Monday, July 18, 2011


Holy cow. I'm pooped. But we're in our new place. The kids are stoked. I'm surrounded by boxes. We didn't get our oven (it was supposed to be delivered today), and the desk doesn't fit in the apartment (or at least thru the door to the bedrooms). And hiring the movers was a challenge (one quit on the job after an hour of doing practically nothing). But we are here.

Looking forward to waking up without the sounds of construction at 7 am.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Escola da Serra in the News!

Proud mama has to brag about the kids, their wonderful wonderful school, and the amazing Festa Junina that we had on Saturday. The kids planned for MONTHS for the day, studying about the São Francisco River, learning about myths, practicing music, making art projects and researching. It was a fun day, and when I have time to breathe after moving (it's going to happen!), I'll write more. But for now, you can read about it here (in Portuguese).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Post in which I say Cartório a lot, and get really frustrated

Today was not my favorite day. In fact, this week has been a bit exhausting and exasperating. As I mentioned, we're moving. We were all prepared to turn in the contract and get the keys on Tuesday. But, it turns out that we had to get all the signatures verified at Cartórios. From what I've heard (please correct me if I'm wrong, fellow bloggers) Cartórios came into existence due to some political shenanigans. If I remember correctly, some friend of someone in power had a kind of notary business and did a favor for said person in power. To return the favor a law was passed that made it necessary to register signatures to make sure that they are valid. And thus the Cartório business was created. It seems as if any time you have an official document, you have to take it to the Cartório where the signature is registered, and they compare the two signatures to make sure they are the same. Essentially it's just another step in the bureaucracy that exists here. I'm sure these kinds of things exist in the states (I'm having flashbacks to signing our mortgage documents, and how inconvenient it was and how we had to do it in a certain time period, and so on and so forth). But wherever in the world you have to deal with these kind of extra steps, dare I say, unnecessary silly official procedures, it is a big pain.

My hubby went to go get the keys on Tuesday, and found out that we had to check 5 signatures. Great. Thankfully he was able to get 3 of the signatures done on Wednesday, even though he had to work two shifts for a recording session (not the normal schedule, nor the normal demands). My job was to figure out how to check the other two signatures, belonging to a couple, some friends of ours. I called the husband first at about 10 am, and he couldn't really tell me where the cartório was located, just in Nova Lima, close the hospital. He made it sound like it was really obvious where it was, and I should have no problems finding it. He was going to look up the info and get back to me. Meanwhile, I did probably 20 different google searches and I found 4 different places, but I couldn't figure out which one it was. He never called me back, so I called him (no answer). I called his home (not there). Then I called his wife, who did answer but she was driving (it's illegal to drive and talk on the cell phone) and rushing to the hospital because of an emergency!!


Thankfully, the emergency room visit was short and everybody came out okay. But while they were at the hospital, I spent another hour searching the internet for the possible location of this Cartório, and “looked” around using Google street view. The next morning I called the husband yet again to ask if he could pick between the 2 options that I thought I had narrowed it down to. Was it by Mangabeiras Pizza? Yes! Finally, an address. It only took me 22 hours.

Meanwhile, we had to go the Policia Federal. I think I will save this saga for another post. Because there’s only so much Brazil craziness you can handle at a time. Trust me.

Between visits to the Policia Federal on Thursday, I made a trip to the Cartório. Found it, no problem. Took my number, waited my turn, went to pay. But hold on just a minute, it can’t be that easy. They could only find the signature for the husband, but not the wife. I call the wife, and it turns out her ID number (CPF) was missing a digit. I go back to the counter and ask them to look her up under the correct ID number, and making sure they were spelling her name correctly. No luck. I call the wife back again. She was certain that she was registered there, but if not, she was also registered someplace in central on Rua Bahia and at another place on a street that began with the letter “G.”

Do you see the theme here?

I am not a happy camper. I ask her if she can talk to the lady at the counter at the current cartório. I go back in and hold up the cell phone, but the lady holds up her hands in the universal sign for “get that thing away from me.” She’s not allowed to talk to anyone on the phone. I ask to speak to the manager. Several times. The manager appears. He can’t talk to the owner of the signature on the cell phone because it’s not allowed (no phone calls). I ask him what happened to my friend’s signature, did they lose it? He is insulted that I would even suggest that, and says that she is not registered there. But she says she is. We go back and forth. He looks again. It’s not there.

Then, my friend (still waiting on the cell phone) says that maybe she didn’t register there.


So I ask here where she is registered, and she tells me that it’s someplace off of so and so street and so and so street. “Do you know the address?”


“Can you remember the name of the street?"


But you could go to that area and ask around.

Really??!! Me, a foreigner, with a horrible accent and lousy Portuguese, walking around downtown Belo Horizonte looking for some location about which she really has only a vague idea.

I call my husband, who works in the area she is talking about, and he tells me that there are at least 3 cartórios in this area.


I went home, found the name of the street that starts with a “G.” I call her back and ask for ANYTHING to help me find the cartório on Rua Goías, landmarks, stores. ANYTHING. “It’s by a newspaper stand, a banco do journais.” Just like every other store in downtown. “And there is a bookstore on the corner.” Great.

Then we go back to the Policia federal, but of course we don’t get done until HOURS after we start. We rush the kids to school (they were super late), rush home to get some paperwork, rush downtown to the general area of the cartório, and by a miracle, I find it. But of course there is a line of 15 people, and there is no way that we are going to get out of there before the rental agency closes. So, I wait in line, finally get her signature verified and almost cry with joy because this whole drama is over. Oh, but then I remember that I still have to get the keys.

Thankfully I had no problems this morning getting to the rental agency, paying the fire insurance, and getting the keys. And I even did it with 2 kids in tow.

Only 4 days after we were supposed to. Now, to make the new apartment habitable...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Belo Horizonte Zoo

Over the Corpus Christi holiday, we took a trip to the Zoo with our friends Corinne and Kevin. Matt went with his parents and the kids back in December, but it was on my last day of work, so I didn't get to go. But of course the kids wouldn't miss another opportunity to visit! I double checked to make sure that it was really open and called (3277-7363). This website had helpful info (it's in Portuguese). It cost R$7 per car, and R$4 per person over the age of 7. This was the holiday price; normally it's less, and on Tuesday's it's free! I would recommend going to Portaria 2 (gate number 2) for easier access to the animals and parking. Here's how to get there by bus:

From Centro, you can connect with bus numbers 4403A or S53. Here's a map

View Larger Map

Here's how to get there by car (kind of):

2739 Avenida Antônio Francisco Lisboa
View Larger Map)

I was very impressed with the zoo. There were lots of people there because it was a holiday, but it wasn't crazy busy. You can bring a picnic lunch (like we did) and eat it in any of the many grassy, shaded areas. You can also buy food there, but I was told it was not very good, and not so cheap. We saw elephants, a rhino, giraffes, lions, a sleeping tiger, turtles, monkeys, gorillas, some really cool snakes, and lots and lots of birds. There is a nice aquarium (so I've heard), but we decided not to try to squeeze it in. There's also a cool looking butterfly pavilion, but it's only open on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and during certain hours. We had a fun time!

Turtles--this is for you mom!

Sebastian and buddy Kevin

The kiddos on a Popsicle break.