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Parque Villa Lobos

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So on a prior trip to the CEAGSP we noticed that right near it is Parque Villa Lobos, and there were all of these bikes out front.

As I’m about to give birth in a month, we figured biking with a new born wasn’t going to be on the books, so we decided to cross this off the list of must dos.  The park is definitely built for bikes, and of course being 8.5 months pregnant, with a almost 2 year old we were able to skip to the front of the long lines and get a bike super fast.  It was $25R for an hour for a “family bike” and it took us about 40 minutes to circle the whole park.

The park is pretty cool, it has a bunch of courts for basketball, volleyball, tennis, and of course futebol.  There was also a bmx bike dirt track, a dog park, and an auditorium area for music.  As we circled the bend, we could hear the music, and my son started dancing in his seat, so we had to stop and listen to the band (which my husband pointed out were quasi lip syncing, oh well).


Overall it was a nice ride, and wasn’t too bad. Other than the fact, that I’m 8.5 months pregnant, and bringing knees up to stomach was killing me.  Furthermore, my son occasionally decided mommy’s lap was much more fun than sitting in the front seat.  As a pregnant woman, bathrooms have suddenly become important to me, and I found it nice that like a lot of bathrooms here, the ones spread throughout the park had both an adult bathroom and a kiddie sized one.  There were also security people all over the park, and at the bathrooms standing guard.  So I assume the park must be pretty safe.

Across the street from the Park, but by a street called Pau Brasil, is a small park where we had parked. After the sunny Villa Lobos, we decided to take our son there to play for a bit without all of the people running about with bikes.

It was a small park, with swings, a sandbox, see saws, and of course tubes just tall enough for my son to walk through.  But best of all it was nice chance for us to rest after biking around Villa Lobos, as our son still needed to wear himself down.



Buying expat stuff in Brasil

I’m not dead (well I’m sick and super tired, but not dead).  I’m just in the US, and have been for like a month now, letting our monkey visit the grandparents and great grand parents (and well doing a lot of flying for work).

And after a month, I realize while it’s nice to see the family I miss Brasil.  It’s grown on me.  I miss being able to walk to the stores, and buying fresh veggies and bread.  I miss the “Brasil” of it.  Of course while in Brasil, all I could dream about was all of the things from the US I missed.

It’s funny, I never bought sparkling pomegranate juice in the US, but now that I can’t find it for $3.50 in every store, I want it! I rarely ate cheddar, because I’m a havarti, muenster, jack fan, but now I want it, and I want to eat mac n’ cheese!  I also want havarti, muenster and jack, but they don’t have that in Brasil.  It reminds you of home, when the flavor hits your tongue you remember more than just food, you remember the place.  Cherry Caprisun reminds me of sitting on the edge of a hotel bed in Germany as a 7 year old… not that I like it, or drink it EVER, but every now and again I want to be taken back to Germany. Kind of like feijoada for my husband.  Even though my nanny swears she loves my black beans, my husband complains because it’s too American, not feijoada!  And now that I’m in the US, I want my morning Pão, and cooking everything with loads of garlic.  I miss food and baked goods made from scratch not a mix (gasp! I know, but I’ve really gained an appreciation for REAL cooking).

With that being said, here’s my list of the foods expats (American) miss the most:

Cheddar cheese: I’ve seen it at Pao de Acucar in Brooklin Paulista, and bought it (R$88 a kilo!) because I wanted mac n; cheese. I have also found it at the CEAGSP cheese stands.  Neither consistently.

Chocolate chips: They do have them here. Chocorob in Brooklin has it for R$5 for 250 grams.  It’s a bit waxy and not creamy like the good stuff in the US.  But I just buy the bars of Garoto chocolate they sell and chop it up, white, dark, semi-sweet, milk, it’s all really good.  If you get Crocante, you get the nice little toffee with the chocolate, and it’s better than a Hershey bar any day.

Corn syrup: My Pao de Acucar doesn’t have it, but my friend in Morumbi says Karo is in the same section as the honey.  I buy it for a tiny jar at Chocorob because I don’t cook with it that often ever.

Agave Syrup: They sell it and it’s expensive as is Maple Syrup.  I bring both of this in from the US, as a bottle usually lasts me about a year, so Merry Christmas to me… and I do buy the BIG bottles 🙂

Mexican Spices: I’ve found them, although they’re not cheap.  Same thing with Lemon Pepper.  It’s just a matter of learning what they call things. Like Nutmeg, it doesn’t come ground, but I’ve learned to love the freshness of grating my own nutmeg!

Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake: R$65 at Sam’s Club. I’d rather just make Cheesecake from scratch, and never really ate it anyways.

They do sell small avocados here, and they’re not sweet, they’re perfect for making guacamole.  The big ones are too sweet for my liking. It did piss me off to find Avocados for .44 at Walmart here…. in the snow… when they’re like R$5 a kilo back in the tropics of Brasil.

Everything else you want, you’ve got to make yourself.  Brasil isn’t like the US where you can buy everything pre-made. If you want black beans, you cook it from scratch. You want diced tomatoes with spices, you can buy a can of whole tomatoes (though most boil the tomatoes themselves) dice it and add your spices. That goes for rotel tomatoes. You want them, then boil the diced tomatoes, chop up some hot peppers, and add a bit of salt, boil, and you’ve got something pretty close. There are not huge sections of canned veggies and fruit, or ready made dinners.  Which is good as canned food is bad for you anyway right?

Tortillas are pretty much Wrap 10s, and they’re not that great if you like REAL tortillas… and if you do, well learn to make them yourself.. and give up on corn tortillas all together.

You want chicken broth, substitute their bouillon cubes, or boil yourself a chicken! I usually buy Swanson flavor packets, as they’ve got a great brothy flavor, but are just packets so easy to bring a bunch in the suitcase.  I’m too lazy to boil a whole chicken to get that yummy broth.

Things I have yet to find:

Clorox Wipes: I’ve seen a “how to make your own” online, but they don’t have the same super sturdy paper towels here.

Cheap Toys: Well you can buy them in Centro, but they’re “cheap” as well; you know ala China. Cool toys are more expensive here. So I’m loading up during the holidays for future birthdays.

Bath and Body Works: If you’re into room sprays, I would bring them over from Bath & Body Works, as they are super cheap during their sales. And all the smelly stuff is either lavender or something else yucky, or super expensive fancy stuff.  Like hand soap, if you want nice you go to L’Octainne (which I like) but would rather put out some froofy B&BW pump soap.

So exactly when are we going to be mugged?

I think that’s the question on most of our family’s minds.  They told us not to go, it was too dangerous.  Let’s face it, there are some scary things that happen here in Brasil.  While in Utah on the international page of the newspaper I happened upon an article noting how a judge was killed in broad daylight by 8 dirty cops (they’d taken over the Favelas from the drug lords and were running it mafia style).  Anyway, people ask all the time how safe is Brasil? Can you drive down the street with your windows open? Can you walk anywhere? Have you been mugged?  I’ve been told by people that you never walk anywhere, it’s too dangerous.  And to all of that, I laugh.  Maybe I’m naive, but I tend to think that my odds in life are good.  I will walk to the store at 9pm at night.  I drive with my car window down, and I take photos all over Sao Paulo with my smart phone.  I’ve even been known to flash a 50 at the feira. 🙂

from Aljazeera

This morning (6am ish) we awoke to 2 gunshots.  Followed by a very very loud shouting match between what sounded like a husband and wife, and then some other guy (to which they all silenced down).  Fairly sure some angry guy shot off a gun in his house, thus the sudden eruption in yelling.  We couldn’t figure out where the sounds were coming from, as there are so many complexes around us, but it happened, it was interesting, and it made us laugh. And yes they were gunshots, we know what they sound like.  So it made me think, how dangerous is Brasil really? Even with gunshot sounds, my husband and I were more curious WHAT the fight was about then that someone shot a gun.

See the thing about Brasil is it is dangerous.  I would be unrealistic and lying if I didn’t type it out.

But when you think about this mega-city you don’t think of small town life, but it’s here.  If we took my mother in law and put her in downtown Los Angeles, she’d have the same stories of fear and death that I hear from the average Brasilian.  It also doesn’t help that the media here loves plastering bloody shot up corpses on their front page (sensational much). Brasilians are close, walking home I get accosted by random grandmas and grandpas all the time that just want to chat.  The last time some old guy approached me in LA he smelt of beer and urine.  People here are connected at a level that you don’t see in the big cities of the US, and with that comes sharing of stories… so I do think there is some exaggeration going on to a small extent.

They also live REALLY REALLY close to everyone, kind of like downtown Los Angeles.  See in downtown Los Angeles all the wine drinking yuppies with their teeny house dogs live just a few streets over from all the whino, druggies, with their tents and cardboard boxes.  The closeness means, the rich encounter the poor on a daily basis.  Unlike the rest of California, where those in Beverly Hills can feel nice and secure in their happy little utopia, as they know all of the “trouble” is freeways away in South Central.  Sao Paulo is like downtown Los Angeles, with favelas smashed up against the homes of the super rich…. you get all close and chummy like that rich folk are going to have bad things happen to them… those same bad things that probably happen to most poor folk in South Central.  Except if you’re rich and something happens to you, you’re going to exaggerate it 100% over because “things like that just shouldn’t happen to people like me.”


Hubby has broken up with the GPS

So on Saturday we had our carefully planned sightseeing trip.  We’ve been stuck in the city the last few weekends, and we wanted to get out and see some more of Brazil!  Hubby found Paranápiacaba on Wikiloc  and it looked perfect.  Beautiful misty green city, with hiking, and trains! for the wee one.  It was a prefect day drive, so off we went after our son woke up from his nap.

And  then we missed the free way “split”  Things get tricky with the GPS when on freeways, and it’s a common occurrence.  Unfortunately, the way back according to the GPS took us through traffic ridden side streets. No biggie, just a slight detour!

I nodded off, and the next time I woke up we were bouncing along a dirt road. Yes, a dirt road.   Hubby assured me just 10 more kilometers… and round and round we went along these little dirt roads and through the jungle.  When we were “1 kilometer” away and driving through a dirt road through lush jungle, I pulled my kid out of the car seat and he got to drive with daddy. He was getting pretty angry, so we figured it was fairly safe… since there seemed to be NO ONE around.  I think this may have been the highlight of his day.

And then we arrived!

Isn’t it beautiful??  We let the monkey get out and run around for a bit, and then I turned to my husband and asked him where in the world he had driven us to!! The son loved it, as we also let him drive the car..

It wasn’t like there were other cars around . . .

Yeah, in case you are wondering, someone (ahem) decided to just type in the city name and GPS it. With the assumption that the GPS would take us to the center of the city… oh it took us somewhere.

The road it took us to was now covered in tall green grass, a dead end.  We were lost. And we were lost in the middle of nowhere.  Yes, there were cows wandering the roads!

I decided the kid wasn’t gonna take much more driving, so we might as well let him get the wiggles out and head back to Sao Paulo, and just try next weekend.

… next weekend is probably going to be a few months out, as when we got home my husband exclaimed while turning on the TV.

“I have whole Saturday’s full of fun for the next 4 months!!! “

Followed by a reverent sigh of

“College Football”

Seen around the neighborhood

Just some random sightings of late, that I found interesting.

I just thought this was hilarious, and I have to wonder if the owners of this house are not Asian, it just screams I’m Japanese.


So in Sao Paulo, one of the interesting things about the Brazilian neighborhoods is that the houses are all smack up against the sidewalk and each other.  In the poorer neighborhoods, you can tell they have NO ROOM whatsoever, as you will find people hanging clothing in the middle of the median between trees, or from their windows, or my particular favorite, across the street on the metal church fence (ahem).  So needless to say, they don’t really have backyards.  I’ve seen kids playing soccer in the green grass along the freeways. Driving to fast to take photos. I was able to take a photo of some neighborhood volleyball. The net is probably used for Soccer Volleyball  “Futevôlei”, but I thought it somewhat creative.

And last but not least.. a shopping mall sighting. We’re 2km from Shopping Morumbi, and I saw this lovely lovely doll of Kate Middelton. She must be SOOO flattered, it is her wedding doll after all.  Then again, maybe that’s a doll that’s supposed to be a man in drag??

A bit o’ country in the city

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On sundays we like to go for strolls around our neighborhood.  One of the really nice things about Brazil is they understand the importance for a neighborhood park, and not just one… tons of them!  Up the street from us is a park that is mostly trees.  There is a small play area for the kids, and a dirt patch for soccer I would suppose, then the rest of the fenced in park is a lush jungle with paths.  It’s not big at all, but just strolling on a dirt path through the trees is such a welcome relief to all the concrete.  Either way, we like to go on neighborhood explorations for new parks and let our kid get out of the house.

On our latest one we discovered

There was an event going on, and we asked and it was free– the word’s we love to hear most.  I’m glad I had taken some time before the walk to clean myself up, as it was a horse show jumping competition… so all of the wealthy Brazilians were out and about.  I was still sporting my Havianas (I am from Hawaii after all, you can find me in the dead of winter with snow on the ground wearing slippers, they’re just part of who I am!).  It was a nice way to spend the afternoon, watching young kids and adults horse jump.


My son was completely caught up with the horses.

I was caught up with people watching!

Total side note, but something I notice all the time here with wealthier Brazilians.  The guys are super old and not that attractive, and the women are super hot.  Not saying old geezers don’t marry/date young hotties (can we say Playboy?)  However, when you see old guys in LA, they always seem to try and look as young or hip as the girl they’re with.  Shoot even Hugh is fit for an 82 year old.  But here in Brazil, it’s like they realize they have the money, why do they have to try and prove anything.  Balding, big old belly, old geezer clothing (ok not always but definitely not usually hip).  It’s the oddest thing.

And there went the power

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Power went out last week… and it came back about 12 hours later.  You can read it in Portuguese here.  In summary, 266 trees fell in Sao Paulo, 70 of them in streets and 2 of them right down from where we live. And 30 traffic lights were out.  I love storms, so I guess Sao Paulo is the place for me! In the summer time it rained heavily, in crazy pouring sheets that I could watch flow down the street.  Last week it was winter storm time with heavy winds.  The husband called to let me know the power was out at work, and I let him know everything was fine at home.  I spoke too soon as 4km into his drive (or about an hour in) the power went out.  Yeah that’s right 4km in an hour.  Traffic is bad in Brasil, so take out a few traffic lights and it’s a nightmare.

Photo: AE

My father had bought us two LED solar powered lanterns, which have been great toys that don’t require batteries for my son, so we just turned them on when the power went off.

Because the stove is gas we were able to cook rice, and I had a container of beans defrosting on the counter, so we had beans and rice for dinner, which was great if I don’t say so myself.  Because our house has no heating.. none. nothing. squat. and there is no insulation. none.nothing.squat. I can’t say the house became unbearably cold due to the power outage, because it’s already unbearably cold.  But this fact mean that none of the food in the fridge went bad.  See there is always a silver lining!

Like most, our apartment does have a generator, and it kicked on right away.  But I think as a precaution so that we could use the electricity for the security of our building over night, they didn’t kick it in for us.  Back in LA our building lost power for a long stretch once and we used an extension cord from our fridge to the hallway, which was being powered.  It was the same way here.  We plugged our cell phones and laptops into the hallway and we were good to go.

Really when you think about it, we’re lucky with technology today.  My husband has internet via usb and I have a smartphone.  For hot water in the am, we just boiled a large pot of water… just enough for my son to take a bath… not quite convenient for washing hair as an adult.  But either way, I think we could have survived longer.