Sunday, January 17, 2010

Second Try...Good Effort..Bye Brasil...For Now

The Gringo has landed.

Yep, at around 5:30 a.m. EST I landed in Charlotte, NC, went through customs and after a short stint at the food bar, boarded the one hour and 1/2 flight to NYC--Newark actually.

So easy (except that I sat next to two little babies that wanted to cry half the flight--I almost became one of those angry single men inconvenienced by crying babies, but caught myself--realizing that I HATE those type of people. It's not like the parents weren't trying to quiet the babies. The babies were just having none of it)...and at each stop, I felt it getting colder and I had to start layering clothes. When I finally got to my front door, I was officially COLD even though I had on a couple of layers--although not a coat.

But I'm home in my shared apartment with David--my NYC roomie. And my two pieces of luggage sit here waiting for me to give them some attention. I don't have the desire or drive to unpack them just yet. I'll get around to it, hopefully, tomorrow.


Lots of good times. New friends I think I'll have for life (or hope to). Maybe an apartment in Copacabana that I, friends and family can enjoy. A renewed interest and love for the language. A sincere appreciation for the Brasilian people. A love for the beautiful scenery and beaches. A desire to eat rice and beans and a lot of other good foods.

I could go on, but all in all, I'm very pleased I took the RISK, the CHANCE, and the BREAK from my life here and experienced 3 months in the Southern Hemisphere. A country soon to become a world power...and a friend for life.

Did I get a second try at life? Well, that was a bit dramatic to begin with, don't you think. But did I gain new perspectives? New understandings? New friends? New experiences and choices that might alter my life moving forward. YES.

So maybe not a second try...but instead a good effort to return to a place of my youth and experience anew as a grown man.

I'm glad I did, and I would recommend it to any and all.

Boa Noite.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

D Day...Departure Day

This morning I woke up (after a good nitght's sleep--the night rain cooled down the apartment and I slept well), packed some more things and then decided...I wanna experience the morning on the beach one more time.

So I gather up all my loose change (I've been trying to use that now for the past couple of days), paid out over 7 reais in coins at the corner pastry/juice shop (yes I got some evil looks--but bus drivers give the worst evil looks when it comes to loose change), and walked to the be beach.

The morning sun was beautiful, warm, fresh from the evenings rain, and people were just getting started with their days. The beach vendors were setting up shop, all the hotels were receiving their fresh produce for the day's meals, and some early morning joggers were taking advantage of the non-crowded beaches. I like this time of the morning in Brasil.

I took a walk up to the mid point of Copacabana beach, where I'd enter the beach if I buy the apartment, just to see what type of crowd it draws. Being that the JW Marriott hotel is RIGHT there, well I'm not sure why I thought it would be anything less than very nice. And it was.

For some reason, maybe anxiety or stress, I almost didn't make it back to the apt before my lower end let loose...luckly within seconds I was on the safety of my toilet seat and all is right again with the world.


This whole time I've been without a camera. Today I finally broke out the one I bought at Christmas and took some pictures of the new apartment and area.

I also spent some time with the Designer and my real estate people. the place looks good...I'll show you someday.


Mark, Max and I are going to one of the proudctions of Cirque de Soilei here in Rio. It's kind of a farewell event for me, as right after, I'll have a bit of time to finish packing and then head to the airport.

In fact, I just got back from the show...I liked it...I always do those shows, but I'd seen this one before. It's the one Doug, Becky and I saw in NYC about 8 or 9 years ago...maybe even 10 or, how time flies.

Anyway, now I have to finalize packing and head to the airport, so I'll write something tomorrow or Monday when I actually get around to unpacking this.


I'm sad to leave. It's been a GREAT 3's gone by way to fast now--they always do when you get to the end.

What I've learned: I learned I loved Brasil when I came here as a missionary and even though I'm 30 years older and my life is very different with different perspectives, I still love the country and it's people. It's been fun to remember sounds and smells and cultural things. It's been a challenge to try and relearn the language, but I dare say that at this point I can get along ok. I'm not fluent by any means, but I can communicate with most everyone ON my level. And each day it becomes easier. And each day I'm more able to venture into new areas of discussion I couldn't the week or month before.

When I arrived both times in Brasil, I could understand very little. When as a missionary, I remember my breaking through day/night was when I dreamt in Portuguese for the first time. I haven't done that here yet, so I don't think I've broken through, but I dare say it could happen.

I'll head now to the airport. I finally got my camera working today, so took some pictures of the apartment I'm looking to buy, and I'll try and figure out how to post them here.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for being part of my life.

One or two more posts to just hold on.

Back to the cold, and the Good Ole USA. As much as I love Brasil, I ADORE the USA.


Friday, January 15, 2010

It's the Night Before Return to USA Day...

It's true, it's the night before I return to the USA. I can't believe it myself. But it's reality. I find myself looking at stores, streets, products, foods, buses, sidewalks, beaches know, the last time I'll do X, etc.

And just when the city's really getting excited about hosting the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

But maybe I'll be able to be here for that...


Last night we had a major thunder/lightening and rain storm. I love that. I always have. And today we've had cloudy skies, but no rain to speak of yet. Although the skies do look threatening. I think it's supposed to rain a bit tomorrow for sure and then a lot of rain on Sunday. So let it rain as far as I'm concerned. I'm heading to bitter cold anyway, so what's a little warm rain amongst friends.


Today I spent a good portion of my day waiting for things to happen on the apartment. Around 3 p.m. my agent and I met with the selling agent. Now I don't speak perfect Portuguese, but from the minute we sat down, I could tell the selling agent was trying to establish himself as the ALPHA DOG. To the point he yelled out..."then we have nothing more to talk about...the deals off", which caused me to look at my realtor and he responded back rather cooley, again in an Alpha Dog manner...well if you'd passed the information we requested we wouldn't be having this conversation now...and it went back and forth like that for a few minutes.

By the time the meeting was over, we were all friends again.

Business here is similar in many ways and different in many ways from the US. We have our share of Alpha Dog Wanna-bes, and they do too.

In the end, business does get done, and slowly we are creeping closer to resolution on this sale.

One important thing that came out of our 30 minute meeting was that all other 11 condo owners have to sign off on it before I pay any money, and two are traveling, so I guess I don't pay the offer amount until we get those signatures...which could be 1-2 weeks, it looks like.

I'm OK with that.

I also waited for over 1 1/2 hours to view the architectual drawings of the new place. As of yet, I've yet to see it...long story, but to summarize into one sentece--the realtor only had one hard disk drive and it was in the a meeting with the owner of the company. :")

If all goes well, I'll go back shortly and sit with the designer and realtor and review the drawings. I'm excited to see if my vision was able to play out in the space.


I started packing my bag today. I have a lot of stuff, and not sure I'll get it all in, but I have to so THERE IS A WILL AND I'LL FIND A WAY--maybe.

The question then becomes, what do I leave behind?


I'm hoping that Mark will let me sleep one more night at his hotel, but I'm not gonna push it. I texted him earlier today, and he hasn't responded to it, so if not, I'll camp out here. It has cooled down quit a bit because of the rain, so I can survive.

OK, last night here in Rio...what to do, what to do?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Two, Two, Two Blog Postings in One

So I got really busy and then went to sleep in Mark's A/C'd hotel room, so I wasn't able to post anything here. Why not post two days in one then?


So yesterday I spent most of the day trying to work through getting a Brasilian SSNish, and issues with the apartment.

Before anything, I went with my realtor to see another apt...which conceptually is good, but in reality--a mess. Even more so of a mess than this one. And the guy living in the place was doing the HARD SELL...i hate that more than the realtor doing it.

After that, I went into Ipanema to get a Brasilian SSN number, which they call a CPF number, and apparently need it for everything here. To get it, you have to go to the Banco do Brasil...and you get a chance to talk to a guy that takes your information and then he passes you to another woman that give you a NUMBER, in which you then are told to go upstairs and wait until your number is called. You then pay about $3 to process the number, and then you are told to go to another building tomorrow and you will GET the number, but not the actual card...that will be mailed to me in about a month. This first process of paying took about one hour. This kind of gives you an idea of the bureaucracy in this country.

Spent some time again with the realtors...going over some issues, and resovled to get some designs done on the new apt by Thursday.

I was able to squeeze in an hour at the beach too, which is always nice. I'm gonna miss those squeezed in hours at the beach.


I slept in Mark's second bed in PURE BLISS. Almost 9 hours of chilled ecstacy. :) (oh and sleeping pill to get me there).


A lot of the same.

After waking up and having he free continental breakfast at the Mar Palace Hotel :), I made my way up past the apt I'm looking to buy...just to get some good viewpoints. I walked on the street behind it which one side as planned developments, and the other side of the street sweeping up the mountain is a favela--shantytown. As I got almost to the top, I saw a HUGE presence of police, like over 100 police with there lights, cars, weapons. I thought I might be walking into a drug bust or something like that. T

Then I saw TV cameras and thought, Oh, I must have just missed it. Which gave me a sigh of relief, but also a wisp of envy that I wasn't gonna see/witness the action. (I found out later in the day that the Mayor of Rio was doing a public appearance to announce that they driven all the drug lords and violance from the favelas, and it was a sign of working together to make Rio a better place to live. Darn it, it would have been fun to see him).

I continued through the large gathering and circled around the mountain to try and get better views of the apt. I got some, but with my cell phone camera, they are horrible. Not good.

So I then found my way back to my hot apartment, took a shower and after a little relaxation, headed by to Ipanema to get my CPF number.


When I got off my bus (which I am paying with all my extra small change--I have a lot to get rid of), I saw a real estate agency and on a whim, I went in and asked about purchase and rent. This office just did sales, so after some details, He took to see some places very close...they were OK, but really, not any stretch...and not cheap...$500,000 or so, for three small bedrooms on a busy street.

Brasil real estate is really getting pricey.

So then I stopped by the bank again to ask about opening a bank account--pretty much IMPOSSIBLE to do with just a tourist visa.

Then off to the Federal Agency to get my CPF #. After taking my number, I waited another hour to spend 3 minutes with a girl that essentially printed out my number--why they couldn't do that YESTERDAY, who knows, but I guess it's not THE PROCESS.

By now it's 2:30 p.m. and I've only had my free breakfast to keep me going. So knowing I had to be back in Copacabana for a meeting with the architect/designer, I grabed a BIG MAC and thought I'd eat it on the bus ride down.

After boarding the bus, and trying to find my free coins jingle jangling in my pocket at about 40 MPH across bumpy roads, I was able to pay my fair and head to the back of the bus to eat.

Imagine trying to eat a hamburger and fries on the roller coaster at Lagoon. YES, I mean the roller coaster. That's about what it is to eat on a city bus here. I'm lucky any food actually made it into my mouth...but I was soo hungry, I fought hard and won. My hunger was satiated for a bit longer.


We spent two hours with the architect/designer mapping out the specs of the exiting apt versus the plan of how we want to modify it moving forward. It's a small space, really, and to look at it's HORRIBLE. But I think it has potential...I really do.

I should be able to see the design tomorrow at I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

As my realtor, Thiago, the Designer, Luis, and I walked back to the realty office, Luis commented on how cool the apartment could be...and the point he liked the most was the ART THAT WAS THE FAVELA across the way on the mountain. I gave him a funny look, and he said, Yes, in it's own way, it's very magical and beautiful.

And yes, in a way, it is that. At least that's how it will be listed in the sales brochure when I decide to sell it. (You tell me...does the view out my furture window look like Art to you? In the aeiral view, it's the favela on the bottom left creeping up the hillside and the other two are various parts of it--day and night. The night view would be close to what I'd see out my window.)


I'm back in the oven now, typing this, but about to head to CHILLED HEAVEN...with a free breakfast. Ahh, it's good to have good friends that are willing to put you up. Mark is one of the good friends I've made while here, and very glad I did.

Until tomorrow. After tonight, just two more days here. :(

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Little Kid Sweat Smell

This city is just too HOT during the summer months. I've decided I like Rio a lot more in fall and spring--maybe even winter, than REAL summer.

For example, right now I have the smell that children get when they've been out playing all day. It's not a sweaty, stinky smell, it's just kind of a little-kid-sweaty-active-worn out-tired you know which smell I'm talking about? Well, I have that smell.

And it came from no major physical activity, just me being in the hot outdoors, standing in lines, walking to lessons and bus stops and getting lost on a bus and having to back track in the heat until I could hail a know, stuff like that that gave a smell like this.

I need a shower. But why shower NOW when I know I'll be sleeping in the hot air and sweaty again by the morning. I'll kill two smelly birds with one shower and do it in the morning.


As I mentioned above, I was standing in line--in the heat. Well that line was for thing I was at the Cirque de Solei ticket booth. I finally found it, tucked away at the far end of the marina. (See above). No big deal except today was like mid 90's and humidty up the ying yang, but when I took my place in line, there were only about 20 people ahead of me. No'd think.

ONE HOUR LATER, I finally made it to the window and purchsed two for me and one for Mark. I offered to have Sam attend but he opted out.

Now that I'm home and five hours later, I get a text from Max...ok, he's in, he says, so tomorrow I'm back to the line. UGH. Oh well, it'll be a fun activity for my last day here. Then four hours later, I'll be boarding my flight home.

Leaving one circus for the circus that can be NYC.


I told Nisa today that I would be leaving and today was my last lesson. She didn't shed a tear, but she did say I'd improved a lot...Congratulations, she said, I should be proud. And then in the same breath, she added that congratulations are due her too, being that she was the one that taught me. :)

She got her thanks and we headed our separate ways, for now.

The last thing she said as I was about to leave...when you come back, do you think you could bring me some things if I contact you. She's ALWAYS thinking.


One of my roommates brought a new friend over to the place the other night and while we were all sleeping, he robbed him blind. Watches, money, credit cards, camera, etc. etc. The clever part was that he locked my friend in his bedroom and I think drugged him so that when he woke up, he couldn't get out.

Luckily, nothing was taken in my room--i was sleeping in there so I guess he didn't dare come in--and today all the locks on the apartment were changed so everything should be ok.

The moral of that story...choose new friends wisely. And locked doors don't always work to your advantage.

Speaking of which, does anyone else remember that one room in Pleasant Valley that had the door that locked immediately from the outside if the door was shut. WHAT A FIRE HAZZARD, now that I think of it, but Mom and Dad used the power of that door VERY WELL. "Stay in there until you can be happy or at least look like you're happy." A THERAPIST POT OF GOLD. :)


Now that I'm thinking of buying an apt here, I've been paying very closer attention to the exchange rate. Today, I believe it closed at 1.747 reals to one dollar, up .024 centavos from yesterday. You may think that's nothing, but if you're looking at R$100,000, that means $764 less dollars I have to pay to get the same R$100,000 property. So every day I'm hoping that the dollar keeps getting stronger. Stronger! STRONGER!

Ok, night time for me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

An American, A Scott and a Brasilian Lawyer Sit Down to Chat

Today was all about doing business in Brasil, day.

I went to meet my attorney about the penthouse purchase at our agreed upon time of 11:00 a.m in the downtown area of Rio where all the law offices are. I was notified by his secretary when I arrived that he didn't normally get in the office until noon or 1 p.m. HUM, so I asked if they would contact him. He HAPPILY was on his way and would be there in 20 minutes or so. So I went down and had a little breakfast, got some cash, and just happened to see a sale on pants (which I'll need to start wearing again once I get to the states--no more shorts and swim suits for a while), so bought three pair for only $100. I LOVE a deal.

Then I went back and luckly MAX was meeting with the attorney about that same time so we both went in and Max made sure I was understanding everything he had to say.

The good news is it's still a viable opportunity. The Not-so-good-News is it's not gonna happen quickly...because some paperwork, architectual drawing and engineer assessment still needs to be approved by the city hall which could take 2-3 months. Actually, I'm kind of GLAD about that, as it will give me time to really decide if this is something I want to undertake or not.

But still, moving forward.

Oh and then my attorney informed me I owed him $150.00 and I could desposit it directly into his account. See, some things don't change from here to the States.


I think I got tennis elbow about a month ago and it's not healing, so I've been trying to lay off it...which really means my quest for free gyms ended about two weeks ago. So, unless it gets much better quickly, and I find a free gym, I guess my gym hunt is over. It was fun while it lasted.


I look around my room and while I've not bought much, I've accumulated STUFF. I'm not looking forward to packing it all and heading out, but hey, gotta find a place for everything I'm guessing. Or buy another piece of luggage.


I asked Max if I could sleep in his place tonight because it's just TOO HOT here in the apt. He agreed, so at least for one more night, I'm home FREE in air conditioned comfort.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Baby I'm Back

4 a.m. is a hard hour to do anything. It was hard when I'd hear Dad calling down the stairs to go out and change sprinklers when 15 years of age. And 35 years later it's hard getting up to head to the airport--especially after only getting one hour of sleep.

But as Dad always said, "if you're going to hoot with the owls at night, you have to be ready to soar with the eagles in the morning." Well, I wouldn't call it soaring with eagles, but we did fly.

We got on the flight and after three hours of annoying flight (I must have been really tired, because I got my window seat--which btw didn't have a window--and thought OK, not bad, there's a little girl next to me. I can stretch out my legs a bit into her area and sleep a bit. But 10 minutes into the flight she decided she wanted to sit on the aisle so her grandfather moved to the middle seat and squeezed me into the corner. UGHHH. I was annoyed the whole flight because of that), and after achieving just an hour or so of sleep, we landed in Rio, spent an hour going through customs and another hour on the bus to the apt. Finally I was back--to my non-air conditioned room in mid 90 degree weather and 90 percent humidty. AHH, HOME SWEET HOME. I was happy to be back.

After a brief unpacking stint, Mark and I went to a pay by the kilo restaurant (very good, and Mark paid so even BETTER), grabbed a taxi to meet my realtor to see some new apts in Ipanema (which didn't really happen because of complications--hard to explain, I'm not gonna explain it), then back here and was able to get two hours of sleep.

I met a new friend from Australia for dinner and then after a bit of writing and e-mails will hit the sack...and hopefully sleep SOUNDLY.

Six more days of Rio. :(