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Why Born Again Brazilian?
If all those repentant criminals, addicts and all around sinners can transform themselves into God-fearing Christians, this midwestern babe can become a Brazilian.
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- Top 5 Reasons Why I Plan to Not be Anywhere Near the World Cup wp.me/pWiwb-16a 1 day ago
- Bastard... How does the worst human being of retail sleep at night? After he sees this, he won't. (via @Upworthy) upworthy.com/how-does-the-w… 1 day ago
- UPDATE 2-Brazil central bank pledges to bring down inflation this year reut.rs/12EB2WG via @reuters 1 day ago
- Top 5 Reasons Why I Plan to Not be Anywhere Near the World Cup
- Boys & Girls, Soccer & Ballet
- 10 Things that Might Shock You in São Paulo
- 10 Things I Wish I Had Brought in the Move
- BAB’s One-Day Tour of São Paulo
- Buenos Aires: The Land of Sleeping Dogs
- Ten Questions for Reducing Your Dependency on Household Help
- American Exbrat in São Paulo
- Strange São Paulo
- The Funeral
The Huffington Post decided to publish an article entitled “Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Plan to Be at the 2014 World Cup.”
I love Brazil. I love soccer. However, these two loves, the construction or reconstruction of stadiums under pressure, and 600,000 fans may not mix as well as some like to think.
Here are my top 5 reasons why I plan to avoid the World Cup activities:
I like to define jeitinho as the Brazilian ability to get around, over, in or out of something despite a law, a regulation, a contract, physics or gravity. The World Cup regulations and operations will not be immune from jeitinho.
São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro traffic is bad on a day when nothing special is happening. I’m not so sure about the other cities, but I’m guessing that all the attention and funding has been put into the stadiums and not infrastructure. I read a lot of articles and I have yet to read one in which someone has a plan for controlling transportation issue when all these foreigners roll in. Have you?
If you were a professional criminal, where would you hang out during the World Cup? Yes, I know they will be employing $7.2 million worth of robots for security, but… (see #1 jeitinho).
If you think things are expensive in Brazil’s major cities now, just wait until you are part of a captured audience. Can’t imagine what parking or a Guarana might cost around the stadiums.
5. The Brazilian Fan
My Brazilian husband is quite an adventurous type and usually drags me along even when it gets a bit dangerous. Even he has refused to take me to a game, other than at the city-run Pacaembu, for fear of my possible entanglement of the over enthusiastic Brazilian soccer fan. Of course, the Brazil team won’t be playing every game. But I’m guessing the fans will be in or around the stadiums and the neighborhood bars will be drained.
I’m excited as any Brazilian or expat to host the games. I just don’t want to be actually caught up in the
nightmare fun. So you will find me at home watching it on television in the safety of my home or at a local bar within running distance.
Where will you be for the Cup?
The term “culture-shock” wasn’t coined for nothing. I know for a fact that there are many things that shock Brazilians when they visit the States. Here are a few tendencies that might make the foreigners in São Paulo somewhat astonished.
1. The Kiss Greeting
Yes, everyone greets with a kiss. However, it is more of an air-kiss/cheek-bounce than a real smacker. Word of warning, paulistanos kiss-greet only on the right side, but cariocas do their greeting with two kisses, one on each cheek. This was difficult for me to get in the beginning, because most of my kiss greeting experience had been in Rio de Janeiro. So I’d automatically go for that second kiss, causing the paulistano to pull back in surprise. Awkward. Eventually I learned to pause after the first kiss and let the other person initiate the second if necessary, because you often don’t get a chance to inquire about a person’s birthplace before they go for the beijo. Be warned, the Brazilian might also grab your shoulder to get in at a good angle.
2. Pedestrians Do Not Have the Right of Way
Crosswalks in São Paulo are mostly for decoration. Do NOT assume that a driver will stop, or even pause, because there is a crosswalk painted on the road. And just because a stop sign stands next to it doesn’t mean that is going to make someone stop. There is a citywide initiative to reduce the number of cars that hit people, as well as curb pedestrians from taking certain risks crossing the roads. However, I’ve only seen the advocates of this campaign on streets that don’t need them, ones with stoplights and crossing signals, not on the neighborhood streets with limited signage where it is all a roll of the dice.
I must admit, São Paulo pizza is darn good, maybe even the best I’ve had (please don’t tell my New York and Chicago friends). That is shocking in itself, but what made me look twice is that paulistanos will pour olive oil on top of the already slippery dish. I guess you just can’t get enough of the good stuff. What’s more, if you are dining with a carioca, they might just add some mayonnaise and ketchup to the mix. My friends and family still talk about the evening when they were served pizza in a parlor in Rio, complete with packages of the condiments for their enjoyment. Of course, as Americans they didn’t indulge, but I did on one occasion just to see what the fuss was about. Still, not sure how I feel about it.
Brazilians like to be late, even the ones in São Paulo who hold themselves up to a higher standard of business and social etiquette. Ten minutes, fifteen minutes, sometime even thirty is perfectly acceptable in São Paulo social circles. But once you find yourself still waiting at the one-hour mark, it’s time to go home. Some Brazilians also agree to social engagements that they never intend on attending, a form of their amenable, yet noncommittal culture.
5. Plastic Surgery
While statistics still say that the US of A is the plastic surgery capital of the world, you may question those numbers walking the streets of São Paulo. Not only might you encounter a person with some obvious work done, but also because the surgeries have been more common in the country for many more years, you see a lot of repeat processes and fix-ups. Cosmetic surgery is also a common topic of discussion. No one denies they’ve gotten work done and they won’t deny you their opinion of what procedures you should schedule.
6. Manicures and Pedicures
If your manicurist suddenly splatters nail polish all over your digits, she isn’t seizing into an epileptic fit. That’s just how they do it here. Covering the tip of your finger in color and then wipes all the extra away is the standard procedure. I feel this represents the “throw it against the wall and see what sticks, then clean up the mess” attitude of a country with a history of chaos. But don’t worry. Just like everything else in Brazil, it all works out in the end. And FYI – there will be no nice chair that gives you a back massage while your feet soak in warm water. You’ll need to awkwardly adjust your limbs to accommodate the technicians sitting in front of or next to you.
7. Price of Children’s Toys
Ever pay US$125 for a Barbie doll? Sure, maybe if it was rare, antique collector’s item that Queen Elizabeth played with. How about US$7 for a box of 24 Crayola crayons? No? Well, if you are shopping for toys and art supplies in São Paulo, you are in for some sticker shock. Thanks to duties and demand, these items get an incredible mark-up. Even if you don’t have kids, expats in Brazil will most likely find themselves purchasing a toy at some point for a Brazilian Birthday Bash. And let me tell you, it’s painful to shell out R$90 for something you can get at Walmart for a quarter of the price.
8. Parking People
You park on the street and suddenly a man appears next to your car. He will either want to sell you a parking ticket, often without a price on the actual paper, or he will offer to “protect” your car for a small fee. He may have even just assisted you in parking or directed you to a spot and wants to get paid for this service as well. Sounds like highway robbery? Not quite. He is a flanelinha. Let’s just say that Brazilians are an entrepreneurial lot and unfortunately, it is part of what makes the economy move. This unregulated enterprise will usually only cost you a couple bucks. Unless, that is, you are parking for a futebol game. Then it could be closer to a couple hundred.
Driving is a trick in itself, but once you hit some of São Paulo’s notorious traffic, you’ll wish you were one of the Brazillionaires with a helicopter of your own. Depending on the time of day, and the weather, getting to a destination can take 15 minutes or two hours. If you have some flexibility in your schedule, avoid the commuter hours, and at all costs, the holiday travel times of a long weekend.
What do you get when you mix a population sitting across a number of basins with a bunch of factories and seven million cars? Pollution. Those coaxing you to the city will probably leave out this critical fact. But if there are any respiratory issues in your crew, including asthma, you may want to negotiate your travel allowance for more trips home per year for fresher air. Or budget some extra getaways for an occasional breather.
For more São Paulo lists of 10, check out American Exbrat in São Paulo: Advice, Stories Tips and Tricks for Surviving South America’s Largest City.
In July we will have been here for three years. While within the first, there were items I wish we had put in the shipment, the past two-and-a-half have really made me realize how a few extra appliances and supplies would have made a big difference. And yes, I’ve taken trips back to the States. But some things just won’t fit in a suitcase, are too heavy or take too much space. Space I wasn’t willing to compromise for chocolate chips, organic coconut oil and birthday party supplies.
Here are ten thing I wish we’d packed in the move.
I’ve definitely collected some unhealthy eating happy during my São Paulo journey. Recently, in a campaign to offset those, we’ve begun to juice. Juicing is reasonably easy in this city because you load up on fresh fruit and vegetables at your neighborhood feira or the organic market at Parque da Água Branca on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. What is not easy to acquire is a high-powered juicer at a reasonable price. We recently bought an overpriced juicer that seems to work fine, but some of the plastic pieces are so thin I’m afraid it may not last in the long haul. We did bring a citrus juicer from the U.S., but I wish I’d thought ahead and gotten a powerful all-round one like a Breville or the Norwalk.
2. Air Purifier
Pollution doesn’t just effect you when you go outside. There are days when I can feel it in my lungs as I wake up. It is also easy to encounter mold in Brazil, so an air purifier would have been a great idea.
3. A coffee maker with a timer
Not only did somebody break the glass pot of our coffee maker with the first few months, one that was impossible to replace, but the maker itself did have a clock we could set to have fresh coffee ready when we wake up. Now that I am getting up at the crack of dawn to get my daughter to school, this feature is appreciated. We bought a coffee maker here for more money than it is worth with a carafe feature that never really keeps the coffee warm for very long.
4. More warm blankets
São Paulo gets cold, especially at night. Most apartments aren’t built with a heating unit, so you have few options than to bury yourself under multiple blankets. Even our down comforter doesn’t always do the job.
5. Electric space heaters
Not only are these useful at night, though I never felt comfortable running one all night long for fear of electrical fire, this appliance is useful for warming up a bathroom in preparation for a shower on a cold day.
6. Washing machine
We did bring an awesome refrigerator from the States, but decided to skip the washing machine and clothes dryer because we anticipated someone who only spoke Portuguese would be the one running it. However, we paid a lot of money for a washing machine that often tears up clothes, towels, etc. Had I thought it through, I could have easily just taped Portuguese words over the ones in English on the item if I really didn’t want to run it myself. We didn’t buy a clothes dryer at all, which was a good decision because in both places we have lived there would have been a struggle to find a spot for it. So it is hang drying for us.
7. An extra hair dryer
My hair dryer recently broke. I went without for a couple weeks, but finally broke down and bought one for a painful amount of money. Sure, I could throw one of those in a suitcase on my next trip, but that would mean months of bad hair.
8. More pots and pans
We were quite sad after a women who cooked for us scraped the crap out of our beloved wok – an item that is awkward to stuff into a suitcase (but not impossible!) We also replaced some pans that didn’t survive her culinary methods, but you just don’t get the same quality for a decent price. I wish we would have extended our high quality pot and pan line in anticipation of extensive cooking.
9. Food storage containers
Bugs infiltrate dry goods on a regular basis in São Paulo. And forget out casually clipping a bag of sugar or other sweet stuff. While we did bring some Oxo food storage container in the big trip, we could definitely use more and different sizes and shapes.
10. Sports equipment
Tennis racquets, bicycles, roller skates, extra yoga mats… I wish we would have thought through all that we might want to do in São Paulo parks and clubs. These items are outrageously expensive to buy in Brazil, especially if you want well-made equipment.
For more São Paulo lists of 10, check out American Exbrat in São Paulo: Advice, Stories Tips and Tricks for Surviving South America’s Largest City.
The other day, I got to enjoy a single-day tour of São Paulo with a visiting American. There was much back and forth discussion about how the day would go until a schedule was finally settled moments before we left. While it was a great day, I realized there is much I would have done differently now that I’ve actually walked through an official one-day tour. Given all there is to see and do in São Paulo, some amazing and some just “eh,” picking the best of the best while trying to also be efficient isn’t so easy. Yet, I thought it through and here is what I would recommend for a one-day tour of the city:
9:00 a.m. Walk through Ibirapuera Park
Ibirapuera Park is São Paulo largest park and often likened (mostly by Brazilians) to New York’s Central Park. While I don’t know if I agree with that comparison, Ibirapuera is an amazing park and worth a walk on a nice morning.
There is a variety of spectacular vegetation, plenty of artwork and architecture to view across the landscape and space to stroll. Starting off a day with some fresh air and a brisk walk through a lovely park is a great idea. And there is always something interesting to see.
10:00 a.m. Museu AfroBrasil
Inside Park Ibirapuera is Museu AfroBrasil, my absolute favorite São Paulo museum. It is a spectacular display of all the elements that make up Brazilian culture and history through sculptures, paintings, photographs, fashions, icon and 3 dimensional artwork.
11:30 p.m. MuBe and MIS
For some edgier art that often represents the pulse of São Paulo pop culture, the MuBe always delivers.
You can also make a mid-morning snack stop and have a café and a lanche at the museum’s espaço gastronômico. Just a few steps away from the MuBE is the Museu da Imagem e do Som. This space houses innovative Brazilian art in the form of photography, film and sound.
1:30 p.m. Lunch at Mercado Municipal
A local favorite for finding staples as well as items considered ”exotic” in Brazil, like jalapeños, Mercado Municipal is great for getting a taste, literally, of all that is Brazilian cuisine. Strolling by the fruit stands, you’ll certainly be offered a sample some of the produce brought to Brazil from Asia like fruta de conde, caqui, or pitaya.
If meat and poultry is more your game, a pile of chicken feet or perhaps pork pieces might get your appetite going.
For lunch, indulge in a Mortadella sandwich and a chop beer at one of the cafes to get a true taste of a traditional São Paulo sandwich.
3:00 p.m. Praça da Luz
For a cultural quartet, the Praça da Luz has four destinations. First, the Pinacoteca highlights modern and contemporary Brazilian artists within a building that is a work-of-art in itself and includes the Memorial da Resistência de São Paulo, a tribute to political resistance during the regime of military dictatorship.
Next to the Pinacoteca is the Jardim da Luz where you can enjoy an afternoon coffee in the cafe and walk off some of your Mortadella sandwich amongst flowers and garden sculptures.
Across the road is the Estação da Luz, a glorious historical train station originally built by the British. Next to the station is the Museu da Língua Portuguesa which has a number of interactive exhibits and a cool auditorium show that draws you through the history and development of the Brazilian Portuguese language.
5:30 p.m. Catedral de Sé
You can’t visit one of Brazil’s signature cities without swinging by a Catholic Cathedral.
The Catedral da Sé is as big and impressive as many you will see in Europe, but don’t stay too long because the neighborhood begins to grow rather shady as night falls.
6:30 p.m. Terraço Itália Bar
As long as someone else is driving, it’s time to see the city over the edge of a glass. Terraço Itália Bar, above the restaurant of the same name, provides a spectacular view of São Paulo and you will see how seriously massive the city really is. Depending on the season, if cocktail hour coincides with sunset, you can stop by the Skye Bar at Hotel Unique in Jardins where you will also catch at spectacular city view.
If you want to rest, you can have a decent Italian dinner at Terraço or a meal at Skye in front of the scene. Or, you can make one more stop…
8:00 p.m. Rua Oscar Freire
Things heat up in the evenings on this famous São Paulo strip. There are plenty of places to end your evening with a fabulous dinner on Oscar Freire or the surrounding side streets. Some of my favorite neighborhood meals are Italian at Italy, cross-regional Brazilian at Brasil a gosto, Asian-Mexican fusion at Obá and traditional Brazilian churrascaria at Vento Haragano.
For more sights in São Paulo, check out American Exbrat in São Paulo: Advice, Stories Tips and Tricks for Surviving South America’s Largest City.
One of the great things about living in São Paulo is that you are a short flight from some fabulous destinations. We took a long weekend over the Easter holiday and went to one of these places – Buenos Aires.
Before we went we gathered advice and ideas from friends and other expats in São Paulo. But we also took some of the trip into our own hands. As with most cities we visit for the first time, we did some things that worked and some things that didn’t.
First, I’ve never seen more dogs lounging around in the sun napping than I did in Buenos Aires. Granted, our visit took place during a holiday, so the city had an unnatural quietness to it that I’m guessing doesn’t exist during a regular work week. So perhaps the dogs were taking advantage of the lull in people activity. But I swear, nearly every open, green space has a few dogs sunning themselves.
Every open, green space also had at least one family living in a make-shift tent – the sad result of a severe recession. This reality of poverty set against the elaborate architecture and monuments that represent wealthier times made our tour even more surreal.
We arrived on the Friday afternoon before Easter and the streets around where we stayed, at a boutique hotel within the Galerías Pacífico Shopping Mall’s building, were deserted. Except for the garbage. I was surprised and disappointed to find the roads littered with trash and disrupted by construction. Upon first impression, I didn’t see what the big attraction was to the city. But soon we wandered outside that neighborhood and I understood why Buenos Aires is such a popular destination.
Our first night, we attended a dinner and show put on by We Are Tango. Ok, is it for tourists? Yes. But is it “touristy”? Absolutely not.
The event took place in an artsy, little space near our hotel. Unfortunately, we used the directions on the website and not the new address information we received in our confirmation email, so we arrived late. But the package offers a welcome cocktail, a darn good meal that you select in advance, all the wine you can consume, a dance show that spins the history of tango and a lesson. The atmosphere is quaint and intimate as they don’t take more than 20 people per seating.
The staff was extremely accommodating and the host and hostess spoke perfect English. Highly recommend this as a kick-off to a Buenos Aires trip if you are visiting for the first time.
The next day we toured the city’s historical buildings and parks. We stopped at a wine shop I had read about located in San Telmo. While Vinotango no longer offers wine tasting and Tango singing due to an overload of inventory crowding their space, the owner, who lived in NYC for years, made some recommendations that proved to be excellent. We walked some more and ended up at Puerto Madero to enjoy drinks and appetizers at one of the waterside pubs. This area reminds me of New York City’s South Street Seaport, complete with ships full of tourists hanging out on the river. We were literally so tired from our day of walking that we didn’t even hit the town that Saturday night. Instead, we conducted our own private wine and cheese tasting in our hotel room. All was right in Buenos Aires.
But here is what we did wrong. Despite reading how the attraction had deteriorated over the past decade, we took the Tren de la Costa “tour” on Sunday.
Unless you like to spend hours rummaging through stalls of “antiques” or sipping coffee, the train line and its stops offer little of interest and are mostly deserted. The end of the line, the Delta stop, promises a casino, amusement park and shopping. But the area reminded me of a South American Coney Island, which is cool if you are in the mood for that, but we were not. We spent more time on trains that off during the route.
The only other thing we did wrong was overpay for a couple of mediocrely made leather shoes at a tourist shop.
However, after the train tour, we enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch and wine at Fervor, which was the only restaurant we could find open at the odd time we landed back in the city that also had good reviews. Then we wandered through more of the historic settings to Volta on Santa Fé for some excellent ice cream.
We accomplished quite a lot in the few days we spent in Buenos Aires. It is such a beautiful city, yet the current condition of the economy has left its scars. All those sleeping dogs must be a metaphor for something, right?
I look forward to a trip back one day.
For more weekend trips from São Paulo, check out American Exbrat in São Paulo: Advice, Stories Tips and Tricks for Surviving South America’s Largest City.
When you live in a country where the cost of household help runs from inexpensive to reasonable, you tend to become accustomed to using your time for other critical activities (like catching up on American reality television on the internet). But recently in Brazil, certain labor laws have passed making it not so economical to have someone at your beck and call, at least not for the number of hours you might have grown to rely on. So how does one manage the switch of schedule?
Here are ten questions you should ask yourself if forced to reduce the empregada or baba hours and faced with doing it yourself:
1. Does my underwear really need to be ironed? Unless you are one who regularly offers lingerie parties at your home, very few are going to admire how unwrinkled your undergarments are appearing. And for most of us, it’s going to get quickly crumpled anyway. Same goes for pajamas. Maybe even bed sheets if you really need to slum it.
2. Why does the washing machine need to be constantly running five days a week? Before moving to Brazil, our laundry got done about once a week. And we always had something clean to wear. Here the washing machine is constantly working. Why? I don’t know, but I recommend we all investigate.
3. Could it be time for my child to feed and dress him/herself? My daughter, who is 5 going on 6, is the master of manipulation when it comes to being served. Though I tell the girl who helps us not to spoon feed her, unless I’m overseeing the situation my daughter will eventually be lounging in our helper’s lap with her mouth open. And in the mornings after I’ve instructed her to dress herself for school with the clothes I’ve laid out on her bed, I’ll often find her ten minutes later naked in a pile of Legos. Thus far, I’ve given up too easy with her tricks. But now I have another excuse to force her hand.
5. Does every meal need multiple courses and a formal setting? The Brazilians I’m related to lavish in the luxury of eating at a semi-formal setting in front of a full table of options. But in the U.S., I usually ate standing up over the kitchen sink or working at my desk. And I ate a heck of a lot less that way. The new cost of this kind of indulgence is a good reason to scale back, which will also help scale back on how much I consume.
6. Is it time to invest in a dishwasher? We did not purchase some of the more common large appliances when we got here because we knew there would be someone to manage these tasks by hand. But now it is time to analyze the costs of purchasing a dishwasher and clothes dryer vs. employee overtime.
7. Can I use that water glass more than once? At least in my case, this is an issue of instruction. I’m often looking for that water glass I just drank out of and finding it already washed, dried and put away. Perhaps it is time to point out those tasks that don’t need immediate attention.
8. Maybe I should keep the eating to the eating areas? In my previous world, I was very conscious about keeping the food where the food belonged – in the kitchen or dining area. But now, all of us eat all over the apartment, knowing that soon someone will come to sweep up the crumbs. Time to re-train the family for meal and snack time.
9. Did I forget that walking is exercise? When you have someone to help, it is easy to delegate those jobs that you just don’t feel like taking on at the moment. For instance, walking the dog or walking a block and a half to go to the grocery store. But perhaps we need to remember the benefits of hitting the street and working up a slight sweat.
10. It can’t hurt to put it away myself, right? Taking a few extra steps to reduce your own clutter instead of dropping items on the nearest piece of furniture is not going to kill you, nor take up a great amount of extra time. It will also reduce the time you will take to search for things that someone else put away.
For more lists of 10 and tips for living in São Paulo, see American Exbrat in São Paulo.