I’m baaaacccck!

Well, ok. I was back last week. But settling in, social engagements, and two days with the flu (or food poisoning from one of the previously mentioned social engagements – not sure, symptoms are the same) kept me away from my blog. But now I’m back.

Again, to avoid another spraying of my daily Brazilian memories into your email boxes and computer, I’ll just do a couple recaps of how Brazilian I’ve been. I’ll start with the time in Brazil, because backtracking into the end of my Chicago experience is going to take some effort.

So here it goes:

Day 214: Illicit Imports

On day 214, upon arrival into Brazil, I successfully smuggled a number of items into the country. This is more easily done when you have a small child, say of four-years-old, trying to push one of two carts loaded with luggage. While the travelers ahead of us in line were all being sent in the scary direction to have their bags rifled through by immigration, the sweet security officer took pity on us and not only let us through without hassle, but forced another American traveler to assist us. He was none too pleased, but he should have been grateful that we saved his personals from being exposed by a Brazilian enforcement agent. I feel quite guilty about taking advantage of the Brazilian careful attitude toward children. But were they really going to shake me down for some bug spray and birthday supplies?

Day 215: Puppy!

Day 215 involved settling into my first full day of officially being a Brazilian dog owner. Yes, we got a puppy. I haven’t had a puppy since I was 5-years-old, but it seems puppy ownership in Brazil is not so much different. Of course, how would I know. The puppy, a Maltese named Emily (my daughter was very specific about what she wanted), is three months. She can’t go out of the house until she gets her full spread of shots. She eats puppy food, drinks water and plays with puppy toys. Sounds like it is pretty much the same. Only question is – do we teach her English or Portuguese?

Day 216: Bar da Praça

On day 216, we tried traditional Saturday feijoada at a new place in Higienopolis – Bar da Praça (see lead photo). Was delicious and also came with complementary caipirinhas. Was it as good as my favorite Feijoada da Lana? Not quite, but it was close.

Day 217: Presidential Dinner

On Sunday, day 217, we were lucky enough to enjoy the practice run for a dinner being hosted by fellow American expats that will include in attendance an ex-Brazilian President. Obviously for security reasons, I’m unable to identify the specific past head of state, the location, or the date/time of the event. But let’s just say, based on the delicious cuisine, my country will be well represented.

Day 218: Sick!

Ugh. On Monday, Day 218, I got really, really sick. I’d never been sick like that in this country. I couldn’t even hold down water. But I learned how to manage to not get dehydrated – Agua de Coco. Our empregada, who was responsible for taking care of our daughter that day due to my total inability to do anything but sleep, also recommended Ezo for relief.

Day 219: Mad Men

While still under the weather, I watched Mad Men with Portuguese subtitles. This was mostly because the device I was using is not set up with a VPN scrambler and I was too sick to locate a device that was. But during my less nauseous moments, I did read and absorb the relationship between the languages.

I would also like to point out that New York in the 60’s has many similarities to modern, or at least recently modern, day Sao Paulo.


Take a look some time.



Just saying…



Day 220: Domestic Help

I let our housekeeper clean up after the potty-training puppy all day long. Awesomeness.

Day 221: City Driving

Yes, today I drove in the city of Sao Paulo! We moved our daughter to a new school that requires us to not only get up at the crack of dawn, but drive there. My husband accompanied me with my daughter in tow.

Here is what I discovered about Sao Paulo driving – just look ahead. Don’t worry about what’s happening in your side or rear-view mirrors. Might as well just take it all off. You’re sole concern is about what you can see in front of you. Sounds easy, but you have to anticipate what all the cars ahead of you are going to do, sem signals. The cars behind you will worry about what your doing. Sounds counterintuitive in terms of American driving, but it seems to work.

Here is what I like about Sao Paulo driving:

  • Due to traffic, the cars are forced to move too slow to create a fatal accident.

Here is what I do not like about Sao Paulo driving:

  • We must cross over a large hill to get where we are going. Drivers behind me insist on closing in on my car within mere millimeters, precariously chancing that I will not slide backwards as I release my clutch. Fools.
  • People who make a left-hand turn from behind me because they think I am taking too long to make the left-hand turn.

I survived there and back. Now all I need is a driver’s license!

Yes, foolishly, I let my New York state driver’s license expire before getting one here. I repeat – that is foolish. For the transfer process is relatively simple. It is not simple if you do not have a valid license. So, when I was back in the U.S., I had planned to acquire an Illinois state driver’s license. Sure, since it had been a year-and-a-half since my other license has expired, I anticipated that I’d have to take a couple driving tests. No biggie. But unfortunately, they wanted to see a copy of my Social Security card (among many other documents) before proceeding. Well… who would think to bring that?!

So if I want a driver’s license here, I not only have to go to a driving school that gives the driving test, but I also have to take a written test in Portuguese. Not sure which would cost me more… driving school + bribing someone to give me a pass on the written test or flying back to Illinois with my Social Security card.

Instead, we just agreed that my husband would drive my daughter to school every day. (Honestly, I was not excited about those big hills anyway.)

Keep an eye out for my final week in Chicago being Brazilian recap!



Gallery | This entry was posted in 366 day Brazilian Challenge, Crazy Adventures, Culture Conflicts, Daily Escapades, Expatriate Info & Advice, Foreigner Insights, Living in Sao Paulo and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to I’m baaaacccck!

  1. Alex says:

    What a cute puppy! Congrats!

    And welcome back (it sounds weird that I’m saying welcome back to a place that I am not even remotely close to, but it’s the thought that counts.)

    Hope your stay in the US matou as saudades !


  2. Which school did you choose? Are you driving those hills in Vila Magdalena? Those scare me on a sunny day. I’ve often thought that SP was like the US in the 60s/70s in terms of a lot of things. I hope you guys are readjusting well and how nice to have someone to take care of the dog poop!

  3. Andrew Francis says:

    Welcome back and congratulations for not letting Sao Paulo’s slightly chaotic traffic get the better of you. It’s really not that difficult. Did I read that right? Did you drive a car with a clutch and not complain about the lack of automatic cars in Brazil? That must be a first among American expat bloggers. 😛 In the spirit of the Olympic Games, you deserve a medal!

    I’ll take a stab at the ex-President (no pun or literal meaning intended, please 🙂 ). There are only four alive and two of them, well, most people wouldn’t want to be in the same city let alone have lunch with them. Of the remaining, a lot of people will have a strong preference for one over the other but, to some extent, I guess it’s a matter of personal politics. I know that I do, so I hope you get to meet the good one. 🙂

    • I didn’t actually get to meet him. I was just part of the trial run. 😦
      HA! I’m actually OK with driving stick because I learned on a stick car, except not so content when on those damn hills!

      • Andrew Francis says:

        That’s a shame! In that case, I hope they had to put up with the bad one instead.

      • Andrew Francis says:

        By the way, how does a trial run for dinner work anyway? I don’t think I’ve ever been to one and it just doesn’t sound very Brazilian. Are you allowed to eat the food? Is there even real food or do they just use those plastic models you see in Japanese store windows? Was it a full dress rehearsal? Is there someone giving out instructions?

        “Don’t talk with your mouth full!”
        “Hold the champagne glass by the stem or the base only.”
        “Don’t tell that funny joke while people are eating farofa.”

        The mind boggles… 🙂

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