A Copa para Mulheres

May 31, 2010

O Globo, Rio’s biggest newspaper has a section on their sports page about the World Cup.  Today they have an article called “A Copa para Mulheres” all about shoes.  It’s pretty funny.

Also, Scott and I had a really wonderful weekend in Vermont.  We had perfect sunny, not too hot, not too cold weather, the garden was vibrant, the air was clear. It was great.  Yesterday we went on a twenty-five mile bike ride through farmland and rolling hills with my parents that ended in plate sized ice cream sandwiches.  Heavenly.


Running today felt like running in Rio all over again.  I sought out any bit of shade and turned down the leafiest streets.  By the end, my mouth was super dry.  I was trying to figure out how I would I describe that intensely pasty-mouth feeling.  It was something like scotch tape inside my mouth, or like I had swallowed a bottle of soy sauce without a sip of water.  Needless to say, sort of unpleasant.

I also think that it’s cooler in Brooklyn than in Manhattan.  It’s breezier, the heat does vibrate so aggressively between the sidewalk and buildings and the sticky asphalt.  It’s more pleasant and breezy.  When it’s 92, it’s still hot, but a little more manageable, escapable. When I got back from Brazil I was so used to the heat, to being hot all the time, to sweating.  I was cold when it was 68 degrees and wanted a sweater. I hope my blood thins out again easily now that it’s hot in New York, too.

This morning I got up and went to my old yoga studio, Exhale, in Soho. I’ve been to all of the Exhales so many times over the last five-ish years I lived in New York, post-Vietnam and pre-Brazil.  The Soho one was the one I went to most often in the last year or so before we left.  I would go in the morning and walk from there to the UNICEF office, down Crosby Street, or up from Water Street after work.  Today I left a full hour to get from Brooklyn to the Spring Street studio.  It was ridiculous.  I got to Fulton street in about three minutes and realized I still had an hour before class started, so I got out and walked up.  It’s amazingly fun for me to see New York, the most familiar city to me, with new, fresh eyes.  Walks that I grew so tired of seem interesting again.  I know it won’t last long, but it’s working for me for now.  It’s also fun to see the new things that pop up.

I noticed for the first time that there’s an Osklen down by the Patagonia store in Soho.  It was one of my absolute favorites in Rio, and I’m excited that the Brazilian chain has one in New York, too.

I also walked past a new surf shop on Crosby Street, which seems out of place, yet sort of cool.  I guess, in a way, it’s another Rio throwback, but this store doesn’t look like anything in Brazil.  A surf store for the Ditch Plains set, or for those who like to hang surfboards in their Soho lofts.

The last place that struck me as odd was this Soho Synagogue.  Huh?

So we’ll see how long it takes for me to realize where I actually live and how far, or really how close, it is to everything.  I’m sure the days of being an hour early for things will subside soon.

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.

Ohhhh Sou Carioca…

March 28, 2010

Last night was unbelievably fun.  We had a couple of cold chopps at Jobi, our old favorite, where the waiter recognized me (I think as the gringo that never really left), and chatted with some Brazilians, and then headed to Lapa.  Laura, the little sister of a friend from high school is here on a Fulbright and lives pretty much under the Arcos, just down the street that gets super crowded on big nights.  Her apartment was beautiful and it was fun to hang out with other American girls.

We made our way to Carioca da Gema, which was quiet at first–the band had taken a break, but as soon as the diva-ish singer, a visiting act started singing everything picked up.

She was wonderful, and the band all had these wide grins on their faces, like they were in on the secret that they were in one of the best places in the world.  We made friends with Carlos, a Spanish guy from Valencia who was about our age, and danced and danced until we got hungry.  On our way out, around 3am, we ran into another friend and it was nice to catch up, to hear how Rio’s been for him since we left a few months ago.

There are a few things that are interesting, I think, to point out.  The first is the role reversal.  Brazil is still pretty much a patriarchal society, and also Scott was bolder about speaking Portuguese from the beginning, so I let him do a lot of the work when we were out and about.  Now that I’m just with Lindsay, who’s mastering the Portuguese basics of obrigada, desculpe and tudo bom, I’ve definitely taken on the boyfriend role, ordering everything for us, telling taxis where to go, fielding questions of all kinds.  It’s a funny reversal, and actually sort of welcome.  I also realized last night that while Scott and I spent a lot of time together over the last year in general, we obviously always went out together, so I had never been to Carioca da Gema solteira.  It was a different experience.  I accidentally made eye contact with Carlos, our Spanish friend, without realizing that to people who aren’t in relationships that this didn’t just mean, “hey, isn’t this samba club so much fun!  Isn’t dancing great?”  I’m  100% out of practice.  There was another guy who asked me to dance as I was totally absorbed in my phone trying to send Scott and Lindsay’s sister Jess a picture from the dance floor.  I was so flustered I very rudely said no.  Oops.

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.

Back in Rio

March 26, 2010

Lindsay and I arrived back in Rio this afternoon. I can’t believe how good it feels to be here. We checked into the hotel and went to get acai from the shiny new BB Lanches. We went to our old apartment and said hello to Marcos, our super hero door man. He opened up our mailbox, and it turns out he was keeping mail for us! It was all junk, but still. We stopped in at the Claridge, where Scott and I stayed when we arrived, and said hello to Paulo. We finished up with a stroll over to Ipanema and then back along the beach, with a quick stop at one o the kiosks. It just reminds me how happy I was while living here. I was so disappointed when it was unbearably hot and crowded over Christmas, and now Rio is back to the city that I totally adore, in all of it’s leafy, mountainous, beachy beauty.

The New York Times just printed this article about Rio’s new initiative to clean up the favelas.  They’re looking to establish a police rule in forty of the biggest Zona Sul communities.  I guess they had to do something with the World Cup and the Olympics on their way, but this doesn’t seem to be the right answer. Is the Rio government skillful and subtle enough to pull this off without extreme violence? I think there will be fighting that’s likely to spill into what are currently safe neighborhoods.  While living there, I definitely felt like there was an equilibrium between the drug organization ruled favelas and the other parts of the city–they fed off of each other and there was a balance.  I think the Rio government would be much better off offering some kind of incentive to entice the favela communities to buy into these lucrative events, rather than imposing by brute force (and who knows which side has the upper hand) a police presence.  There’s talk of bringing Guiliani in as well, which is sort of interesting.


January 1, 2010

We came back to Rio for New Years.  It was really special.  Scott’s pictures capture most of it–Copa filled with people dressed in white, the fun of all of it.  The only thing you can’t see here is the view back to the buildings that line Avenida Atlantica.  Every light was on, every window flung open to watch the fireworks.

Christmas in Rio

January 1, 2010

From Sao Paulo, Bob, Barbara, Scott, Emily and I flew the short flight back to Rio.  We arrived to an entirely different city than the one that we had left at the beginning of December.  It was packed, people everywhere, and sticky hot.  The people generated more trash, and by the end of each day, the beach was littered with plastic bottles and wrappers and coconut shells and other detritus in a way it hadn’t been before the holiday season.

That said, it was great fun showing Scott’s family our Rio apartment, introducing them to Marcos (he was the doorman who unclogged our kitchen sink with MacGyver-like skill).  We noticed the changes in our pretty Leblon neighborhood–a new pizza place and Lebanese restaurant that we would have loved to have.  The walk gave me saudades and I was super excited to go running up and down the beach just as before.

The first night we were in Rio, we had a memorable evening at Carioca da Gema.  We arrived early enough to get a table in the main room and listened as the music built and the dance floor filled up.  The capairinhas ran sweet and strong (something we would all regret a little later) and we had a great time, progressing from eating to drinking to bopping in our chairs to full foot moving dancing.  At midnight, as it turned to December 24th, we toasted to Emily’s birthday.

The next morning we had brunch and went to the Corcovado.  Later in the day, as we headed back up to our rooms to relax and get ready for Emily’s birthday dinner, we heard the concierge tell other guests that all of the restaurants that were open that night were totally booked.  We smiled smugly, knowing that we had made a reservation at Zaza Bistro six weeks ago.  Ready to go, Emily in her sequined party dress, we walked past carolers and palm trees spun with Christmas lights, we walked to the restaurant.  I had the email confirmation in my hand.  We arrived at the restaurant.  It was closed.

Back at the hotel (the lobby was full of girls in small red dresses singing, too), we stood with the concierge, trying to find any place that would take us.  We called everywhere we could think of.  In the end, we were left with two choices–being squeezed in to the hotel’s dining room and subjected to the pre fixe Christmas menu, or trying our luck at a restaurant called Marius– an all you could eat seafood buffet for an exorbitant price per person.  Deciding that anything outside of the hotel was better than any hotel restaurant, we piled into a cab and went to Marius.

The waiters were dressed as pirates, and the outside looked like the Jeckyll and Hyde restaurant on Sixth Avenue in New York.  It was like a Disney restaurant, with strange, off-putting decorations–ships, steering wheels, shells, sea glass, bottles–coming off of every wall.  We sat down, unsure of how to deal with the situation.  We didn’t know whether to just go with it.  We debated staying, starving, we started picking at the bread basket (which we would be charged for).  Bob ordered wine.  We weighed the pros and cons of leaving, of just ordering room service, of staying and downing some seafood and chalking it up to a crazy experience.

Eventually, we got up and went to the buffet.  It looked inedible, unsanitary.  We looked at the wilted, greasy salads, and fish floating in viscous, mayonaise-y substances.  Still uncertain, a few of the waiters walked by to replenish the chafing dishes in the buffet wearing surgical masks.  That did it, it was time to go.  We went back to the table, downed our wine, asked the waiter for the check, and had to try to explain why we didn’t want to stay.  He offered to move us to another table.  In our unnuanced Portuguese, we just explained that this wasn’t for us.  And it wasn’t.

The Behars are well-accustomed to having adventures on Emily’s birthday–they’ve had a few restaurant mishaps and run-ins with traditional seven fishes menus.  This time, after checking every restaurant that was open between Marius and our hotel (one fully packed pizza place and one second floor Chinese restaurant that Scott couldn’t figure out how to get into), we wound up at the makeshift dining room in the hotel lobby that accommodated overflow.  At 11.30pm we sat down to their pre fixe.  It was delicious, and Emily got another memorable birthday, if not so seamless, birthday.

I asked Emily to write a guest entry.  I’m hoping that by writing this here, she will feel pressured to do so.

Wow.  Unreal. From the New York Times:

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Former New York Mayor Rudy Giulianisays Rio de Janeiro can become a safe city before it hosts the 2016 Olympics. And his consulting firm will be paid to offer advice on how to make that happen.

Giuliani visited a slum in Rio on Thursday and praised Rio’s efforts to bring order to the violence-plagued areas where drug traffickers hold sway.

Rio Governor Sergio Cabral says that Giuliani’s consulting firm will be contracted to give security advice. Details of the deal were not disclosed.

Giuliani oversaw a drastic drop in crime in New York during his tenure as mayor from 1994 to 2002. Backers attributed the improvement to his zero-tolerance stance.

Sao Paulo Bound

December 2, 2009

We’re heading to Sao Paulo soon–just after we settle up everything with the apartment and pack the car.  I’m nervous for the drive, given our Brazil driving track record, but cautiously optimistic.  Somehow we have collected quite a lot of stuff–all of the clothes that we came with, books, some linens, a George Forman Grill and a printer.  I guess that’s always the way, though, you always end up with more than you think.  So here we go, onto another place.

Tchau Rio! Ate logo!

Back and Going Again

December 1, 2009

Now that we’re back in Rio, I want to say thank you again to my parents.  It was a really special couple of weeks–eye opening, thought provoking, really fun.

Scott and I are packing up now, renting  a car and driving to Sao Paulo tomorrow to start the next phase of things.  I am going to have serious saudades for Rio, but this is the right thing for us to do, right now.  A second part of the adventure.  And I’m glad we already have plans to come back in a couple of weeks.

Lewy Brazil: Rio

December 1, 2009

We got back last night from traveling with my parents.  I think they liked Brazil much more than they thought they would,and were surprised by how easy it is to live here, how essentially Brazilian it is.  We had a really great time showing them around Rio, and then we were lucky to have them take us out to Iguazu Falls and to Florianopolis and Governador Celso Ramos.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, it was one of the most perfect places I have ever been.

In Rio, we took them to Pao de Acucar, to Zuka, biking on Sunday along the beaches (where there was a pro-Israel rally, a plus for my parents), and up to Santa Teresa and to the Centro.  Scott took his camera along to the Centro.

Bicycling and the Centro

November 23, 2009

Yesterday the four of us rented bicycles and rode the length of Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana.  It was a super hot day, and the beach was packed, umbrella to umbrella, without a scorching inch of sand to spare.  It was cool to see such a mosaic of colors, and the biking was rewarded by agua de cocos at the Morro do Leme and an ice cream stop at Mil Frutas in Ipanema.  We even managed to ride through the pro-Israel, anti-Ahmadinejad rally.  We couldn’t have planned it better if we tried.

Today we went to the Centro, taking the bonde up to Santa Teresa (sadly, Aprazivel was closed) and walking around Cinelandia.

My dad mentioned that he’s surprised we don’t have more Brazilian friends.  I, too, am surprised, but it seems worth saying that it’s hard here.  We haven’t found an accessible ex-pat community, and we’ve only started recently speaking fluent enough Portuguese that we can talk to strangers.  Our leads–IlRio, Ruthie from Rio–let us down a tiny bit.  We’re going full court press in Sao Paulo.

That said, we had a great night on Friday night, pushing and begging our way into the club at the Copacabana Palace for a brother of a friend of a friend’s birthday.  It was fun to see Rio’s elite, decked out in short skirts and spiky heels sipping drinks in a sparkly room with thumping music.  It was even more fun beforehand when we sat at a plastic-tabled juice bar with some friends (a guy from Penn and our friends who are teachers at the American School) and drank some icy cold beers first.

Quatro Adultos

November 22, 2009

My parents arrived safe and sound yesterday morning.  We had breakfast and hung out, they saw our apartment.  We made our way across the beaches to Sugar Loaf, then to Koni and back to the hotel to relax a bit before we hit Lapa for a little samba-ing (or other people singing samba while we ate dinner).  It was great–amazing to have them here and to be able to show them my city and what we’ve been up to.

Today: renting bike to pedal around the beaches and then maybe some football for the boys later on…


November 20, 2009

Brazilians have a term in Portuguese–Saudades.  It doesn’t really have an English translation, but it’s somewhere between longing and missing and fondness for something.  I’m excited to move to Sao Paulo, to be near the family, throw myself into my roof gardens project, and make a lot of friends.  That said, I’m going to have serious saudades for Rio.  On days like today, that are clear and hot, it’s amazing to walk to get an açaí and feel the breeze coming off the ocean.  I never thought I would be one of these people that would like living in places like Miami, but there’s something to be said for being able to wear flip flops everywhere.


November 9, 2009

It’s still close to 90 degrees here in the shade, with little circulation in our apartment.  We’ve moved into our guest room, since the air conditioner in our regular bedroom puffs out hot air.  We’re puzzling through what to do, whether to stay in Rio, or move to Sao Paulo.  Trying to keep cool and figure out what’s next.


Sao Paulo by the Books

September 25, 2009

Wheels have been turning over here on Rua Dias Ferreira.  We love our Time Out guide for Rio, so we thought we’d go in search of one for Sao Paulo (even though we have access to the best tour guides around, family).  We went into four of Rio’s big, gorgeous book stores and perused the extensive guide book sections.  It turns out that no one in Rio carries guide books for Sao Paulo.  We asked at Travessa and the man working there said “Acho que nao,” I don’t think we have a Sao Paulo guide book.  “Por que?” Scott asked.  “Ninguem vai.”   No one goes. As you can tell from my previous blog posts, I love Sao Paulo.  It was just sort of amusing to not find a SINGLE guide book for a city of twenty million people anywhere in a city that’s forty minutes away by plane.

Carioca Hiatus

September 16, 2009

I decided at the last minute to make a quick trip to New York this weekend.  My entire family–both brothers and their wives, my nephew, my grandma Janice and my Grandpa Rudy are all going to be there, we’re doing an unveiling for my Grandma Esther and I didn’t want to miss anything.

While I’m, of course, super excited to see everyone (ecstatic!) I feel weird about going home.  I wasn’t ready yet.  We just got here, and we had planned all along to go home together in October.  I know that I’m not banished here in Brazil, that planes fly here and back to New York and all over the place just like they always have.  There’s nothing sticking me to this spot.  It’s just strange.  There’s a part of me that thinks this whole Brazilian life is so fragile that it might just slip away in the few days that I’m gone.  Scott and I have talked so much about the things at home that we’re so excited to re-experience together (Seeing all of our family and friends, speaking Portuguese like it’s our secret code, General Tso’s, Momofuku pork buns,) that it’s weird to be going back without him.  I’m flying through Houston.  I’m not sure I’ve ever flown through Houston before, but I’m not ready for the super-sized American-ness of it (especially when I’m generally mad at Republicans for making the Health Care bill so watery and disappointing).

I’m sad I’ve given up the opportunity to spend the Jewish holidays in Sao Paulo, eating Brazilian food rather than stuffed cabbage. (Karen, Elen and Edite, I will email you as soon as I’m done writing this.)  All of this said, getting over my idea that going home is a weakness, when it’s just a choice to get on an airplane, I can’t wait to see everyone, to hug parents and my whole family, to run around Larchmont and hear first hand what’s going on with everyone not through skype.

Since Scott’s still going to Sao Paulo I’m going to try to guilt him into guest blogging for me.  We’ll see if it works.