Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rio's Theatro Municipal

This magnificent building has recently been given a complete make over. The restoration is a beautiful success. You can take a guided tour of the restored facility Tuesday through Saturday at several times during the day.  More info here.

Romeo and Juliet, the ballet, is coming to the theater in October.  Good seats are too expensive for our blood, but I understand there is one day a week? month? when tickets are just R$1. Can anybody tell me when that is?  I have been mining their website, but I cant find it...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Making new friends in Brazil

Brazilians are rightfully known for being wonderfully open and endearing people who smile and chat with you after just a moments introduction.

The checkout lady at the grocery store knows your name and always has nice things to say. People in line at the bank will talk to you about just about anything. The person sitting next to you on the bus or ferry is always open for a brief conversation.

This was certainly NOT my experience in San Francisco back in the USA. Luiz once squatted low and said hello to a small child at a bus stop while waiting for the bus and the child's mother yanked the child away and said sternly to Luiz, “Don’t talk to my child!”

Worlds apart.

The flip side seems to be the rather insular social groups here. It’s pretty hard to break into new social circles, unless you have found a friend in common. A good friend in common.

Lucky for us we have returned to Luiz’s home town where he had a gazillion childhood friends, all of whom welcome him back and have embraced me as one of their own. But branching out from there has proven pretty challenging.

Luiz’s time in his tourism classes in Rio has provided a great opportunity for him to meet new people. He’s so charming that it seems everyone loves him and we now get invitations to parties and events with his fellow students. I think we are breaking out of the old group a bit.

My success has come largely through blogger friends and teachers and students I have met in the English world.

But it has not been easy. I am grateful for the base of friends we have from Luiz’s past. But I also aspire to broader horizons.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I love bananas

All the varieties here are spoiling me!

Making cheese again

I’m trying to get focused again on my cheese making adventure. Really. But now I just don’t have an appetite.
Before it was too cold to try and make cheese. Then I had gastric bypass surgery – which took away my desire to eat (and in some cases my ability to eat).
But now I think I can get back at it.  I can’t eat a lot of it – but the project still has appeal.
I have the equipment – so let’s see if I can make a go of it. It’s warmer outside now.
Luiz will appreciate my success. Stay tuned.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Going shopping every day

Do you want to know why I go shopping every day?  It's because if I try to store something for any length of time the bugs get to it.

Pasta, beans, flour, corn meal -- all of it. It has a rediculously short shelf life before the bugs take over - and start laying their eggs.

I need a HUGE refrigerator to keep everything safe!

If you are thinking of being an entrepreneur in Brazil -- invent a refrigerated spice rack.  Trust me.

Today I wanted to make beans - but no. Fouled by the bugs. Have to go buy another bag. And wash out the plastic container I had the never-opened, sealed bag of beans stored in. Sigh.

Oh well - at least there are sweet fresh mangoes...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Qualidade de Vida

I’m sorry – can I say these words?  I am so glad I am not living in the United States of America.
Seriously - let’s look at the facts.
I earn a living by working about 15 hours a week.
I drink fresh fruit juice almost every day (name your fruit – I drink it – for cheap).
The Brazilian government is not chomping at the bit to invade another country.
Family is everything here. More than vacation or ice cream.
Health care for all citizens is mandated in the constitution.
Gay couples have the right to partner and get the subsequent benefits.
The beaches are perfect, and the people at the beaches blow you away.
OK – so taxes are high, but don’t sweat the small things.
Our housing bubble has not burst yet.
You can eat chicken hearts at almost every restaurant.
Men in Speedos look better than men in surfer shorts.
There are two huge specialty chocolate company chains competing for your loyalty.
Mango ice cream.
I have not worn laced up shoes (except sneakers) in three years.
Which Sunday is today?
Qualidade de vida, baby!

Cachaça Day in Brazil

My people are on the move.  Cachaça tourism... nice. This was first published here.  Check it out.

Sep.13, 2011
Cachaça Day in Brazil

When the first sugarcane plants were introduced in Brazil by Portuguese colonizers in the early 16th century, brought from Madeira Island, the creation of a genuinely Brazilian drink would soon follow.

Yet, though the origins of cachaça date back to the Sugarcane Cycle (16th to 18th century) and manufacturing processes taking place at the oldest engenhos, or sugarcane plantations and mills; though its production is intrinsically intertwined with Brazil history and the formation of a national identity, cachaça tourism has only recently begun to take shape as a trend in Brazil travel.

The potential for development is enormous - according to IBRAC, the Brazilian Cachaça Institute (www.ibrac.net), Brazil has 40,000 cachaça producers, 99% of them micro-companies. Many of those are located in the same regions where African and Brazil-born slaves first distilled the drink at sugar mills - and developed a product which, tragically, would be used in triangular trade.

A deeper contact with Brazil's past, particularly its black history, and journeys through scenic destinations, such as Paraty, the Paraiba River Valley or the colonial towns of Minas Gerais, are some of the pluses of cachaça tourism besides the discovery of the drink's variegated flavors and textures.

Superb regional culinary is often part of the experience; some of the distilleries are on farms which also have restaurants, and most cachaçarias specialize in local dishes as well.

In view of the importance of cachaça in Brazil culture and economy - for example, in the generation of 600,000 jobs and exports to over 50 countries - IBRAC initiated a campaign to make September 13 National Cachaça Day. A bill sponsored by a Santa Catarina representative awaits voting in the Chamber of Deputies.

September 13 was chosen because on that day in 1661, an uprising put an end to a Portuguese royal decree which prohibited the production of the drink in the colony.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I'm proud of Brazil

Here is a brief news article about a national campaign to rid Brazil of deadly weaponry. It's not the first time the government has given incentives for citizens to retire their weapons - and to receive amnesty if you turn in your guns.

A couple years ago there was a federal referendum to make gun ownership illegal.  But, what do you know, the National Rifle Association from the USA swooped in and poured millions into the campaign against the initiative. The people voted it down.

But in the end - the attitude here is MILES away from the knee-jerk pro-gun attitude that seems so prevalent in the States. Still, we have a ways to go.  But it's great to see that so many people responded to the first wave of the campaign.


Brazil destroys 22,000 arms in major campaign

RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- The Brazilian Justice Ministry said Monday it had successfully concluded the first phase of an ambitious nationwide disarmament campaign with the collection and destruction of over 22,200 firearms.

The ministry said in a statement that the number of weapons collected between May 6 and Sept. 9 was 20 times higher than that in the first four months of the year, prior to the start of the government's disarmament campaign.

The weapons collected by the Federal Police were 10,828 revolvers and 3,734 heavy firearms, including 302 rifles, 2,562 shotguns, 716 carbines and seven machine guns.

The government attributed the success of the campaign to the policy that allowed people to turn in arms anonymously.

"The anonymity made it possible for the owners of those weapons to deliver them without fear of punishment," Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo told a press conference.

In addition to offering owners of illegal weapons anonymity, the government also paid 100 to 300 reais (60 to 180 U.S. dollars) for each weapon delivered.

The Justice Ministry has spent two million reais (1.17 million U.S. dollars) so far in order to retract weapons from the public domain.

The state of Sao Paulo, which has been known for one of the highest per-capita murder rates in the world for years, topped the list by collecting 5,349 arms, followed by 2,641 weapons in Rio Grande do Sul, 2,602 in Rio de Janeiro, 1,776 in Pernambuco and 1,572 in Minas Gerais.

Over 570,000 weapons have been collected and destroyed by the Brazilian authorities between 2004 and 2008 through a number of programs, while another 500,000 were handed over since 2008 when the government started promoting disarmament more aggressively.

Cardozo said the main goal of the campaign was to "promote a culture of peace in Brazil."

The second phase of the campaign was launched Monday, with a new series of ads featured on television, radio, the Internet, newspapers and outdoor posters. This phase will last until Dec. 31, this year.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9-11

I have already ranted on Facebook about my impatience with those who want to create a big drama on this 10 year anniversay.

In this case I am reposting a video I first saw on  Luasol's Nova Capitulo de Minha Vida blog.

Thank you Jane.

Remember to Love.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Miss Gay Brazil 2011

Great night last night. Luiz and I went to the Miss Gay Brazil pageant hosted at the Unidos da Tijuca samba school quadra. LOADS of queer guys.

I felt like the paparazzi, catching all the grrlz in their finest. But they LOVE the camera!  Hahaha
The show was great. I especially loved the intermission (between the regional costume portion and the evening gown portion of the pageant) that drummed the hell out of the place and featured super cute near naked boyz dancing and gesticulating all up in our face.  You go boyz! (I was too entranced to remember to take photos.)

Here’s a little look-see into the event from the photos I took..

Oh – and somehow we didn’t leave until nearly 5:00 a.m.  Plus the bus taking us home was PACKED and we had to stand. At nearly 5:00 in the morning!  Brazilians love their parties.

Oh - and I should mention that Miss Santa Catarina took home the honor.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hiking in Floresta da Tijuca

You may be aware that the city of Rio has the largest green space park within its borders of any city in the world. Rio is a huge city – AND it has a HUGE park within its borders.

Some people shy away from the park because they think it is dangerous to walk through. But the park is an immense, inviting natural space that calls out to adventurers in the city and beyond.

There are more than 3,300 hectares (8,155 acres; 12.75 square miles) of forest with waterfalls, trails, animals, birds and insects.

As the story is told – back in the day the entire area was deforested and coffee was planted up and over the hills. Then after everyone saw the ecological havoc they had created, in 1857 approximately 100,000 seedlings were planted – over the next 13 years, to try and restore the forest. Slowly things came back to a “natural” state.
Then later, in 1874, for about another ten years, there was another planting campaign.

Now, Floresta da Tijuca acts as the lungs of Rio and attracts countless outdoor enthusiasts to see the waterfalls, the vistas and to simply smell the fresh air.

And that’s exactly what we did on Sunday. Luiz and I joined a guided group, lead by a fellow student of Luiz’s, to visit two waterfalls and climb to heights I thought not possible to get views and inspiration from the forest.
So beautiful.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Margarita pizza

Poor Luiz - he attends classes in Rio four days a week. He has to wake up at 5:20 a.m. to get to class on time.  I do my part to keep the house/clothes clean and have dinner ready when the time is right.  The bulk of my work is generally after 5:00 p.m.

He is enjoying his academic adventure - new friends, new information.

Fridays are fun. No rules. This friday I took a nap and left a message on my white board (which I have for English classes). When Luiz got home he knew the plan -- and joined me in nap taking.

Lucky us. Delicious dinner.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Changing of women's roles in Brazil

This has been noted elsewhere, but it is worth a post.  Check it out. A recent PBS NewsHour piece.  The full article in National Geographic is here.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.