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I almost killed my kid last weekend…

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We headed out to the sitio again to visit our Brazilian family down here in Brazil.  My son loves it as he gets spoiled by the Grandma and Granpa down here. Every time he ventured into the kitchen (which wasn’t too often as there were SOOO many other things to get into), he would get a chocolate cookie or other treat.   Like canjica, a white hominy corn cooked in milk and sugar.   I took a bite and then shared some with my son, he took a few bites, then I took another…. and realized that toasted peanuts are also included in the dish. Well, I guess being all the way out of the middle of nowhere, down some dirt road is the best time for me to introduce my wee one to peanuts, why not?!  Thankfully no allergies. By the way, he really loved the stuff.

All the cooking was for a Festa Julina (this is not a real festival just a play on words).  We had promises of tons of Festa Junina food, fire, dancing and fun.  Fun meant lighting lanterns and letting them drift upwards. The sad thing is, I think my son now thinks that’s what the moon is, as this weekend was the first time he’s got to see it! See we can’t see the moon from our apartment as the other apartments block it out!

I couldn’t help but think this kind of wanton burning of things would never fly in California, the state terrified of fires… but hey when half your state burns down every few years, I guess it’s a warranted fear.

My son loved the whole evening.  He had a whole audience of people to interact with, and ran back and forth through the party talking to people.  Of course, there were plenty of toys for the kiddies.

And like all Brazilian parties, LOTS of  food … a sweet corn pudding that he downed in no time.  The sugar really got him hamming it up and social.


He LOVED dancing to the hip hop being played as well as to the FoHo.  In fact, we’ve trained (yeah like you train a dog) our child to start dancing whenever we say “danca Gatchino, danca,” so all of the Brazilians loved that.

You think he wouldn’t have been as social, as besides me feeding him peanuts, I also let him get stung by a bee!  When we were getting ready for the part, I saw a bug on his chest and swept it off…dang it…it was this teeny “bee” as we were told and it stung him!  Sure why not, I’ve already tested the peanut allergy, why not test his bee allergy?  The sting swelled up and a giant red path formed around it.  He was such a trooper, he only cried for about 45 seconds, with the occasional whimper for the next 5 minutes.  As I am frantically googling reaction to first bee sting 1 year old, and reading the symptoms off to my husband “weezing, dizziness, passing out”… yeah if our 1 year old had passed out, I think my husband would have lost it.  Our friend then says, oh no those bees don’t sting, they bite. So for me that’s not technically a bee, but things get lost in translation I guess.  Either way, son is still alive and kicking and biting 🙂


I got a haircut – in Portuguese

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I am quite proud of this accomplishment.  First, I didn’t want to just go to any salon, so I figured if I went to one of the better known salon’s my chances of anything being iffy would go down.  So thus began the internet research.

I discovered the following Salon’s that all seemed to have very good reputations:

All over Sao Paulo is Jacques Janine Right down from me by the Berrini Station in Brooklyn is Soho Hair (they actually list the prices on the website, and seem to have a greater degree of color options) Red Door also was supposed to be good.. but too far away.

I then discovered Weslley de Faria was right down the street from me, and on Tuesday and Wednesday’s they had a 30% off deal.  Sold and sold. I went in and got my hair cut and dyed, and all in it was about R$250.  Considering I could pay that much in the US, I’m happy with the price. And when I say US, let’s be honest I’m talking about Los Angeles.

What I am most proud of is that I was able to go in and describe exactly what I want, hold a quick conversation with the multitude of people who were serving me, and pay (well except for the part where they only took Visa and I only had a Master Card).

I counted 4 different people helping me, other than the hairstylist himself.  Most hairstylists here seem to be men. In fact at one point, the next hair cut for my stylist showed up, so they put two people on me to blowout my hair.  I’m starting to think it’s worth it to have someone blow out my hair once a week…it’s like getting a mani-pedi.. except I can’t do it near as good myself!

The one regret that I have is that I wanted to have more blue put in underneath my hair, and they put in the highlights, but put too few in.  I’m chalking that up to them thinking I was crazy for even wanting to put blue in my hair to begin with.  So next time I go in, I think I’ll put more blue as I like the way it looks.

Prices on Tuesday and Wednesday at Weslley de Faria are as follows:

Mani R$18 Pedi R$22
Haircut R$70
Color R$91-$150
Blowout R$29-$40
Highlights R$130-$170

And we are off! ~~~~

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Ironically, I was more anxious/excited for our trip to Japan last year than for a move to Brasil!  I think it was because I knew Japan was 2 weeks, and there was the nervousness of forgetting or missing something. Knowing I am leaving for 18 months means I will have plenty of time to soak in all that Brasil has to offer.  My calmness may have something to do with the fact that we have had 6 months to plan the trip.  Granted there are a few things that I wasn’t able to get/do before we left, and I still have to run out to Joann Fabric to buy some Velcro (future post on why later), but in the end whatever I don’t get done, I don’t get done and life won’t end.

These are the massive beasts of luggage I am taking.  All Ogio, so plenty sturdy.  And all right around the 70lb limit.  Let me just tell you, standing on a scale, holding a 70lb Ogio bag is not my idea of fun.  But I wanted to make sure the scale was accurate, as the last thing I want to do in the cold winter of Utah is to be sitting at curbside checkin strategically repacking things! edit-turns out international flights do not allow curbside check-in!

I actually could have got away with 2 bags, but filled that large black one with ~400 diapers I picked up at Sam’s Club.  If you have the room, why not right?!  And yes, I am just nutty enough to measure each bag to make sure they were not too “big”

I am not taking his car seat on the plane, as I will be carrying my bub in the Ergo Baby Performance carrier. It is supposed to be cooler, so we will see.  On the trip to Hawaii when he was 3 months old, he slept soundly in the Moby wrap the whole flight, so I’m hoping for great results on the 10 hour Brasil flight today too.  I’ve heard several people tell me to “Benadryl” my child, but I just couldn’t do that to the little guy.  In fact, my biggest worry is not how he will behave on the plane, but what I am going to do with all of the luggage once I get off the plane and need to go through customs!!!

Wish me Luck!

It’s all about the scissors

Things are looking up for my husband.  The monkey has been timing his naps around when daddy calls… it’s like he knows he just needs to stay up for a few more minutes.  We have a car we are looking at tomorrow from an expat we found on Internations, and we have a potential apartment that meets our high standards.

Sooo… on to the story about scissors…

Today my husband headed to the Federal Police to get his RNE.  Now earlier I posted about how we took a bunch of photos for Brasil at Wal-Mart so we could save money (for those of you who know my husband you know that he really is this cheap).  Well hubby brought one such photo today for the RNE. He brought all of the paperwork that he needed (his company helped him with this part), the photos, and met with a despachante. They’re an administrative officer who pretty much helps with the process. Well it turns out that hubby didn’t look up what type of photos you need.

US photos are 2×2 in.  Brasil photos are 3×4 cm.  So simple problem right? Find a pair of scissors and cut it down to size.  Well my husband’s swiss army knife with scissors (super micro tiny swiss army knife) was confiscated on his trip out, so he didn’t have those to try and use, so the despachante frantically searched the Federal Police office.  I guess they don’t keep scissors there (make a mental note of this people).  So he decided to go across the street to the photo place, where they take photos for $15 R.  As they were walking across the street my husband sees this office and figures they would have scissors.  So he makes the despachante go in and ask.  Of course this guy is utterly embarrassed that my husband is having him do this. And the woman at the desk flat-out tells them they don’t have scissors.  By chance a pair of scissors are actually sitting on the desk behind her, so my husband asks what about the scissors behind her. In a typical non confrontational Brasilian way she states, “Oh those are another workers, and I couldn’t let you use hers as she is not here to ask.”  Hubby would have continued the quarrel, but the despachante was already embarrassed enough and made him go take a photo at the photo place.

For those of you EVER planning on going to Brasil, a nice little page that walks through the various documents and what you need can be found at Anglo Info:

Within 30 days of arrival in Brasil, a foreigner should go to the Federal Police office closest to their place of residence, taking the following documents:

  • Two recent photographs, size 3x4cm (colour, white background, smooth paper)
  • Passport and photocopies of the used pages of the passport or travel document
  • Embarkation/disembarkation card

Fingerprints are also taken. There is a fee, payable at a branch of Banco do Brasil (Federal Police offices have a branch of Banco do Brasil within the same building).

Once the application has been made, the applicant immediately obtains a protocol number (protocolo) which serves as temporary evidence of residency status. An individual is considered legal in Brasil with this document even if their visa expires. They may also apply for a Carteira de Trabalho or work-permit, valid until the process is complete and they may seek employment in Brasil or set up their own business.

The House Hunt – a few tips

I ran across a great site today that had some good tips.  Brasil World Movers.  They also give a run down of all the various neighborhoods you may want to consider living in.  We are pretty sure we know where we want to live based on work proximity.

Although we would like to live in Moema because of that park, apartments there are automatically much more expensive because of the proximity to the park.  Also, everyone my husband has talked to said Moema is really crowded with lots of traffic.  Also, Moema is within that circle around the center of Sao Paulo where you can’t drive your car on one of the days of the week.  So, we are focusing our housing search in Campo Belo and Brooklin.

Ibirapuera Park

Ibirapuera Park near Moema

If you are planning on living in Brazil for any extended period of time.  The following tidbits from the above site are helpful to know.

  1. The RENTER is expected to pay for any repairs and improvements to the dwelling.
  2. Make sure that hot water is connected everywhere you need it. Two faucets on a sink do not necessarily indicate a hot and could water supply. This is particularly true in laundry areas.
  3. Have someone check the roof and ceilings for indication of leaks or other water problems. This is specially important if you will live in the penthouse (cobertura).
  4. Don’t look for central heating or air-conditioning in São Paulo. They exist only in rare cases.
  5. Make sure the house or apartment building has adequate water storage (caixa). You don’t want to rely entirely on street water.

This means that the beautiful photos you see online are the cleaned up, fixed up versions. Expect your home/apartment to need some paint, a good carpet scrub, or even new carpet.

Apartment buildings may have their own guards in addition to doormen (porteiros) and the building’s manager (zelador) who may or may not live on the premises. The zelador may be able to help with any maintenance or repairs, or at least be able torecommended trustworthy repairmen who have serviced the building before.


  1. Is street lighting adequate?
  2. Is there a street guard or private security?
  3. Is it near a favela or vacant lot?
  4. Is the wall/fence high enough to discourage intruders?
  5. Is the garage door automatic? If electric, is there a manual over – ride switch on case of power outage?
  6. Be sure to have all the locks changed on the day you move into your new home. The extra security is worth the hassle and expens

Vocabulary terms that will be helpful in finding an apartment and cleaning it up!

Alcohol Alcool
Backyard Quintal
Bathroom Banheiro
Bedroom Dormitório
Breakfast room Copa
Broom Vassoura
Brushes Escovas
Bucket Balde
Building Edificio / Prédio
City Cidade
Clean Limpar
Cleaning fluid Removedor
Closet Armário
Cold water Agua Fria
Condominium Condominio
Country Campo
Den / office Escritório
Detergent Detergente
Dishwasher lava louça
Disinfectant Desinfetante
Downstairs Embaixo
Dust Tirar pó
Dust pan
Dust rag Pano de pé
Employer Patrão
Family room Sala Intima
Fireplace Lareira
Floor Andar/Piso
Furnished Mobiliado
Furniture polish Lustra Móveis
Garbage Lixo
Garden Jardim
Heated Aquecida
Hot water Aguar quente
Iron Ferro de passar
Iron Passar
Landlord Dono
Laundry room Quarto de Serviço
Library Biblioteca
Light Luz
Liquid / powder Liquido em pó
Liquid bleach Agua Sanitária
Living room Sala de Estar
LP gas Gás
Maid’s room Quarto Empregada
Make the bed Fazer a cama
Master bedroom Dormitorio de casal
Pantry(expenses) Despesa
Party room Salão de Festas
Polish Lustrar
Pool Piscina
Real estate Imóveis
Rent Aluga
Scrub Escovar
Sell Vender
Sink Pia
Slum Favela
Soap Sabão
Squeeegee Rodo
Suburb Suburbio
Sun room Jardim de Inverno
Sweep Varrer
Teletel. Telefone
Terrace /deck Terraço
Upstairs Em cima
Vacuum aspirar
Vacuum cleaner Aspirador
View Vista
Wash Lavar
Washer Máquina de lavar
Water plants Molhar / Regar
Water storage Caixa de Água
Wax Encerar

The Brazilian Way “O Jeito Brasiliero”

I asked my husband for a Brazilian/Portuguese word I could use for my blog title.  I figure with us living in Brazil for the next 18 months, I should capture everything I learn, experience, love and hate.  I’m just egocentric enough to think everyone cares.  Actually, the current expat blogs out there have made me excited for the move, and I know I’ll turn to them often as a resource to Brazil.  So, I wanted to add to the list of Brazilian stories and experience for others thinking about a move to Brazil.

So what exactly is O jeito Brasiliero

This nonconformity with illegitimate authority is probably an origin of one of Brazil’s most characteristic and original concepts, summarized in the word jeito . The word is practically untranslatable but refers to ways of “cutting red tape,” “bending the rules,” “looking the other way,” or an alternative “way out.” In its worst form, it amounts to corruption. At its best, it means finding pragmatic solutions to difficult problems without making waves.

The Brazilian Way

I think I will be finding a lot of pragmatic solutions over the next few months.