Living the good life (Vivendo a boa vida)

25 Jul

Apologies for the intermittent and scarce amount of posts to my blog. I’m still getting settled in Brazil. I know, I know, I have no excuses considering I’m jobless and I don’t even cook or clean up after myself. But, right now I’m on Brazilian time (notoriously late).

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

-We found an apartment in Alphalife! (updates/pictures to come)
-Apartment shopping- cabinets for the whole house, furniture, you name it. We’re working with a completely bare space so this will take a while. But, I foresee a chic, clean, and modern pad.
-Shopping- I now have what is the start of a Brazilian wardrobe and several pair of shorts that manage to make my bottom half look more curvy.
-Conversing (if you can call it that) with the maid Lucia. While it’s more miming than anything, I have managed to successfully tell her what I want to eat or that my room is unlocked and she can clean it. Small wins!
-Underdressing- I still can’t figure out what to wear and when. I should just assume that casual means dressed up (for women only).
-Several (ok, only 2) gym sessions. I’m still trying to understand how people workout without air conditioning with their hair down and where I can find neon spandex pants.
-Job talks. I may not be unemployed for so long after all.
-Watching Novelas (soap operas). They play from 8-10pm every night and everyone here watches them. I’m excited that someday I’ll be able to understand all the passion and yelling.
-Birthday celebrations. It may take me a while to learn the Brazilian birthday song. It’s long and complicated and involves timed clapping (not my forte).
-Lots and lots of relaxing.

…and tomorrow I’m off to France and the Greek Islands!
Tough life, I know.


Here’s a clip of my favorite Novela at the moment, Insensato Coração, showing a peek of the gym scene.

Apartment hunting

19 Jul

Considering that House Hunters International is one of my favorite TV shows, our hunt to find the perfect apartment in Salvador has been rather enjoyable for me. For Marcos, not so much. Ya, we saw a hideous all green apartment with two dogs, four cats, two huge aquariums, and six parrots, but you have to look at the zoos in order to find “the one”.

We initially thought that we’d prefer to live in the heart of the city, but we’ve found a neighborhood bordering the city called Alphaville that we’ve become rather fond of. It’s a new development, right off the main road (Paralela) with about 30 or so condominiums and high rise apartment buildings. The advantage of this area is that the buildings are new and fresh and there is more property and amenities available in each complex.

Within Alphaville I fell in love with a complex called Alphalife (http://www.alphaliferesidence.com.br/). It’s a complex that has six different eight-story buildings. Everything is of the highest quality and it feels like you’re in a luxurious resort when you walk through the halls. Unfortunately, the apartments sold quickly and we’re still waiting for one to become available.

The amazing thing about Alphalife is that you never have to leave the complex if you don’t want to. It has a huge pool with a bar, outdoor lounging areas, a full gym, gourmet rooms for large parties, a spa, a theatre, tennis/indoor soccer court and so much more. It’s just a 15-20 minute drive from the city, a couple minutes from a huge shopping center, and 10 minutes from the beach.

Fingers crossed that an apartment opens up, but both Marcos and I are confident that this is where we want to live.

Tidbits thus far, Day 3

14 Jul
  1. I’m going to have to invest in a comfy pair of heels
  2. It’s fun to play tennis with mosquitos
  3. Mosquito repellant is my friend
  4. Humidity is not
  5. I’m the only one in this town that sweats like a pig
  6. Salvador winters are not cold and I’m scared for summer
  7. I have yet to spot one Brazilian tomboy
  8. Hot showers are a huge mistake
  9. Brazilians love soccer
  10. It’s fun to learn Portuguese while reading subtitles on HGTV shows in English
  11. I’m not accustomed to having a maid
  12. Guaraná Antarctica is delicious
  13. Commercials are way more awesome (even if I can’t understand them)
  14. Brazilians must have a separate fridge to fit an entire cow
  15. Bread & coffee taste a thousand times more delicious
This is the contraption I zap mosquitos with. You have no idea how satisfying it is!

Eu cheguei!

13 Jul

My goodbye party in San Clemente is one I’ll never forget. I relish every minute I get to spend with my family and friends! This fantastic party really made the celebration of my journey ahead real and the goodbyes that much harder.

After nearly 30 hours of traveling, I was greeted by my Brazilian family at the airport (grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins). I’ve never been welcomed by such a crowd in my entire life. It really goes to show that love and support I have here. I couldn’t be more lucky!

Tia Nilinha (Marcos’ mom) really outdid herself this time. She prepared a large dinner party complete with gourmet Brazilian food and desserts. Chicão (Marcos’ dad) even had my favorite white wine waiting for me! If that wasn’t already enough, my room was supplied with treats, photos, flowers and all kinds of goodies. Quite the welcome!

It was incredibly hard to say goodbye to my parents and I miss them dearly, but we’re already preparing for and counting down the days until they arrive in Brazil.

I am so blessed to say that I have not one, but two extraordinary families!

And the journey begins

11 Jul

My flight to Brazil is in just a couple hours. I have two suitcases packed and I’m more than ready! I cannot express my excitement!!!

The odd (wo)man out

22 Jun

If you know me, you know that I’d choose to blend in with the crowd rather than be noticed any day. I don’t like people looking at me, I have social anxiety when it comes to “making a good first impression”, and I don’t want to be judged.

Luckily in California, I am just one of many blondies walking down the street. In Brazil, especially Salvador, it’s an entirely different story. With the combination of being 6 feet tall, blonde, blue eyed, and pink skinned, I appear to be more of a zoo attraction than a local in Bahia.

While I know I’ll be out of my comfort zone more times than not, I think this will be a very rewarding learning experience for me. It’ll be embarrassing and frustrating when I get gawked at for looking different, or try to convince a little girl that I’m not actually Barbie (true story from one of my previous visits), but that’s life and I’ll grow a strong outer shell because of it.

To many stories to come…

Visa trials and tribulations

9 Jun

The whole process to acquire a visa to visit Brazil is a pain in the behind.  With two trips to your designated consulate, providing more information than you need for a regular passport, and a $140 postal money order, you too may be fortunate enough to obtain one.

To make it even more difficult, my consulate (San Francisco) only processes visas from 9am to noon, and only accepts a total of 42 applications per day with an appointment.

When I received my Brazilian travel visa two years ago, I felt like I should be able to use it to get VIP access into carnaval camarotes (a party overlooking the parade) or get upgraded to business class on my flight. That wasn’t the case, unfortunately. Instead I got to stand in a special security line (for Americans only) where they did an extensive search on all my baggage.

If I weren’t American, I’d likely not even have to get a visa in the first place.  Why? Because Brazil has a reciprocal visa system: if you’re country requires Brazilian nationals to obtain a visa, you’ll need one to enter Brazil.

As much as it is a process to obtain a Brazilian visa, it’s nothing compared to what we put Brazilian citizens through. From what I heard, if you’re a Brazilian looking to get into the US, good luck, literally. American visas are generally disapproved, even after a (required) personal interview.

A travel visa (what I have now) will only allow me to stay in Brazil for 90 days at a time, with one extension to 180 days a year. That’s just not going to work, so when I arrive in Brazil I’ll need to apply for a student visa.

I’m sure I’ll have to go through another tedious process to obtain a student visa, but I’m happy that I can even visit and stay in the country for an extended period of time.

One good thing about getting a new visa? I can get rid of this heinous visa photo I have now. Ew, I know.