The Boston Bakery Bully

This picture was taken outside the bakery by my friend.

This picture was taken outside the bakery by my friend.

One of the things I love about Brazilians in general is their friendliness and hospitality. So it was not a surprise to me when I found out that the owner of The Boston Bakery was American. Not that all Americans are rude, but what I find is that in America (despite the saying) the customer is not always right and the employees treat you badly. This was exactly my experience at this particular establishment. I had a friend visiting from the US and she happens to have lived in Boston, so when we say this place we thought it sounded perfect. We had dinner and dessert and spent a considerable amount of money, around R$130,00 ($65.00 dollars) and as we were leaving there was two extra charges on our bill. My infant son had gotten ahold of two pieces of candy and then dropped them on the ground. As responsible parents we told him no and put the candy back unharmed. The manager then went behind our backs and charged us for the candy without saying a word to us. When we questioned the charges (R$12.00) each, the manager said that we let our kid run wild and that we were irresponsible parents. We even showed him that the candy was unharmed but still he would not budge. Finally after an argument at the counter he took the charges off begrudgingly. I have never been treated so badly in my life. I mean come on who hasn’t accidently dropped something on the floor, do we expect to then pay for it? And then to not saying anything but just charge us behind our backs, what a jerk!

In contrast, we often go to a little video store near our place called Imagens & Letras (http://imagenseletras.com.br/). It is owned and run by a Brazilian mother and daughter. The are the sweetest ladies on the planet! My son does often reek havoc in that place because all of the videos and candy are at his level, and I follow him around putting things back and telling him no. But instead of telling us that we are bad parents the ladies understand that my kid is only one and that he is learning. The Boston Bakery Bully should take some tips from these ladies and try not to be such a jerk, he does live in Brazil after all.

FIFA World Cup 2014

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Celebrating the World Cup in Brazil has been a great experience so far. I’ve really got a chance to see how crazy for soccer Brazilians are and I feel that it has given me a greater understanding of Brazilian culture. My husband, son and I spent the opening game of the World Cup at our neighbors house across the street. It was a typical middle class get together of Brazilians. There was churrasqueira (barbecue), ceveja (beer), and a lot of noise makers. I’ve never in my life been to a sports party where I’ve seen so much enthusiasm and again noise. When Brazil scored a goal the volume of noise in that house was close to breaking the sound barrier. What I love most about the World Cup is that it brings together everyone in the culture, from the young to the very old everyone watches the World Cup. I bet even the small amount of people protesting in the streets are secretly at home watching the World Cup because it is impossible for them to not watch it, it is imprinted on their genes.

The Holidays are Upon Us!

El Dorado Mall

El Dorado Mall

Higienopolis Mall

Higienopolis Mall

I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet but because there is no Thanksgiving Holiday in Brazil, Christmas is in full swing. Here are just a couple of examples of the Christmas displays in malls in Sao Paulo. If we visit anymore I will be sure to take more pics!

Thanksgiving Options

Thanksgiving Rio de Janeiro 2011

Thanksgiving Rio de Janeiro 2011

Thanksgiving Calvary International Church 2012

Thanksgiving Calvary International Church 2012

Thanksgiving Calvary Church 2012

Thanksgiving Calvary International Church 2012

For the past two years my husband and I have managed to celebrate Thanksgiving  successfully in Brazil. Two years ago when my husband was living in Rio de Janeiro we went to Thanksgiving dinner at Gringo Cafe which is a cool cafe that serves American style food. Last year we attended Thanksgiving dinner at our church (Calvary International Church) but this year it is not an option because the dinner is for adults only (and we now have a baby).

So this year I find myself struggling to figure out Thanksgiving dinner when for the past two years it has just worked itself out. I’m not saying we don’t have options because we do, but none of them seem the right fit.

One option is The American Society of Sao Paulo’s Thanksgiving service. The problem with this one is that it’s a church we don’t attend (Fellowship church) and it is not a Thanksgiving dinner but instead turkey sandwiches and accompaniments. Not too appealing. The second option also put on by The American Society is at BOS BBQ in Sao Paulo, it is the whole nine yards: turkey and gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and desserts but the problem is that it is R$120 or $50 dollars each. In the past we always paid half that.  The third option is at the Renaissance Hotel in Sao Paulo, it again has a turkey main course and accompaniments but is still R$100 per person for American Society members which is a little expensive for us.

Finally while doing some research for this post, I came across last years advertisement for PJ Clarks Thanksgiving dinner, it is the traditional dinner and the price is right at R$50.00 per person. I think this is a viable option for us.

The only other choice I have is to do like every other American in the United States and make my own Thanksgiving dinner (which I am considering). The only issue I have with this is that there is only three of us (my son included) and it is a lot of work. If I can wrangle up some extra guests I think this may be my choice for this years Thanksgiving dinner.

Simple Pleasures

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One of the nice things about our neighborhood is that only a couple of blocks down our street we have a small market, pizza/movie place, and of course a bakery. The whole family loves to walk down to get bread, milk, or even a movie (even our dog gets excited). It is wonderful to get away from the traffic and fast pace of Sao Paulo and feel like we live a small town every once in awhile.

To Container or not to Container…

That is the question my husband and I both asked ourselves before moving to Brazil. However, we looked around our apartment in New Haven and found that the total amount of the IKEA furniture did not amount to the cost and hassle to rent a container and ship our stuff to Brazil, so we opted not to container. My sister and brother in-laws on the other hand opted to container. They spent approximately $7500 dollars or R$18,000 to ship their stuff and it took almost exactly three months (their stuff finally arrived last week).

I think that in some situations renting a container is a good option, mainly because everything in Brazil is so expensive. But R$18000 is a lot of money and if you are going to make this choice it should not be taken lightly. I mean for us the choice was easy because my husband and I were still living like college students at the time and we really didn’t have a lot of nice furniture. But for a family who has built a collection of nice things, this might be the right choice.

A couple of things to keep in mind before you make this decision:

1. Will all of your stuff fit in the container? My in-laws actually had the opposite problem where they had plenty of extra room but were still paying the premium price. So they shipped items for friends and family (including us!)

2. Will all of your things fit in apartment in Sao Paulo? Real estate is at a premium here in Sao Paulo and square footage is expensive! Even to rent. My in-laws could only afford a 645 sq ft apartment but have enough stuff for a 1200 sq ft apartment.

3. Will your appliances fit in an apartment in Sao Paulo? Everything here is smaller, even the appliances and space is again limited. But I get that in the US things are bigger and better (and cheaper) but be realistic. My in-laws bought a huge two door refrigerator in the US and now they have to spend more money to move their sink to fit it in their apartment. Also their washer and dryer are so big they won’t pass the door into the laundry room. (Just and FYI, their American refrigerator would cost R$10000 here in Brazil – I told them they should sell it, buy one that fits and use the remaining money to pay off the container).

4. Be prepared to wait. Originally, the container should have arrived two months after it was shipped from the US but of course this is Brazil and their stuff was delivered to the wrong port. They then had to wait for another ship to come along and pick up their container and deliver it to the right port. Meanwhile my in-laws had to pay for the extra time it took for the rental of the container and the extra rental time at the port.

5. What will you do in the meantime? My in-laws were lucky because they had us to stay with and help from my husband’s parents. But if you don’t have a place to stay while you are waiting (either here or in the US), you have two options. One, you can stay in a completely empty apartment for two to three months or two – you can stay at a hotel.

Every person who moves to Brazil has a different set of circumstances; some people only plan to stay for a short time, while others plan to make their life here. Whatever your situation, take the time to really weigh the pros and cons of renting a container because you could do a lot with R$18000. One of the things I love most about living in Brazil is living more simply and not feeling the pressure of needing so many things.

If you have any of your own container stories feel free to share!

 

 

CRIANÇA SEGURA (Safe Child)

In general Brazilians are not known for their safety habits. My husband (who is Brazilian) says, “Brazilians are reckless, it’s part of our culture.” Last January the world watched the devastation of a fire in a Brazilian club in the city of Santa Maria that killed approximately 242 people (mainly 20 year olds). But that is not surprising to me because there are no fire alarms in our own apartment building. In fact of all the apartments I’ve been to in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, I have yet to see a smoke alarm. When my son was born I made my husband buy one for the ridiculous price of R$70.00 ($30.00).

Even before my son starting crawling (he’s now walking), I began talking to my husband about childproofing. He thought I was crazy, he argued that his parents never childproofed their house and he is fine. My response was that I too rode in a car without a seat belt when I was little (there were no seat belt laws in the US then) but we were the lucky ones. Just because I never got into a car accident it doesn’t mean another child did and died. Do we really want our child to be one of the unlucky ones? My husband finally conceded and we child proofed.

Things in Brazil are slowly changing. Around the time when I moved here they passed a law requiring children to ride in a car seat. However, I still see people holding babies in cars and I once saw a four year old bouncing around a car without a seat belt. So even though Brazilians have laws in place a lot more education needs to be done.

Recently I have seen a campaign on TV called CRIANÇA SEGURA. It is all about child safety and childproofing. The ads are actually really clever and even a person who doesn’t understand portuguese can get the idea.

This is one of my favorites; it is called Prevention: Poisonous Products. The translation is, “Juice, little juice, and it’s strawberry! I love strawberry juice! I want it.” Then the tag line reads “Use your imagination. They are going to use theirs.”

The Brazilian website has the two other videos if you are interested, plus many facts about child safety (all in portuguese of course). http://criancasegura.org.br/