de Janeiro to be an international city are the things that make it what it is.

Of course I'm not talking about the streets that need fixed or the sewage that washes up onto the streets each time it rains. These aren't the things that are going to be fixed even though they should.

I'm talking about the coconut vendor who sits in front of Lojas Americanas and the man who sells possibly unsanitary tapioca in Largo do Machado. There are the popcorn and candy vendors who set up outside of schools at the time they let out and the strange smelling jewelry lady whom I buy all my random earrings from. Those some of the things that make this city wonderful, the people without permits just making a living.

What makes this city unique is the impromptu band that plays music on Saturday evenings in the plaza as people with styrofoam boxes of ice and beer sell to the people watching. It's these kind of things that flow with the culture of the people that could die if gringo type legislation takes place. 

While I look forward to having the buildings full of squatters cleaned out and turned into something productive, I loath the idea of the entire city turning into an Ipanema. We already have an Ipanema, do we really need another chic neighborhood full of over-priced shops and foreigners who don't buy there anyway?

I would love Catete to be cleaned up but in a way that brings it back to the glory days of Catete, not just somewhere that would be considered attractive to tourists. 

I worry about my neighborhood that once only had small hotels and is now becoming full of hostels. I don't want to live in the place where young Europeans/North Americans come to drink and sleep around.  And if English becomes the pronounced language in plaça São Salvador, I think I just may cry. Not to mention that I rarely see Capoeira groups practicing in plazas anymore. I wonder if it's a part of the new development or just something that phased out on its own.

And while they say real estate is "running high", that isn't necessarily true. Prices are high, and have been for a little while now, but locals are starting to take a step back. It's over-priced and most middle-class Cariocas don't like to buy homes on credit.

They save and, if need be, they take out a small loan. The banks still don't condone this North American idea of paying an outrageous price for your apartment for the rest of your life. They aren't going to just give Mrs. Maria Eduarda a loan for R$800,000 that she can pay back over 30+ years. The banks actually take into consideration the idea that this may be too much money for someone to not have issues paying it at some time or another. 

Rio de Janeiro is foreign investors' cash cow now but will it always stay that way? Sure, we have some great stuff happening down here, including oil, but what will happen once the World Cup and Olympics pass? Will they keep their stuff here for "investment" but physically go to whichever country becomes the newest cow? What will happen to my Rio then? 

Obviously I get a little pissed off by all this but only because I bought into this cow when it was slightly addicted to drugs and stealing from me. I fell in love with her for her personality! Now that Rio de janeiro is getting all dressed up and has filled out a bit, all you people want in. Look, it's my freaking cow! I loved it when you wouldn't and I will love it when another cow starts producing more milk. So if you are going to to come here for a ride on my cow let me give you a word of advice. Do what is best for her, not your pockets!

Your thoughts and feelings?

Thanks to @drian@ for the question!

Hot Brazilians for your Friday!

This is Jean Carlos Santos. I have to say that I'm digging the half naked Brazilian in American football gear. Just call me patriotic. 

Meet Aline Nakashima. Seriously, is there any nationality that does not combine with Brazilian to make freaking gorgeous?! 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Little Less American

Today I am a little less American. I don't know how or when Brazil did this to me but it has officially started happening. 

I splurged on Doritos cheddar cheese dip and dipper chips at the gas station while on my way home from teaching. I have made it through half the medium sized bag of chips and not even a fourth of the fake cheese and am already full!

Let's not even mention how I can't eat McDonalds anymore without getting sick to my stomach. 

I am going to go check my email to see if the Consulate has written asking for my passport back. 

Robbed in Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro's violent streak was thrown in my face today. There are days in Rio where you only see the beautiful landscape and wonderful people and others where the city seems to flip over exposing it's nasty little underbelly.

On the way home from school, my boys and I were approaching the crazy homeless lady who "sells" magazines next to the school. I say "sell" because no one actually buys them. She carefully spreads out these 2 yr old versions of Veja while she sprawls over the entire freaking sidewalk. As you can see, she is usually someone I consider annoying as I have to take my boys off the sidewalk to get around her carelessly spread-eagle legs.

Today was different. Two street kids were there and she was on her feet. Seeing her on her feet made me wake up and pay attention. The street kids were grabbing at her stuff. While she made sure to keep a distance, she kept telling them to put the magazines down! They were hers to sell! The teen and kid took her things and walked down the street. There was nothing in the bag of value and they were just doing it to be little shits.

If I hadn't had my boys with me...

I come home only to find out that a good friend of mine was robbed by knifepoint. She was out for a jog, it still being light out, when a large man grabbed her. He put his extremely large knife to her throat, and demanded her mp3 player (which was actually an ipod). When she couldn't get it off fast enough, he sliced the cords of the headphones like jelly (her words) and ran off with it and her cell. She walked away with a couple of cuts but then realized that there was a man there watching the entire thing happen. The man told another man passing by and all three of them watched the assailant run away. No one did anything.

My friend told me later that she though of my blog post about a girl shot in Flamengo. She kept thinking "Give him everything." Considering her position, I think she was right to do so... not that she had any other option.

But hearing her story made me think of Jenna's comment on the Flamengo post about how we need to fight them. While my friend couldn't, that man watching could have. That man could have rallied someone to help him. And I could have helped that poor woman, or at least tried to motivate another onlooker without children to do something.

I can't say why the man didn't  do anything but I can say why I didn't. I was afraid to get involved. I live in the area and have small children. Street children normally run in packs. I could be caught off guard any given evening and be totally screwed, and what if my boys were with me. Sure I'd fight and I have very little doubt that I wouldn't at least stumble away, but do I want my kids to experience that?

At the same time, if a criminal knew that other people would react, I doubt they would choose to attack. Maybe if we acted as a community the criminals would have less opportunity to strike... 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Bike Ride in Rio de Janeiro

Thank Phil!

Wordless Wednesday: I'm Too Sexy...

What happens to Rachel when she has had a couple of glasses of wine, is standing in front of a beautiful window, and someone points a camera?

She starts to pretend to be America's Next Model. 

These pictures make it painfully obvious why I was never discovered in a McDonalds... 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Are you American?

I just met a fellow American at the grocery store. I was perusing the pasta selection when I finished my cell phone call and heard an "excuse me." You learn as an expat in a non-English speaking country that when you hear English at close range it is usually being directed at you, the foreigner. This little fact also makes me quite rude in Portuguese as the person has to say it about 3 times before my head wakes up and I turn around. 

Anyway, I turned and there was a friendly American face. "Hi, are you American?" 

Me: "Actually I am." 

Funny enough, this was the second time I had this same conversation today in my neighborhood (and no I do not live in Leblon or Ipanema). 

So we exchanged expat pleasantries of "what brought you here?" and "How do you like it?" Of course a few minutes had passed and we were heading in different shopping directions. I had my eyes on the leafy greens and he was headed towards the bananas. It was time to part ways. We said a quick nice to meet you and went about our way. 

Strangely enough, I felt like I owed this new acquaintance more than that. It actually crossed my mind that maybe it was rude that I didn't suggest we exchange emails or something.

What the hell is that? Just because he's American? Why would I feel a hint of responsibility to stay in touch just because a person is from my Motherland?

But there is a sense of automatic connection when you meet someone from your country, though it is not full proof. I must admit that I have adapted enough to where I have muttered "annoying American" to Mr. Rant on occasion. That being said, I still have a lot of my annoying American traits as well. What can I say, you can take the girl out of the trailer but you can't take the trailer out of the girl!

Did I just compare the US to a trailer park? I think that's a sign that I should be logging off now. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Crushes, Divorce, and Regret

The Little Hen House, an awesome Mommy blog, posted something that caught my eye: 70% of people who divorce regret it within a year later .

The entire post was about a married woman's crush on someone other than her spouse and how to handle it. The post touched home because I am a little crush magnet. I constantly have crushes. I just can't help it! Apparently I am 12 going on 31. If only they made a movie about that.

The best part of the post was the how it is "normal" part. Honestly, I have always found it normal! Marriage was created as a means to secure property. You can thank an ex for that fact, but it is true. Just marry a Brazilian man and you will see that the potential-other-hot-partners observational skills do not die after marriage. They still see them and they feel far less responsibility to hide that fact than us North American/Europeans.

The things is that just because you are married doesn't mean that you will not notice others whom you would want to "mate" with if you were single. It doesn't meant that at all! What marriage means is that you'll not hook up with them in spite of the attraction. Oh yes, the hook up potential is still there, it's just not worth what you would have to give up.

Personally, I take that as a far bigger compliment. Find ladies attractive. Wonder if I would be willing to do what you hear they do. Whatever you need to do to get through your day. What is essential is that you find your relationship with me more important than any other curiosity that may cross your path.  There really isn't anything more complimentary than that. It's a big old "You rock my world so much that I am going to make a constant effort to be with you, even though I really hate how you leave your bras hanging off the doorknobs in the bathroom!" Not that I do that or anything...

The point is, crushes are awesome because they demand nothing more than our imagination and they are ok as long as they stay that way. Crush on people! It's a great way to feel a bit naughty without actually being it!

So tell me, do you have a crush? 

A Dubbed Life

I know I live in a foreign country but there is just something so wrong about watching things like "Juno" in Portuguese. Where is the SAP? Oh yes, I do have that except it doesn't work on 75% of the channels. It only turns the show to Spanish! It's like the television version of the cock block.

At the same time, I keep reminding myself that I do not live in the states and it is ridiculous to expect anything in English. I should be happy with the Warner Station and their willingness to use subtitles. That and the fact that SAP does switch the dubbed cartoons to English. I'm sorry but dubbed cartoons are the most annoying thing in the world!

Of course, that does exclude Dora since her "dubbed" version switches her first language to English and her speaking language to Portuguese. From my point of view, that's kind of entertaining.

Now animation movies are just painful! My kids don't care seeing that they are fully bilingual but I was a bit bummed to miss Shrek on the big screen in English. Regardless of the translations being pretty good, I still don't get all the jokes. By the way, if you want to make yourself feel like an ass go to a movie with a bunch of 4 yr olds and be the one who doesn't get the joke.

But it really comes down to the basic point that some things in Portuguese just aren't funny to me. Maybe the language and I aren't as intimate as I'd like to think. I don't know what it is but I find myself thinking "that's not that funny." or "say what?"

Then again, it goes both ways. As Mr. Rant says, you can't always trust the Brazilian reviews of American slap stick comedies. They just don't get American humor and it does not translate that well.

So far enough. One of these days I'll fully blend in. I suppose I'll have to go back to watching Brazilian soap operas. I hesitate though because they are the true crack of Brazil! Seriously! You should try calling a dedicated Brazilian soap watcher 5 minutes into the program. Even Grandma doesn't take too kindly to that. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Cute Doctor

Doctors should not be allowed to be cute nor charming. I think this should go doubly for urgent care doctors.

You see, I dragged my sorry ass into the urgent care yesterday morning. I was full on crusty sick. I had crusty eyes, sinus infection breath (even though I brushed my teeth twice and used mouthwash), and smelled of night sweats. It was nothing an attractive man should have to see.

Of course I get there and get called in by a very cute man. He could have totally been a Cutie for your Tuesday. I thought FAIL! Then he starts talking to me and smiling and it turns out he is also charming. If I had more pride I would have turned around and walked away. Let the sinus infection heal itself. But I have no pride so I stayed and let himself do his job.

Because it is their job. They see nasty sick people all the time, right? Of course it hurts a lot more when a cute doctor asks if your ear itches, because apparently there is a decent amount of wax inside, than when a 70 yr old mothball smelling doctor says it.

But I did feel shitty enough to just shrug at it. I don't know why I would care in the first place, except I do think I was a Jewish Mother in a past lifetime because I just love me a cute doctor.

Anyway, I got my gnarly sinus infection diagnosis, which is awesome, and my antibiotic prescription. Note to self though, if I ever become single I am showering before heading to the urgent care. You just never know...

This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post below.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Top Expat Mom Blog!

Do you all remember that Circle of Moms contest I was in. You know, the one that motivated me to harass the crap out of you to vote every day?

Well, it's FINALLY out and I placed third!! Thank you all for your support!

Here is the link: Top 25 Expat Blogs. I made the first page and there's a little interview too.

I really do appreciate your support and your tolerance. You got to see the truly annoying side of me and I know that it's not that pretty. Although it can be charming, or at least that is what I keep telling myself.

Lastly, you'll have to excuse the photo. I was going to be all classy and put the Circle of Moms logo or something but it's Hot Brazilians for your Friday!  Best to stick with the theme and just give you more hot Brazilians!

And thanks again to Circle of Moms and everyone who supported/dealt with me. You guys are Rock Stars! 

Hot Brazilians for your Friday!

This is our new friend Mr. Mihaly Martins. He is a Brazilian model in the BOSS Orange Campaign. I swear this photo is saying 'Rachel, hop onto my motorcycle, one ride won't kill you.' 

Good Morning to Alessandra Negrini. This is Mr. Rant's Hottie choice this Friday. In his words she is "the girl next door and smart hot." You got to love a man who loves women who "look like real women." 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What is Farofa?

Farofa confused me the first time we met. There I sat at a table filled with beautiful foods and a bowl of course-looking flour. I asked Mr. Rant what it was and of course he exclaimed Farofa, just as he would say duh.

That's when he remembered I was still in the beginner's course of all things Brazilian. Hell, it was my first ever meal in the country.

Mr. Rant, being Mr. Rant, broke down the eating of Farofa in a very politically correct way that went something like this: Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to their farofa. Some keep their rice, beans, and farofa separated. Others mix it all up in a pile. Some like the farofa with just the beans and others only use it to dip their meat into. You have to figure out how you like your farofa.

That was impossible to do in one lunchtime so I just copied him. Beans on rice and farofa right next to it. I mixed with each bite and fell in love with the salty grainy goodness.

So what is farofa? Well, there are countless versions of this Brazilian delicacy. Sometimes it's made with bananas, sometimes sausage, and even eggs. Basically the key is a lot of butter, garlic, and farinha de mandioca (cassava flour). All the rest is extra.

It's the farinha de mandioca that makes all the magic though. The sand-like texture messes with your mouth as the seasoning plays with your taste buds. Not to mention, it's gluten free.

But I'm getting off target. The point is that it makes farofa. Farofa comes with just about every classic carioca meal. It's the step-sister of black beans, which in Brazil means they are cousins. It's just how it's done here people.

Now I have my own personal farofa style. I enjoy putting my beans on top of my rice for maximum bean juice absorption, a dabble of hot sauce, and farofa on the top. Then comes the mixing. Now that is one big pile of stomach bloating goodness.

On that note, I'm going to have to let you go now. I have some leftovers in the fridge who are now calling my name.

Do you like Farofa? If so, how do you take yours?

The Maze of the Uninspired

I'm starting to think my Mother-in-law was right about the whole Feng Shui thing. I am so uninspired I may as well be constipated. 

She told us to not put our computer in our little office alcove in the hallway. She said "The energy there is not conducive to creativity. You will not be able to perform if that is your work area." Of course all of that was in Portuguese and said much more eloquently but go with me for a minute.

I finally got tired of having the damn computer on a table in our dining room. It looked like crap and we are trying to sell our place. I said screw it with this eastern froofy crap. Screw the moon, the stars, and the direction of our home. Let's put stuff where it actually goes. 

And here I am lacking any and all motivation to write. Actually, I have motivation up to the moment I sit down at the freaking computer. 

So it got me thinking, maybe we weren't bat ass crazy to not buy that first AMAZING apartment because the bathroom is in the middle (I'm still bitter about it by the way). I'm also thankful that my c-section with The Menace happened to land on a good moon.

Yes, my Mother-in-law told me dates for when the moon would be favorable (once C-section talk started). I looked at Mr. Rant and asked how in the hell I was supposed to explain this to my OBGYN. He shrugged. I thought about who I had to deal with the next 20+ yrs. Guess who won.

So now I am wondering where I should move this freaking desktop. Apparently astrology is the new black and it is stopping my creativity. I know you all have some "reasonable" explanations behind it but it's been over a month of scraping at the edges and my mind is starting to hurt.

Hot damn, I just may buy 3 bottles of wine and pull out my copy of The Sun Almost Rises. I just need one true sentence.

Any suggestion as what it may be?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Girl Shot on Flamengo Beach

Last night a 25 yr old University student was shot while waiting for a bus on Praia de Flamengo (Flamengo beach). This is a scary fact of life here, many criminals carry guns.

From what Globo says, a man got out of a black Peugeot and tried to steal her purse. She ran and he shot her in the back. The shot exited through her abdomen. Jéssica Fabiano Barros is currently in the hospital under observation.

People, if you are in Rio de Janeiro and someone tries to steal your purse, give it to them. Actually, if someone tries to steal your purse anywhere you just give it to them. Whatever you have in there is not worth getting shot, stabbed, or attacked. Yes, even Grandma would understand if you gave over her old diamonds.

None-the-less, an innocent girl is in the hospital because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

The article also states that another woman was robbed by the same pair before Jessica. Everything has been reported to the police.

A friend and I were discussing how this kind of thing happens in all big citites but in Rio de Janeiro it is international news. Of course with the games coming, the entire world is watching what is happening down here. But I wonder if the reaction to Rio de Janeiro crime would be different if it were reported internationally every time someone was shot in Baltimore or New York City for example.

Don't get me wrong, I am not defending the behavior of these criminals. This is horribly sad and those men need to be punished! But this does bring to mind some tips for avoiding situations like this.

1. Don't wait in isolated areas for buses at night. Jessica was on Praia de Flamengo at 9pm. While not necessarily empty and isolated, it's an area without significant pedestrian traffic at night. Unfortunately, it is also one of the best place to get quick buses to certain areas of the city. Being a well let area with plenty of buses going buy, most wouldn't think twice about waiting there.

2. Hand over your stuff. Screw the passport, money, credit cards, and photos of nieces and nephews. Don't even ask them to have a private moment to say goodbye to your iphone, just hand it over.

3. If you should get robbed, report it to the police. While it may not lead to anything, it is an important step in the process of raising the level of security in Rio.

4. When in doubt take a cab. Again, not easy on the pocketbook but sometimes that's just what one needs to do.

5. Travel in groups. Find someone going the same way as you or at least also catching a bus. That way you don't have to wait alone.

That's all the tips pouring out of my head at the moment. What would you add?

And Jessica, I wish you a speedy recovery! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

American Schools Lose Sanity

I read an absolutely crazy article today: The 6 Dumbest Things Schools are Doing in the Name of Safety

We are talking electronic tracking devices, banning photography, monetary fines and prison jumpsuits for Dress code Violations. This is madness! It's making ever so proud of my kids' overly liberal school that I like to refer to as The Harvard School of Finger Painting.

I would pay money to see the reaction of Brazilians if a school did this down here. There's already talk that the British School is too strict because the kids have to sit at desks for long periods of time. I mean we're all about education but where the hell is the line?!

For starters, are the kids going to pay the fines? My 4 yr has yet to get a job, no matter how much I mention it to him. Damn child labor laws. So the money is coming out of my pocket. This makes me think that the schools are trying to hit parents where it hurts as a means of getting them involved in their children's scholarly lives. Well, when I say it that way it kind of makes sense. Maybe the "boys will be boys" attitude would disappear if it costs the parents $50 a pop.

But electronic tracking devices? Half the fun of high school is attempting to skip. The school eventually notices anyway. I know this partially due to the fact that American public schools receive funding based on attendance. Obviously you want the kids there because you get paid next to nothing even then, but let me point something out. Aren't kids supposed to learn accountability? Will that happen if they are on an electronic leash? Hell, your dog never learned to heel by being tied to the side of the house all day. Yes, I just compared kids with dogs. I have 2 so I'm allowed.

My personal favorite is the ban on photography as a means to deter pedophilia. Thank goodness they figured out that Chester Molester only acts when he/she can take pictures.

Freaking hell people, let the kids have photographic evidence of their memories from school. Let parents put together scrap books and teachers remember the children who innocently touched them. I mean, Americans would just crap themselves down here in Brazil. It is not uncommon for kids to take baths at school. They also put out kiddie pools in the hottest months and if parents forget bathing suits those kids go in their underwear if they want to. If this were the states the entire place would be shut down!

Of course I understand that we have to protect our kids but there are some things that they have to figure out for themselves (minus molestation of course). It's ok to give limits but to control, ban, and fine them is ridiculous.

For goodness sake America, you are really making it hard for me to ever want to live there! Don't worry, I'll always come back for a visit. What you lack in sanity you make up for in shopping and crap food.

Interesting Facts about Rio de Janeiro

  • At a certain time of day (around 11am I think) you can see a shadow of an Ibis on the side of Pão de Acucar. Of course many people have a lot of mysterious beliefs about what it means. Personally, I think the rocks make a crazy ass shadow. Some would call me a nonbeliever and I would call some crazy...
  • The Portuguese named Rio de Janeiro because when they saw guanabara bay they thought it was the end of a river. And we wonder why the Brazilians tease them so. Anyway, they discovered a river in January and kaboom, Rio de Janeiro was born.
  • While named by the Portuguese, Rio de Janeiro was already being called Oriental France by the French. Are you seeing a pattern of unique names? Me neither. 
  • In 1807, Portugal was invaded by France. At the urging of Britain, the whole Portuguese royal family fled to Brazil, accompanied by an escort of British ships. John VI's court in exile was established in Rio de Janeiro. (wikipedia). I bet he looked over at his wife and whispered "Second honeymoon!"
  • The impressive Theatro Municipal, built in 1905 and located at the heart of Centro, was directly modeled after the Paris Opera House in an attempt to replicate the sophistication of the French capital. (
  • The Pedra da Gavea apparently looks like a face to Cariocas (I don't see it) and there have been many explanations given over the years. Scientists say that there is no basis behind the suggestions.  They claim extreme yet natural erosion of the rock, although some will insist that there is an inscription in the rock that corresponds to a ruler of Phoenicia named Badzir. Things that make you go hmmmmm, right?
  • On a lighter note, Cariocas enjoy putting little shoes on their dogs. No, it's not a form of evil domination. The reasoning I have been given is that those horrible booties keep the dog from dragging outside dirt into the apartment. Now that's some smart walking. 
  • Copacabana is one of the most densely populated places on the planet, with some 25,000 people per square km. The majority of these inhabitants are squeezed into the myriad high rise apartments that dominate the neighborhood. (
So what did I miss? Did I get anything wrong? Shall we compile a list of cool and crazy facts about Rio!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stream of Consciousness Sunday: Hangover

I'm slightly hungover today. You know that half hangover that makes it impossible to ignore life and stay in bed all day and yet you still walk around slightly nauseous. I'm so not in my 20s anymore!

In my 20s my hangover cure was a late night burrito and then the half I didn't finish for breakfast the next morning. I never said I was a classy girl people. Btw, I always ate it straight from the fridge cold. SO good! Right up there with cold KFC extra Crispy.

Anyway, I never had hangovers the next day. Then again, I could still get a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

But there is something to say about letting lose and having a couple or 5 glasses of wine. If I'm there and there's music, then spontaneous dancing is always involved. Of course I move just as you imagine, like a drunk monkey who was dropped on her head about 3 too many times as a baby. Personally, I think I make it look charming and no one can convince me otherwise. I have very strong coping methods that way.

There will also be over-sharing, drunken smoking of cigarettes, and a 1 glass too many. Last night I did myself proud, it was only a half glass. This girl is learning some self control baby!

In my defense though, before you all write me off as a drunken party girl, my life revolves around discussing coloring and occasionally cleaning poop off the floor. There's also dishes and laundry that never seem to stop getting dirty as well as serving people as an indentured servant. I know I make Motherhood sound glamorous but there is a pure pleasure in letting lose with good company.

That's what I did last night so this slight nausea doesn't bother me too much.

This was my 5 minute Stream of Consciousness Sunday post. It’s five minutes of your time and a brain dump. Want to try it? Here are the rules…

  • Set a timer and write for 5 minutes only.
  • Write an intro to the post if you want but don’t edit the post. No proofreading or spellchecking. This is writing in the raw.
  • Publish it somewhere. Anywhere. The back door to your blog if you want. But make it accessible.
  • Add the Stream of Consciousness Sunday badge to your post.
  • Link up your post.
  • Visit your fellow bloggers and show some love.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Call Rio de Janeiro at 1RIO

Rio de Janeiro is cleaning up its streets one phone call at a time. All you have to do is call 1RIO (or 1746).

This number is for all kinds of emergencies. If you see a hole in the sidewalk, you dial it. If you see a flooded street you call it. Murder, mayhem, looting, damage, and/or destruction are all reasons to call.

When not to call should also be addressed. The woman who should not be wearing that tiny bikini, at least you think she is wearing a bikini, is not a reason to call. The couple arguing on the street or the vendor who charges Gringos R$2 more than Cariocas are not reasons to call. Hell, short of a sink hole, I wouldn't even bother.

And for those who really like to inform the city of Rio de Janeiro of all their issues, get the iphone app. Oh yes, Rio de Janeiro is all 2011 that way!  You take a picture of the issue on your iphone and send it straight in.

Personally, I wonder how this service really runs. They must get about 3 million calls a day. Hell, I'm sure half of them are about the huge freaking hole in the deck on Aterro where the kids play (that drops 5 feet down into sewage water or at least that is what it smells like). Either they have a ton of people answering phones/emails and are being quite efficient or there is one secretary who takes about 27 cigarette breaks and doesn't know how to check the emails anyway.

Regardless, things manage to get done here eventually. Of course by the time they are done 300 other things have popped up. Then again, to be really fair to this beautiful city, same thing happens in my tiny apartment! I can hardly keep on top of crap in 130 meters, imagine an entire city. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hot Brazilians for your Friday!

 I don't even know what this guy's name is but he is HOT! Apparently he is a hot Brazilian singer, at least I found him on a Hot Brazilian Singers website. Obviously you can totally trust all information you find on random websites, especially if HOT is in their name. Do you know who this is?

This is Ceu. She is a Brazilian singer. I particularly like her for her non-traditional style. She is very cute but then makes herself hot with her unique style.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Help

I'm sick today so I am on full lazy mode. I have been spending every moment possible in a horizontal position behind my Kindle.

I've just started reading The Help. Finally right! It was so highly recommended on my maid's bathroom post that I had to check it out.

Ironically, it's Thursdays. Thursday is one of the days that my maid comes in. So there I am reading about all the social injustice in the 60s while my maid cleans my place.

And it just rubbed me the wrong way. I have always felt awkward about that. I mean, I am here and should be cleaning my own damn house. At the same time, she does need the work and I really do appreciate the help.

The thing is, there is a stain from slavery still left in day to day life in Brazil. Just look at how the middle class is reacting to the rising cost of full time nannies. It's as if they entitled, like the maids are supposed to be cheap and come and raise their family. It's how it's always been and how it should always be.

Then there's the name for the bosses. Just like Miss so-and-so in the book, here they call us Dona so-and-so.  I have always found that odd. Why should my maid use a special label of respect when saying my name? She is here working and getting paid. I don't see Mr. Rant referring to anyone at his job as Dona anything. I sure as hell don't call my female students Dona Leticia or Dona Susi.

Sadly, the more I read the book the more similarities I see. The issue with selling my apartment without a maid's bathroom for example. Like they said in The Help "Colored Diseases." It makes me sick to my stomach to even imagine that people still think that way. I'm really going to have a hard time keeping my mouth shut if anyone comments on it now.

And I just don't know what to do with this. I feel like the naive character, all full of good will and no common sense or reality behind it. I just don't get how people can treat other people as if they are less than everyone else.

On a side note, I 100% recommend The Help! I'm only 30% through it (or already seeing I started reading it last night) but I can already tell you that it's an amazing read!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

RIP Vicente

Photo by: Letícia

Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.
-- Dr. Seuss

Mr. Rant introduced me to the all powerful Vicente of Emporio my very first visit to Rio de Janeiro. If you wanted a table, you talked to Vicente. If Vicente liked you, it seemed you got a table even if there were none to be found.

He was the face of Emporio, a backpackers type of bar sitting in the heart of Ipanema. Regardless of the expensive chic places that surrounded it, Emporio manages to hold true to its rustic character and youthful environment. Foreigners and locals alike frequent this bar to the point where the street in front fills with those the full bar barfed back out again.

But the heart of the entire place belonged to the first man you saw when you entered. Sporting facial hair as unique as the man who owned it, Vicente ruled a roost full of colorful characters.

And he was the first person to make me feel at home in Rio de Janeiro. It was something so simple for him but I will always remember the moment. It was the first time someone recognized me without Mr. Rant.

I know it seems so simple but for this girl who was feeling like a lost little Gringa in a crazy Carioca world, actually being known someplace was a big deal. That was him though, a man who remembered faces and knew the people around him.

I will never forget the nights we had in Emporio with Vicente.  He was a memorable character in this theater of life and a friend to many. He is also a part of my very first moments in and impressions of this Rio. I have to say, he was Rio de Janeiro's very own Sam Malone.

For those who want to pay their respects, there will be a tribute to Vicente tomorrow evening at Emporio:

Time and Date: Thursday, August 11 · 9:00pm - 11:30pm
Location: Empório (Maria Quitéria nº37)

 Check here for more details:

Wordless Wednesday: Rock Climbing in Rio de Janeiro