Saturday, April 30, 2011

Are you Annoying or Am I PMSing?

The world was out to irritate me today. I have no idea why everyone and everything decided to be so annoying. Obviously I was the only consistent factor in the steady stream of annoyances but that's not significant.

No no, I'm bright and chipper today. It's that special time of the month where women are extra kind and sexier. I'm just feeling the love.

Before you go and scream Too Much Info, it's kind of obvious that I menstruate. I mean, I am a woman and have procreated twice. No virgin Mother here. The machine is working 100%.

Per protocol, I woke up and announced the arrival of Mr. Rant's archenemy. I'm a fair wife and like to give him a fighting chance.

So it came as a huge surprise that Mr. Rant decided to be short with me today of all days. I mean, I have to be semi-pleasant 3 whole weeks a month. Today semi was off the table.

And that is when close quarters and an overly friendly culture get to me. You see, the first day of this special week I'm 110% American. I need space, silence, people not to say hello to me on the street, and to overeat without being asked if I'm pregnant.

Really, is it so much for a woman to ask for a full day to be a complete snatch, eat their significant other out of house and home, and then to make them watch a chick flick while complaining about the type of pizza that she herself ordered?! 

Recipe: Stuffed Pumpkin!

Not only did I get a WONDERFUL long weekend away with friends this Easter, I also got a great new recipe! Stuffed pumpkin!

My friend, and fellow blogger, broke down how you make this tasty (and very pretty) dish.

For starters you need a pumpkin. Since I baked the above pumpkin for just me and Mr. Rant, I purchased a half a pumpkin. Over Easter my friend bought a full pumpkin and cut it in half to create two to stuff.

So put your pumpkin half(s) upside down on a baking sheet. No need to take out seeds or anything. It's easier after baking.

Leave pumpkin on low heat (about 180 degrees C) for upwards of an hour. Be careful not to burn it or to take it out too early. If taken out to early the pumpkin meat is kind of hard.

That leaves the filling. I like to think of this as a junk pumpkin. You can fill the bad boy up with anything you like! In the above pumpkin I used a yummy combo of leftovers.

It has: Bacon, spinach, ricotta, pesto sauce, capers, 7 grain rice mix, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

When you make your filling, pre-cook whatever needs to be cooked. I fried up my bacon pieces then mixed in my spinach to cook it. I then added the pesto sauce and capers and let that simmer. I mixed in the olive oil and ricotta with salt and pepper. At the very end I added in my already cooked grain mixture.

Mix the filling well.   Once the pumpkin is done in the oven, carefully pull it out and scoop out the seeds. Put your mixture into the center of the pumpkin and pop back into the oven for another 5 minutes or so.

Take out, put on a plate like the above picture, and serve!

Yummy, pretty, and you look like freaking Martha Stewart! 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Blast from the Past: My Favorite Rants

Unfortunately I have the organizational skills of a prepubescent boy. I am sure you guys can all tell by the fabulous organization of my billions of blog posts.

So I figured that I'd be a total narcissistic and assume that you would like me to point out some of my favorite posts.

By the way, I have heard that when you assume you make an ass out of you and me. I guess that makes us all asses! At least I'm not alone.

Without further ado, some of my favorite rants (in no particular order):

Neurosis of Carioca

Are You Calling Me Fat and Other Handy tools

Yes I'm Writing About Penises

Great Grandmother

Breakdown of the Brazilian Family

The Brazilian Family Lunch

Coffee Realizations

Which ones are your favorite?

Is Facebook Ruining Relationships?

While reading the Brazilian Magazine Criativa, I stumbled upon an article called "Facebook and Sex: A new Etiquette for Romantic Relationships."

One thing came to mind: Awesome! Not only has Facebook made it uncomfortably convenient for all of us to have easy access to those people we may want to forget, it's also allowing love to screw with our heads much more efficiently.

You have all  seen at least one facebook couple fight. No easier way to get gossip flowing than by changing your relationship status. Married to it's complicated or in a relationship to engaged. The best being the complete removal of relationship status all together.

Go ahead, make your high school sweetheart's sister wonder if you are still with your husband. Make a comment on a picture and see if your old neighbor's cousin's wife questions the sexual history between the two. Let's rock the boat a bit.

And apparently Facebook brings out affairs! The Criativa article and the AAML site state these statistics:

 "An overwhelming 81% of the nation’s top divorce attorneys say they have seen an increase in the number of cases using social networking evidence during the past five years, according to a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).   Facebook holds the distinction of being the unrivaled leader for online divorce evidence with 66% citing it as the primary source."

Way to raise the bar Facebook! Apparently people cheating on their spouses are even easier to catch with this wonderful social network.  In Brazil, I could totally see people accessing their facebook while on a tryst and accidntly checking in: So and So was at Love Time Motel April 24th at 3pm. Oops. 

It's just a matter of time people. If you would kindly refer back to my post on how 70% of Brazilian men cheat, the odds are not with us! Keep track of the relationship statuses of your friends people.

Sadly though, I'm a train wreck kind of girl. I find so much humor in these online back and forths. The status changes, arguing on posts, and/or comments made on a 3rd party's picture of someone else's lover. It's like listening to the neighbor's lovers spat but at your own convenience and with pictures.

I have to say, as the rest of the world starts sharing as much as I do on Facebook, skeletons are leaving closets and creating their own profiles. While high in entertainment factor, this does not always work for the greater good. 

What do you think, are we giving Facebook too much credit or is it taking away the essential mystery in relationships?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Photos of the Northeast of Brazil

Mr Rant and I pulled out some old photos this morning. In the stack was the pictures from our trip to the Northeast of Brazil in 2005.

It was fun to relive those free and relaxing days before stability became important. We spent 3 weeks traveling from Natal to Porto de Galinhas. We took a plane, buses, paid for a ride from a random dude, walked (a lot), and even managed to get a ride on a couple of makeshift rafts.

It was an amazing trip and I highly recommend that you all fit traveling up there into your life at one point or another. Without further ado, some highlights of our trip:

Who is John of God?

There are many types of spiritual options in Brazil. Yes, options. You can watch people dance for a spirit, make offerings to one, be taken over by them, and talk directly to some. Brazil is a very religiously open place when it comes to this kind of thing. It wouldn't be unheard of to see your hardcore Catholic neighbor leaving a spiritualist church.  Some just like to cover all their bases.

And Rio de Janeiro is no different. I have been to or have received in my own home numerous figures of the spiritual group here. No, not to any credit of my own. They all know and adore my Mother-in-law. She has taken me places where I am able to go (apparently I'm too open to attend everything) and has brought her friends to do work in my home. A baby gift from one of them was a spiritual/energy cleaning of my home before the baby arrived.

Anyway, the thing that is different about the people who I have met first hand and John of God is the lack of a PR machine.  There seems to be a level of unsaid respect. It is not for publicity. They will not accept cameras or tourism. No lookie loos are allowed to enter.

So when asked if I know who João de Deus is I said I don't.  I looked him up the way I look up everything, with Google. What did I find? I found that the number 1 site when you goggled him in English was a site selling his DVD. If you search in Portuguese the #3 is the same site, in English.

Yeah, that's a red flag for me. He's from a small town and should obviously not be expected to heal for free. Oh wait, I thought that's what a healer did. A healer heals because it's their mission. It's their purpose in life. Yes, they have mouths to feed. Obviously healers are also able to procreate. But isn't the second thing written in the book of "All that is Sacred" that you can't whore out your gifts?

Oh yes, I just called John of God a bit of a money whore. He was on Oprah for heavens sake! He's on Google. He has his own paypal account. Something in there does not make me scream out second coming of the lord.

An article I read about him just made things worse for me. All the "results" these foreigners felt were either circumstantial or a placebo effect.

And fine, everyone needs their opiate. I get it. But there are some key points in looking for a healer. I think the number 1 would be that they don't appear on Oprah. Just call me crazy but I think that's against everything and anything they believe in.

To clear things up, it's not that I doubt that he could possibly do miracles. I have yet to meet him and thus can't say for sure. At the same time, there is a PR machine. Any PR machine makes me nervous. You don't see me going to Coka Cola for advice do you?

It's just that once you live in Brazil for a while you gain an understanding about healers and spiritualists. You meet and learn about people who house other spirits. It's no longer a "weird thing."

There is a magnetic level of energy in this country. The entire place seems to vibrate at a frequency that just sets stuff in motion. As Brazilians you see these healers as amazing humans with God-like gifts. As foreigners we tend to see these people as infallible God-like people.

That difference is where the question lies. They are amazing people attempting to help others with their gifts from God, not demigods acting as men.  I feel there is a danger in not realizing the difference. The spread of his name and movement is one that creates an air of holiness that I think needs more than a few testimonials to confirm. I don't care if he has a stack of crutches as proof. I have seen that stuff at a "healing" in a crazy ass cult/church in Washington State. Not sold.

I would like to believe that John of God is a man with a mission. His mission being to heal as many as he can. I would love to believe that in a few visits his incarnations can breath new life into a failing body.

I honestly do not have enough information to say either way. In a debate with a friend she called me out on all reasons why I would not believe in him. Why not believe in someone just because he has become a public figure. He is not living in a mansion. He does not have 10 jags or a room full of virgins. He is a man with a plan trying to reach as many as he can.

And that does deserve some respect.

Regardless, remember that this is not Ancient Greece and the Gods are not walking among us. He is a man like everyone else, with potentially extraordinary gifts. Then again, even if his gifts are just the power of suggestion, isn't that all we need sometimes.

What do you guys think of João de Deus (John of God)? Have any of you met him? Would you meet him if given the opportunity?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brazilians Lose Home for the Sake of the Olmypics

This kind of situation breaks my heart! A favela near Maracana is being destroyed and members of the community removed to make way for buildings for the World Cup and Olympic games. Rumor is that they would like to build a parking garage.

In true form of lack of planning, the city of Rio de Janeiro has been knocking down houses here and there and everywhere. They have essentially made the entire area unlivable without providing proper homes for those they have expelled.

It has been acknowledged that some people may have "slipped through the cracks" of bureaucracy. I'm sorry but I believe that to be an extremely LARGE understatement. It seems more like the members of this community have all been shoved into a hole the size of the Grand Canyon.

Check out the video below posted by the Guardian. Not the best translation nor timing of subtitles but you get the picture. It is very powerful in Portuguese.

The most amazing thing to me is that this can be done in the first place. There is a law here stating that people have the right to the land in which they live if they have lived there for 5 years without being asked to move. Something tells me that said law could be applied to practically all the favelas in Rio.

Wordless Wednesday: Rain in Rio de Janeiro

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

10 Reasons Why any Woman Would be Jealous of Kate Middleton

Apparently Brazil has Royal Wedding fever just like everyone else. While roaming the internet, I stumbled upon their article As 10 razões para qualquer mulher invejar Kate Middleton.

I was curious as to what a Brazilian publication deemed the best qualities of Great Britain's future Princess Kate. I translated it for your reading pleasure:

10. She comes for a well off family. (while it's understood that she is a commoner, she is so very much not poor)
9. She is simply beautiful.
8. She is discrete and kind.
7. She dresses like few people know how. (Got to love a future princess with style)
6. She has her own Barbie. (I am personally jealous of this one)
5. Her love story was turned into a movie.
4. She received Diana's engagement ring. (While beautiful, I don't know if this is necessarily a good thing...)
3. She has the approval of the Queen. (I bet Camilla knows how hard that was)
2. She has all that it takes to be the Queen of Great Britain. (Apparently the majority of Brits are on Team William so she just may be the next lady in charge)
1. She's going to marry a real prince.

Prince William, you seem to have yourself a keeper there. Personally, I was very pleased with the Kate Middleton engagement news. This is a shocker seeing that I am 1. American and 2. live in Brazil not England. But still, what girl doesn't like to see a commoner like herself marry a prince.

Actually, after once again referring to the above list, I am nothing like Kate Middleton. Well, aside from the discrete and kind part. Yes discrete! I'm sure it'd be the first word you'd use to describe me, followed by delusional of course.

Anyway, there you have it. Brazil is just yet another country in love with Kate.  I am curious to see if the
extravaganza of the Prince William and Kate Middleton wedding will make headlines here too.

So what do you think of the future Princess of Great Britain? Will you be watching the wedding? Do you care at all?

Check out the Veja Article Here. It is in Portuguese but you can still look at the pictures.

Indoor Activities for Kids in Rio de Janeiro

There is NOTHING to do in Rio de Janeiro when it rains. As I mentioned before, Cariocas (Rio de Janeiro locals) are cat-like in their preference to stay out of the rain.

This goes double with children. Besides the mall and the movies, there is not much to do on a yucky day in this city.  On long stretches of crap weather you end up spending a lot of time inside your place.

And let me tell you, being stuck inside with children on a rainy day in Rio de Janeiro is an art form.  We are talking serious survival skills if you want to make sure that everyone in your party will come out alive at the end of the day.

Just imagine hours and hours with active kids trapped in a space of about 130 m² (1399.308 ft²).  That would even challenge our annoying friend Barney.

So without further ado: Rachel's Rant's version of Rainy Day Activities!

 1. Pull all my folded clothes out of my closet organizer. When in a pinch, my toddler will do this for an entire half an hour. So fun for Mommy. If patience is running thick, we make an activity out of folding and putting them back.

2. Painting. We paint pictures, cardboard, old toys, and anything else paint will stick to without lowering the value of my apartment.

3. Baking. Rainy days are not a time to worry about weight or nutrition. Comfort food, kid help, and a big mess is just what the doctor ordered. I like to let them enjoy the flour and them make them clean it up afterward. This is a long activity and may be best in the evening with a bottle of wine for Mommy.

4. TV. This has never been "restricted" in my house but on a rainy day it's usage has got to be controlled to maximize distraction. Turn it off during the above mentioned activities and then bust out the favorite movie at an unexpected time works great. I like to use it after lunch because they are stuffed and have slowed down momentarily. It works doubly well if you rent or download a new movie they want to see. Not that I ever download.

5. Run up and down the apartment. Small apartments limit this cardiovascular activity but you still feel that you are being somewhat active. A couple laps around and you'll all feel that you deserve a snack.

6. Snack time. Anytime you can get them to sit down. Let's plump ourselves up for winter.

7. Puddle hopping.  Now this isn't as pleasant as normal in Rio de Janeiro because you don't know the percentage of rain water to sewage in the puddles. Makes a Mom cringe. I try to take them to spots where it would be harder for leaking sewer systems to contaminate the childhood pastime.

8. Paint nails. I have boys and in a pinch I will paint their nails. Hell, I'd dye their hair, give them a tattoo, and teach them to apply mascara if  they were enjoying themselves and it made time pass quicker.

9. Prank phone calls. This is not only a way to enjoy yourself at another's expense, it is also a great way to practice Portuguese.

10. Go to someone else's rainy day prison. It's amazing how a change of scenery will help both yours and your children's sanity. That and your children get master the art of destruction somewhere other than your home. 

Good luck! May we all survive this rainy week!

What do you do on a rainy day?

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Ugly Side of Rio de Janeiro

So Rio de Janeiro isn't really giving me her best past couple of days. I must have pissed her off somehow because it seems that she is showing me the side of her that likes to give people the finger.

Anyway, I came to this conclusion while cruising the neighborhood. I passed by an old man laying on the edge of the curb with people circled around him.  Poor guy had passed out and badly twisted his ankle in the process.

He was awake at this point and people were trying to help the best they could. The feisty old man was telling everyone to get over it and that he wanted to go home.  I think he forgot that he is super old, just randomly passed out while walking on the street, and that other people were involved at that point. Sneaking home was not going to fly.

The sad part about all this was the lack of professional help. A woman was calling, for the second time I understood, for an ambulance. I figured I'd physically go get one since we were down the street from the freaking fire station.

I get to the fire station to find another man already there telling them the same thing.

The response of the fireman was alarming. He looked slightly annoyed and said that he would go note it down.

Note it down?! I know that there's a lot bureaucracy here but this is ridiculous! The guy was down the freaking street. If you can't take the car walk your ass over there with a stretcher and carry him to the hospital!

It makes me wonder, do these firemen not deserve the raise they want or is it a case of they'd work harder if that had it? Actually, random option number 3, the bureaucracy is the real problem and it does not matter how much they make.

What do you guys think? Does anyone know how the system in Brazil works? 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An Unfortunate Meeting with Street Children

Sorry guys, no cutesy Easter post here. Today there was some action in Rio de Janeiro and it involved a little ranter you all know and love.

So it all started when I was heading home from Copacabana. The cab driver had stopped at a light when some crazy street kid started beating on the taxi windows and trying to open the door.

Of course the cab driver had locked the door once I was inside so no harm and no foul. I watched them walk back towards the sidewalk once the cars had started moving. That's when noticed three foreigners quickly walking by. Obviously they were going to be the next target of this group of rowdy street children.

I watched intently as we passed, not knowing what I would do if the kids tried something. That's when I realized that one of these "foreigners" is a close friend of mine! At this exact moment group of street children had somewhat taken them over.

I yelled to the driver to stop the car. I screamed "STOP THE CAR STOP THE CAR STOP THE CAR!"

Once we stopped I threw open the door and yelled my friend's name. She was standing in the middle of the first of 3 lanes of traffic trying to get a cab and get away. There were two kids sticking their hands into pockets and basically all over her trying to get anything they could. It was not a good situation.

Luckily my friend's friends heard me calling her name and got her attention. She turned and I yelled, in English, for them to get their ass in my cab.

Sounds like an easy save, right? Wrong. One of the older kids ran to the cab as well. She attempted to throw herself in after my friend. She looked straight at me and I could tell she was not all there. I don't know what this girl was on but it was something that caused crazy, or the accentuation of it. There was yelling and pushing and she finally vacated the vehicle.

Of course she did not go quietly and started slamming the door on the last entering gringa as she threw herself in.

Freaking bitch as kid, pardon my language, was forcefully slammed the door on the woman's leg and said Desculpa (sorry). It happened twice before we managed to get her in without getting a part of her slammed.  The doors were locked and we were off.

Crisis adverted.

As it turns out, this group had been following my friend and her group for a bit. They had passed the street children as they were sniffing glue on the street.

I guess we found the source of the crazy.

My friend had been looking for a way out as the street children had gotten quite aggressive and she had never experienced anything like it before.  I can tell you that I haven't either!

But everyone was ok and we had a laugh at how ironic it was that I happened to be passing by her in a cab at that exact moment. What were the odds that two people who live in two different neighborhoods of Zona Sul would bump into each other in a 3rd neighborhood in a situation like this? Random!

What upset me the most was that I was the only one that did stop. What the hell Rio de Janeiro! What gives!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter everyone! I'm heading out to the country for a long weekend and will be, gasp, cut off from the internet.

I just wanted to wish you all a great Easter, or long weekend if Easter is not your thing.

Here's a picture of my boys showing off their traditional Brazilian chocolate egg from their Vovô (Portuguese for Grandpa). Thank goodness it's hollow because even that way it's way too much freaking chocolate!

Enjoy your friends, family, and please brush your teeth!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Never a Dull Moment in the City of God

This afternoon I saw more than a few interesting things:

1. A pregnant Grandmother with her daughter and granddaughter. Well, I'm about 90% sure of this one. Of course it could always be a grossly large abdominal tumor (at about 8.5 months).

2. A drunk homeless woman swimming in the fountain and then falling out of the fountain.

3. A demonstration being put on by the Firefighters of Rio asking for the public to support their request for a raise. I totally agree with this one, but they did lose points for not helping the obviously drunk homeless woman out of the fountain. Yes, these two events were happening side by side.

4. A very old woman wearing something that I wore when I was about 13 years old. Think neon pink short shorts, neon and white striped super tight tank top, big neon pink headband with flower, big white earrings, strappy pink sandals, and bright pink lipstick. I also heard her talk a little shit to a woman who she obviously felt was not dressed cute enough. She said something along the lines of 'That's not going to help you keep your man." Good for you Granny! Keep 'em guessing!

5. People saw my boys and I almost get hit by a car. This old man cruised past cars waiting at a red light and tried to turn into the gas station. We were waiting for the light to change at the crosswalk. I had to back up quickly and scream to get him to stop. The guy then had the balls to say that it's ok and to calm down. I said a lot of things to that. I don't think any of them are appropriate for my blog.

No wonder I'm so tired by the end of the day. This along with the regular craziness is a lot of stimulation for my little mind.  

Wordless Wednesday: Matando saudade

Wordless Wednesday: Price of Feta


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Children of Double Nationality: Which are you?

I have two boys with double nationalities. While being raised in Brazil, they are very familiar with the US for their ages. What I find interesting is with what country these dual children choose to relate to.

My 4 year old is Brazilian. That is what he says all the time. Of course he is also American and enjoys the comfort of that country, but he has a definite preference for yellow and green. He is all about the heat, beach, pool, and beans. He will tell you he prefers to be in Brazil but misses American houses, playgrounds, candy, and Target. 

I promise you, I have shown him more of the US than that. We have done museums, Disneyland, and many other fun "American" things. 

But the boy is Brazilian. It's what he relates to.  And I know most of you will say it's because he's being raised here.  

I wonder though because he has one little friend, who is being raised in Rio, that seems more British than Brazilian. While in the same one Brazilian parent and one British parent scenario, he seems very proud to say that he is, in fact, British. 

He also so charmingly states why they are better than Americans. Got to love those 4 year olds. 

I believe we have a bit of both nature and nurture here. Maybe the British are more patriotic than us Americans. Maybe that little boy and his family have more contact with the Motherland of the parents. 

I wonder though, who decides? The kids? The location? The influence of the parents? Or is it an all of the above situation? 

What's your take on it? 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Olive Oil Saves Me From Laundry

I'm doing an olive oil and egg hair mask. Why you ask? I have no freaking clue.

It actually came about quite randomly. I had an overly-ripe Brazilian avocado laying around that needed to be used. In case you've never seen one of these bad boys, they are about the size of an average Brazilian newborn.

Anyway, I could not, would not, eat the entire thing.  Talk about pooping on a sidewalk, this Momma would be a little too regular for her taste.

So what does a logical girl do in this situation? She smears it all over her head. I know what you are thinking, is there avocado in olive oil and egg hair masks? Don't get ahead of yourself.

No, of course there isn't. My little bitch of an avocado had already gone bad.  Freaking heat and humidity creating a quicker rate of ripening!

It was quite a disappointment but I couldn't see how a semi-rotten avocado would benefit my hair. I had gotten myself and my hair all excited so I had to come up with something else. That's when Google came to my rescue once again. It found me this site: Home Made Hair Masks.

It was pretty easy to decide which one to do seeing that I basically only have olive oil and eggs in the house.

And while I could have been a responsible Wife and Mother and completed by chores, I instead decided to be a wannabe beautician.

But regardless of my total lack of productivity, I'll have pretty hair. Now all I need to do is work on the butt and I'll be unstoppable!


Shit Happens especially on Mondays

My kid crapped on the sidewalk. Oh yes, he pulled a move that flustered the crap out of me (or him depending on how you look at it).

You see, my 2 yr old has entered the potty training stage. It's a moment that horrifies the strongest of us Mommies as it is the most inconvenient thing in the world. This really does go double in Rio de Janeiro. Not only are there a lack of public bathrooms, most are not really where you would like your adorable toddler's toosh to sit. Hey, and even when there's a good one it could be closed for no reason at all.

So when I saw my little one take the squat position next to the benches by the play area, I panicked like a virgin. I literally picked him up by the armpits and spun him around in a circle while I looked for a good option. There were none. The Mommies, always an understanding bunch, pointed me to the semi-isolated tree.  I ran but the worst was already done. The pee tree could not save me.

Yes, a pee tree. Seeing that there are no easy access bathrooms near the play area, many Moms and Nannies have allowed kids to pee on the tree. Don't you dare judge us until you are in our position. Pee happens a lot, especially in hot climates where children drink a ton of water.

Poop is a different story however. Of course the worst was past, or so I thought. I was offered baggies from two friends. We all try to be somewhat prepared for this kind of thing. Of course I wasn't today. As I tried to find the last of whatever wipies remained in the stroller, quick poo number two plopped out onto the sidewalk.

I was without words or actions. There were no hoses, or anywhere to wash it into. A bucket of water would only bring it closer to the kids playing in the sand. With the help of some equally stumped friends, we covered it with a newspaper. The plan developed from there and the majority was wiped with said newspaper while the rest was covered in sand. There's a theory behind this but I'm sure you really don't want to know.

The beauty in all this is that at least we weren't in the US. I feel my child and I would have been excommunicated from the sacred church of the park. Here my friends mocked me in a good spirited way. The way one does when they are eternally grateful that it's not them in the situation.

Before you get horrified by my story, check out China!

I just hope this isn't a sign of how my week is going to go. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Rules for Foreigners: Business Meetings in Brazil

The business world is descending on Brazil at higher and higher rates.  Here's a little crash course as to what is expected and acceptable. 
  1.         No, you cannot be late.  Brazilian business people are busier than you can imagine. Showing up anymore than 10 minutes late to a meeting is a slap in the face. Actually, 10 minutes is kind of pushing it.  Of course 5 to 8 minutes is totally acceptable.
  2.         That being said, give yourself plenty of time to get to your meeting. I don’t care if your hotel or apartment is just down the road from the office, traffic in Brazil is unpredictable. This goes double for São Paulo.
  3.         If this should happen, call and inform someone.
  4.         Be prepared to chit chat. Brazilians do not enter the meeting room and get right down to business. Pleasantries are commonly exchanged and this is even more common when meeting with a foreigner.  Brazilians are kind by nature and will want to know how your visit is going.
  5.         If you are hosting the meeting have water and coffee available. As an English teacher, even I am offered coffee, water, or both every time I meet with my students at their office.
  6.         Do not expect things to be done as they would be in your country. Brazil is its own country and has its own way.  Bureaucracy is an especially long and complicated.  Patience is a must.

Overall, Brazil is a very welcome and inviting country.  Respecting a few simple customs can make all the difference in business relationships.

Got any tips of your own? I would love to hear them!

Itsy Bitsy yellow polka dot bikini

Heading to the pool in my little Brazilian bikini. It reminded me of the itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini song. Go figure, I looked it up on youtube and found this video with the song and images of Rio! 

Oh Rio, always the bikini tease! Enjoy:

Friday, April 15, 2011

Night Out = Morning Hell

I have a thing where after a couple of glasses of wine the next couple go down like oxygen. I get to a point where my old school partier nature rears it's multicolored head and senses fly out the window.

Oh not those senses, the a 5th glass may not be a good idea sense. That and the you don't chain smoke so why are you doing it now rational.

Of course I never take the Brazilian golden drinking pill engov because I'm not planning on having that much.

And now I have a smidgen of a hangover. Personally, I like to think of it as a hangunder. I'm dragging myself around like a lead footed obese gorilla.

So up and at 'em senseless woman. At the very least, the kids may get a McDonald's lunch out of all this. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rachel vs The Wall

Brick paint job by Grandma. Sad to see it go!

I'm doing something so very NOT expat living in Rio de Janeiro style. Actually, it's not even middle class Carioca style. Hell, I don't think anyone does this here unless it's their job.

I'm going to sand and paint my wall all by myself. Not a big deal right? Well, Brazilians aren't really do it yourself type of people when it comes to home improvement. That is, unless they are in the field.

So why am I doing it? There's a number of reasons. For starters, paying some dudes to hang out and dirty my place is not fun. They lag, insist on techniques that don't necessarily need to be done, and generally fill the apartment with dust.

Me, I'm a minimalist when it comes to hard labor. Do I need to plaster? I don't necessarily think so. Do I need to sand the entire wall? I think I can get away with only hitting up the bad parts.

Please don't come knocking down my door to hire me!

I'm also hesitant to hire out because this entire painting issue is because of a bad job. The men who worked on our kitchen covered the wall in tiles before the cement had dried out. The water has to go somewhere so it came out in the hallway.  My wall caught a bad case of hasty worker eczema.

2 years later and I'm finally doing something about it. I decided this boiling hot day is perfect because I'm just a glutton for punishment. That and my maid is here so she can help me clean up afterward.

Wish me luck folks. Let's hope a little amateur elbow grease improves the condition as opposed to making it worse!

Rio de Janeiro Realtors: The Slow Road to Insanity

We are looking for apartments here in Rio de Janeiro and it is literally driving me insane! Oh and by 'we are looking' I actually mean I am doing the hustling.

Me, right here, I'm the find the golden nugget in the pile of poo girl for this family. And that's ok. Really, I'm a bit creepy in that I like to poke around other people's apartments. I enjoy seeing what's on the market and how people live.

So the actual physical looking isn't that bothersome. It's the male Realtors. No they are not sexually harassing me. Apparently that ship has sailed and I'm officially an old married lady.  It's the fact that they need to talk to the penis of the household.

I swear to you, if one more of these little bastards asks to call and talk to Mr. Rant "just to touch base," I'm going to hit someone. And you know what, I'm going to hit them with my penis! That's right, this girl right here is the one who has the "penis" in the household!

While my husband is a "Man," I am the woman. Happy wife = happy life. Let's face it, we women have a lot of decision power in the relationship.

And I've obviously have had it up to here with the need Realtors feel to call my husband. That's why I got annoyed with the Realtor yesterday. He was insisting that he should call and get to know my husband. Just have a little chat on the phone and invite Mr. Rant to his office. It started to sound like he was looking for a new bromance or something.

When I asked why, he said so that Mr. Rant knows who is showing me apartments. So my husband feels secure with our interactions.

Too bad I don't have a governess. Life would be so much easier.

I then asked if he thought my husband didn't trust me. It was really unfair of me, I know, but it pisses me off. At the same time, I like to blame Mr. Rant when I don't want to give a definite answer. "I must check with my husband and see if that paperwork is available." Or, "I'm not sure if Mr. Rant would approve of this street."

I kind of made my own bed except that they didn't give me much of an option. I am constantly being talked over. The moment I mention checking with my husband they actually listen to me. They say something like "oh that's correct(Portuguese translation). You do need to talk to him."

Yes, and I also need him to wipe my ass. You can imagine how bad it gets when he's on a business trip.

It's just the way this area seems to work. No matter how much I say or declare what I want, they only listen the moment Mr. Rant happens to answer the house phone and tells them the exact same thing.

To give them the benefit of the doubt, it may also be because I'm a foreigner. I have one sweet Realtor who insists on asking me  if I am understanding him after every two sentences. I've met up with him 3 separate times! You'd think at this point it'd be established that I understand what he's saying.

As frustrating as all this is, I'm really starting to think I may be a part of the problem. My so-called direct/indirect nature may not be suited for small-talk and interactions such as these.  I think I may just need to put on my big boy pants and run things my way. 

For example: No sir, you can not call my husband. I'm the one in charge! (more like he's really busy but we'll keep that to ourselves) 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

5 Things I Want To Do in Rio de Janeiro but Don't

A fellow expat blogger inspired this post with her 5 Things I want to Do in São Paulo but Don't.  I have, in turn, done the same thing for the fabulous city of Rio de Janeiro!

1. Talk to the transvestites working the streets in Gloria. I have always been in awe of them and would love to interview/talk to them. I bet they have one hell of a story to tell.

2. Go hang gliding. I didn't have the balls to do it before having kids and now I feel like it's too risky because I have them.
Photo by and For more information on street kids:

3. Adopt a street kid. It breaks my heart to see these guys sleeping in the street. Hell, even when the are harassing me, I want to take them home. A good bath, a safe home, and lots of cuddles. If only it could be that easy.

4. Buy all the American magazines I come across. With the inflated prices it would be a quick way to go broke.

5. Get a boob job. I still debate about eventually doing this, just filling the old girls back up again. Of course a friend of mine had to go and ruin it for me by giving me facts and such. Ah well, these girls still have quite a few miles left in them. 

Trash Out the Window: Rio de Janeiro's Nasty Little Habit

There is nothing nastier than finding someone else's trash on your balcony, windowsill, or blown into your apartment.  That goes double for cigarette butts, tampons, and other nasty little items. 

Oh yes, back in the day I had an apartment with a non-covered balcony and we got presents from the trash fairy on a daily basis.  

Here in Rio de Janeiro, people just throw shit out their windows. I have no idea why but they do! It's an amazing phenomenon that happens even more so out of the service area windows which, coincidentally, is where the trash can is normally kept. Not that it really matters in this country. There are very few people who have to walk all the way over to the west wing of their mansion to throw something away. 

They just don't do it, and the worst thing they throw are lit cigarette butts. Seriously, not only can a person not keep an ashtray or walk their butts to the trash, they have to throw it out a window still burning.  Somehow they do not see the danger in throwing an item that is on fire into a random area.

I personally have had numerous bad experiences where neighbors in my old building would throw lit cigarettes down into the common garden area. My newborn was almost hit with one when we were out getting his morning sun.  Needless to say, the building got an earful of my pissed of Portuguese grammar. 

It can get even worse. A neighbor of a friend of mine threw a lit cigarette out the window and lit the side of the building and two cars on fire. Classy. Let me explain a bit better. The building has a netting covering the entire outside because of construction being done. A very sharp and wise person threw a lit cigarette out of the window anyway. The netting caught on fire and then spread to the cars. Since the cars were parked illegally, and their insurance won't cover it, the owners are now suing the building.

All this because someone could snuff their smoke out and walk it to the trash.  

And it's not just cigarettes.  I have seen candy wrappers, personal notes, empty toothpaste tubes, dirty diapers, and used tampons/pads. Not only have I seen this done, I also had the lovely personal experience of cleaning these things off the balcony in my old building. Needless to say, they were not pleased when I taped all of the above to a piece of cardboard and mounted it in the elevator. 

I don't know why I can't seem to make friends with people in buildings where I live...

Anyway, I'm just here to say I don't get it. I don't get not throwing your crap away. Then again, when I lived with my brother-in-law he used to put his trash on the kitchen table instead of in the trash. The kitchen table that was literally 2.5 feet from the trashcan. It's inexplicable! 

It makes me think that this is a cultural phenomenon. But how on Earth did it get started? While I know that the city of Rio de Janeiro only started to really take care of the street trash issue about 10 years ago, why is it taking so long to clean up this nasty habit? 

What do you guys think? Is this all over Brazil or just in Rio de Janeiro? How do you think a habit like this gets started in the first place? 

Pancake Tuesday

My boys woke up this morning and requested pancakes. That would normally be a total pain-in-the-ass request at 630am but I found it endearing. It's an American food! My boys requested something American!

I'm a sucker and am fulfilling their request for homemade pancakes. I can't help it, it's a good breakfast and it's a piece of my childhood. As much as I love their little lives here, I do like them having a bit of a taste of what I knew and loved as a kid.

And you know what, that is coming in the form of little circles of goodness. Of course my pancakes are homemade and contain grains and a vegetable. My childhood pancake came in a box and was smothered in syrup and powdered sugar.

Mmmmmmmm Maple syrup and Powdered sugar...

Anyway, you can find my recipe here: mmmm pancake recipe

I've since started adding oatmeal and ground flax seeds. Not too much and not too little.

Add a little juice and you have a good start to your day. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Meet a Carioca Monday

Congratulations Thais, you are our first female Carioca! Woo Hoo! 

Seeing that she is female and obviously wiser than the past Cariocas, yes I did just say that, I asked her a deeper question than normal. 

Q: What do Cariocas have figured out that the rest of the world doesn't?

A: We have figured out that life is not to be taken so seriously... so we don't. 

I would have to say that she pretty much sums up the feeling of living her long term. You realize that most things really aren't that big of a deal. Sit down, have a coconut water, and enjoy the view. Things will get where they need to be eventually. 

Rio de Janeiro Beats Outs Paris and London

So what is the cost of quality of life? Pretty damn expensive in Rio de Janeiro.  This proud little beach city has jumped from number 141 to 19 on the ECA International list of the most expensive urban centers.

I have to say, I can see it! Just the other night some friends and I were talking about rising beer prices. Yes, that is where we noticed it first. Hello, we're in Brazil.

Anyway, when I got here some years back I could buy a 900ml bottle of beer for R$2.30 (US$1.46).  Now it costs around R$4.50 (US$2.85).  Not much of a difference but a definite increase.  Let's not forget milk going up from R$1.70 to R$2.85, bus fare from R$1.70 to R$2.80, cigarettes from R$2.30 to R$4.50, and Coconut water from R$1.50 to R$3.50.

And these are little things that are from here.  Let's look at Revista Globo's examples of the cost of things that are in both Brazil and abroad.

Cupcakes, those tasty fancy little bastards that kill everyone's attempt at a diet: In the US they are US$2.75 (R$4.43) and in Rio de Janeiro they are US$4.14 (R$6.50)

Another diet killer, the chocolate croissant: The best in France costs 1.50 euros (R$3.44) and in Rio de Janeiro it's 2.20 euros (R$5.00). In the R$5 Croissant's defense, it's supposed to be just like the French version. I figure it's worth the dough because if you go cheap on a chocolate croissant in Rio you'll basically get bread with a piece of sticky Hersey's chocolate in the middle.

Onsies, that great little baby basic: In the US it's like 35 cents for a pack of 6 and in Brazil R$20 for a super crappy version that you'll put on your child once. Ok, I'm exaggerating a little bit, but seriously the difference in kids stuff is AMAZING! It costs a small fortune to own anything we consider basic in the US. I brought all my stuff from the home. For those interested in actual numbers, in the US for a Gerber Newborn girly pack of 6 onsies costs US$9.99 (R$15.76) and in Brazil for one onsie from Babe Basico $20.30 (R$32). It's hard to believe that one good quality onsie would cost that much...

I could continue this comparison forever. The article goes on to cover gym memberships, concert tickets, beauty salons, Moleskine notebooks, and chino pants.

We get it, things cost more here.

Now look at the minimum wage. It's something like R$545 (US$345.64) a month. It comes as no surprise that rice and beans stay the staple food down here. At R$2.89 (US$1.83) for 1 kilo of a good brand of rice and R$2.79 (US$1.77) a kilo for a good brand of black beans, it's affordable.

That and they are damn tasty! Talk about making something so simple so good. It's just like what the Cariocas did with the butt.

Anyway, why do you think Rio de Janeiro's cost of living is so high in comparison to the rest of the world?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Casa No Campo

I have always loved the song 'Casa No Campo' by Elis Regina. It's even better now that I can understand it.  And this song just eases me out of my weekend at my in-law's country house.

Enjoy and Happy Sunday!

Friday, April 8, 2011

You Live in Rio de Janeiro. What are you Bitching About?

Moving to another country is not an easy feat, especially if you come as a family. There's a lot to get used to.  Rio de Janeiro is not any different. While this city has gotten far more foreigner family since I first came, the flow still takes some getting used to.

That is why I understand people complaining. If you are not overtaken by the beauty of it here, it's easy to see the ugly parts. And let's not kid ourselves, a lot of cities are like that.

But I have a hard time with people who choose to focus on the negative.  Rio de Janeiro has no chance in hell if you choose to focus on the flaws before the unique personality. There are just too many. In the wrong light this city looks like a beat-ass, 80 year hooked whose addicted to Meth. 

In the right lighting you would rush her home to Mother. Perspective is funny that way.

I know this from experience. It was very difficult for me when I first came.  I had been told so much about the danger that I was scared.  I didn't want to go anywhere alone. I basically stuck to the streets I knew in my neighborhood.

In my defense, there was a complete lack of infrastructure at the time. When I got here you could smoke in shopping malls, there was no information desk at the bus station (at least not one that I ever saw), and there were hardly any hostels (none in the 3 neighborhoods near me.)

And I bitched. I bitched to anyone who would listen. I complained about not knowing Portuguese and how no one in Mr. Rant's apartment could or would speak to me in English. Oh yes, I lived with the whole family, which could have been even nicer if I would have been more open.

Hell, my little 3 week intensive English course friends had me as a character in their end of the class skit. I was whining. Not one of the finest points in my life.

So I changed. It was a smack to the face to see how others were seeing me. It was pathetic. I was pathetic. I was living in Rio de Janeiro for goodness sake! I paid no rent, ate amazing food daily that I did not have to prepare, and was getting to know locals. All my friends were Brazilian and I only went to places where Cariocas hung out.

And you know what happened? I started adventuring out. I went places, met up with people anywhere, and I had a life. I started teaching English all over Zona Sul and making my own friends. It was great. I had things to do and they were things that I loved.

This continues on today. While the kiddos slow me down a bit, I'm still out and about.

Sure, I have some complaints about here, especially know with children. Some very little things are more of a hassle here than they would be at home.  Honestly though, I hardly see them anymore. I find life so much richer here than I do in the states.

While I still have my 'I hate Rio' days, I also have 'I hate the World' days.  Who doesn't? People are annoying and sometimes life is a bitch.

Shit happens. Get over it. You're here so enjoy yourself!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

8 Children Dead in Rio de Janeiro School Shooting

Plaça de Realengo

Rio de Janeiro is now among the list of cities who have experienced the tragedy of a school shooting.

Today, Wellington Menezes de Oliveira entered into the public school of Realengo in the West Zone and shot around 100 times. 8 children have died and 15 were injured.

A Father of a student was quoted as saying "As crianças da escola disseram que realmente um grande banho de sangue. Foi horrível"

Translation: "The children of the school said that it was a true blood bath. It was horrible!"

Oliveira was killed in a standoff with police. Authorities say that the ex-student of the school snuck his way in this morning. A side story states that he may have been a Father of a child that is a victim of bullying.

This is a very sad day in Rio de Janeiro. My thoughts, prayers, and heart goes out to the families of the victims, the children of the school, and the community as a whole.

What is this world coming to?

The original article in Portuguese:


The numbers have varied but it is said that there are at least 13 confirmed deaths and 22 wounded at the shooting at the public middle school. The gunman was killed by his own hand. 

Dilma Rousseff, at an event in Brasilia, was quoted as saying: "This type of crime is not characteristic of our country, that is why I think we are all united in condemning this act of violence, this type of violence, especially against defenseless children."

Life Magazine's coverage:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Brazilian Floor plans

Apartment sizing and style has been under discussion recently on this blog. While enjoying one of my random hobbies of looking at floor plans, yes I really do enjoy it, I thought I should share some of them with you! A little view into Brazilian apartment living. I am attempting to post a variety of styles but do keep in mind that there are many many more!

Sorry if they aren't very clear but you get the idea.