First things first, if you have no idea who Mirtes' is, get acquainted.
For an evangelical, Mirtes was sure good at making her home a living hell. It still boggles my mind how someone living in a tropical city would not have doors. There was a front door, of course, but there was no door leading to the outdoor kitchen (yes, $2000 reais a month to cook camping-style), and no door leading to the outdoor bedroom/bathroom.
Not to mention, the wandering refrigerator. It is a well-known fact that middle-aged Brazilian women have an irresistable urge for non-stop rearranging. There is a ceramic donkey at my Sogra's house that pops up in the oddest of places. I play "Cadê o burro" every time I visit her house.
But, the refrigerator, really? One day it was in the living room, the next day the indoor kitchen, the next day the outdoor kitchen, until she finally ended up hoarding it on the outdoor veranda and locking the door so we couldn't eat. Luckily, it was carnaval and a bottle of warm cachaça was enough to sustain us.
No doors in Rio de Janeiro means waking up to cockroaches skittering around your room. It became clear very quickly that these illusive roaches had special training from years of wacked-out Mirtes chasing them around in her calcinhas (the sight alone could kill a colony of roaches).
Without a doubt, there was a new cockroach for everyday we lived at Mirtes' Indoor-Outdoor. Yes, we named the house. We also named the roaches: Bush, Hitler, Jim Jones...you get the idea.
Killing the roaches became an art. Since there were two of us living the in the room, there was a chaser/smasher and a scooper/disposer. After a botched smashing attempt, my PTSD made me eligible for permanent scooper duty, for that I was thankful.
After reading Linds' post about where to tinkle while out and about in Rio de Janeiro, I remembered an amazing bathroom that I had the pleasure of peeing in while grabbing a drink with my boyfriend.
In Flamengo there is a Devassa bar on the corner of Rua Senador Vergueiro and Rua Marqûes de Abrantes. I can't speak for the men's bathroom, but the girls bathroom was FREAKY!
I was just sitting there, on the pot peeing, when the bathroom door opened and a girl came in. It was then that I realized I could see her...from inside my stall!!! It wasn't until she started making kissy faces at her self WHILE STARING RIGHT AT ME WITH MY PANTS AROUND MY ANKLES, that I realized she was looking in a mirror.
Those freaky freaks at devassa put a one-way mirror on their bathroom stall doors. When you are in the stall you can see everything happening outside in the bathroom, but when you are outside, you think it's just a mirror.
What was even more uncomfortable was seeing the girl later when she left the bar...we exchanged glances and I knew she had figured it out.
A giant billboard of a woman burning and the slogan "brinque com fogo" just two blocks from where a car was recently burnt on Siqueira Campos...slightly inappropriate given recent events, don't you think, Burn Energy Drinks? Of course, it was just a case of unfortunate timing. Kinda like when I was in the airport as the staff where taking down Tiger Woods' watch ads (right after "the scandal"). "It's the best watch I've ever owned, and you can trust me, I'm Tiger Woods) Ha!
So the dread has begun to sink in. It is a little over 2 weeks until I have to leave Brazil, my job, my crappy apartment and my beloved Namo. Last time I left Brazil I was heartbroken but I knew what I had to do and when I would be back. This time, on the other hand, I have no idea when I'll be returning.
What I really want to do is take a Portuguese class at a University here in Rio and get a student visa. I don't want to return on another tourist visa because I'll have to wait 6 months and I don't know if I can do that again.
I need advice. Anything. If you have any contacts/friends/students/whoever that have taken portuguese classes and gotten visas to live here in Brazil, I would love to get in contact with them and bate papo.
I've been looking into UFRJ and UERJ but the sites aren't updated, they don't return emails and they never answer their phones...go figure.
It's been a long time coming, but the thought of even trying to summarize Mirtes in a short blog post is extremely daunting, but here goes.
I left Esther the Nazi Pimp'sHouse with enthusiasm and excitment because 'Gary' and I had just met a lovely Brazilian girl who just happened to have an open room in a beautiful apartment in Leblon and she wanted to rent it to us, for $400 reais a month! Only $400 reais a month and no Nazi slurs, smoke-scented panties, or man boobs!!!
Homeless for the weekend, Gary and I decided to head to Ilha Grande to pass the time before we could move into our new apartment. The weekend was amazing and we took some gorgeous photos.
Upon returning we got our first lesson in Brazilian's flakyness cultural understanding of casual commitments. Meaning, the Brazilian girl ditched us and I was left homeless. Literally, bags in the taxi and nowhere to go.
That's when Mirtes (Meer-chez) flew in and saved the day. The caring and selfless evangelical saint that she was, saw my desperity, and offered me a bedroom for the discounted price of $2,000 reais. I repeat, what a Saint!
Let's talk about the bedroom. The term "quarto" was really quite a stretch as I would have chosen "veranda" or "outdoor mosquito breeding ground with a crankable curtain-wall". She also took some liberty with the term "bathroom with hot shower", because all I saw was a hose sitting in the sun...
She assured us that rain wouldn't enter the room, but upon arriving home the next day to all of our precious belongings strewn about the house and a million fans on, it was clear that the veranda had flooded. My computer would have died had I not already killed it with a bottle of nail polish remover at the Nazi's house.
Mirtes had a few basic rules: no smoking, no drinking, no foul-mouths, no boys, no girls, no music, no unpure thoughts, NO GAYS! Did I mention we lived on Farme? We just nodded our heads and swore up and down that we were good evangelical girls. Well, needless to say it only took a few days for us to stumble in drunk at 3am in neon wigs and body paint for Mirtes to get suspicious...and that's when the hoarding began.
This post is already getting long and my brain is overflowing with ridiculous Mirtes stories, so I will save them for another post (or 10), such as:
You know when you hear about a business/gadget/idea that someone came up with and is now making a few million dollars off of, and you just want to kick yourself in the face for not coming up with it first?
Facebook. Okay, I’m not delusional. Im fully aware that I never would have been able to come up with that or Napster, or the Internet…so go ahead and revel in your glory Mark Zuckerberg, Shawn Fanning and Al Gore (ha!)
But then there are those who make billions off of wigs and goggles for dogs, packaged plastic wishbones, and fake doctor's note templates for working professionals.
Last night, I met one of these lucky (smart) bastards. He had come up with the most genius business in Rio de Janeiro and he is about to make some DINHEIRÃO! It’s called Homedrink (or “omedrinky” if you´re Brazilian). They deliver any kind of alcohol from velho barreiro to grey goose, snacks (Pringles and cashews = $$$), and ice during Madrugada. Meaning, after all the stores are closed and everyone is too drunk to drive, these playboys save the day by swooping in on their motos with stupidly cold alcohol.
I can't tell you how many times I have woken up in the morning thinking “Thank GOD we didn’t get that second bottle of cachaça last night”. Now I'm screwed.
The more I think about it, the more genius it is. I mean, a business where you are almost guaranteed that your clients are drunk and making irresponsible financial decisions.
If you are interested in using them for your party or late night red wine binge, check them out here. Or check their twitter/facebook/orkut because apparently the site does not work. Amateur.
For all of the gripe Rio gets about violence and pick-pocketing, I think its important that the world out there hears about how kind Cariocas are and how they are some of the most warm-hearted people I've had the pleasure of meeting.
The other day I broke open the piggy bank to purchase some much needed medicine. After stopping by the drogaria, I made my way to Mundial. If you have ever been to Mundial on a weekend, you know that it is a special kind of torture.
I have a theory about the "express line". DON'T USE IT! Usually it's more crowded than the normal line, and I think its the dunce corner for cashiers being punished. However, on this special day some snotty lady decided my 15 items or less EXCLUDED me from the normal line...
Not only was I in the back of the line, but I had the superb luck of getting a "caixa fechada" plaque placed on my cart. To any normal personal this reads "Line Closed-Back off"...but to the hoards of people who kept arriving behind me in line it meant "Please Cut in Front of Me to Cheat the System".
Needless to say, the day started a little lousy, but I went about my day running errands and stayed chipper. When I got home I realized that my medicine was missing. After a few exasperated minutes of crying by myself, I decided to stop feeling bad for myself, and venture back into the gloomy Rio rain to find my missing meds.
I retraced my steps and searched all through Mundial again. Finally I decided to go back to the drug store and see if they would sympathize and give me some more meds for free (I was desperate).
It turns out someone found my medicine on the ground in Mundial and took the time to see what pharmacy it was from. They walked with all of their groceries, through the rain (for 5 miles in 10 feet of snow blah blah blah) to return the medicine to the pharmacy and SAVE MY LIFE! Not literally…but close to it.
I don’t know many people would take the time to do something this selfless, but its not the first time something like this has happened to me in Rio. Thank you nameless Carioca who took 10 minutes out of your day to greatly improve mine!!! : )
Kindness Generates Kindness, people! Now I have to find something nice to do. Any ideas?
To say that I’m addicted to coffee would be the understatement of the year. However, it is so not my fault. You see, I spent 3 years filtering coffee with a plastic cup and a paper towel, before moving up to a French press (que chique). Then I arrived at my work here in Rio where they have endless amounts of fresh, steaming hot Brazilian coffee every day! I just cant help myself, so I help myself to 2 cups of coffee and make it through days like this.
Turns out there was a slight confusion and I don’t know what an espresso machine is. Yeah that’s right, go ahead and hate, Ive been drinking 2 cups of espresso everyday for the past 6 months, I should probably be dead…don’t worry, I paid big. After this Halloween’s special treat, I had to cut back on the caffeine, and I felt it.
Thanks to my good friends Neosaldina and Chocolate, I made it out alive, and I have lived to tell my tragic story. Every 1 in 6,000,000,000 people do not know the difference between a coffee maker and an espresso machine…don’t be a statistic, get educated.
I tried to think of a flashy title that would get people to read this post, I figured a good curse word always does the trick. I came across a website that any ex-pat or avid traveler just NEEEEEEEDS to know about.
Seriously, this site just saved me from booking a 17 hour flight from Panama to California, in a seat that has less leg room, can't recline, is located directly under the AC, with a partial window and less cushioning than standard economy seats.
It's called SeatGuru, and it has now been added to my favorites bar. You can type in any airline and the aircraft number and it gives you a super detailed layout of the seating. It not only shows you what seats are near the wings/bathroom/emergency exits, but it highlights the worst/best/slightly bad seats on the aircraft.
It covers other details such as:
-movie screens/music channels
-temperature of certain areas
-leg room/width of seat
-partial window/full window
It totally sounds like I'm being paid to write this (feel free to reimburse me SeatGuru), but I am just so thankful that I don't have to spend 17 hours in a non-reclining seat. I seriously recommend using this site while reserving your seats online. Thanks to them, I get to spend my 17 hours (from hell) in a seat with extra leg room and a private movie screen.
For those of you who travel Business Class...I have nothing positive to say to you because my jealousy is debilitating.
*Insider's Tip* - If you can't reserve the seat you want when you purchase your ticket, check back on the website within 24 hours of your flight, that is when all the seats from cancellations and whatnot open up!!
After Rachel's post about the candy hierarchy, I remembered a great little chart I had seen a while back. It was titled "Fuck Grapefruit" Whooaaaaaaaaaa sorry for the F-bomb, it's just me and a bottle of red wine tonight and I'm feeling a little wild, so wild in fact, I almost broke my jaw trying to rip the cork out the old fashioned way.
I stole the photo from here. Super nerdy blog/site. My brain can't grasp 99.9% of the posts, but thanks to algebra and the fact that it includes drawings, I got this one figured out.
What I can't figure out is what the hell Mr. Orange is doing waaaaaay down there with Mr. Grapefruit!! I totally support grapefruit's position on the chart. In my home, my brother used to pee on the grapefruit tree...no amount of sugar can mask that its precious seedlings were borne of my brother's urine.
I know what all you Brazilians are wondering "Cadê o limão??" That's what I first thought when I saw the chart, but then I remembered how many hours I have spent in bed cursing that little devil and it's cohort Cachaça. All you two do is get me into trouble. You team up to look like a tastey mixed drink that I can't resist...it's only in the morning that I remember that Caipirinhas are 99% cachaça and 1% limão...
So Ive already discussed the Brazilian man’s work pack, and now its time for the Brazilian woman’s Roller-pack which led to an important self realization.
In elementary school/junior high, I was the bitch. And by “bitch” I don’t mean the popular girl who makes out with boys and makes fun of girls…I mean the bitch’s little bitch. I constantly had to prove that I was cool so they wouldn’t realize that I wasn’t
Unfortunately, my mom had other plans for me. These plans included roller backpacks, hairy legs, braces and panty lines.
Thongs were strictly forbidden, braces were strictly enforced, legs could only be shaved to the knee and the roller backpack was “convenient and cute”. Needless to say, my mission of being accepted was DENIED!
Fast forward 10 years or so and I finally get it. I was meant to be Brazilian! The only place in the world where a grown woman with long golden leg hairs, a roller backpack, braces and panty lines could be sexy. I knew I loved this country!
Alright so I’m really starting to question why we trusted these so called “world explorers” of the 15th and 16th centuries…
First there is Columbus. Everyone who’s anyone (in the US) knows this man. We all learned the little rhyme in elementary school:
In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he had three ships, he left from Spain, till something went a lil ‘tarded in his brain. Maybe it was cabin fever, Or a bottle or two of rum, But he confused the Bahamas for India, Yes, he really was THAT dumb.
Then there is Pedro Alvares Cabral. This fine gentleman “discovered” Brazil while en route to India as well. (Does anybody else agree that we should just dump a big pot of glow in the dark paint over India, and stop all this confusion once and for all?)
Two years after Cabral rolled in, Gaspar de Lemos was floating down a "river" we like to call the Atlantic Ocean, when he spotted land. In a belligerent portrayal of typical explorer prowess, he deemed the land “Rio de Janeiro” because it was clearly located along a river, and it was January 1st.
I wonder if any Carioca has ever stopped to realize that their beloved Rio de Janeiro could easily have been Baia de Dezembro. Think about it, Lemos was clearly hammered. If Lemos wasn’t such a belligerent alchy maybe they would have shown up a day early and maybe (just maybe) he would have realized he was in the ocean.
1. Permanent Tan lines – teachers have em, doctors have em, newscasters have em, infants have em, hell…even porn stars have em!
2. Heals – a pair for work, a pair for the movie theater, a pair for the night clubs, a pair for the grocery store, and a pair for your dear old 90 year old grandma with a broken hip.
3. Gastro-Gluteus Relocation Surgery – Consult with your doctor about this controversial new surgery where you can get your stomach surgically relocated to your ass. The more beans, salgados, pastels, coxinhas, pão de queijo, and esfihas you eat, the better! It’s drastic but there is no other way.
4. Learn Your Diminutives because everything is legalzinho, fofinho, pequenininho, engraçadinho and rapidinho.
5. Scar Yourself! No matter how convincingly you apply steps 1-4, you will never pass the Carioca da Gema test without full commitment to step 5. That little crater scar on the fleshy part of the upper arm is like the government’s way of keeping track of the natural born citizens. Even if you marry in, you will never be a true Carioca without the crater scar. Bring out the branding iron!
When I first came to Brazil it was through the exchange program at my University. My school here in Brazil (PUC) set me up with a family where I only had to pay $400 reais to rent a room. Unfortunately, there were and still are some MAJOR flaws with the whole home stay situation (such as, absolutely no criteria other than “must have ceiling fan” and no feedback from past students who have stayed there). As luck would have it, I ended up with a bunch of Nazis…literally.
Esther, my home stay mom, was about 50 years old and waited on her husband hand and foot. She forced me to bring bananas to school everyday, which I insisted I didn’t want (don’t get me wrong, I love bananas, but when the bruise to yellow ratio is 9:1, im not down). I hid the bananas in a purse in the corner of my room (the infamous “banana bag”) which later filled with a few million families of fruit flies and banana mush. I never threw it away.
Esther’s husband was about 150 years old and undoubtedly fled Nazi Germany after the war. He only wore boxers, spit on the ground (don’t worry, Esther mopped it up right away), and liked to smoke cigarettes in my room while I wasn’t home…there is no other reason my panty drawer would smell like lucky strikes! He called me Mary and my (girl) friend Gary. The first thing he said to me was “How are you going to shoot that monkey Obama while living in Brazil?”
Esther and her husband did not approve of my boyfriend. So Esther set me up on a blind date…without telling me. She woke me up at 6am, brought me to someone’s house, rung the doorbell, mumbled something, and left. I expected some nice old lady to invite me in for coffee and pão de queijo, but what I got was a shirtless 40 year old man with a scorpion tattoo on his breast...yes, breast. When he went to his room to put a shirt on I made a run for it. Fifteen flights of stairs. I packed up and left her house the next day.
In retrospect, I think my banana bag was the perfect going away gift. Like a classier version of a flaming bag of shit on the front porch.
It you can believe it, home stay #2 was even worse. Stay tuned for "Mirtes - the homophobic hoarder".
I was born in the small hippie town of Ojai - pronounced "O-Hi" - but more commonly referred to as "So-High". Get it? Get the weed joke? Yeah. Then I moved to the slightly bigger hippie town of Santa Cruz. Up until about a year ago, the only jewelry I owned was hemp and my laundry room was themed Bob Marley.
Living in California, you kind of forget that weed/pot/marijuana/reefer/whatever you wanna call it, is actually illegal. Then to top it off, living in a city where weed is declared lowest priority by the police (meaning, J-walking is more illegal than smoking pot), Prop. 19 doesn't seem like too far of a stretch.
Needless to say, I'm a little shocked it didn't pass. For those of you who don't know, Prop 19 was a proposal that was voted on in November's election that would allow adults (21+) to grow and consume marijuana legally (up to an ounce).
The upside: The government could tax weed, bringing in tons of much needed money for education, health care, and what not. In addition, our prisons would not be full of young adults who were arrested for non-violent drug related crimes involving marijuana.
The downside: long lines at cold stone, lice outbreaks, statewide birkenstock shortage. In other words: POT HEADS EVERYWHERE BAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
Either way, with Prop. 19 or without, Californians are going to continue to "burn one down", it's just a matter of whether or not the goverment wants to profit from it.
*Disclaimer: I realize that the pot situation in California is wildly different from Rio. No comparison.
So in the fight for presidency, it looks as though Prof. Umbridge (if you are not a Harry Potter fanatic like me, this is probably lost on you) beat out Mr. Burns in yesterday's election. Honestly, I think she might have been the cop out vote because of her ties to Lula.
The interesting thing about Brazil is that voting is mandatory. From what I understand of it, you must vote in order to get some sort of stamp or receipt that goes in your 'carteira de trabalho', and you cannot work without this stamp. In addition, you have to pay a fine if you don't vote. (correct me if i'm wrong)
When I first heard of mandatory voting, I thought "what a great way to get everybody involved and passionate about elections". I was wrong and idealistic. Everybody does not get passionate, they feel obliged and bitter. Well, not everyone of course. It is just a little scary to know that people who know nothing about the candidates, show up on election day, choose at random and leave. At least they have the option of "undecided" on the ballot.
So whether or not Dilma winning the presidency is going to be good for Brazil is only something we will know in time, but it is surely a victory in the sense that Brazil has its first woman president. That's right USA, BRAZIL HAS ITS FIRST WOMEN PRESIDENT, take notes. (This is in no way me pushing for Palin, no way).
So despite the fact that Dilma has "evil vibes in her expression" (as its been said), lets hope this 'filha do Brasil' can do right by her country and keep the ball rolling. Afterall, she will be president during the World Cup and possibly the Olympics, that's some major financial decision making for a country that needs a politician intersted in something other than stuffing his or her own pockets.