Tuesday, August 21, 2012

LGBT Pride in Niterói

 What makes me happier - to be with my husband out and about -- or to be with him at an LGBT celebration with tens of thousands of kindred spirits in the streets? You guess.

We just went to the Niterói LGBT Parade.

So, so nice. Although I do not think of myself as an old person (I am 52 - I can't believe it either...) I LOVE it when I see young LGBT people on the street celebrating themselves. My heart sings.

I cannot figure out how to right this photo - but it is still a good one.
Love my grrlz!
Show us some love!
Luiz and Paulo

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Weekend getaway outside of Rio

We have a new playground destination - sort of a mountain resort in a small town a couple of hours out of Rio: ASPEN in Miguel Pereira.

Zozó is an honorary member of ASPEN (the association of public employees in Rio state). This fantastically appointed social club for its members is a beautiful and peaceful getaway.

View from our balcony.
The place has not always thrived. Corruption by leadership and staff in the past kept improvements to a minimum. But then came "the power grrlz."

We are not the power grrlz.
For the past 8 years the newly elected president of the association is a lesbian educator (an educator who happens to be a lesbian, although I imagine she educated lesbians along the way...), along with her partner. They are extreamly popular among the group and have insisted on honesty and transparency.
They have taken the club to a whole new level -- and they LOVE Zozó.

Under the power grrlz' leadership the club has expanded with new chalets, a water park, a remodeled dining area, new salons in which to play cards, play billiards, get a manicure, smoke your death sticks, and host events.
Queen Bee power grrl there with the beautiful white hair.
Funny what can happen when the president is not stealing all the member dues for his own enrichment (and I use the pronoun HIS on purpose).

Wine and cheese night.
More power to the Power Grrlz!

At member prices, enjoying a weekend away is quite the bargain (all meals included).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Don't put your hand where your arm can't reach

My husband taught me this simple but powerful lesson when we first met.

Luiz has never had credit card debt. His father was a gambler by 'profession' so Luiz learned hard lessons about money from an early age.

Paying off my student loans was his mantra to me when he discovered I owed thousands.

Luiz and I have not had debt for more than 10 years.

Now we are hearing that the banks (aka: thieves) and stores in Brazil are "offering" such easy credit that more than 50% of Brazilian families struggle with debt. It seems easy to buy that plasma TV, or that first car, or those Nike sport shoes. But the deception is "just R$35 a month for six months" but if you were to pay in cash it would be just R$175. Sounds good, but you wind up paying R$35 more... [for example - more, obviously, for cars and electronics]. Even the credit card companies cooperate by automatically slicing your total purchace into pieces and not charging you at once, but rather, in monthly installments.

I am glad the growth of the economy in Brazil has helped so many people rise out of destitute poverty -- but to then get saddled with debt, well, that's another struggle.

Just keep repeating to yourself: "Don't put your hand where your arm cannot reach!"

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Best place to take your wife

Nothing is better. I have a student – a doctor – who wants to take his wife on a wildlife adventure. She loves the out of doors. I suggested Foz do Iguaçu. These are the waterfalls on the border between Brazil and Argentina. They stretch for seven kilometers. They are amazing!

The Brazilian side of the falls are a good photo op. Lots of cat walks. Great photos – but go early in the morning when the sunlight is low and shining directly on the falls.

Then visit the bird sanctuary just outside the falls national park.

Then you MUST visit the Argentinean side of the falls.  It is 200% better than the Brazilian side. You get to walk into the falls. Trails take you up close and personal to the cascadas. Do it.

Here is a tip: Take the boat to the island in the middle of the park (free, included in your park entrance fee) and hike to the far end of the small island. There will be a sign that says “do not cross the rocks.”  Cross the rocks. It is not far at all. Just climb over the peak, through the arch. Then you will find a super spectacular pond of water – with a waterfall feeding the pond, and another waterfall emptying the pool. It is amazing. Wear your bathing suit under your clothes or be prepared to skinny dip.

It is heaven. Unbelievable. Although the fish can be a bit aggressive.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Local Rio adventure tourism

Luiz recently participated in an amazing hiking adventure from Teresopolis to Petropolis.

Both cities are in the mountains just outside of Rio de Janeiro. Teresopolis is famous for its eco-adventure tourism, and Petropolis is famous for being the weekend getaway for the early emperor of Brazil, when he and his family wanted to escape into the mountains away from the excruciating heat of Rio.

When the trail is not possible -- you climb a ladder!
Now they are a tag team set of mountains with trails connecting them for adventurers. They include national parks and established chalets for hikers making the trek from one mountain village to the next.

On top of the world!
That’s what Luiz just did – hike from one to the other.

Three days – 10 to 12 hours of hiking a day.

It included fantastic vistas and exhilarating experiences hiking, seeing waterfalls and most importantly, knowing you can do it.

un-heated, no frills, but welcome nightly acomodations
Luiz had a fantabulous time.

Luiz attends his tourism courses with one of the principals of the tour company that hosted this trek. Her company is RJ Adventura.  http://jrrjadventure.blogspot.com.br/  Follow the link - there are tons of great photos of previous hikes/climbs.

 [Just a reminder: Luiz is 60 years old - you can do this too.]