RSS Feed

Category Archives: Safety in Sao Paulo


Posted on

We’ve made it a habit to hang out on Saturdays at Parque Ibirapuera.  My son loves it, and it’s a nice walk for me.  The other weekend (pre-baby) as we were leaving my son happened upon the Civil police van.  We often see these around Brasil, either Civil or Federal Police vans, with the cops just kind of standing around making sure the peace is kept.

I have a fear of cops. Period. US and well of course even more so in Brasil, due to stories like these that I’ve read and the fact that I don’t speak Portuguese great, my distrust of cops here is even worse than in the US.  Seriously my husband laughs at how afraid of police I am — I would shake when they pulled me over for tickets…before, during, and for like 30 minutes afterwards.

But not my kid, he hopped right up into the van, and one of the police officers (the female one of course), immediately came over and gave him a sweet little tour.

Contrary to the close up of his face, he was having a grand ole time.  However doesn’t it look like he’s gotten caught for doing something bad?


Look both ways… twice

Posted on

Some people really hate this about Sao Paulo… err Brazil in general.  You can’t cross the street and expect the cars to stop.  Pedestrians do not have the right away here.  I have a super cute adorable little ball of fofo- “cute” so people usually stop  out of courtesy.   In fact some nice old lady helped me carry groceries home the other day.  See aren’t Brazilian’s nice.

Well that is of course until they get behind the wheel.  They go flying through intersections.  If you are the pedestrian you had better look both ways and make sure there are no cars coming.  And if you see a motoboy, don’t even think about trying to beat him to the other side of the crosswalk, because he will get there first. AND he will definitely not stop.

I like this, no more lame pedestrians jumping into the cross walk making you stop and miss the next light.  Yeah, I suck, oh well.

So with that introduction to the laws of crossing the street in Brazil. I found this little site funny.  A crossing guard.

See how the guy is holding a VERY long pole with a STOP flag on the tip of it? Yep that’s right, even crossing guards here know better than to stand in the center of a crosswalk with a shiny orange vest and a stop sign.  They’re not taking any chances with their lives either.

The parking problem

I blame today on me.  I really should have known better.  We lived in LA for over 5 years; I know my husband hates  trying to find parking and hates having to pay outrageous rates to park in a lot.  But I casually offered up a visit to the Mercado Municipal and Liberdade today, as I didn’t have it in me this week to go out of the city.  So we packed up the wee one, sat through the Sao Paulo traffic and arrived downtown.  I was finally taken out of the pristine world I live in here in Brooklin-Paulista (aka the apartment I rarely leave).  We passed the homeless that are simply homeless as they are too poor to afford a home, watched little boys pick lice out of their barely 20 year old mother;s hair, and passed by larger groups of the drugged-out, sketchy bums one usually thinks of when picturing a Brazilian bum.

Yes our Garmin kept telling us all kinds of crazy directions as we drove mindlessly in circles.  All street parking we found was for old people or loading.  We thought we found a spot as the street was lined with cars, but when my husband asked one of the roving ticket guys he told us that he was ticketing the whole line up. The parking garages charged from R$10 to R$15 for the first hour, and around R$6 – R$8 for each additional.  The husband was going to have none of that.

We never got out of the car. This is a downtown city, why would I think it would be any different than downtown LA!

So, I convinced the husband that Liberdade may be better.

To paint a picture of Liberdade

For those of you who have been to LA, picture LA’s China Town.  Not the China Town in Hawaii, that’s a place worth visiting, but LA’s China Town.  A bit rundown, covered in city soot, with stores packed with overly ethnic crap.  The stores were full of useless chochkees, mostly from China, not Japan.  In fact, I have seen many of these items on the import from china websites I like to buy my stocking stuffers from.  There was a Marukai market, but the husband ushered me past muttering that “We are in Brazil, stop trying to cook Japanese food.”  I tried to point out that me cooking Japanese food would be very Brazilian, especially in Sao Paulo, but I think he was really saying that he wants to eat Picanha and Feijoada daily.

The street fair is supposed to be large on Sunday, but there were a lot of booths out today as well.  I wasn’t that impressed or drawn to anything in particular.  Think Venice beach, a lot of random stuff that someone has made, but that you really don’t need.

As the husband was still a bit irritated that we hadn’t just taken the train up, he had to pay (R$10 for the first hour, and R$3 thereafter) to park, fight with the Garmin, and that we never did go to Mercado Municpal, I thought a good old fashion Japanese bakery would cheer him up.  It was more like a good old fashion Brazilasian bakery, but hey close enough right?! Itiriki Bakery.  We decided to split a roll with crusted swiss cheese and sun dried tomatoes.  It was perfectly savory, and crisp, and very delicious.

We purchased a chunk of Maça Bolo (apple cake) to try.  The cake part was good, the apple topping was bitter and salty.  A Pão de Dulce de Leite, a large “pan” rolled in powdered milk and filled with approximately half a can of  dulce de leite (it beat my husband and he was done after 3 bites).  I insisted on eating something Japanese, and bought the Morango Daifuku (Strawberry bean filled mochi).

The daifuku was very good, crammed with azuki beans and a sweet strawberry center.  I’ve never had a strawberry filled daifuku before, so it was a nice surprise.

After cramming all of the delicious food in my mouth, and liking my milk covered fingers, I realized that all of the proper Brazilian women were holding the bread with their napkins.  OOPS!  Overall, I~m not a fan of Liberdade, but I think when I finally make it to the Mercado Municipal I may like it.

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