Friday, February 24, 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Thank you Rio Carnaval 2012

Photo credit and more images:
Goodbye Carnaval 2012. It was fun. But my feet need a rest. When we went to Lapa and Cinelandia in Rio last night to soak up the last few hours (six hours, really) of Carnaval, putting my sneakers on was like stuffing soft ground hamburger into leather purses and hoping it would hold until we got home.

My feet hurt! Time to sleep.

Luiz tells me that "back in the day" the Catholic church conspired with local governments to shut down all that partying at midnight (between Tuesday and Wednesday) because it was the beginning of Ash Wednesday (Lent, as it is known by the Catholics/Christians).

Nowadays - pufft! There are block parties scheduled every day/night until Sunday.

But my feet can´t take it. Sorry internal self who remembers and insists on infinite energy and physical stamina. I gotta bow out at some point and just sleep (still being kept awake by my pounding sore feet).

But once again - it was fun. Our friends come out of the woodwork for group gatherings. We eat and drink for cheap on the streets. And the main specatcle is so far over the top it is difficulat to imagine without having seen it for yourself.

Next year we are considering an alternative. We have been to the Sambadromo five or six times (who´s counting). Maybe next year it will be Ouro Preto with our friends Dü and Carlinhos. We´ll see. But I think we are ready for a change.

But in the end - thank you Rio for another fantastic long holiday weekend!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Surviving half a day in the Sambadromo

Taking care of yourself during the Carnaval parade is a developed skill. If you just show up empty handed and with a full wallet, you will spend a lot and drink warm beer. The food franchise with exclusive rights to the Sambadromo is "Bob´s," a McDonalds-like fast food joint. Horrible food.

Each couple in our group generally brings a lot of food and snacks to share. We are together for 10 hours or so. As a group we meet at an ice and beverage storefront near the Sambadromo and pack our thermal bag coolers.

This time around I think I over-shot the taste comfort zone of our friends. My sandwiches were not the crowd favorite.

Earlier in the day I roasted a couple red peppers on the stove. I mixed in some spices and a little creamy ricotta cheese and produced a sandwich spread. I did the same with carrots, and I made some egg salad. After trimming the crusts, I made little sandwiches and individually wrapped them. Ready to go!

But alas, the popular item was (and always is) mini salgadinhos.

Although, I brought a suprise box of chocolates that went over well.

If I had it all to do over again -- I would just bring more ice to keep our beer nice and cold through the night.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Carnaval in Rio

Carnaval is here. Blocos (block parties) are in full force - everywhere, several a day. Virtually all independent buisiness activity has come to a halt. It´s a long weekend of partying and excess.

Luiz will be parading with the São Clemente school of samba on Monday, the day we go to the Sambadromo to watch the 7 hours or so of fantastic parades. I wanted to post a picture of his fantasia (costume) but somehow Picasa is not uploading the photos from our camera.

(Gonna have Zozó buy us a new Canon point and shoot camera when she goes to NYC in a few weeks.)

Luiz is super excited to be parading in the newly expanded Sambadromo (although the news is reporting that there are a lot of kinks in the new sections: stuff not completed, construction debry still laying around, leaking bathrooms -- you get the picture).

There is an expression in Portuguse for when things are done half-ass. It is "nas coxos" which literally translates to "between the legs." It usually means that things got finished, but not really to the right quality. Or, that things LOOK right, but are not really right. Folks found a way to get it done - but it was not right.

The construction of the expanded Sambadromo fits this picture. I´m sure they will be up to snuff for next year. (Fingers crossed.)

We predicted this problem and bought tickets in the older section of the Sambadromo (where it has always been clean, safe and efficient).

Anyway - Luiz is very excited. We will spend all of Monday night watching the spectacle from the stands with about 15 of our favorite friends, and then come home after sunrise to sleep, sleep, sleep.

Ah Carnaval...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Beer in Brazil

Beer in Brazil is super cold (almost - and sometimes- icing) and by international standards, it is very light in flavor. For US American readers - think Miller Light.

It´s like drinking cold water while at the beach (with a bit of a buzz over time).

Frankly, I prefer beer with a bit more flavor. Not too strong - but at least a beer flavor along the way.

It is comforting to me to see that boutique breweries are on the rise. Sign me up for more flavorful beers - even at higher prices. Not for the beach, but maybe for home BBQ parties.

Don´t get me wrong, I love the light, nearly frozen beer over four hours on the beach. But at home with friends - a little more flavor may be in order.

Here is an article the looks at this a bit more.

What type of beer do your prefer?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Qualidade de Vida!

We live a simple life. We choose to. Luiz will be 60 years old this year, Me: 52. We deliberately traded in our run-around world in San Francisco for a go-to-the-beach world here in Niterói.
It was a conscious choice.
For us, now, less is more.
We live without an iPhone, an iPad, a Kindle and yearly international travel. But we also live without stress, 70 hour work weeks and bank-busting car and health insurance payments.
Our focus has changed. And so have we
We may not have all the financial options (or the consumer options) we once had – but we don´t miss them. Meet me at the beach. I will tell you about our new life.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Focus on the positive

OK, OK, so those of us expats who live here are sometimes frustrated. But I think the secret to making it through is to stay focused on the positive. I love living here - but it is not without it´s disadvantages...

Let´s look at the good side:

Brazilians LOVE their children. For better or worse, kids rule.

Coconut milk makes everything taste wonderful.

Extended families heal all boo boos.

While you may spend too much time in a bank line, you will certainly make a new friend in the person next to you.

The commercial competition between Cacau Show and Kopenhagen benefits all of us!

Traffic sucks, but when you ride the bus you can put it all aside.

Traditions open your eyes to a totally new world.

Some foods and flavors are not imaginable until you are served them by your "aunt".

The beach is not a place -- it is a culture.

Expats insist on the best - and try to find it no matter what. (Share your secrets.)

Tell me your secrets...