Monday, January 31, 2011

A Touch of Brazil

I'm back from my trip to Santa Cruz and it was A-mazing! It was beyond fun seeing all of my friends from college, and I am already obsessing over our next reunion...which I think will take place somewhere in the mountains of Ojai. Stay tuned.

The morning before we left, we decided to eat breakfast at a Santa Cruz hotspot "Cafe Brasil". It is a tiny little restaurant painted yellow and green, with (some) Brazilian waitresses and a menu full of "Brazilian" foods. It was one of my favorite restaurants when I moved to Santa Cruz, long before speaking Portuguese or traveling to Rio.

The wait to get in was long (almost two hours!) but I was hungover, and you know what that means: AÇAÍ!!!! I know I claimed to have quit açaí but I was on vacation, it was just once, blah blah blah.

This is a picture I snapped of an Amerileira Açaí. It's yummy, don't get me wrong...but it's like eating taco bell after living in the Mexico for a year.

The breakfast foods are not like anything I have ever seen in Brazil, but maybe it's just not a regional dish. The Avocado a Cavalo is one of the most popular dishes with two poached eggs over a baguette with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. The Orfeu Negro is the same but smothered in black beans.

I left a little note in Portuguese for the waitress (I couldn't pass up the opportunity to show off a little) and tipped her an additional 2 reais (that I had sitting in my wallet). All in all, a great trip that perfectly blended the visiting of old friends with a touch of my beloved Brazil!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Bilingual Boo

I've been dating my boyfriend for a little over a year and a half, and he hasn't yet been to the US to meet all of my friends and family. My mom and sister came to Brazil and met him, as well as my best friend, but other than that, he's relatively unknown to all that are close to me (aside from the random skype "hellos").

One of the most common questions that people ask me when they find out that I have a Brazilian boyfriend is what language we speak when we are together. (That and "Can you do an impression of his accent?") I never really know how to answer the question because I never pay attention to the language we are speaking.

When we first started dating, he always had to bug me to speak Portuguese. I was living with all Americans and it was difficult for me to make my brain switch into Portuguese know, when you sort of just spout something out like "fala aí mermão"...and have no idea where you learned it or what it means, but you know it makes sense in context.

However, now that we are both comfortable with each other's languages (more or less) our conversations are all over the place. He will say something in English and I will respond in English with a couple Portuguese words mixed in and he will respond in Portuguese...blah blah blah back and forth with neither of us noticing how weird it must sound to anyone listening in. (I mean, half the time my parents think I'm speaking French when I speak Portuguese...damn Carioca accent!)

I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's exciting. All those years of Portuguese classes, and homework and presentations and tests...and all I had to do was get a boyfriend. I should of known that's where I would find the motivation!

P.S. I have told myself that I am going to write more often (I sort of fell off the bandwagon this month), but I am going to be in Santa Cruz (the one in California, not in Brazil) this weekend to visit a friend (my gatinha's other mommy) and baby gatinha!!!! Yay!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Freelance Translator

For expats moving to Brazil, the go-to profession is usually teaching private English lessons. This is a great option and one that will probably see a much greater demand with the World Cup and the Olympics right around the corner. When I went to Brazil, I didn't get into teaching English because I had already arranged a job as a part-time in-house translator for a Travel and Tourism company.

In addition to working with the company, I spent hours a day trying to establish myself as a freelance translator. Now, about 6 months later, I am starting to see my efforts pay off and I can really see a profitable and fulfilling career in my future. The hardest part of becoming a freelance translator is figuring out where to start. I though I would offer some of my advice and explain how I got started, for anyone who is interested in a possible career as a translator.

1) Know two (or more) languages. This is pretty obvious, but absolutely necessary. Although my Portuguese is not fluent, it is advanced enough to understand fully 99% of what I read. (For that last 1% I email the boyfriend!) Also, with any translation project you will always translate into your native language. So for me, I translate from the "Source language" (Portuguese) to my "native language" (English).

2) Do cheap or volunteer translations. My first "job" as a translator was proofreading subtitles for an independent film. It was volunteer. I then signed up with This company offers quick translations for companies that need expedited services. They only pay .05USD per source word (words in the original document) and .09USD per source word for expert translation (legal and technical documents). I get most of my experience and income from this site.

3) I got a wide range of translation experience through the site onehourtranslation, and I built up my resume with translation projects of legal documents, magazine articles, twitter, texts, emails, food packaging, CVs, forex, diplomas, transcripts etc... I finally had a full enough resume to feel confident sending my resume to translation agencies. I started sending my resume to 3 agencies per day, all of which I found online.
***Remember, even if you work with Port>Eng, agencies in countries other than the US/UK and Brazil/Portugal need freelance translators too.

4) Choosing a price is difficult for me. I am still shooting pretty low because of my lack of experience, but I have been able to raise my price since I started. Most companies will pay per source word, and I end up making about $20/hour-$40/hour depending on the content of the translation.

The great thing about sending your resume into so many different companies is that you will be stored in their database. Now, I receive random emails from companies that I don't even remember contacting. Work seems to be popping up all over the place now and I'm actually having to turn some people down.

The downside to translating for agencies across the world, is that if they scam you, there is not much you can do about it, except to blast them on your I am about to do:

ASHIS SHAH from language world. SCAM SCAM SCAM!!! If you get a project from this man, RUN AWAY!! May the bad karma you have acquired lead your business to failure and financial ruin. He will arrange a translation, and once you have turned it in, he will tell you that he assigned it to another translator because you didn't respond soon enough. He will blame the different time zones on the miscommunication. Then, when you turn in an agreed upon translation, he will ignore you and never pay you. SCAM SCAM SCAM!!!

If you have any questions about starting as a freelance translator, feel free to write me. I'm no expert, but I'm learning a little more each day.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Chinese Butt Massage

After my nice relaxing CRAZY vacation in San Diego and Los Angeles, I came home and was invited by my mom to go to the local SPA. My mom is one of those people who wins every raffle she enters...and unfortunately, it only works for raffles (I've bought her quite a few lottery tickets. No luck there.)

So, she won a day for two at The Oaks Spa in Ojai. It's a pretty nice place, but the lady who owns it (and has paintings of herself plastered everywhere) needs to hire a decorator. I felt a little bit like I was visiting my grandma, minus the pee smell (sorry g-ma, but we both know it's true!)

The highlight of the day was the Rope Yoga. No one showed up to the class except my mom and I, and 2 hours later, covered in bruises, we figured out why. Here is a little picture of what Rope Yoga looks like:
The class was actually incredibly fun and I seem to me (surprisingly) really good at it. If anyone has the opportunity to take one of these classes I highly recommend it. Just don't get naked around any strangers during the week look pretty battered afterwards.

In the evening, my mom and I snuck out of the SPA to go get some cheap massages from the Chinese massage place down the street. (it took every ounce of self control I have to not text my dad and tell him to have a pizza waiting when I got home...steamed veggies and rice with noooooo salt is even more bland than it sounds).

This place charges $35 for a 1 hour massage (30 minute body/30 minute feet). I would go every day if I was more confident they wouldn't break my spine. It's one of those places where you write down a number corresponding to how bad you want to be hurting the next day. I chose 3, my mom chose 5 (out of 7). My mom stopped by the bathroom, and I mistakenly wandered into her massage room, her HELL HOLE OF TORTURE!!!

Despite having a grown Asian man mount me while digging his bony little Asian elbow into my kidney, I also had my skull dislocated from my spine, little fingers wiggling around in my ear, and a good hard spanking. Yes, that's right. A spanking. He lifted my leg and proceeded to smack my ass.

Now I've been dating a Brazilian for some time now. If there is something you learn by dating a Brazilian, it's how to take a good butt beating...but this was intense. Who knew the Chinese had it in them?

Friday, January 14, 2011


I think it is time for a vacation. I realize how silly this sounds coming from Rio de Janeiro, then southern California hippy-haven Ojai, but it's true. I'm a little burnt out on this small town (and living at my parents house again), so I'm packing up and heading out.

First destination: Los Angeles!!! Although I have lived about an hour and half from Los Angeles for most of my life, I have never actually visited Los Angeles (unless I was hopping on a plane). I have a friend who goes to grad school at USC and we are going to stay with her for a night.

Second destination: Sunny San Diego (the whale's vagina, anchorman fans? anyone?)! It's my friends birthday and I think a girl's night is the perfect way to take me out of this funk i'm living in.

Pray for a sunny weekend, because this albino girl is going on her third straight no-summer, which means I am translucent like a little know, that kind where you can see their inner-workings? If I let this go any longer, people will actually be able to see me digesting food through my abdomen....

And with that lovely visual...I'm off!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Blog, My Frienemy

When I started this blog, I was feeling a little alone in Brazil. Although I had never met any of you expats, I felt like I was part of a community where I could read and share stories, and feel a little bit like I had friends again. The kind that you tell about your day and your obnoxious coworker or crazy landlord, making those terrible moments just a little more bearable.

Now that I'm not in Brazil, I'm having a little bit of a love-hate relationship with my blog. Part of me so desperately wants to log on and read about the country and city that I miss so much, and reminisce, but it sort of just makes me sad.

I found out a couple days ago that I won't be able to get a visa in February. I tried and tried (and tried) for a couple months to get ahold of UFRJ, and when I finally got some lady on the phone, she told me that the class was full and I should have contacted her in November. Unfortunately the contact number and email I had been using in November (the ones provided on the contacts page of their website) are out of service, and no one responds.

I haven't let it sink in enough to start focusing on plan B (which I don't have by the way). I might be looking at a looooooooooooong 5 more months of saudades.

Friday, January 7, 2011


This has nothing to do with Brazil, it's just another one of my random endorsements that I do from time to time. I read about this site on a "how to make money online" article and thought that the idea was really interesting. The site is called

It works like this. When you are creating a website, you can go to pickydomains and pay $50 to have a group of "contributers" suggest creative website names that have to do with your product or service. If you pick one, great! If you don't, you get a refund.

The part that I was interested in was the "contributer" role. I am always playing word games, scrabble, crosswords, scattegories...everything, so I though that it might actually be fun to try to get my suggestion picked (by the way, you get $25 bucks if the person picks your suggestion). I had read a bunch of stuff online where people say this site is fake or a I was a little weary.

Well, I signed up and (drumroll) MY FIRST SUGGESTION WAS PICKED! Aaaaaand I am proud to inform that I was paid and it's not a scam. Pretty cool. Check out, a classy local dating site who's domain name I created, yay!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Small Town

When people ask how small my small town is, I generally throw out this anecdote:

My brother was on the front page of the paper and received free diapers for a year for being the first baby born in Ojai in 1987! His birthday is January 4th...

That being said, it's common knowledge amongst the town-folk that I spent some time in Brazil (or was it Argentina, Ecuador, Belize...Ethiopia?). While having a conversation with the dentist a while back (you know, when they shove their fist down your throat mouth and then ask what you've been up to. "uahh hhguu fhafndk " "oh yes, interesting!"), my dentist asked me to prove my Spanish fluency. I replied with the autopilot response: "oh, Brazilians actually speak Portuguese".

I then received the most unique linguistics lesson of my life on how Portuguese is actually a dialect of Spanish like European Spanish vs. Mexican Spanish...oohhhh so like, Portuguese = Brazilian Spanish. Anyhoo, I think dentists just like to talk out their ass because they know you can't respond.
All of this talking about Brazil is giving me some MAJOR saudades. Add to that the fact that I'm also having some MAJOR visa issues that do not look like they will be clearing up any time soon, and I'm getting ready to break my arms and legs so I can fit in a priority shipment box...will someone please pick me up at the post office?

If anyone else out there has saudades that "need to be killed", (or you just want to see BEAUTIFUL VIDEO) that my friend Bruno Villela made, check this out:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Drama in the New Year

I have already gloated about my darling gatinha on this blog before, but 2 cat posts isn't quite enough to propel me into cat lady territory, so I will continue. I may be an absent cat mother, but I am a damn proud one.

You see, I got Gatinha in college and then abandoned her with my friend (her #1 mommy) while livin it up in Brazil. Then I abandoned her again while livin it up in Brazil the second see the pattern.

Fortunately, this holiday season Gatinha and I got some quality mommy (#2) and kitty-daughter time, because mommy #1 couldn't keep her at her parent's dog infested home. Gatinha got to meet her grandparents and sleep in my bed for once.

In fact we got on so well that she climbed 50 feet up a tree in the back yard on the day she was supposed to go back to mommy #1's house. And Gatinha, bless her little heart, is not a climber.

Not only was she completely stuck and terrified, but 4 bully crows were screaming at her and dive bombing her. Well, I did what any mommy would do...snapped some photos! If you look real closely at the photo up top you can see her smack in the middle.

Then I got my ladder out, put on some tree climbing shorts, called my best friend (mommy #1's) firefighter boyfriend and got to work. She survived the ordeal and is now on her way back to mommy #1's house...but not without proving to me how much she loves me!

Happy New Year!
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