Crazy Weather

thunderstorm

My husband and I were watching the news last night and the weather showed a thunderstorm coming in from Argentina. It is spring here and with spring comes crazy weather. Actually the weather here can be unpredictable during any season but it especially gets crazy during spring and fall.  Just last weekend it was incredibly hot, we brought out the fans, stripped the blankets from our beds and wore shorts.  Two days later we put the blankets back on our beds, and were wearing sweaters again.

It’s hard to keep up with the weather here sometimes and to make matters worse (like most apartments in Sao Paulo) our apartment is not climate controlled. This means that we have to use fans and space heaters to keep things comfortable. Fortunately Sao Paulo doesn’t get extremely hot because our building doesn’t allow air conditioning units in the windows. Even at 10 months pregnant in the middle of summer here I never felt we needed an air conditioning unit.

Other places in Brazil have much more extreme climates. Rio de Janeiro gets sweltering in the summer and is extremely humid, so air conditioning is a must. Cuiaba is also very hot year round but it is a very dry heat. Curitiba is extremely cold in the winter but there is no heating, so 40 degrees F can feel like 0 degrees.

If you are planning to move to Sao Paulo, it would be smart to pack a variety of clothing options. For winter, jeans are a must but don’t worry about thermals unless you are planning a trip to Curitiba. A couple of light sweaters and a couple of heavy sweaters are important because some days can get cold and don’t forget your scarves. One light jacket and one moderate to heavy jacket will do the trick (no snow suits needed). And finally (If you are a women) one pair of boots will do, or you can buy a pair here because they have incredible shoes here. For summer, capris, shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, and sandals, are all the essentials but keep in mind you may be wearing jeans and a light sweater at times because of this crazy weather!

 

photo by Roman Zangl

WORD OF THE DAY!

WORD OF THE DAY

Carrinho = Little car

If you literally translate carrinho it means little car, but it also has several other meanings as well. Carrinho can mean: cart, shopping cart, stroller, and of course little car. One day I was complaining to my husband about all these different meanings and he said, “Context baby, context.”

click here for pronunciation http://pt.forvo.com/word/carrinho/

Unofficially Halloween

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If you live in Sao Paulo and haven’t noticed by now, there are quite a few places celebrating Halloween this year. I’ve seen decorations in the windows of several stores and places of business. Halloween is not an official holiday in Brazil but more and more Brazilians are beginning to embrace this new tradition. My husband says that he doesn’t see the problem with Brazilians celebrating Halloween because it is such a cool holiday.

Now that I have a son I feel it twice as important to celebrate American holidays here in Sao Paulo; I want him to get the same exposure as Brazilian holidays. So this year I set out to find him a place to trick or treat. This proved to be a bit limiting because even though more Brazilians are celebrating Halloween, it is mainly in the form of adults at clubs and bars. However, I was able to find a kids party at the American Society of Sao Paulo.

Last weekend we went to the Halloween party at the American Society and my son had a blast. They had games and treats for the older kids, a pumpkin patch, and trick or treating for younger kids as well as the older kids and a haunted house (which we did not attend). The cost was R$50 which I think was decent for all they provided.

Next year I think I am going to go around to our neighbors in our building in advance and let them know that my son will be by on Halloween night to Trick or Treat. I got the idea from an article about Halloween in Brazil on the Gringos.com website http://www.gringoes.com/articles.asp?ID_Noticia=384. The article also said that some parents send their kids out without warning to neighbors and they come back with some interesting items…bag of beans?

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Simple Pleasures

One afternoon after church my husband and I were talking to the daughter of one of our friends. My husband asked the girl, “What is your favorite food?” and she said “Mac and cheese.” Living in Brazil my husband was surprised by her answer and asked her, “How do you know about mac and cheese?” And she replied, “WalMart’s Great Value!”

So the next week we went to WalMart and sure enough in the imported section was mac and cheese. Apparently WalMart in Brazil imports items from their Great Value brand as well as other items. But these items are few and Walmart does not consistently import the same things, so one month you have Mac and Cheese and the next is salsa. The nice thing is that these items are reasonably priced unlike other imported food in Brazil.

We have found a lot of exciting things in the imported section at Walmart and last month I found these: Reese’s peanut butter cups! Where were they when I was pregnant?

Brazilian English

A funny thing about living in Brazil, specifically Sao Paulo, is that you see english everywhere! I guess it is considered chic to name your business with an english name. Every day I walk by places like “The Body Store, Mr. Pretzel, Baked Potato, and Fast Shop.”

It seems strange to me to see so much english, and sometimes it’s not always correct. For example, the Chinese restaurant China in Box (still sounds weird to me). Or one time I saw a store named “New Shoes” and under it written in portuguese was “Loja das camisas” literally translated Store of Shirts. Even the graffiti on the streets is sometimes in english, there is one I pass by all the time that says “Porn for Blinds” (I’m still not entirely sure what the author of that one is trying to say).

But english speakers beware the pronunciation of these places are not in the traditional english that we speak but a Brazilian english. For example, there is a children’s bilingual school here in Sao Paulo called Red Balloon but the actual name pronounced in Brazilian english is “Hedgy Baloon”.One time I was out with a friend and we were going to a bar on a popular street in Vila Madelena called “Vizardgy” street. Once we got there she realized, so this is the famous Wizard street. She didn’t realize it before because the pronunciation is so different.

The crazy thing is that I know that Brazilian pronunciation of english is different so when I go to place where they have english things on the menu (a.k.a Starbucks) I find myself thinking how do I say Blueberry Muffin with a portuguese accent. And once I order I feel pretty silly because here is an American girl speaking portuguese with an accent, trying to say an english word with a portuguese accent.

All in all I like that Brazilians use so much english because for me it is a nice reminder of home.

A Historic Day!

On August 26th, 2013 at approximately 3pm, exactly 553 days or roughly a year and a half later. On this historic day after going to the Policia Federal thousands of times, going to the cartório another thousand times and spending roughly a thousand reis. This momentous day marks the suffering of one individual wading through the muck of Brazilian bureaucracy. Yes, the day has come where I finally, FINALLY, received my resident card.

Many of you mat be wondering why so dramatic while others feel my pain. Let me just say that it has been a journey to get my resident card and I’m relieved that it is finally over. As my husband and I were walking out of the Policia Federal I couldn’t help but say, “I feel so accomplished.”

If you are moving to Sao Paulo, Brazil and plan to get your residency card, here are a few tips that would have made my life a little easier (keep in mind that I’m married to a Brazilian, so your process may be slightly different)

1. To get your resident card you can either do it yourself, or higher a firm to complete the process for you which of course comes at a price.

2. DO NOT trust any website information. The only way to get accurate information is to physically go down to the Policia Federal and get the list of documents you need to start your process. Seriously don’t trust them!

3. DO NOT expect anyone at the Policia Federal to know english (or any other language for that matter), they only speak portuguese.

4. Go early because lines start forming fast to get in and by afternoon they are literally out the door. (I’ve heard of people standing in line for three hours).

5. Get your signature registered at a Cartório and expect to visit often. If you are not sure what a Cartório is, see previous post “Down with the Cartórios!

6. DO NOT sweat the interview. The Policia Federal came to our building, we were not home, so they asked the doorman if we lived there and he said yes. Interview done.

7. Follow up. If they give you a date when something might be done, like the publishing of your name in the official government website, keep checking it because they will not alert you that it was published. (Although in my case they did notify me via Telegram, the most archaic form of communication in this day and age.)

8. Be patient. This is Brazil and things move at a different pace so just expect for things to take some time and who knows you may be pleasantly surprise but I doubt it.

Good luck! And maybe I’ll see you in line at the Policia Federal sometime!

Bringing America to Brazil One Restaurant at a Time

I know I am a little obsessed with blogging about food but I can’t help it; it’s one of my favorite subjects. On a recent trip to Curitiba to visit the in-laws, I noticed a sign while we were driving, it said Cold Stone Creamery. Yes, that’s right, Cold Stone is in Brazil. My husband and I visited the store and as soon as I walked in I knew it to be true because it even smelled the same. We talked to one of the employees briefly and she said that Cold Stone would come to Sao Paulo next semester to the Jardins neighborhood.

Also I read a recent article that said that Red Lobster is coming to Brazil, along with Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouses. Here is the link is you don’t believe me;) (http://www.undercurrentnews.com/2013/02/22/darden-to-bring-red-lobster-to-brazil-columbia/#.UXh7OcXciSo) It amazes me that so many American chains are popping up in Brazil. As it is there is already: McDonald’s (of course), Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut, Domino’s, KFC, Applebees, Outback Steakhouse, Chili’s, and Starbucks. Wendy’s was once here but has since left Brazil. There may be more but these are the ones that I’ve seen.

My husband and I were having a discussion the other day in the car about which restaurants we would want to come to Brazil. We both think Taco Bell should come and we’ve heard rumors but nothing concrete yet. But I also think that The Cheesecake Factory would be a big hit here.

The food at Cheesecake is pretty well rounded and I think Brazilians would like it, but I know they would love the cheesecakes! Brazilians are really into sweets and I have already seen cheesecake in Brazil so it’s not like they aren’t familiar with the concept. Also The Cheesecake Factory could adapt to Brazil similar to what Starbucks did, they could make signature cheesecakes like a Brigadeiro cheesecake or Dolce de Leite cheesecake. Come on all you entrepreneurs out there, this is a great idea and Brazil is a great market right now, bring The Cheesecake Factory to Brazil!