Thursday, December 01, 2011

Chef Vivi

Im way beyond behind on posts. I came back from a mini vacation and a lot of time with in laws to hundreds (380 to be exact yikes) of google reader posts to catch up on and that seemed more exciting than writing my own. But then I went to dinner again at our new favorite restaurant in Sao Paulo (which just so happens to be right up the street from our house, lucky us) and I thought, I must brag about this place! Its teeeny tiny so make sure you call about a reservation before coming over, but I just love it. The chef, Vivi is as wonderful as her culinary expressions. Having left Brazil more than 10 years ago, she spent time in Asia and Europe learning and cultivating her specialties. The menu changes daily according to what is available in the garden and in season and I think I fell quickly in love because it reminded me of some of our favorite spots in Chicago that were very much the same.

So heres my little postinho telling the Paulista's out there to give her a try. It is definately a bit pricey but then again I am so jaded by what a typical dinner for two costs these days with such extreme over pricing in this city that it may not shock you to pay more than 60R for a typical dish. Either way, I feel its worth the splurge every once in a while.

Chef Vivi
Rua Girassol, 833 - Vila Madalena 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West

Happy 1 year brazilanniversary to us (thanks Danielle for this very appropriate diction)! It feels like yesterday and then again many years ago. But when our feet hit the ground in this wonderful country 365 days ago we were running sideways, forwards and backwards all at the same time. I took up this blog as a way to remember our journey and share our many experiences with family and friends but it has also been therapy for the sometimes tough but usually beautiful moments we've had trying to get a grip on it all. I thought I grew up a lot after college but I didn't realize that was minuscule in comparison to this past year abroad. A and I are both in a place in our lives where we are trying to figure out our future professionally in the midst of new career paths and zip codes (CEP codes to be exact) and we have been tested, tried and sometimes brought to tears. But there is nothing like a journey with your partner, one year of marriage down and one common adventurous goal checked off the life list for us both.

The good news is the first year of anything is always the hardest and if you go by visual imprint only, I'd say we had it pretty good thus far. We've seen the most incredible waterfalls in Iguazu, beaches in the north, two fabulous carnivals of completely different scale in Tiradentes and Rio respectively, the incredible landscape of the Pantanal, a few trips to Buenos Aires and lots of amazing things in between. We've met wonderful people and made lifelong friends and that is just the beginning.

The bad news is that I miss country music and chocolate chips. But in learning to manage, I've gladly replaced both with bossa nova and every fruit you can imagine and then some you can't. It sounds healthier if you forget that I also pretended like I discovered steak and cheese bread for the first time and together they bought a not-so-luxurious duplex apartment in my stomach and butt; eviction notices ignored.

What a year, so here's a few things we've learned so far...

-the mule travel system is sacred and its important to happily inform any visitor they will probably have to dodge fed ex for a month prior to departure and carry another duffle down just for us. 

-how best to spend an entire afternoon and evening eating. just eating. and enjoying eating. and talking about eating. and thats on sunday. every sunday. 

-that the gym is not just for working out your muscles, but more importantly your vocal chords and your spandex collection. 

-that in every crowd of brazilians there is always a Bruno and a Leticia so if you can't remember anyone's name best try those first. 

-ha, you thought NY was expensive. 

-drop crotch pants are the new skinny jean, for some reason a la crotch extends down to your knees. i dont understand it. men and women both. its terrible. 

-the farmers markets here rule. 90 cents for 20 bananas? ill take it. it makes all the other expensive things feel better. well not really i lied about that last statement but i like farmers markets. 

-novelas are awesome and thats a fact. 

-i get to kiss (on the cheek) a lot of people and i like it.

-nothing like a coffee after breakfast, lunch and dinner. and you get a cookie too. bonus!

-my butt's gotten bigger but my bikini bottom's gotten smaller? fact of life. (As Carmen Miranda said, "Look at me and tell me if I don't have Brazil in every curve of my body")

-get over yourself and show more skin. americans are way to demure.

-louis vuitton is apparently the stamp of approval you've made it. brazilians are obsessed with this brand more than any other. 

-nothing is ever on time. you are never late. there is always traffic to blame and generally people are very forgiving. its both a blessing and a curse.

-cab drivers are your friends. they don't believe in a plexiglass separator it would be insulting. when i use the same one over and over we kiss and hug like long lost pals. 

-Brazil is beautiful and I can´t wait to spend more years here!

Ahh the stage is set and the adventure continues.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Ohh thats braziliant

In preparation for our upcoming voyage to the Pantanal next week we just found out we needed yellow fever vaccinations. Yes, we probably should have known that but I guess since its not exactly the Amazon I didn't think to research. Anyways my mother in law is coming down for a few weeks and we are all going to these beautiful wetlands for the big 4 day holiday around the corner. With a yellow fever vac, you need 10 days for it to settle in before you might need its all mighty medical powers so basically today was the last day I could get it done. So here is a little story about how my mother in law and I both received our vaccine, hers in Chicago and mine in Sao Paulo.

MIL: Finding out at the last minute before her trip, frantically she calls the doctor to get an appointment. Luckily they had one available the next day. She goes in, waits over an hour to see the nurse, finally gets into the little patient room, chats with the nurse (probably hitting the two hour mark here) and is informed that not only does she need the yellow fever vaccine but she also needs malaria pills. The nurse had over 50 pages of diseases and problems that could occur and basically asked her, you sure you want to go? Um was there a choice? She finally receives the shot and a prescription for the pills. When she goes to check out she finds out insurance doesn't cover this and has to pay over 400$ for both the vaccine and the pills (which mind you according to travel websites you really don't need malaria pills but you know how over the top better safe than sorry american doctors are). She's now very upset at both the cost and the now half day spent at the doctors office.

Me: I inquired about where to get a vaccine on a newcomers facebook page, immediately was given a very helpful website found here to locate your 'vaccine posto' nearest to your neighborhood. Nervous it could take all day I took a cab over and was embarrassed at how close it was to where I live. 8R later I walked into a big building with a blue sign that read VACINAÇÃO and found a room much like the DMV. There was a man by the ticket dispenser (to receive a number and wait) and clearly his job was to dispense tickets from the already automatic machine and answer questions. He told me I didn't need a ticket (ohh how nice) and that I should go down a hallway to a room on the right. Inside sat two nurses at a table and no one else. I told them I needed a yellow fever shot and they asked if I had a passport number or RJ (resident card) which I had neither with me. They mulled it over for a min then decided that was ok and I just gave them my name and address. Literally 2 seconds later the nice little nurse sat me on a chair, whipped out a shot, administered it and gave me some instructions that I gave a smile nod to even though I had no idea what she was saying. I asked how much? They smiled and waved me off and said "free." Within 10 minutes I was saying thank you to mr. ticket dispenser and out the door I went. 

The first thought that came to mind... Ohh, thats braziliant*!! (happy dance)

*I give credit to the very funny Born Again Brazilian blogger who discovered this fabulous adjective! I even found you can buy a t-shirt with the above logo here

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hello 'hollywood'

My bull rider loving cousin of the west coast informed me about a very good looking Paulista in the championship bull riding competition this weekend in Las Vegas. So I wanted to cheer him on and dutifully agree that yes Mel hes quite the hottie! While hes becoming one of my special interests he listed his as soccer, team roping and surfing. A true Brasileiro.

Good Luck Guilherme Marchi nicknamed "Hollywood." Ill make sure my televisão is turned on for your show... Im a guna file this one under nourishment... =)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The way the DR. should be

With almost a year under our belt, I finally decided to take a few friend's recommendations and get a doctor. And this is not your average stethoscope trotting white coat wearing man of the infirmary, this guy is Pele´s medicó! Boo-ya sickness and health my knees are going to shine like a hall-of-fame national hero!

Our first consultation was akin to meeting up with an old friend at their house. His office is in one of those big beautiful old coffee planation houses on Avenida Brasil and minus the secretaries at the entrance I climbed the granite stairs to the second floor and went straight into his comfy office. In true brazilian fashion I was offered coffee, water  and fresh squeezed juice.  He greeted me wearing jeans, loafers and a t-shirt and we got to business while he ate some lunch.

What I loved most about the experience was the lack of paperwork involved. He had his computer set up with an online form that we filled out together. He went through family history and basically every part of the body head to toe asking about issues and problems past and current. He also gave me a nice lecture about eating right and living a stress free life.  Happy minds = Healthy minds and I was advised to get to the beach and relax as often as possible. I'll take that prescription any day! He was also plugging his book, which talks a lot about mind over matter of which below there is a photo with Pele and his little health bible. After our 2.5+ hour chat we went to another room in his office for the checkup. From eyes to toes to ekg's and blood draws he tested for anything and everything. I came with allergy questions and left feeling like if anything was wrong well beyond my recent aversion to the pollution, he would get to the bottom of it.

Before going in for the blood draw I noticed my name on a list with just about everything checked off. Strange, but he reminded me it was standard procedure. 31 viles of blood later I practically fainted in the lounge chair. I wish I was kidding but this guy tested for EVERYTHING. I guess that is normal? I just kept telling myself if the guy apparently treats a world phenomenon he knows what he's doing so I am awaiting the file cabinet of results.

In sum, I am impressed and happy to finally have a doc here. Its those little big things that help with adapting in a new place. It is quite common in Brazil for the doctor to give you their email, home and cell phone numbers to be available at your disposal. During our almost 4 hour appointment he was answering many a text message from his clients... over 5000 of them. Clients that is but I would imagine over the course of a flu season he hears from all of them. Most of the time he can even cure common illnesses over the phone and then send a motoboy to fetch your prescription at any hour of the day, any day of the week. Super bonus!  It wasn't a cheap consultation but the follow up is included and the subsequent appointments (so long as they aren't more ekgs or other ex-rays etc.) are covered by insurance. For all the american copays I've shelled out over the years its nice to finally see a doctor!

Pele with my doctor's new book

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pay your bills even if you cant!

So here I am at a cafe downtown with internet for the first time since Wednesday and the last time till probably next week at least for my personal computer.

Why? Because NET, our internet, tv and phone provider cut off our services.

Why? Because we were 10 days late on paying our bill. Yes only 10 days!!

Why? Because the post office decided to go on strike for about 30 days causing complete mayhem for mail delivery.

So we got our bill late in the mail and past its "due date."

If the bill is past its due date, you can no longer pay it online or at the bank which is how most people pay their bills. You (or the bank) enter in this very long code of 60 or so numbers at the bottom of your bill directly into your online bank account and it finds it and pays it. Its actually a nice little system if were automatic. But, the code doesn't work if it is after a certain "due date." We (stupidly) assumed we would be getting our next bill very soon since the last one was so late and just pay both on top of a late fee that sadly wasn't our fault but inevitable. Instead, NET cut us off which probably took 3.5 seconds. Guess how long it takes to turn back on? 4 BUSINESS DAYS once the money transferred pops up in their account which also can sometimes take DAYS. So here we are. (Yes I know we can set up automatic bill-pay we just ran into problems before attempting to do so and its a bit more complicated than it sounds).

I will tell you, the world doesn't fall apart when you lose internet and tv but it does remind at least us, how dependent we have become.  I work in a design office and when the power goes out, as it randomly does sometimes, everyone goes into panic mode. "But how do we work now? we must go home!" Perhaps considering we are all some type of architect, we could... I don't know DRAW??? But on paper? With a pencil?

Ahh life...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Supporting at-risk youth in Rocinha Favela

Fellow blogger Jim, at Qualidade de Vida is helping with efforts to raise money for at-risk youth in the Rocinha Favela.

Please check out their progress and ideas here on his blog and consider even a small donation, it can go a long way!

Rio Sex Comedy

An interesting find on itunes, this movie is in portuguese and english with subtitles. Basically it talks about the lives of a few expatriates in Rio and their various quests for "social justice and personal pleasure." A french woman is working on an anthropologic quest to find out if maids wish for a better life by studying home help. Then an ambassador goes missing in the favelas by his own accord (he ran away to hide) and is found by an american favela tour guide. So from there the audience gets a little tour of the Rocinha Favela, one of the more famous communities in South America. The third story revolved around the pulsing world of plastic surgery where regardless of wealth, people are equal in how they feel about themselves.

This movie does a good job showing realities of Brazil and what life is like in a culture that is very class stratified. The idea of what a favela means comes up several times, the dweller defining pride in where they live, an amazonian tribe too good for life in a "slum," and a wealthy american enjoying his escape there and wondering what he can do to help. It is full of satire and comedy and I encourage you to check it out sometime...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Outside dining

Pe de Manga

For those that love feel of a deck, patio or view, here is my ever evolving list of favorite outdoor spots in the city.

1. Pe de Manga : actually listed in the book, 1000 things to do before you die and I agree its awesome!

now no longer in order of preference

2. Due Cuochi Cucina on the roof at Shopping Cidade Jardim : very small area to eat outside but a nice view beyond the electrical fields

3. Tanger : they have a wonderful front porch dining area

4. Capim Santo : lovely lovely gravel backyard

5. Unique Hotel : classic spot everyone has to go once (or a million times), small bites and pizza only, on the pool deck though

6. Figueira Rubaiyat : The famous fig tree that stretches throughout the restaurant space is fun for people watching but I think a bit overrated

7. O Pote do Rei : our new favorite spot in Pinheiros, seating in the back is also under a lovely tree outside

8. The ever special Sao Bento boteco establishment on Aspicuelta : kinda like eating outside, again open air but really fun. If you find its too crowded there just about every bar on both sides of the street is the same type of feel...

9. Esch Cafe : Cigar bar but they have great food and a front outside dining space

10. Santa Gula : is sorta outside/inside but a really cool entrance and has funky artsy appeal 

11. N'o Cafe : you will find us here just about every weekend taking in the sunshine and a great breakfast

12. Deli Paris : next door to N'o Cafe and if we aren't there we are here for their all you can eat buffet that is okay but its nice to sit on the sidewalk and people watch! 

13. Arturito : Threw this one in even though it isn't exactly outside except for a sliver in the back but its so fabulous its one of our favorites and if you haven't been you should! You can still get a little sunshine in along the bench in the back right side so technically there is a piece of an open roof. Call ahead as it is very difficult to get a reservation here. 

14. Famiglia Mancini : apparently has a great little outdoor space but I have yet to go! 

I had some problems making this post a dedicated page and lost pieces of it so it will just be a post for the time being. I am sure there are quite a few restaurant spots I am missing so please feel free to add to the list...

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

I just want to work out!!!

My gripe list is short. Well sometimes I might be lying, but outside of traffic nightmares and pollution I seem to be meshing okay to the brazilian style of life living. However when it comes to the gym I am hard pressed to think the transition will ever happen.

Most brazilian gyms (mine and those of friends) have the so called 'professor," which is a quasi personal trainer. My gym is decent sized so depending on the hour we usually have between 1-3 to pace the floor eager to assist you in reaching your fitness goals. At first I thought, great a free trainer (even though you definately pay for it and you can't opt out) that can help motivate me through the boredom I get after about 45 minutes. But that isn't realllllly what they do. They should be called gym buddies. Can't find a friend to chat next to you on the elliptical? Never fear, your professor is here! They chat and chat and chat and this chatting has no barriers. Like when you are the ground doing abs, running on the treadmill or really just looking to be fully engaged with your ipod and magazine obviously not in the mood to giggle and gossip, they happily come over to interrupt with curiosity to know exactly what you are thinking, what you did last weekend and what you plan on doing this coming weekend. Okay, so its great portuguese practice but at this point there is still a lot of pictionary going on when the words are coming. So with me there is usually a lot of standing and watching, but RIGHT NEXT TO ME, waiting for one of us to understand what the other is trying to say.

But brazilians love this attention and know no different. I even try to follow the greeting rules when I arrive, kisses on the cheeks to the 'professor(s)' and the long drawn out 'how are you' which always goes a little something like this: "Hey, how are you? Great, how are you? Great! Thats great! Im so glad everything is great for you? Yes and I am so glad everything is great for you too! Great! Great, ok see you soon (more like in 5 min). Great!!!" But then I like to retreat to the treadmill and be left alone.

Ohh no I didn't. I didn't just attempt to ignore the professors as they make their rounds to make sure everyone is STILL GREAT. Like today for example, I tried so hard to just do a quick walk in, work out and go and I was stopped as I tried to quickly hurry out, if everything was ok? I looked sad? I looked upset? What is the matter? NO, I am not upset, just in a hurry to beat this storm and get to the grocery store. Ohhhhh ok so "how are you? Great! How are you? Great! How was your weekend? What did you do?..........ETC

AARRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG leave me alone, I just want to work out!!!!!

Here ends rant. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

'PIPA is spanish slang for having a good time'

As an american in Pipa, I felt like I stepped back into time some 70 years by US standards. I don't know what its like to be an hour from a big city where there isn't a mariott sheraton lineup of sorts impacting the dunes and serenity. I wish I could have seen North Carolina in the 40's... dunes, drifters and divers I imagine. What wasn't here now, is coming though. Common words on everyone's lips seemed to be 'real estate boom' because Natal, some 60 km away (and a 3 hour flight north from Sao Paulo) boasts direct flights from Europe making Pipa a fantastic get away. Yet somehow we managed to get there early enough to indulge in some desolation, just in time before it becomes thoroughly bought and built.  But then again a little desolation is the Brazil I know thus far. Yes there are luxury vacation homes and a few fancy restaurants but the locals still seem to have the run of the place on their bicycles. Even the beach towns 2 hours from Sao Paulo still feel rustic (to me) so I don't have this sense of anxiety that I did when I was in Cuba a few years back, worrying that all the coastal misshaped hotels from the 50's will soon rediscover their american mob roots and sprout back to life, cluttering up the views.

For Pipa, its a blessing the landscape is abundant in rich, earthen toned cliffs that protect the beaches. If you want something on the beach you have to build high and design a sturdy set of stairs to reach sand. The town is laid out in similar fashion with the exception of a well used dirt road to descend in elevation. The restaurants and bikini stores all open up in the back to a 100 foot drop down to the central beach where the good surfing is. But that is one of dozens nestled into coves that shape the shoreline. The pousadas are either mixed somewhere within that fabric of small town street life or a little ways up the road on a slope to take advantage of the views. But you won't find anything on the beach.

I met a few nomads, one making wire souvenirs as he travels the coast throughout the year on his bike. The town is active with locals, fisherman and artists but thanks to some obvious brands its evident things are slowly changing from bead shops to fancy brazilian names. Still, Pipa has the same magic spell as one of A and I's favorite towns in Mexico, Sayulita. Just a sleepy surfer town with incredible food and the kind of authenticity you want to put in a jar and seal so it can remain pure.

If not for the perfect beaches go to Pipa for the cousine. Toca da Caruja deserves a Michelin star. The moqueca on the beach in a little 200 person shrimper town a few hours down south (accessed by our champion dune buggy driver, Josinaldo) is the best in Brazil I've had. We also met Daniel, who runs a little restaurant out of his house and makes a mean fire grilled lobster. Like...his stuff is the kind of stuff you find yourself saying, 'okay I can die happy now."

So is Pipa the best beach in Brazil? I dont believe there is a, 'best" beach in this country, its a myth. Try finding a bad beach though... In fact I think I am going to devot the rest of my life trying to find a bad beach... even a mediocre one. Dare me. 

the local security

robalo at toca da caruja

coca cola lagoon, accessed by dune buggies only

 for sale?

 the locals

 the place to watch the sunset

sunset from the place

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Banco Itau Heist

This kinda went viral amongst friends recently and at first I thought it was a joke. Is it all really possible? In Sao Paulo, indeed it is. Story taken from Forbes ....

´´Banco Itaú branch located on Paulista Avenue

On the night of Saturday, August 27, precisely at 11:50 p.m., 12 men
in gray uniforms entered one of São Paulo’s most highly secured
buildings, the Banco Itaú‘s bank branch located on Paulista Avenue,
the very financial and business heart of Brazil’s biggest metropolis.
They passed through the security check at the bank’s underground
parkade by identifying themselves as furnishing workers – a perfect
disguise, since the branch was under renovations and the guards at the
building had been previously warned about people coming in that night.
Without firing a single shot, they spent the following 10 hours
breaking into some 170 private strongboxes belonging to at least 120
wealthy clients of Banco Itaú, Latin America’s largest bank by market
value. Only two security guards were disarmed, the first when the
thieves seized the ground floor where the entrance door to the branch
was opened, so the other members of the team could enter; and the
other when he arrived in the morning for his work shift.  Five other
men spent the whole night outside, to keep the rest of the pack aware
of any possible casualties, should something have gone wrong.
Gallery: Global High Performers

On the next morning, the thieves left with cash, luxury watches, gold
bars, sapphires, emeralds, rubies and diamonds. Loads of diamonds.
According to the most optimistic estimates, the total amount of
valuables taken was about R$ 100 million ($58.5 million). Little of
the loot was insured (banks don’t usually ask their customers about
the contents of their safety deposit boxes,) and much of it appeared
difficult to trace. Banco Itaú only guarantees the compensation of R$
15.000,00 ($8,800) per deposit box. Those whose valuables are worth up
to R$ 200.000,00 ($117,000) can opt for an insurance plan provided by
the bank. If the amount to be secured is higher than that, an external
insurance company must be hired for the service. Most clients,
however, never thought of being ripped off in such a way.

Among the victims who did not have insurance is Therezinha Maluf
Chamma, the 82-year-old sister of the legally troubled former State
Governor of São Paulo, Paulo Salim Maluf. For more than 30 years,
Chamma kept hers and her daughters’ jewellery in two deposit boxes at
the Banco Itaú branch. Everything was stolen, including a diamond
necklace by Van Cleef & Arpels and a ring encrusted with a diamond of
the size of a big cherry. The family’s loss was R$ 1 million
($585,000) or more. Two collections of luxury watches were also taken,
one of which contained 143 Rolex watches worth more than R$ 2 million
($1,170,000). Another client lost two jewellery cases, one being an
18th Century Prussian jewellery case studded with rubies, and made of
silver and ivory, which sheltered inside a collection of 33 rough
diamonds extracted from African and Brazilian mines. The other was a
wooden box decorated with silver containing 58 Colombian emeralds in
its interior, in sizes varying from 1 to 3 carats. Together, the boxes
are worth R$ 12 million ($7 million).

Due to the amazingness of the situation, one should expect that the
police would take immediate action. But that’s not what happened at
all. In spite of being prompt informed by Banco Itaú about the crime,
the police department responsible for handling bank robberies in São
Paulo only began to investigate the case a week after it took place.
Even the security guards who worked that night were interrogated only
11 days after the robbery, not to mention that investigators didn’t do
much during the time known as the ‘Golden 48,’ in reference to the
relevance of collecting evidence and interviewing witnesses during the
48 hours after a crime is committed, a period after which the
likelihood of solving it drops precipitously.

There’s already suspicion of self-dealing in a fishy deal between key
members of the investigation team and the thieves, especially because
the São Paulo police has a history in this regard. In the past, some
of its officials extorted money from Colombian drug lords, including
Juan Carlos Ramírez Abadía, and also from burglars responsible for
several bank thefts over the past years.

Because of that, a lot of the victims are hiring private investigation
agencies such as the New York-based RCI First Security and
Intelligence Advising, which already contacted hundreds of cutters,
jewellers, auctioneers and money changers from all over the globe in
order to locate some of the stolen goods. The fact that the
investigations were delayed, though, is a major problem. Timing is
crucial in these cases, since the thieves will always try to go away
as soon as possible to avoid being tracked down.

As soon as they heard the shocking news of the robbery, the directors
of Banco Itaú set up a crisis committee to monitor the situation and
make an exhaustive assessment of the consequences of this
unprecedented theft, which, for some reason, only became public last
week. For a bank, a huge robbery like the one in this case can somehow
be compared to a plane crash for an airliner. Some 40 managers at the
bank were ordered to put aside their daily tasks and devote to
personally inform clients that their precious goods had been stolen.
Many have had to be medicated after receiving the news.

Meanwhile, investigators are trying to identify the thieves thanks to
the only clue they have left: Although they’ve destroyed much of the
surveillance system, some of the security cameras went unnoticed to
them. Based on the video footage, 12 thieves have been identified so
far. And it is quite likely that the mentors of the Banco Itaú
burglary are the same behind the Banco Central burglary at Fortaleza,
one of the world’s largest burglaries.

On the weekend of August 6, 2005 and August 7, 2005 a gang of burglars
tunneled into the Banco Central in Fortaleza, a city in north-eastern
Brazil. They removed five containers of R$ 50 notes, with an estimated
value of R$ 164,755,150 ($95 million) and weighing about 3.5 tons. The
money was uninsured; a bank spokeswoman stated that the risks were too
small to justify the insurance premiums. The burglars managed to evade
or disable the bank’s internal alarms and sensors; the burglary
remained undiscovered until the bank opened for business on the
morning of Monday, August 8, 2005. So far, authorities have recovered
more than $8.93 million, while the remaining is still unaccounted for.

The Banco Central robbery inspired a just-released movie that is
already a contender for representing Brazil at the 2012 Academy
Awards. The question is whether a possible sequel of the movie will
have a happy ending for the victims or the thieves.´´

Monday, September 05, 2011

Well thats kinda fun

Maybe wordle word clouds are one of those... ´um that came around like 4 years ago? things,´ but to me it came around last week when my brother emailed me a worldle of my blog. it goes something like this...

I could make poetry out of it but for now, it kinda sums up my life here.

great weekend view, just brazilian. chairs, husband, view, unforgettable home

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The best beach in Brazil?

Well thats quite a statement considering there seem to be soo many. But according to Backpacker Ben, Praia de Pipa takes the cake. Known for fine cuisine and gorgeous beaches, this small fishing village was discovered by backpackers and surfers in the 70´s and is also a dolphin haven. It is located about 85 km from the city of Natal in Rio Grande do Norte which is very very.....norte!  So in honor of Brazilian Independence Day off we go for a much needed vacation in the sun. When is a vacation not needed?

Praia de Pipa here we come... ohh I´m so excited!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Rio or Sao Paulo?

While I am in Article Forwarding mode...this article is taken from The Economist (scroll to the bottom for an audio guide)

Doing Business in Brazil

Rio or São Paulo?

Aug 24th 2011, 18:31 by H.J | RIO DE JANEIRO AND SÃO PAULO

LAST year Paulo Rezende, a Brazilian private-equity investor, and two partners decided to set up a fund investing in suppliers to oil and gas companies. Although this industry is centred on Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second-largest city, with its huge offshore oilfields—and fabulous beaches, dramatic scenery and outdoor lifestyle—they instead established the Brasil Oil and Gas Fund 430km (270 miles) away, in São Paulo’s concrete sprawl. Even though it means flying to Rio once or twice a week, Mr Rezende, like many other businesspeople, decided that São Paulo’s economic heft outweighed Rio’s charms. But the choice is harder than it used to be.

For many years, São Paulo has been the place for multinationals to open a Brazil office. It may be less glamorous than Rio, as the two cities’ nicknames suggest: Rio is Cidade Maravilhosa (the Marvellous City); São Paulo is Cidade da Garoa (the City of Drizzle). But as Mr Rezende sadly concluded: “São Paulo is the financial centre, and that’s where the money is.”

Edilson Camara of Egon Zehnder International, an executive-search firm with offices in both cities, does 12 searches in São Paulo for each one in Rio. The biggest mistake, he reckons, is for firms to let future expatriates visit Rio at all. “They are seduced by the scenery and lifestyle, and it’s a move they can sell to their families. But many have ended up moving their office to São Paulo a couple of years later, with all the upheaval that entails.”

From a hamlet founded by Jesuit missionaries in 1554, São Paulo grew on coffee in the 19th century, industry in the first half of the 20th—and then on the misfortunes of Rio, once Brazil’s capital and its richest, biggest city. The federal government abandoned Rio for the newly built Brasília in 1960, starting a half-century of decline. Misgoverned by politicians and fought over by drug gangs and corrupt police, Rio became dangerous, even by Brazilian standards. The exodus gained pace as businesses and the rich fled, mostly for São Paulo.

Now, though, there are signs that the cost-benefit calculation is shifting. São Paulo’s economy has done well in Brazil’s recent boom years and it is still much bigger, but Rio’s is growing faster, boosted by oil discoveries and winning its bid to host the 2016 Olympics (see table below). Last year Rio received $7.3 billion in foreign direct investment—seven times more than the year before, and more than twice as much as São Paulo. Prime office rents in Rio are now higher than anywhere else in the Americas, north or south, according to Cushman and Wakefield, a property consultancy.

Community-policing projects are taming its infamous favelas, or shanty towns: its murder rate, though still very high at 26 per 100,000 people per year (two-and-a-half times São Paulo’s), is at last falling. Brazil’s soaring real is pricing expats paid in foreign currencies out of São Paulo’s classy restaurants and shopping malls; Rio’s recipe of sun, sea and samba is still free. Even Hollywood seems to be on Rio’s side: an eponymous animation, with its lush depictions of rainforest and carnival, is one of the year’s highest-grossing films.

Red-carpet treatmentRio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, has big plans for capitalising on the city’s magic moment. The sharp-suited, English-speaking lawyer has set up a business-development agency, Rio Negócios, to market the city, help businesspeople find investment opportunities, and advise on paperwork and tax breaks. Though all investors are welcome, it concentrates on those in sectors where it reckons Rio has an edge: tourism, energy, infrastructure and creative industries such as fashion and film. “A couple of years ago, foreign businessmen would come to Rio and ask what we had to offer,” says Mr Paes. “We had no answer. Now we roll out the red carpet.”

The political balance between the two cities has changed too. In the 1990s São Paulo was more influential and better run: it is the stronghold of the Party of Brazilian Social Democracy (PSDB), the national party of government from 1995 to 2002. Now the PSDB is in its third term of opposition in Brasília, and though it still governs São Paulo state, it is weakened by internal feuds. In Rio, by contrast, the political stars are aligned. The state governor, Sérgio Cabral, campaigned tirelessly for the current president, Dilma Rousseff—and received his reward when police actions in an unruly favela late last year were backed up by federal forces. Mr Paes and Mr Cabral are from the same party, and their pre-Olympic plans for security, housing and transport mesh well.

São Paulo’s socioeconomic segregation, long part of its appeal to expats, is starting to look like less of an advantage. Most of its nicer bits are clustered together, allowing rich paulistanos to ignore the vast favelas on the periphery. In Rio, selective blindness is harder with favelas perched on hilltops overlooking all the best neighbourhoods. But proximity seems to be teaching well-off cariocas that abandonment is no solution for poverty and violence. Community policing and urban-renewal schemes are bringing safety and public services. Chapéu Mangueira and Babilônia, twin favelas a 20-minute uphill scramble from Copacabana beach, are being rebuilt, with a health clinic, nursery and a 24-hour police presence. The price of nearby apartments has already soared. Several other slums are also getting similar make-overs.

Central do BrasilRio’s Olympic preparations include extending its metro and building lots of dedicated bus lanes, including one linking the international airport to the city centre. By 2016, predicts City Hall, half of all journeys in the city will be by high-quality public transport, up from 16% today. São Paulo’s metro extensions are years behind schedule, and the city is grinding towards gridlock. Its plans to link the city centre to its main international airport (recently voted Latin America’s most-hated by business travellers) rely on a grandiose federal high-speed train project, bidding for which was recently postponed for the third time.

Rio is still unpredictably dangerous, and decades of poor infrastructure maintenance have left their mark. Its mobile-phone and electricity networks are outage-prone; the língua negra (“black tongue”, a sudden overflow of water and sewage from inadequate hillside culverts) is a staple of the rainy season; exploding manholes, caused by subterranean gas leaks meeting sparks from electricity lines, are a hazard all year round. All in all, still not an easy choice for a multinational business—but it is no longer foolish to let prospective expats fly down to Rio to take a look.

Audio guide:

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sao Paulo: Brazilian Beauty

Aug 20th Wall Street Journal Article

[S?o Paulo]Rafael Pinho for The Wall Street Journal
Figueira Rubaiyat

Beaches, bikinis and feathered headdresses are not reasons to visit the biggest city in Brazil—that's Rio you're dreaming of. What São Paulo lacks in sea and sand, it more than makes up for with sophisticated style, can't-look-away architecture and a rich culture influenced by immigrants from around the globe.

This megatropolis of 11 million is the pounding heart of South America's biggest economic success story. A city on the make, it's dynamic and teeming, yet noticeably…happy. Despite the frequently rainy weather, locals have a rep for offering easy smiles.

Insider's Guide to São Paulo

Rafael Pinho for The Wall Street Journal
Chef Helena Rizzo at Mani
And why not? Paulistas are blessed with stunning buildings, including several by celebrated Brazilian modernist Oscar Niemeyer. The city's diversity is on display in Liberdade, also known as Little Tokyo. In Vila Madalena, a bohemian outpost set in rolling hills, the nighttime vibe is one of all-out revelry. Street art graces miles of concrete walls around town; avant-folk fashion turns heads on the streets.
September will bring some bikini sightings with the Miss Universe pageant, as well as rain-free fall weather. If it does drizzle, at least there are plenty of sunny dispositions to enjoy.
—Sameer Reddy
The Hotelier
Rogerio Fasano
Head of the Fasano Group, which owns the Hotel Fasano São Paulo
Mega Food Market: Mercado Municipal. For me this amazing indoor food market represents the plurality and the multiculturalism of São Paulo. It also reminds me of my grandfather, who used to go there all the time. 306 Rua da Cantareira,
Landmark Museum: Museu de Arte de São Paulo. MASP is my favorite museum in town. Its modern architecture is a landmark and represents the feeling and spirit of São Paulo. 1578 Ave. Paulista,
Petite Park:Trianon Park. I like this small park because I used to spend a lot of time there when I was a kid. My school, Dante Alighieri, was just across the street. Its location is a breath of fresh air on the city's most business oriented avenue—the contrast is nice. 850 Alameda Jaú
Escape Route:Congonhas Airport. I love the feeling of going there, because it usually means that I will be boarding a flight to Rio de Janeiro, my second home in Brazil.
Memorable Building:Edifício Matarazzo. It was designed by the Italian architect Marcello Piacentini in the 1940s, and in my opinion it is the most beautiful building in the city. It was one of the inspirations for the Hotel Fasano in São Paulo. 15 Viaduto do Chá
The Chef
Alex Atala
Chef and owner of award-winning restaurant D.O.M.
Authentic Eats:Mocotó Restaurant & Cachaçaria. Far from the city center, but it's a must. This picturesque restaurant has unforgettable food based on traditional Brazilian dishes, and very reasonable prices. It's been open since 1973; these days chef Rodrigo Oliveira carries on his father's work. 1100 Ave. Nossa Senhora do Loreto,
Street Art: Beco do Batman. "Batman's Alley" is more than just a street—it's an open-air graffiti gallery in the heart of the bohemian Vila Madalena neighborhood. Worth the trip. Rua Gonçalo Afonso
Asian Bazaar: Liberdade Street Market. Hosts the best of Japanese culture and cuisine—São Paulo, after all, has the biggest Japanese community outside Japan. Saturdays and Sundays on Praça da Liberdade
Modern Fare: Maní. Chef Helena Rizzo does wonderful work alongside her husband, Spaniard Daniel Redondo, creating nouvelle Brazilian cuisine. It's one restaurant I truly recommend. 210 Rua Joaquim Antunes,
Cultural Complex: Latin American Memorial. I believe Oscar Niemeyer is a revolutionary and a genius. Make sure to see his soaring, curving design that showcases Latin American art, theater, music, dance and more. 664 Ave. Áuro Soares de Moura Andrade,
The Style Editor
Erika Palomino
Editor of Plastic Dreams magazine, columnist for Brazilian web portal iG and TV commentator
Sleek Museum: Museu Lasar Segall. The movie theater and gardens form a modernist space in which you can walk around, and watch art films sitting on antique chairs. You can also see the atelier of gravures and enjoy a late afternoon coffee in the calm. 111 Rua Berta,
Sports Arena:Estádio do Pacaembu. I like to go there to watch the Corinthians' soccer matches—my team! Also great for a visit to the Soccer Museum or to hang out at the low-key Art Deco pub. Praça Charles Miller,
Art Showcase: Pinacoteca. A beautiful building that hosts great exhibitions, completely restored by Brazilian starchitect Paulo Mendes da Rocha. Afterwards, have a wonderful lunch at Acrópoles, a nearby Greek restaurant. 2 Praça da Luz,; 364 Rua da Graça,
Boutique and Bite: Surface to Air and Lorena 1989. Check the new arrivals in the city's best multi-brand store, then have a delicious meal at the attached terrace restaurant, which has a charming view. 1989 Alameda Lorena,,
Top Design: Micasa. A spectacular design store, they have pieces from Vitra, the Bouroullec brothers and special collections from young Brazilian furniture designers. 2109 Rua Estados Unidos,
The Fashion Designer
Oskar Metsavaht
Designer and owner of Brazilian luxury brand Osklen
Modernist Masterpiece: Pavilhão Lucas Nogueira Garcez (Oca).The dome-shaped building, designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1951, once housed the Museu da Aeronáutica and the Museu do Folclore, and was renovated in part by Paulo Mendes da Rocha. It's now used for temporary exhibitions and events. Ibirapuera Park,
Go-To Gallery: Galeria Fortes Vilaça. One of the most important galleries in São Paulo. It represents artists I really appreciate, like Vik Muniz, Janaina Tschäpe and Ernesto Neto. 1500 Rua Fradique Coutinho,
Local Snack Spot: Frevo. One of the most traditional snack bars in the city. Its Beirute sandwich, made with pita, roast beef, cheese and tomato, is famous—and delicious! 603 Rua Oscar Freire and other locations,
Edgy Art: Instituto Tomie Ohtake. Designed by Ruy Ohtake, the center is named after his father, a well-known Japanese artist, and the center reflects a contemporary view of the city, where culture, art and entertainment are all integrated. 201 Ave. Faria Lima,
Power Tower: Edifício Itália. São Paulo's second-tallest building, located in the city center, offers an amazing view of the skyline. Don't miss the rooftop restaurant for a 360-degree perspective. 344 Ave. Ipiranga,