Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Portuguese 101

I'm embarrassed to say that just this past week I realized that there was a difference between "último" and "ótimo" in Portuguese. Último means "last," and ótimo means "great". So I've been telling people that my vacation was the last. Wonderful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Still here!

Don't worry--I'm still here! We made it back safe and from our adventure to the beach. It was wonderful. I will write about it. But now I'm trying to deal with several things:

1. We have a leak in our bathroom. It's been going on for some time, and now Miguel finally wants to do something about it. Which involves tearing the wall apart. Ugh.

2. We are starting to look for another apartment. Our rent and condominium went up, and we are not so happy about just how much of our budget is going towards housing. We thought we had a place, but then found out that the rental agency wouldn't accept the Orquestra's letter which would serve as a guarantee (fiador). There is an interesting system of making sure that property owners get their rent payments, involving lots of paperwork, promises, official signatures, and signing over your first born child. The Orquestra pretty much takes care of this with the letter, essentially guaranteeing that they will pay everything. But for some reason, some companies don't accept it. Boo.

3. Rashes. Bea has got some crazy rash. She woke up last Wednesday morning covered with bumps. They got better, and then yesterday she got more. I took a trip to the hospital this morning (that's what you do when you need urgent care) and the doctor thinks she is just having an allergic reaction to bug bites. But she looks so pitiful, all splotchy. And Matt's got some strange skin thing around his ankles.

4. George. We had some wonderful friends offer to watch George at their house while we were gone last week. Somehow, he managed to escape. They've spent countless hours looking for him, and Dora and I spent about an hour yelling and searching for him. Dora is so sad, and it makes me feel bad that we didn't just have someone come here, and guilty that she has to go through this. Humph.

Not your average to do list. But you know, writing it all down makes it seem not so bad. Bad, but not crisis. And in reality, there are so many good things:

1. Samuel, the neighborhood barber has blessed us with 3 HUGE avocados. Avocado smoothies, yum.

2. My worst music class at the Canadian school yesterday was really fun! Not necessarily well behaved, but the kids gave my Easter presents, hugs, kisses, and I even got a few, "You are the best teacher ever Miss Shelley," and "I love you Miss Shelley."

3. Our iron broke, and it's getting fixed for a mere R$25 (new cord). This would be practically impossible to take care of the states, but thanks to the abundance of appliance repair shops around, and Brazilian's value for repairing things rather than throwing them out, our wonderful iron is getting fixed!

4. We've been having Sebastian go downstairs and practice soccer/futsal before he plays on the computer, and it's paying off. He's getting much better!

I could go on, but Beatrice is complaining about itching. I'll hopefully write more soon, especially about the beach!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

5 Things I Want to Do in Belo Horizonte but Don't

Born Again Brazilian and Rachel in Rio inspired this post.

1. Go hang out at one of the botecos and chew the fat with the neighbors.

2. Eat Rodizio. This is more like a confession. A very, very sad confession. I've lived in Brasil over a year, and I've yet to gorge myself on meat. But we bought a coupon on ClickOn or one of those discount websites, and will be going to Porcão in May.

3. Go to the padaria (bakery) in our neighborhood--in fact, on our street--that is considered the best one in Belo Horizonte. I've been avoiding it because I can't figure out how to go i. It doesn't have your typical door/entrance; there's an intercom. Hmmm...)

4. Get the car washed by the guy that always used to say hi to us last year when we walked to school. I have no idea how much he charges, and I really couldn't even start being intelligent and talking about the car. But I miss seeing him on a regular basis.

5. Wander around the stores and shops on Cristóvão Colombo and Getúlio Vargas.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

One form of Brazilian Advertising

In my recent trip to centro, I was enthralled by the advertising I encountered. The most frequent one was the person standing on the sidewalk yelling, "dentista!" I heard probably 4 or 5 of these within a 3 block radius, which leads me to believe that either a) people in Belo Horizonte are really in need of dentists or b) this must be a really effective form of advertising. At one point, I had to stop and watch a guy. He was wearing headphones, and totally rocking out to the music, and every 16 counts or so, he would yell "DENTISTA!" I really think he was making the most of a monotonous job.
I told my husband that it must be hard for the shop owners in the vicinity, but then again I think that Brazilians have some magical power to block out annoying noise, which perhaps is accompanied by the ability to produce it....hmmmm....

Other advertising encountered:

-the people yelling "cellularcellularcellular" selling cell phones.

-the cell phone accessory seller (two different products, two different sounds), yelling many things I couldn't understand.

-and my personal favorite, the man selling "widgeo gaymes" or video games.

Yelling and loud noise in advertising is not exclusive to downtown. Just 2 weeks ago I finally was able to figure out a certain sound that I'd been hearing for months in my neighborhood. It was a loud, high pitched whistle followed by shouting. I was walking Sebastian to futsal practice, and I heard it and saw the man! He's the knife sharpener! He sets up his machine on the sidewalk, blows his whistle and yells, and people come for business. I think that there is also a recycling guy that yells, and there are "picole" (popsicle) vendors (they usually have little bells on their carts), and I hear other noises, but I've yet to identify what it is that these people are selling.

I wonder if there are any vendors selling earplugs...

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Trip to Centro and birthday parties

The youngest is turning 3 next week, so I made a trip downtown to do some birthday shopping. Shopping in centro tends to be less expensive. I went to 1001 Festas (the party headquarters, at Goitacazes and Olegario Maciel. It's a pretty good store, lots of party decorations, balloons, gift bag items (candy, cheap plastic toys), napkins and the such. Also, lots of things that I don't know how to use or I've never heard of before. Different kinds of papers to wrap brigadeiros, big sheets of Styrofoam (to make some kind of decorations?), various types of papers, and Hot Poppers.. I first encountered these at the graduation party last December. They are these tubes that are about 10 inches long. You twist them, and it makes a very loud, eardrum damaging noise (not just a pop) and lots of confetti flies out. It's everything you love about Brazilian parties: too loud, too messy and very fun. I opted not to buy any Hot Poppers, since we are just holding a party at the kid's school and eating cake together as a family.

And that brings me to remember the birthday parties last year. Our kids have all their birthdays within 6 weeks. We hadn't started school yet by Beatrice's birthday, but we had met some dear friends. I made my first cake in Brazilian--a pound cake because we didn't have any cake pans. We had ice cream. I made a "pin the tail on the donkey" game. We had no curtains in the living room, so I remember it being very hot. It was very simple, and by Brazilian parties, not really a party. But I think Beatrice felt very loved and celebrated. For most of the past year, she kept saying that she didn't want any more birthday parties and she was going to stay 3 forever.

For Sebastian's birthday last year, the teacher told me I could bring a snack to school to share. I really had absolutely no idea of what birthday parties were like at school. So Matt made some of his amazing cookies, and I brought them to share. We sat in a circle in the classroom , Sebastian wearing a birthday hat that I had made, and the kids sang "Para Bens." It was my first time in the classroom, and I remember being totally overwhelmed. And I also remember that I walked to the school 3 times that day. What a work out! Over the weekend we had a little party with a few friends out by the pool behind our apartment. I think we made pizza (notice the theme, making everything...)

This year for Beatrice's birthday, we are having a party at her school. I am putting invitations in her agenda (the calendar/book that schools use to communicate between parents and teachers). During snack time on Wednesday next week, Matt (I have to work!) will take butterfly cupcakes, quitutes (little snacks or "tidbits"), fruit, juice, a butterfly "crown," some decorations, and 19 little gift bags for her colegas. It will be in the kitchen area at the school, and quite a step up from last year.

I was going to write more about going downtown, but that will have to be later. Sebastian wants to play on the computer, Bea needs to take a shower, and I've got to figure out how to repair the bridge on the guitar I'm borrowing....which is another story...