Sunday, September 30, 2012

The joy of Arraial do Cabo

Last weekend we had another fun time with R.J. Adventuras tour group. They are friends of Luiz. (And now me, too.)

Great group!

Best husband in the world!

We went to Arraial do Cabo, stayed in a small house (16 people in a two bedroom house) and did some hiking as well as a skooner trip.

Great time. Tasty breakfasts, lunch on the street, then jantar (dinner) back at the house (and then maybe a late night snack on the street).

They say this tree is 500 years old.

We spent one day on a pristine beach - where I got a frieghteningly red gringo sun burn under a windy, cloudy sky.

We had to hike to this beach.

The next day we spent four hours on a skooner (all to ourselves) - lots of caipirinhas. Swimming and beaches. Fantastic.

Can you see the profile of the man's face?

Gotta love having the whole boat to ourselves.

Sugar fine sand.

What do you think?

Thank you to our guides who organized everything (very cheap!) And thank you to our best grrl friend for giving us a ride to and from.

Our adorable autistic little friend. So sweet. He relates to adults, but not to other children. Such a nice boy...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Luiz Health Update

It has been a while since I reported on Luiz´s progress (sic) in his fight with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Mostly Luiz tries to ignore the fact that he lives with cancer and we take good advantage of the state-provided free bus transportation for him and myself. (It saves us a TON of money!)

Every two months Luiz goes to the national cancer institute in Rio for a check up. They do a blood workup and a physical exam. He is working with his fourth medical intern at this point. They are typically enthusiastic and thorough (although his last intern was a pain in MY @ss).

In any case... his visit last week showed him to be holding steady in his blood numbers (no progression of the disease) and remaining healthy as a horse (although common colds linger much longer than they should).

I am so proud of Luiz - and grateful to the goddesses that he remains healthy after four years post diagnosis. Keep it up - my love!

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers on Luiz´s behalf.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Walking tour in an historic neighborhood in Rio

Steps carved into the stone (slave labor)

A little while ago Luiz was a walking tour guide at the ´The Hill and The Sea´ event in the Morro da Conceição neighborhood in Rio. This very old neighborhood has been run down and neglected for generations, but with the new port being built up in preparation for the Olympics (new museums, refurbished port buildings, modernized plazas and sidewalks, new lighting and trash recepticles...) the neighborhood is on the rise.

The neighborhood used to be at the shore of the bay but landfill over the years has pushed it back several blocks. But recent construction work uncovered the remains of the original street and docking point where slaves were delivered for sale. There is now a very interesting archeological site that reveals this history.

The archeological site that reveals the dark history of the area.

As is often the case, when the neighborhood was funky and filthy, artists moved into the historic houses and created studio space on the cheap. And, of course, gay men moved in and started to doll up the place. Now it is a very hip place.

Anyway, this event was an Open Studios weekend with tour guides taking visitors from studio to studio up on the hill. Very cool.

I went with Luiz the day before the event to do a walk through of his route, then returned two days later to visit the studios. Unfortunately, I misunderstood Luiz when he told me to wait at the plaza in the middle of the neighborhood as he would join me there and we would finish off the day and return home together. What I got wrong was that he was going to go to the plaza after his shift and I dropped out of our tour hours earlier to wait for him at the plaza.  So I MISSED most of the studios! Urgh! But there was great music and entertainment in the plaza.

Here are some photos of the area, the houses and some of the entertainment.

The neighborhood is characterized by 100 - 150 year old houses.  Granite framed windows and doors.
Looking up at the hand painted roof tiles from Portugal.

Note the giant stone slabs that make up the road in some areas. Slave labor.

Luiz and his companieras.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Unknown trouble getting through

To my blogger friends -- for those of you using the "verify yourself by typing the letters you see here" system -- it simply is not working for me. I KNOW I am typing the correct characters -- 8 times -- and I am never allowed to post. Not sure why that is, but it keeps happening... I have used my "American" keyboard and my "Portuguese" keyboard. If you have a suggestion - send me an email. I want to communicate with you.

Ray - your duck video was amazing.

Shelly - I want to congratulate you on your podcast.

And others...


Street art in Rio

Luiz and I recently took a guided tour of (part) of the newly refurbished National History Museum in Rio. It is a fantastic building and the collection (the part that we saw) is impressive. Some of the object descriptions are even in English.

Then the guide took us out onto the street for a neighborhood tour. The museum is located in one of the oldest sections of the city - perhaps the oldest.

It was a very interesting tour (and free for us because Luiz is now a certified city guide), getting information about the earliest days and activities in Rio.

Then I noticed sculptures of men (presumably men) standing on the tops of buildings. While this part of town (around Praça XV) is historic, it is also crowded with highrise office buildings. It is a center of business activity. Office buildings are 20, 30, maybe even 40 stories high.

And there were these guys perched at the edge of the roofs.

Apparently the Banco do Brasil Cultural Center is hosting an installation by an artist who also took his art into the neighborhood. I think we saw 8 or 10 of the sculptures standing atop tall buildings. It was a gas looking around, our necks cocked upward, to see if we could discover another one.

Another fun day in Rio...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lower electricity costs?

Good news on the electricty bill front. The government is talking about lifting levies that have kept prices high.

Electricity prices are extraordinarily high, in my experience. Luiz and I do our best to turn off lights, keep the refridgerator door closed, not use the ceiling fans unessesarily (although the big flat screen TV is on nearly 12 hours a day).

Our monthly electric bill is about R$120. But that is relatively good -- our neighbor upstairs is paying well over R$200.

The government is promising a 16% reduction in cost, to spur the economy. Even deeper reductions for businesses.

We'll see...