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. :(

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Another Day, Another Country

With such a late night, no one woke up until about 9:30 a.m. and by the time we'd searched online, we realized that the ferry ride to Uruguay left at 10:00--not enough time--and the next ferry at noon appeared to be sold out. So trying our luck, we went down at 11 anyway and tried to get on the noon ferry to Colinai, Uruguay. As luck would have it, the last three tickets were sold to us. It might have been our charm, or it might have been that Max was willing to flash his toothless grin--he'd lost a crown on his front teeth the night before eating ice cream (I know, I cream, but that was his story and he's sticking to it). Regretfully on his part, some of the pictures from that day will show him without a tooth. Oh well, such is the price of face and ice cream.


After a one hour high speed boat ride across the Plate River (supposedly the widest river in the world--you'd think you were crossing the ocean as you can't see the other side), we arrived at a small town called Colonia, Uruguay--the oldest settlement in Uruguay. The streets are cobble stoned and tree lined. The homes are small, quaint and attractive. It's clean and just LOW KEY. I expected to see Goober and Barney playing checkers in the town square. Aunt Bea serving warm cookied at the cafe. (we did see a couple of Otis').

We were walking down the street mid day and thought it must have been Siesta time because it was so quiet. It wasn't, but it's just a quiet little town (all except for the one commercial street, that has all the business on it and that street gets quit lively at night time).

We did a little shopping (junk mostly), and then ate a very good meal. Mark's mother had been here a couple of days earlier and had rented a golf cart to zoom around the area, so we did the same Basically it took us to the tourist sites (the light house and even an old car now used as a flower pot) and finally out of town a bit where we ended up at the Sheraton Resort and Mark and I had a nice massage while Max returned the golf cart. Another meal and can you believe it, it was already 10:30 and time for us to catch our 11:30 p.m. ferry back to the Buenos Aires. (there's a one hour time change, so we left Uruguay at 11:30 and arrived at 11:30).


I got back to the B & B by 12:30, but for some reason could not sleep...until about 3 pm. I only ended up with one hour of sleep before we had to leave for the airport and make our 6 :10 flight back to Rio.

All in all, a VERY FUN five days in Argentina and Uruguay. Could I live there, a resounding YES. Easily. Buenos Aires has a temperature and climate feel similar to Utah. It's very metropolitan, quite clean, and organized and appeared very safe. Oh and it appears to be cheaper to live there than in Rio.

But I'm off to my city of right now...Rio. Night.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I´ll Take the Flower Sculpture, not the Flower in Your Mouth

Each morning we seem to rise a little later than the next. Which might mean that we´re becoming Argentinian. You see, everything is LATE here. They apparently start their business day around 9:30 or 10:00 a..m. They eat later lunches and they don´t have dinner until around 9 p.m. So if you´re going out to a club after, well that gets started around 1 a.m. and you can see how the cycle repeats itself.

That time frame is a tough one for me. I like the day to end around 10 - midnight and the day to begin around 7 - 8 .m. So yeah, it´s been a bit of getting used to here.


We took a subway ride to the Palermo area of the city--supposedly a very fashionable and trendy place to live. And it is a nice area...tree-lined streets, nice homes and apartment buildings, and restaurants everywhere, etc. We walked through the botanical gardens (so so), then a very lackluster Japense Gardens, and was relieved to head to their version of the Museum of Modern Art for some A/C´d culture...which was very nice, although it was showing an exhibit of Andy Warhol...which was cool, but I´d seen some of his works already. But some pieces were really innovative and interesting.

From there, we walked to this HUGE flower sculputer in which the pedals open and close daily. I liked this a lot. The parks in this city are very impressive and they have a lot of statues everywhere. It´s a park and statue city from what I can tell.


We headed back for a quick nap, then headed back out for dinner and a show at this Tango Theater. To be honest, I was kind of dreading this--but being the good travel companion, didn´t want to raise a fuss. However, I have to admit, I really enjoyed it. The place/theater was very nice, not too tacky, and the dancing was spectacular...who knew people could move their feet that quickly. The tango is ALL about the feet, and emotion, and lust, and desire, which really come through in the feet--I know, hard to explain, but it does work and it was very cool. AND NOT ONCE did they put a rose in anyone´s month--to my utter delight.

Then we went to a couple of dancing clubs but to be honest, I was pretty tired by then and really just wanted to come home and sleep...which we finally did around 3 a.m. I know, I know...but dinner and the show didn´t end til about 1 a.m. See what I said about this city running on a slow time table.

So hitting the bed and sleeping well in anticipation of heading to Uraguay for a day trip.


Six Feet Under In Style


After some continental breakfast, we headed out to see if we could find the airline office and change our tickets from 6 a.m. on sunday to a later flight. After looking for a bit of time, and realizing finally we had been given wrong direction, we gave up and headed to the one of the most famous cemeteries in the world, Recoleta.

There in is bured Evita Peron. Her family mosulium wasn´t that spectacular, but she is definitely the DRAW at this cemetery. But the cemetery is so cool. Just this mini buildings housing generations of caskets of the family dead. And so eleaborate. It was really beautiful.

Interesting enough, there was an actual funeral arriving when we did, so about 50 people were dressed in their best sunday best while the other 200 people mulling around the place were in their tourist worst. :) An interesting mix.

After a light lunch at a restaurant that had one menu, but they charged about 10-15% more for any item on it if it was served outside on the patio versus inside (go figure), under this TREMENDOUS Banhan, so big and beautiful, we were ready for the afternoon.


From there, we headed to the Hyatt (Mark´s mother is staying there), mostly to use the bathroom, but also because they´ve attached an old palace to the hotel and Mark´s Mother insisted we take a look.

Then a taxi ride to an area of the city where someone came up with this great idea to paint the neighborhood apts/houses various bright colors, and WALLAH, it´s now a tourist trap. With all the traditional touristy trash to buy. I bought NOTHING. We wandered around here for a bit, watched some people doing Tango dancing for tips, ate a little, then the took a city bus back to the downtown area to again try and exchange our tickets.


All that wandering around the city to try and find Aerolinhas Argentina, when we finally did, they were all sold out of all other flights on Sunday. So I guess we´ll either not be getting much sleep Saturday night, or we just won´t sleep until we head to the airport at 4 a.m. UGHHHH!

We did do quite a bit of leather shopping, although so far only Max had made a real leather purchase (riding boots, as he´s thinking of taking up riding again). I do like the smell of leather shops though.


After a quick nap and shower back at the B & B, we headed up to the Palermo area for dinner at this Steak House with Mark´s mother and her friend. The dinner was BIG, and the meat portions HUGE, and good, but not great. (I made the mistake ording my Ribeye steak Medium Well done--it came back a bit OVER COOKED). But that´s my mistake for ordering it that way.

We´d planned to come back to the apt and then head out for some night life, but by the time Mark was able to look something up on the ineternet, I´d crashed...

Another fun day in BA.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What a Beautiful City--Buenos Aires

So I´ve been in Buenos Aires for two days now. And let me say this start gets started LATE.


Went to the airport and was informed by Aerolinhas Argentinas that the reservation I was sure I made, wasn´t really made. So I could buy a ticket there for flight with Max or I could buy the flight coming with Mark at 9 p.m. The morning flight was $200 more expensive, so I opted to head back home and wait out the day for the night flight.

We did take off--about an hour late--but arrived in Buenos Aires around midnight and into our Bed and Breakfast around 1 p.m. It´s a converted apartment, about five quest rooms, and has a nice, clean, older feel to it. I´m becoming a fan of bed and breakfasts. They do most things a hotel will for you, but smaller and serve a free continental breakfast each morning. Anyway, here we are.


Since we´d arrived rather late that night, we didn´t really get going from the hotel around 10 a.m. Mark found a 3 days in Buenos Aires promo plan from american airlines online and we followed it. Went to the Pink House (called because about 100 years ago one of the leaders painted the building PINK to satisfy two fighting political parties...the red party and the white party. Thus the PINK house which seemed to satisfy them. Then we went to a couple more sites, the renovated warf area (see pictures), this really cool building in which the lower floors were architecurally designed after the HELL in Dantes Inferno and the upper floors represented Paradise and Heaven. At the top of the building, and after climing two floors of very narrow and winding starwells, we made it to a light house look out tower and could see the entire city (21 floors up). But it was so small and surrounded in glass that you could very off balance by the moving clouds. The pictures turned out well, but I was happy to descend to hell, so to speak.

We saw many old churches, BEAUTIFUL Architecture more in the mode of something you´d expect in Paris than South America, and ended the day with an interesting TASTER menu meal that lasted us 4 hours and cost just about as much as a VERY fine meal in NYC--a lot but it what an experience and really, it was good AND filling--surprising EVEN to me.

I slept well and was ready for the day today, which I´ll have to tell you tomorrow because Mark´s mother and her friend are here in Buenos Aires as well and are waiting for us to eat at one of the city´s best steak houses--a change from last night for sure.

Monday, January 4, 2010

We're Not "Buying" in Kansas Anymore either with fingers crossed or not, I think I got the approval to buy the apartment. The Condo Association came back and asked for another $4,500 in the asking price (I think to pay the realtors...) but I still think it's a good deal and if I accept, I can buy it.

Here's a link to Google Map showing the location of the apartment. Check it out.

and if you wanna get a bigger perspective of where it is in relation to the beaches and city overall (well the South Zone area), check this one out.

So the wheels are in motion. I contacted a real estate attorney that had worked with a friend in closing his deal. She's going to start researching everything tomorrow. I wanna make sure EVERYTHING is legal and in order before I sign on any dotted line.

But I must say, I'm kind of nervous and excited at the same time.

Think we can get it all done by Friday the 15th? I'm not so sure. And even if that happens, the work has really just begun. THIS I KNOW.


I'm off with two friends tomorrow to visit Buenos Aires, Argentina. With all that's going on, I kind of wish I wasn't going, but if I were to stay here, I'd just get nervous and start fretting about everything. At this point, it's kind of out of my hands anyway. Now it's up to the lawyers, real estate people, etc.

Oh and a little issue about me getting a Brasilian Social Security Number...I applied for that...but we'll see how long it takes.


At about the end of my lesson today, Nisa asked if she could confide in me...being that I was a PASTOR of my church (she did add many years ago), she felt she could share some things she had not told anyone else.

I panicked...oh no, what is she gonna confide in me...HELP!

She then went into this long story about her male renter and him throwing Fits of RAGE whenever he talks to his wife on the internet...I guess she's left him and took their one child with her and he wants them back but she won't come back (i'm guessing because he has a violent temper when he gets angry). My Portuguese teacher is now facing the brunt of seeing his rage and anger played out. He's busted two laptops (his) and last night he pulled a light fixture from it's spot in the ceiling--in the other renters room--OOPS. And she's a bit worried what he might do if lashing out the next time.

So she was asking me what she should do.

I said, Um, give him a warning...if he does it again, he's out.

That was easy, and no one needs a divinity degree for that one.


I've got to be up by 7 a.m. tomorrow, so gonna check in and head to bed. Night.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Lazy, Hazy, Well More Lazy Day of Brasilian Summer

It was a very relaxing and beautiful day here. Nothing much happened, just one of those nice Sundays where the day has no time constraints and you can rewind and wind up for the week ahead. So I thought I'd just pass along some pictures of Rio.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Live a Little, Learn a Little

Three things I learned today:

1. Even if someone says there's a public park at the top of this long steep road, um, there isn't always.

2. No matter how deep you dive to avoid a huge wave passing over you, sometimes you still get sucked into it and get sandy water up your nose and ears.

3. Laundry always takes longer to dry online than in a dryer. ALWAYS


Nothing on the apartment. Well, I shouldn't say nothing. I asked my realtor in the morning and he thought they'd have a response by the afternoon as he was working today--he would let me know.

By 5 pm. and no word from him, I called him. He answered from the beach, (apparently working all day didn't mean ALL day), and "oh yes, I was gonna call you", but the condo board has to have four people sign...maybe tomorrow.

So again, no news on that so far.


I made my third batch of beans and rice, and while they LOOK DELICIOUS, they taste a bit salty. But I'm not sure which is which..I think it's the rice, but I'm not sure.

Oh well...I'll get better at it.

Other than that, I stayed inside most of the day, cleaning house, doing laundry, and cooking--a woman's work is never done.

And also a little bit of recuperating as well.

That's all folks for today.

Friday, January 1, 2010

After the New Year, Comes the Spoils

Last night was the New Years Eve Celebrations. It really was an event to see.

But today, as I walked around the beach and some of the major streets the people had been crammed into, well lets just say I was praying for rain.

Two million people, of which 95 percent were drinking some form of alcohol or something else...and although they did have many porta-potties, well, drunk people go through a lot of liquids.

At times I'd be walking down the street and BAM, this horrific smell of urine or vomit or something--not sure always what that smell was--would hit me and I'd pray the wind shifted immediately, or I'd step up my pace and hold my breath.

All that rain that came before New Years...well, we could use a little of it now to wash off the city. But no rain forcasted for a while now. YIKES.

I will give the city credit, they've cleaned up pretty well. Brasilians in general (at least in my experience) seem to think the ground works pretty well as a trash can, so there was TRASH everywhere last night. But by noon today, most of the major areas were cleaned up and they were working on getting to the rest done shortly.


Remember I mentioned I put an offer on an apartment in Rio. I should hear Saturday/Sunday if they accepted the offer...then I have to really decide if I'm gonna go through with it. A friend of mine who's remodeled 13 apartments, most in Rio, said he'd help me with it, so that eases some of my concerns. He's good. He did the apartment I was just staying in and it's GREAT!

But today I walked to the area of the apartment around 5 pm just to get a sense of how it was during that time of the day. It's an interesting area. And I have to say I came away pleased. This is what I found out:

1. The apartment rests not far from a tunnel dug through one of the many remaining rock formations left from the receding Ice Age. In the pictures above, it's the second group of mountains in back of the large residential high rises--ON THE OTHER side of that mountain, closer to the beach of Copacabana. The road leading up to the tunnel entrance is covered and they've made a little part there.

2. Their's a little police kiosk so it looks like it's a pretty safe area--plus there was a police struck parked nearby with several armed policemen--which is kind a common site around the city.

3. I timed my walk from the apartment to the beach and the subway station:

Beach: 10 minutes
Subway: 5 minutes

4. If you walk through the tunnel (4 minute walk), you come into an area of the city called Botofogo, which houses one of the largest cemeteries in the city. But if you look up, you see the Christis Statue--which you can't see on my side of the mountain, but it's there--getting hit by lightening in this picture.

5. There's another large secluded park just a minutes walk from the place, and a large hospital about the same distance. Supermarkets within 3-4 minutes walk as well.


Had an invite to take a five hour boat ride out to some island off the shore and back tomorrow. While that sounds like it "could" be fun, if the weather isn't so good, the only thing I'd be seeing would be the inside of the bathroom, which wouldn't be so fun, so I declined. I think I'll try and hit the beach tomorrow if all looks good.

Felize Ano Novo--2010


The New Years Eve celebration here in
Copacabana was truly spectacular. And I will add that New Years is MUCH MORE FUN when it's not freezing outside. It was a warm 80's here at midnight--not the freezing cold of Utah and New York that made me never wanna go anywhere on that night.

But let me back up.

The day, no the week, has pretty much been rain all day and night, off and on, but WET. So everyone was thinking the big planned celebration was just gonna be a wet mess.

Instead, around 6 p.m. the light rain stopped, and by midnight, the moon peaked through the remaining clouds. It was a beautiful night. Plus, since it had rained so much the past several days, it allowed the sand on the beach to become more packed and easier to walk on. So the THREE huge stages they'd build on the beach were easily accessible even with tennis shoes--although my bedroom floor now has a light dusting of sand from taking them off last night.

The night was great, but even more fun because my friend Mark, who's been working on producing the whole event, got me Backstage and VIP passes--it's nice to be special at these kind of events, I'm finding out--where food, drinks and preferred viewing stages were made available thoughout the night. Too bad they couldn't actually get Beyonce to perform--but she was asking $3 million to do a 30 minute show--so instead I got Brasilian artisits--all good but I didn't know any of them.

As you can see by the pictures, the fireworks show is spectacular, with several barges spanning the 4K beach, and synchronized to music as they light up the sky.

The people lined the beach to see the spectacle...and it was that. PEOPLE EVERYWHERE. Think of it, the state of Utah has about 2.7 million people. They calculated over 2 million people cam and packed themselves into a 1.5 mile stretch of beach about 80 yards wide, and you start to get the idea.

Towards the end, we moved to another stage and I was able to watch two of the large SAMBA schools perform on stage...although I don't really "get it", the Brasilian love for Samba, THEY DO, and they were having a great time both on stage and in the audience dancing in the sand to the samba beat (which is all precussion...loud, forceful, and happy).

The stages performed until about 3 a.m. and by then 1/2 the people had tried to head home--which I did too.

But getting home wasn't that easy for most...for example, the subway stop near my apartment had a line going about a quarter mile JUST TO GET IN TO A CAR. Can you imagine! And that was at 3 a.m. I can only imagine how long it mus have been at 1 a.m.

But remember, last night I was VIP, so I walked right past them all (as my apt is just a block from the subway stop) and fell into my bed, where I slept until 10:30 a.m....and decided to wake and write this...lucky me, lucky yous! :)


The new year is also celebrated with the Brasilian Umbanda religion through what they refer to as the Festival of Iemanja--the Goddess of the Water.

Throughout the day, the vendors on the street were lined up selling white gladiolas. Most brasilians have adopted the tradition of walking to the beach and making their new years wishes, and then throwing their flowers into the water...watching their wishes float out to be accepted by the Goddess Iemanja.

This part of the celebration also played out on stage tonight--but it had been condensed into pretty much a stage show...the small group of 50 or so sing and dance on stage and then the group (all dressed in white) follow a man carry a statue of the goddess to the sea. The men are carrying a small boat filled with money and flowers, the women carry flowers and following behind the boat dance as they make their way to the water's edge. Once there, the lead guy offers some prayer to the statue Iemanja he's carrying--which I didn't understand--and then launches the boat out to sea to the cheers of all.

From what I get, the fisherman think doing so will help them with their catches during the year. But it has also taken on some carnal aspects, as the Goddess is also known as the Goddess of Carnal Pleasures, where peoples' carnal lives will be better if the worship and are blessed by the Goddess.

I'm guessing a good part of the flowers bought during the day had to do more with this then the fish catch...wink wink.

Anyway, I wasn't that impressed. I expected more, thousands of people walking backwards into the sea and coming out renewed--a couple did this but, nah, not what I expected.


I do wish everyone a prosperous and joyous NEW YEAR...can you believe it..2010. It sounds like a good number. Good things will happen, I'm confident.