Nacida no Brasil

June 7, 2010

This month’s issue of Wallpaper*, Nacida no Brasil, is all about Brazil and giving me SERIOUS saudades (and making me a little jealous of what high rollers the staff was there).  It’s beautiful.  Check it out here or pick up a copy.

Last Post from Brazil

March 29, 2010

This is the last post from Brazil.  I can’t believe that it’s time for me to go.  I felt like we were going to be here for forever, and it was even more reinforced when Scott left two weeks ago and I was still here.  Now it’s really time for me to go, too.  I’m trying to console myself by just saying over and over again that it’s just for now.  It’s time to go back to New York and get more training, to learn, and work hard.  Brazil will always be a part of our lives, I’m sure of it.  Paulo and Edite and Karen, Andre, Mark and Gi, Elen, Ricardo and Alan, Marjory and Eduardo and Rafa and Izabella are close family now, and it’s so important to me to keep the relationship going.

Lindsay and I had a few perfect days in Rio–it was a strong ending. Yesterday we moved hotels to a place over in Ipanema, and then took the bonde up to Santa Teresa.  We had lunch in the cool shade of Aprazivel, and then walked through the Centro a bit.  We took the subway back to the new station at Praca General Osorio, which I can’t believe is actually done and open(!) and hung out for a bit.  We had dinner at Zuka last night, my favorite restaurant probably in all of Brazil and I got to have my favorite things there one last time.  This morning we got up and went for a run, then had an acai and walked through the feira at the western edge of Ipanema.  After a couple of hours on the beach I realized that I had to deal with paying our last phone bill and suspending our accounts with Claro.  Entirely in Portuguese I explained all of this–it was a seamless interaction.  After paying the bills at the bank, Lindsay and I grabbed Koni for lunch, had some Mil Frutas, and then I was on my way to Galeao.

My taxi driver couldn’t believe that one person could have such heavy bags (although I’m happy to report I’m going home in the same two bags that I arrived in, just more books, which made them heavier) and we had a nice conversation (in Portuguese) about how I was living here and this was all my stuff for a year.  She asked how I liked Brazil and we talked about how these days everyone eats and drinks and texts and talks on the phone when they’re driving and that it’s very dangerous.  It was nice to chat with her.

Now I’ve made it through the airport, where the American Airlines people spoke unaccented English, and through immigration, which I’ll write more about from New York (just in case), and sitting at my gate, ridiculously early, just in case anything went wrong and I had to visit the Federal Police.

Brazil, I will miss you, but I’ll be back.

Estamos na Praia

March 27, 2010

Lindsay and I had a nice, easy beach day.  After leaving Sao Paulo and the family and lugging all of my stuff for a year back to Rio, it was nice to relax, people watch, walk around, poke in and out of stores.  I’m loving experiencing this with Lindsay after being here with Scott and some of our other friends. It was breezy today here and not too hot.  Rio is nearly back to how I remember it when we lived here, before it became a steaming, crowded mess.  It’s lovely.  I just went for a run along Leblon and Ipanema to Arpoador, and it was just so nice to be back in the familiar cadence, with the sounds of people having fun, laughing.

I keep trying to anticipate what I will feel when I leave Brazil.  I think I’ve gotten more used to living here than I think–the pace of life, speaking another language most of the time, the food, the people.  Parts of it, I’ll be very sad to leave. The two things I’m looking forward to most are being close to the people that I love, and being in a bed that’s mine, in a space where I can unpack all my stuff and quit living out of suitcases.

I also wonder what I should do with this blog once I leave.  Any thoughts? Suggestions?  It’s partially for me–a  way to chronicle our experience, but mostly for you, and more for you now that the Brazil adventure is coming to a close, for the time being.

Paradise Consultant

March 16, 2010

I had coffee with my friend Carina this morning and for the second time in only a few days the conversation veered toward my travel recommendations and what I could offer people.  The first time the topic came up, Scott and I were talking about doing customized New York guidebooks for our cousins, marking and flagging and annotating everything we love about the city.  Today Carina suggested I take everything compiled in the blog and create a travel planning and guide service.  I kind of love the idea–planning and producing trips is something I have a lot of experience doing, and I definitely feel like I have some expertise on Brazil (and maybe a few other places, too, and whatever I don’t know I can call in some help.)  It’s an idea that germinating, growing.  I’ll have to figure out something to do between when I get home and when I start school.  Hopefully I’ll finish my novel, but this is a fun project to take on as well.  So–anyone need help planning a trip?  I’ll even serve as your guide…

The Amazon

November 11, 2009

This time Tom Friedman’s talking about Brazil.

Blackout

November 11, 2009

We had our first black out in Brazil last night.  We assumed that it was caused by the thunder storm.  Apparently not.

 

RIO DE JANEIRO — A problem with the Itaipú hydroelectric power plant plunged Paraguay and large parts of Brazil into darkness on Tuesday night, virtually paralyzing the two countries.
Power was being restored to Brazilian cities early Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. The power failure had knocked out electricity in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and other cities; it also forced the shutdown of major airports in Rio and São Paulo, as well as the São Paulo metro system, the G1 news Web site reported.
Itaipú, the world’s largest operational hydroelectric power plant, straddles the border between Brazil and Paraguay. ■

RIO DE JANEIRO — A problem with the Itaipú hydroelectric power plant plunged Paraguay and large parts of Brazil into darkness on Tuesday night, virtually paralyzing the two countries.Power was being restored to Brazilian cities early Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. The power failure had knocked out electricity in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília and other cities; it also forced the shutdown of major airports in Rio and São Paulo, as well as the São Paulo metro system, the G1 news Web site reported.Itaipú, the world’s largest operational hydroelectric power plant, straddles the border between Brazil and Paraguay. ■

 

2016 Olympics

September 3, 2009

There are signs for the 2016 Olympics everywhere in Rio, as they compete with Chicago to host the summer games.  “Live your passion,” they say in optimistic type.   Everything about Brazil seems optimistic these days, and the poster, the idea of having the Olympics in this city, seems like a great encapsulation of a forward glance.

Scott and I talk a lot about how it’s possible that Brazil is about to have its moment, hit center stage.  These very internationally exposing events have the potential to carry it the last bit that it needs to go to make Rio a world class city again (Sao Paulo is there–a world class city) .  In Rio, instead of a gaping crater where there’s supposed to be a subway stop in four months at Praca General Osorio, there will be a real metro line that goes to Leblon.  The traffic will ease a little, restaurants will serve really top notch food instead of almost there food, Azul (Brazil’s Jetblue, started by the same founder, David Needleman, who happens to have been born in Brazil) will hit its stride. It’s sort of an amazing time to be here.  It feels like we’re cheating the recession, escaping it in a sunny somewhere that’s sort of unbelievable.

Or maybe none of this will happen and it will be a missed opportunity.  Perhaps gymnasts and runners and athletes of every kind will descend on Chicago instead, and the subway system here will still be under construction in twenty years.  It’s hard to know.

Feijoada

August 17, 2009

We had the whole feijoada shebang yesterday.  It’s traditionally eaten as Sunday lunch, and many restaurants only make it then.  It’s a massive meal a caldron of meats (thankfully we could choose which ones we wanted so we got mostly carne seca and ribs, and no ears or tails) cooked in beans, with dishes rice, farofa, additional beans, collard greens, fried aipim, and oranges.  It was a spread that required them to push another table alongside our four.  We ate until we couldn’t anymore.  It was nice to do once, I think it might be a while before we undertake the challenge another time.feijoada

Sao Paulo

August 9, 2009

We came to Sao Paulo yesterday.  I was very curious about it.  When we were thinking about where to move, we were pretty evenly split between Rio and Sao Paulo, and there was a divide in the advice we were given.  The big city was described as uninhabitable by some.  Others claimed it was the only real city in Brazil, that Rio is merely a provincial town.  Scott described it as 20 million people’s worth of midtown.

My disclaimer so far is that we’ve only seen a very small part of it, but it’s not uninhabitable in the way that I expected–gritty, super crowded, like 46th and Sixth at rush hour-it’s mostly empty.  It’s definitely more of a real city than Rio, glossier, glassier, with substantial buildings, not hole-in-the-wall juice bars and pe-sujos.  Right after checking into our hotel we bee-lined to Vila Madalena for lunch.  I kept saying that it looked like LA, and Scott wasn’t seeing it, but then I realized that the LA I know best is Silver Lake and Los Feliz, and it does look exactly like that, with whitewashed boutiques, sloping streets, and bars, restaurants and cafes everywhere.  There were tons of 20-somethings hanging out and drinking in the sunshine and then the gathering dusk, and it felt like a real city–LA, or the East Village.  It was nice to be back.

I’ve never really had the experience of coming from a small, less sophisticated city to a big city.  This is the first time, and it’s really strange to feel like a country bumpkin from Rio here.  Our accents are different, people here in Sao Paulo wear shoes, not flip flops.  In Rio, as Scott pointed out, every restaurant looks from the outside what it will look like on the inside.  In Sao Paulo there’s another layer of depth.  We went to dinner at a sushi place in Jardins, and while it was white and mod from the street, with a conveyer belt up front, the downstairs where we ate was all dark wood and smooth black stones and orchids.  The food was of a different caliber.

I don’t regret moving to Rio at all, I pointed out that it has sort of a dumb, boundless happiness, a relaxed quality that suits me, and I think I wouldn’t have appreciated the quality of Sao Paulo as a city coming straight from New York, which I so desperately needed a break from, but it feels good to be here.  Now we’ll go see the rest of it, and I’ll see if I feel like the emptiness is calming, the clusters of neighborhoods sufficient.

Inefficiencies

August 7, 2009

Scott had a good Brazil moment a few days ago.  He went to the drugstore to buy new deodorant on his way home from work.  The store wasn’t crowded, but there was one woman working all three cash registers.  At the first, an ancient woman was trying to write a check to pay for a tube of Chapstick.  She kept making mistakes, ripping up the check and starting again.  At the next register, there was a woman buying two dozen individually wrapped bars of soap.  She and the cashier had to count them all, and then the soap was swiped, bar by bar, through the scanner.  The woman at register number three, after the check lady and the soap hoarder, was paying all in nickels, sitting at the counter counting her change.  It was a lot to go through for one deodorant.  But hey, it’s Rio, no one’s ever really in a rush to go anywhere.

A Cautionary Tale

August 4, 2009

Ms. Emily Buckley, one of my closest friends and our designated First Visitor was foiled today (and yesterday).  After taking the Bar exam in Denver (no easy feat) last week, and finding a place to live in New Orleans where she will be clerking in a few weeks, she went to the Brazilian Consulate in Washington, DC yesterday to apply for a tourist visa to come visit us in Rio.  She had bought her tickets quite some time ago and was looking forward to a post-Bar beach extravaganza (and I was dying to see her and to share this incredible place that we live).  So yesterday she went to the Consulate and they told her that they couldn’t process her application that quickly.  Seriously guy?  It seemed impossible that there wasn’t some way to make it happen.

She wrote a letter to the Vice Consulate.  I wrote a letter to the Vice Consulate expressing my dismay at their bureaucracy (sort of–mostly I pleaded to let her come visit).  They told her there was no way to process it in fewer than four days.  Who doesn’t make an exception for a cute blond girl trying to visit her friend?  It’s absurd.  We looked into pretending she lived in New York, where they can process visas in a day, but you need proof of residency.  We called every visa rush service we could find.  No luck.  No one could turn it around fast enough.  Emily went back today.  Application rejected.  I’m very much hoping that Continental Airlines will refund her money and give her a voucher to come very soon, but in the mean time, I’m pissed at the Brazilian Consulate in DC, and at the mean man who wouldn’t even budge once Emily started shedding tears of frustration and exhaustion, and sad that I won’t get to see my friend on Friday.

stoolI walked home past the MoMA Design Store at 81 Spring last night.  I didn’t have time to go in, but their new Featured Destination looks pretty amazing.

MoMA Feature: Destination Brazil