Last weekend we were in North Carolina, hanging out poolside with 50 of Scott’s relatives from all over the country. Some were from close by, quite a lot from Atlanta, some coming in from as far as LA and Idaho.  It was fun to see the cousins we don’t get to see enough, and their adorable kids, and to meet the ones I hadn’t yet had a chance to meet.

It would be fair to say that there was a lot of eating, and drinking. The bartender on Saturday night is fabulously nick-named ‘Tilt.’ Is there a better moniker for someone who pours for a living? It was really super fun, and Wrightsville Beach is just the perfect spot–beachy, relaxed, comfortable, with a great expanse of sand, the ocean is just the right amount of cool and the hospitality is unmatchable.


Brazilians for Lunch

April 18, 2010

We had the cousins over for lunch yesterday.  My mom wanted everything to be perfect.  She’s a proud hostess, and after reading and hearing about life in their Sao Paulo and Belo-Horizonte homes, she was determined to show she could lay everything out perfectly, too.  It was a bit of a carb-a-palooza, with bagels and smoked salmon, coffee cake, croissants (chocolate and regular), quiche, fruit, salad, dessert.  It was fun to have them all here at my parents house, for my parents to finally meet them.  They filled the house with gifts and their voices, and stories.  I can’t thank the cousins enough for coming, for allowing this meeting to happen, for the sides of my family to come together and share a meal, put faces with names.

Juquehy with Lindsay!

March 24, 2010

My apologies for not writing for a few days, I haven’t been near my computer much.

A brief, iPhone-sized update. Monday Elen hosted a wonderful birthday lunch for herself and had the whole family over. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at Karen’s and yesterday morning we went to go see the new Andy Worhol exhibit at Pinacoteca. It was interesting to see all of those iconic images–the soup cans, the Marilyns, the videos of Edie Sedwick–in person. There was also a guide giving tours to all of the maintenance staff and cleaners, which struck both of us as so sweet. All of these people are surrounded by all of this art everyday, and it’s a world away from what they know.

After stopping to pick up the rental car, Lindsay arrived (!) from Chile. We had a lovely lunch with Paulo and Edite and then hit the road for Juquehy. The drive was easy, and we’re back at the same hotel we stayed at with Claire and Lucy. It’s blissful here. The weather is perfect, the hotel and beach are both empty. It’s amazing to catch up with and spend time with such a close friend.

Tomorrow we drive back to Sao Paulo to spend a night in the city and then it’s on to Rio on Friday. Monday the Brazilian adventure is over (for now!) and I head back to New York…

Familia Brasileira

March 21, 2010

Yesterday morning, Edite pulled out a giant box of old letters and photos.  Most of the photos were from the 1950s and 1960s, and into the 70s from when Karen, Elen and Marjory were small.  The letters dated back to the mid-30s, written in Hebrew and Yiddish, a little in Portuguese.  They went from Poland to Brazil and most were between Edite’s grandfather and her father.

It was hard to get good pictures with my iphone, but it was such a window into this family.  I loved seeing the letters, in their perfect handwriting, through when the Nazis swept through Poland and the letters got returned.

There were also pictures of Edite when she was a baby, and a teenager with her family.

And of course there were pictures of the Traiman family with all of the girls.

And one of the most fun parts was seeing the correspondence between Scott’s family, his grandmother and grandfather and his great aunts and uncles, with Paulo and Edite.  There were notes from when the kids were born and pictures of one another at different bar mitzvahs and weddings.

Here’s Bob at his bar mitzvah, and the family at Saul’s bar mitzvah.

And Scott even made an appearance.

It’s amazing how well the families kept in touch.  We take email for granted but it makes it so much easier.  Paulo and Edite and Jose and Massi and all of Massi’s sisters and brothers all had to work harder to maintain the relationships, yet they were definitely there, in each other’s lives.  I’m excited that we’re able to help continue the closeness.  I hope that all of the kids, Mark and Gi and Alan and Izabella and Rafa feel comfortable enough to come stay with us in the US and then we’ll all get to stay friends.  Looking at all of these pictures, it feels very important.

Manicures and Mercados

March 19, 2010

This morning, after a brisk walk in the park near her house, Karen took me with her to get her nails done.  We drove up to a small shop in Santa Cecelia and went up a few stairs to the salon.  It’s where Karen, Elen and Edite go every week to get their hair blown out and manicures and pedicures, and it looked like a scene out of a movie.  Everyone was chatting and there were women who had clearly been coming to this same place for the last forty years, or however long they had been in business.  The front room was bright and airy, with gossip magazines and a big mirror.  We hung out and had coffee while we waited for the manicurist to become free.  A woman was getting her curly hair blown at straight (another reason Brazilian women look so good all the time–it’s easy to get a blow out).  There was a back room with a few more chairs, and the Asian woman who owned the salon was styling another woman’s hair in curlers.  I got a manicure and pedicure, and the whole thing was 27 reais, or about $14.  Not a bad deal.

Afterwards I went to the Centro to meet a guy for lunch who graduated last year from Columbia’s architecture school (the one I think I may go to for urban planning.)  He’s working on a book that the city is putting together on various projects.  He’s interested in working with Cidades sem Fome as well, and designed an amazing elevated garden for a Paraisopolis, a favela here in Sao Paulo.  We’ll see if we can get everything going to actually get it built sometime.  I perused the Mercado Central one more time before I leave the city, and was just as smitten with all of the fruits (there were more I had never seen) and the Italian stalls.  The walk there from the Sao Bento stop has so many wholesale shops, too, jewelry and ribbons and feathers, shoes, things for Carnaval.  The energy of it is pretty amazing.

Paulista Ladies

March 17, 2010

Today I felt very much like a lady of Sao Paulo, a Paulista.  I woke up in Karen’s gorgeous apartment and was reading the New York Times on my computer when Marta, the woman who’s worked for her since Mark and Gi were small asked me if I wanted breakfast.  She opened the door to the kitchen (which had been closed) and there was hot coffee with hot milk and a basket of breads, cheese, jam, Nutella, it was blissful (By the way, breakfasts like this are the same at Paulo and Edite’s, just as wonderful and luxurious).  Soon after, Karen came home and we picked up Elen and went to Jardins, poking in and out of small boutiques.  I fell in love with a dress that was dusky purple silk, demure and high-necked from the front with a wide open back and exquisite details.  With five or six weddings coming up, I now feel constantly on the lookout for new dresses. Listening to Seu Jorge in the car we went to go see a new Chagall exhibit at MASP, and then returned to Karen’s for lunch.

In the afternoon Karen and I went to go look at wooden furniture in Vila Madelena, some like the rustic pieces we had ogled in Tiradentes, and some more refined and polished, beautiful, warm woods formed into modern shapes and designs.  I can’t wait to have a house to decorate with all of these Brazilian things.  When I’m a real grown up I’ll definitely come back here and pick out all of the pieces.  After we met up with Karen’s chef friend Simone, her mother Frida, another friend and Edite for coffee.  We talked about Simone’s daughter, who’s applying to colleges in the US, and Frida’s life in Minneapolis, where she spends half the year.  It’s all been excellent practice for my Portuguese, and I’m getting better at understanding rapid-fire conversation, not so slowed down for the gringo.  IT’s all a learning experience, with the perfect kind of teachers who will stop and explain, if necessary.  I should be doing more work–more writing, more for Cidades Sem Fome, but it’s too wonderful to spend this kind of time with the family, who have so generously opened their home to me (you know the saying after three days fish and house guests start to stink?  well I think I must be getting a little smelly) and taken off from work to keep me company, show me around.  No matter how much I insist that I can take care of myself, and entertain myself, it’s no use.  These Brazilian ladies are stubborn.  But I love it.

The Last Shabbat

March 13, 2010

We had a special night last night.  Everyone came to Paulo and Edite’s for shabbat dinner, and it was so good to see everyone after all of our travels.  Scott leaves on Sunday to go home.  I’m staying for another couple of weeks until my friend Lindsay visits, but in a lot of ways, last night felt like the end.  It’s hard to imagine that our experience here in Brazil is coming to a close, that we’re wrapping up.  In some ways, last night reaffirmed that it’s just done for now.  I’m so glad we invested in this country–saw a lot of it first hand and did our best to learn its language and it’s ways.  I was saying to Scott yesterday that I think we probably don’t even realize how used to living in Brazil we are.  The other day, when I went to the business school class at Insper, I was sitting at lunch with a few of the girls from Darden and was sort of in awe that there were so many native English speakers in one place.  I couldn’t believe the ease of the conversation, even if it wasn’t really about anything.  We realized when Lucy arrived that we hadn’t spoken face to face with a native English speaker since 2009.  That’s wild, no?  It will be sad to leave, but we know that we’ll be back.  And our wonderful, special cousins (to whom we gave annotated and marked up and flagged New York guide books with all of the things we love, and BR Guest restaurant gift certificates) already have plans to visit in the next couple of months.

We’re in the midst of making graduate school decisions, and we’ll have to see how everything goes, but it’s almost time for the next thing. Que saudades.

Todo Mundo Juntos

December 22, 2009

Bob and Barbara are finally here, and we just came back from a wonderful dinner at Paulo and Edite’s with the whole family.

We’re so glad that they’re here and we’re very excited to go to Rio tomorrow and then to the Amazon, and then back to Rio for Revillion, or New Year’s Eve.  I won’t be bringing my computer, so posting will be sporadic, but I’ll be back in full effect on January 1.  Boas Festas!


December 20, 2009

Scott’s sister Emily arrived on Friday and we’ve been taking to the town, which hasn’t lent itself to blog writing.  In a quick recap, we had a wonderful Shabbat dinner at Paulo and Edite’s on Friday night.  We went out, first to Consolação, to Bar Leblon for caiparinhas, and then to Astronette.  Astronette was a small hipster bar, that feels like a bar on 11th Street that we used to go, or any hipster bar in Williamsburg. It was a kind of oldies night, and the red-lit back room was packed people rocking out to the Beach Boys. There was a tattooed girl with a strapless leopard dress and jellies swinging with her Converse-wearing boyfriend, and groups of friends doing the twist.  It was extremely entertaining.  From there we went to Sub Astor, on the edge of Vila Madalena.

We spent yesterday at Karen and Andre’s house in Atibaia, an hour north of Sao Paulo, breathing in fresh air, lounging by the pool, eating a delicious lunch.  It was really spectacular.

Today was a roam around the Centro–the Mercado Municipal, followed by the Praca de Luz and both Pinacoteca museums.  We strolled around the park and then went over to the Praca de Se and spent a few minutes in Liberdade.


August 18, 2009

More pictures, courtesy of the lovely, and very talented photographer, Giovanna Coji.

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Día do Pai

August 10, 2009

After more than six weeks in Rio by ourselves, we have been incredibly well taken care of in São Paulo.

Yesterday was Father’s Day in Brazil, and the morning began with an amazing coffee at Octavio– a sleek, espresso-colored coffee shop on Faria Lima.  We don’t have places that look like this in the U.S.–dark wood paneling, soft leather chairs, expertly-made, rich espressos.  It is the stylish distribution end of Nossa Senhora Aparecida coffee farm, in Pedregulho.

From there we went to Clube de Campo Sao Paulo with all of Scott’s cousins– the most warm, generous, welcoming Brazilian Family we ever could have hoped to have here.  As part of the family, in perfect sunshine, we had drinks on the terrace and a big lunch in the main dining room (with dark floors, white tablecloths, and wood-beamed ceilings).  After too many sweets we toured the whole club–the sailing house, perched on the edge of São Paulo’s reservoir, the immaculate golf course, smattered with palm trees and folded in with lush mata Atlantica, horse stables with training rings and jumps, wooded walking trails, cottages for staying the weekend, a swimming pool, a whole tennis house alongside perfect clay courts.  The club is definitely an escape from the urbanity of São Paulo, super serene, decadent.  It felt a little bit like going back in time, with old school glamour, customs.  Even the separate coffee area had an old school filter and worn green tiles, so many doses of caffeine dished out here with butter biscoitos.

Then we went from the old, the classic, to the new and modern.  Scott’s cousins Karen and Andre just moved into a brand new apartment.  It’s gorgeous, and so brilliantly designed, with beautiful white marble floors throughout, and clever pocket doors that look like continuous walls that actually lead to cozy family rooms and posh bedrooms.  We watched the Corinthian’s game there, with the two of them and their two unbelievably attractive children, Mark and Giovanna (the whole family, all nine of them are unbelievably attractive).

Today I explored the insanely luxurious parts of São Paulo, but that will come amanha…