Thursday, August 30, 2012

The leak is back.

I've avoided this post for a LONG time.  It's been sitting there in my "to do" list for months.  You remember that stupid leak that was plaguing us?  Well, it is back.  For those of you who aren't faithful daily readers, here's the time line:

1.  Moved into apartment.
2.  After 1 month, noticed growing wet spot on the ceiling in our 2nd bathroom.  It quickly turned into peeling paint and then mold.
3.  Talked to almost everyone in the building and at the rental company, and found out this leak has been an issue for well over 1 year.  But they rental company/owner just kindly painted over the problem and were grateful to get some stupid Americans in the place to pay rent.
4.  Ranted.  Raved.   Made threats.  Enlisted help.  Called daily.  But FINALLY got the leak repaired, and the mold/damaged paint removed and entire situation "fixed."  Hooray!  We felt so proud and happy that we had achieved something. 
5.  Two months later, the leak/peeling paint/mold returned. 
6.  Called the rental company.  And they actually came back in a timely matter and began fixing the leak. 
7.  After one month, the ceiling in the bathroom looks as good as new!
8.  After 2 days (Yes!  TWO DAY!!!!), the water returns.  At this point THERE IS NO ONE LIVING ABOVE US.  It is a mystery as to why there is any water running upstairs.  My husband thinks that the owner of the apartment upstairs has come in the middle of the night and dumped water on the floor just to spite us.  I have to concur, because I can't come up with any other logical conclusion.
9.  We call the rental company.  The "fix it guy" is mad.  Maybe he will get things done???
10.  The rental company calls us back 1 week later to ask if the wet spot has dried and the leak has stopped leaking.  My husband said that it was still wet.  They ask us to call back when it's dry.  Wait a it our job to tell the rental company when to do their job?  Oh, I's Brazil....

By this point, I have just given up.  I actually can't believe we got all worked up about the initial problem.  It seems so trivial at this point.  Now, we are ACTIVELY looking for a new apartment.  This is not just due to the leak.  I wish it were so simple.  Here are some of the reasons that we are looking for a new place:

A.  I don't like hearing our neighbors practice their farmer blows, clearing their sinuses, hacking, and coughing up lugies (as I WRITE THIS SOMEONE IS FARMER BLOWING!  Thank you.  I wish all you readers could be here to experience this moment with me). 
B.  Dora has had to put up with a lot of "love" from her little sister, and is begging for her own room.  We are looking for a 4 bedroom.  Plus next year, Dora will start going to school in the morning, and Bea and Sebastian will be studying in the afternoon.  Logistically, it would be helpful to have the girls NOT sharing a room.
C.  We'd like to be on the other side of town to be closer to my work, and the kids school (more on this later).
D.  We have a neighbor who has become a BIG problem.  Not only is she blowing her cigarette smoke into our apartment every day, but her 3 grown children that live with her in her basement apartment without windows (I think her living situation must be a wee little bit challenging) are now calling us uneducated, accusing us of throwing trash into their apartment, trying to take our parking spot, and just generally being very unkind.  Ugh.
E.  Termites
F.   Is it too much to ask that bedroom doors would shut?  Apparently so in this apartment.
G.  Living on the first floor and having a lack of direct sunlight starts to make a person's soul feel a little dark.
H.  Oh, and just to help me remember, another neighbor just threw their juice box out of their window onto the neighbor's roof.  Not only do we get the joy of looking out our window and seeing all this trash, but we also get to pick up the chewed gum, candy wrappers, napkins full of chicken and rice (?) and other yummy trash out of our area privativa (patio).  Ew.

All to say, we are all done with this apartment.  It has been good to stay in the neighborhood, it's been good to save money.  But it's time to have a little better surroundings so that I we don't start to think that our living situation is how all of Brazil is.  I've been very actively looking for apartments on the other side of town.  It is a challenge.  But I keep telling myself that we will find a good place.  Eventually....

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Portuguese Class begins!

I have lived in Brazil for 2 years, 5 months and 23 days.  I have yet to take a Portuguese class.  I've been getting by on what I vaguely remember of Spanish, what I've learned helping my kids do their homework, a bit of Pimsler, a bit of Rosetta stone, learning some songs for the Festa Junina last year and for Kindergarten graduations (amazing how music will help vocabulary and pronunciation) and a whole lot of luck.  I can survive, but it's not easy.  And I sound like an unintelligible 2 year old many times. 

A few weeks ago Sebastian got an invitation to a friend's house, and when I went to pick him up I ended up staying at their house for 2 1/2 hours just talking with the mom, in Portuguese.  She is one really cool person, and she recently returned from a month in Canada where she studied English.  She's also considering getting her Master's in Portuguese so she can teach foreigners.  And what do you know:  she wants to give me free classes to see how it goes!  I'm pretty excited, and hoping that I can make some good progress. 

Here I go!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

100 Brazilian foods you have to try

A fellow blogger posted this, and I just had to repost/link.  The idea is taken from the Onmivore's 100, a list of 100 foods that you have to try before you die.  But this blogger changed it to 100 Brazilian foods.  So, I'm going to copy the list and cross out the ones I've already tried. You can get this list in English here, and the list in Portuguese here:

100 Brazilian dishes to try
  1. Doce de batata doce (sweet potato purée/jam/jelly)
  2. Churrasco (Brazilian-style BBQ)
  3. Bala de banana Oliveira ou similares (some sort of sweet)
  4. Tapioca (made of mandioc starch…it´s complicated)
  5. Pizza assado no forno à lenha (Pizza made on a wood fire grill, very common)
  6. Feijão tropeiro (a variation of the feijão or beans)
  7. Arroz carreteiro
  8. Açaí na tijela (very common in the NE and N, served with granola in the NE or with regular food in the N)
  9. Paçoca de amendoim (peanut sweet, a little like fudge with peanuts)
  10. Pato no tucupi (some sort of duck dish)
  11. Maniçoba
  12. Baião de dois
  13. Acarajé (amazing street food served in Bahia, mostly. Made of feijão paste with all sorts of goodies and shrimp. Ask for it without chilli the first time and make sure the oil used for frying is not too nasty)
  14. Pamonha (sweet corn paste wrapped in corn leaf and boiled, very nice)
  15. Dobradinha (tripe stew, tastes better than it sounds if made well)
  16. Rapadura (pure juice extracted from the sugar cane)
  17. Farofa de içá
  18. Barreado
  19. Pastel de feira (they vary depending on the region, but it´s basically a fried pastry with various fillings.
  20. Couve refogada com alho (a common side dish, greens with garlic)
  21. Sanduíche de pernil (a pork sandwich, pernil is the pork leg)
  22. Palmito (palm hearts)
  23. Umbu em natura (a fruit, the juice is good too)
  24. Pacu (a type of fish)
  25. Camarão na moranga (a shrimp stew served in a pumpkin)
  26. Doce de abóbora (pumpkin jam/sweet)
  27. Feijoada (the classic Brazilian dish, based on beans and varied meats served with rice, orange and couve, a sort of cabbage.
  28. Galinhada com pequi (a chicken stew)
  29. Peixe na telha (a fish dish)
  30. Biscoito de polvilho (very Brazilian, and irresistible little biscuits)
  31. Galinha à cabidela
  32. Pão de mel com doce de leite (literally honey bread, very nice)
  33. Any fish baked in folha de bananeira (banana tree leaf)
  34. Queijo coalho na brasa (usually sold at beaches in the NE, cheese grilled on a stick)
  35. Curau
  36. Torta de liquidicador (I can´t believe this is here, but it´s a must-eat! Any Brazilian housewife should know how to make it, cake mixed in a blender)
  37. Café coado no filtro de pano (coffee passed through a cloth filter)
  38. Caldo de cana (sugar-cane juice usually served with ice and lemon. Careful with hygiene.
  39. Arroz, feijão, bife e batata frita (rice, beans, steak and fries, not very healthy, but you can remove the fries. This is a typical PF, prato feito)
  40. Buchada de bode (mutton dish)
  41. Bolo de rolo (no idea, some sort of cake)
  42. Furrundum
  43. Chá mate gelado (chilled mate tea)
  44. Rabada (oxtail stew)
  45. Vaca atolada
  46. Pitanga (a fruit)
  47. Quibebe (pumpkin dish)
  48. Pintando na brasa (BBQ fish)
  49. Cuscuz paulista (corn-based dish)
  50. Quebra queixo (hard sugar-based sweet)
  51. Pingado de padaria (a must-have, served in Brazilian diners, hot milk with a little of coffee)
  52. Quindim (egg-yolk-based sweet)
  53. Cajuzinho (cashew-nut sweet)
  54. Sorvete de milho (sweet corn ice cream)
  55. Sarapatel (very common in Bahia)
  56. Bolinho de chuva (mmmmm, try them!)
  57. Caruru (a type of stew, also common in Bahia)
  58. Frango com quiabo (chicken with okra)
  59. Leitão à pururuca (pork dish)
  60. Canjica doce (sweet corn pudding)
  61. Pinhão (type of pine nut, usually baked, common in the South)
  62. Vinho quente (hot wine)
  63. Cachaça artesanal de qualidade (artisan quality cachaça)
  64. Pão de queijo (mmmm, sold almost anywhere. Make sure they are fresh)
  65. Caldeirada de tucunaré (no idea)
  66. Moqueca (very common in Bahia, a fish stew with lobster and shrimp, coconut milk and other goodies)
  67. Mandioca frita (fried cassava)
  68. Broa de fubá (a sort of pastry made from corn flour)
  69. Jaca (you have to know how to eat this fruit, but it´s worth it. Very nutritious. Ask a native to serve it)
  70. Sonho de padaria (a type of doughnut)
  71. Anything made with cupuaçu (a fruit)
  72. Requeijão cremoso (the Brazilian version of cream cheese)
  73. A whole cumari pepper (hot)
  74. Churrasco grego (literally Greek BBQ, no idea what it is)
  75. Queijo de Minas fresco (fresh cheese from Minas Gerais, sold in other parts of Brazil)
  76. Misto quente (amazing stuff, grilled ham and cheese sandwich that somehow tastes better in Brazil)
  77. Caldo de piranha (pirana broth???)
  78. Doce de leite mineiro (doce de leite from Minas Gerais)
  79. Brigadeiro (the all-Brazilian sweet, chocolate with granules… just try and it and tell me about it)
  80. Acerola (a small berry-like fruit, similar to pitanga, with lots of vitamin C. Usually in juices or ice-cream)
  81. Bobó de camarão (a shrimp stew, or similar)
  82. Pudim de leite condensado (condensed milk pudding, like a flan but more consistent and sweeter)
  83. Manjar de coco (a very sweet coconut pudding)
  84. Refrigerante de guaraná (guaraná soft drink)
  85. Coxinha (street/fast food, with chicken filling in potato and bread crumbs and fried)
  86. Caldo de mocotó (mocotó is the marrow from the hoof of a cow, calf, ox, used to make a broth)
  87. Romeu e Julieta (a slice of goiabada, guava jelly, and cheese served as a dessert)
  88. Chimarrão (like the Argentinian, mate)
  89. Virado à Paulista (haven´t tried this yet)
  90. Jabuticaba no pé (a fruit picked from the tree)
  91. Bala de coco de festa de aniversário (birthday coconut sweets, very typical, with the brigadeiro)
  92. Bolinho de bacalhau (cod croquette)
  93. Beirute (a very nice meat sandwich)
  94. Caldinho de feijão (bean broth)
  95. Melão produzido em Mossoró-RN (melon from Mossoró, Rio Grande do Norte, in the North, never tried it)
  96. Milho assado (baked corn on the cob, tough to eat if you ask me)
  97. Batata doce assada (baked sweet potato)
  98. Caipirinha (made with cachaça)
  99. Geléia de mocotó
  100. Caju (the fruit, not the nut)
    I've got a ways to go....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

uai, uai, uai....

Minas Gerais (our state) is known for the word "uai," which is pronounced "why."  There are  speculations as to the origins of "uai."  Apparently President Juscelino Kubitschek said that it was the abbreviation of União + Amor + Independencia, which was the password for the Inconfidentes back around Tiradentes time.  But most people agree that it comes from the English word "why."  Mineiros would hear English speaking foreigners saying it, and they adopted it.  Why all those English speaking foreigners were abiding in Minas Gerais is beyond me, but that's the commonly held opinion.

And today Mineiros may hear another English speaking foreigner wandering the streets of Belo Horizonte, shouting


It's been one of those days.  Why do people say they will give you an answer on Wednesday, and then when you call them on Thursday they say, "oops, sorry.  Can you wait one more day?"  Why do customer service agents tell you that you will be able to access your account in one hour, when they know it's not true?  Why does the delivery man show up with a delivery 4 days after it was promised?  Why do all the teachers have to talk at the same time at the meeting?  And these are just a few of my complaints today....I'm not at liberty to divulge other complaints to the world wide webs while things are in still in the works....but lets just say I've got a lot to gripe about.

I know it's a bad day.  And bad days happen all over the world.  But I think that dealing with Mineiros will lead to lots of hair pulling, teeth gnashing, expletives and uai.