Friday, November 26, 2010

WHAT A WEEK! Is there a hope?

That was a stressful week in Brazil. So much going on that I thought it was worthy it to list everything down in order to keep things on track for future records.

Rio de Janeiro is a chaos (well the entire country is but that was serious!). Drug dealers and top militaries are on declared war on the streets. Lots of people dead, injured, tanks and bullets everywhere. And while all discussions and questionings about the Olympics and the World Cup in our ground inflates, Pelé plays along with Ricardo Teixeira for Fifa presidency.
Our President Lula refrains to vote for resolutions in Iran that would prevent women from being violated, meanwhile the new president-elect, Dilma Rousseff , chooses her Ministers and confirms she will be changing the central bank governor Henrique Meirelles, the main responsible for the Brazilian economy boost and who is now probably taking over the Brazilian Embassy in Washington, DC. Autonomy is in discussion as the freedom of speech, still...
The finals for the biggest Brazilian soccer championship inflames rivalry (giving in or not giving in, what a doubt!) and inside the same stadium, Paul McCartney plays for more than 170.000 fans. Airport staff strikes (again!) just for a change and who is it to blame for? An inefficient agency (Anac) or an incompetent state administration (Infraero) @MiriamLeitaoCom, what is worse?

But still, we are Brazilians and we do want all this to work! We want it so badly... at least I do. I miss so many things down-there, but answer me this: where? how? when? Tell me there IS hope. And while the pastor Rogério Menezes preaches before drug dealers, who is gonna be the one to save us from ourselves?


An ice storm is a type of winter storm characterized by freezing rain. It occurs when a layer of warm air is between two layers of cold air. Frozen precipitation melts while falling into the warm air layer, becoming rain, and pass through a thin layer of cold air just above the surface. This thin layer of air then cools the rain to a temperature below freezing (0 °C). When the supercooled drops strike ground below 0 °C or anything else below 0 °C (power lines, tree branches, aircraft or my yard table (photo) this morning), they instantly freeze, forming a thin film of ice, hence freezing rain. Location and geography create above Montreal (where I live by the way) the ideal conditions for this phenomena #humpf. Each winter it occurs 8 to10 times and this night was just the first one. But in 1998 Montreal had the worst ice storm in history, leaving people under very extremes conditions for almost 10 days in a roll. That became a super interesting Discovery Channel Documentary. I recommend it, at least watching the 1st part

Part 5 talks about how it was affecting (and killing) the human body.
Part 6 about the infrastructure (airports, power lines etc).

I wonder why they didn't say that during the Immigration process....

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Montreal helps you buying your first house.

After almost 3 years paying a rent, we'd decided the time to buy our 1st house had come. Our rent was more than enough to pay a mortgage but, the question was, how (or where) we were going to find money for the downpayment? They say that if you dig deep enough you will find what you are looking for, and WE DID IT! "La ville de Montreal" has a program called "Accèss Condos" in which all you need is to pay a deposit of $1,000 and they will advance you 10% of the downpayment you need to purchase a condo. Of course certain rules apply: 1. the condo must be a participating member (if it is not you can still apply for the program but you will have to have 5% in your pocket right away); 2. it has to be inside the Island of Montreal; 3. the condo must be NEW; 4. they have a maximum value fixed. Well well nothing is perfect but you can finally quit renting and become an owner! Think about that. I've found fantastic! Gotta go shoppping ;) xxx

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Winter Tires.

(This post is for those who never leaved here in the North Pole lol)
It is November, time to shop for X-Mas and get ready for winter. Besides winter jackets, gloves, hats, layers, scarfs and special socks and boots for the entire family there is also another member of the family that needs to be ready: your car! Be prepared to let go some dollars out of your pocket, mainly if you have a new car from another category - our case this year. This is because here it is compulsory to use winter tires (in the place of the regular ones) from 15 Dec. until March so, everybody has to have 2 sets: one for the winter and other for the rest of the year. We bought a mini SVU and shopped for its winter "boots" this weekend. EACH tire costed us 130 dollars (and this after a long price research)! Add to that 50 dollars for a gallon of "de-icing", a especial liquid for the wind shield water, around 50 for a set of winter carpets, 30 for special wipers and 52 (plus a long waiting line) to install your tires. Uff... yeah, I know... unbelievable and expensive... very expensive... #humpf

Carnival is about competition!

Everyone knows Carnival for it's parties, colors, fun and music but what most people don't know (at least the ones that had never been there) is that Carnival is a competition between 12 "schools of samba". First of all, it's origin is religious. It happens every year 40 days before Easter to celebrate the start of the fast (well... we don't fast no more but the party is still there just in case, right?). At the beggining the schools of Samba were owned entirely by the gambling mafia, nowadays it is mixed with the drug dealers money and also private investor and I can say, regardless to whom owns it, it is indeed the biggest show on Earth! It is a 5 days holidays, and for 3 entire nights you can indulge yourself, the parade starts ate 7PM and finishes around 6 in the morning. Each school has 1 hour to pass in the "Passarela do Samba" otherwise it looses points. Throughout the runway there are 3 groups of judges, giving the school grades for the Theme chosen, the music, the musicians, the costume, the dance, the allegoric cars, harmony, rhythm, pace etc etc. It is a real business and a very rich industry. Fans and curious tourists come from all around the globe to check this beauty made by so many talented (and rich) people. That is definitely one of those things you must do before you die!

Being Brazilian.

As X-Mas and New Year's approach (again!) rises not only a need to meditate on what the last year meant to you but also on what connects you with your values, drives and roots. When you leave abroad this exercise is even more fun than ever. In my case, being a Brazilian is being most of all FUN, there is so much fun there that, "serious" is difficult. Is having 10 different pairs of Havaiannas flip-flops, and not having (ever!) time for anything because you are always too busy with everything else. Is having the fifth biggest beer brewery in the world, but loving caipirinha the most. Where soccer is your religion, your air, your life! You don't know how to read or write but you are happy because your team is on TV every week! It is where you still do not buy to download songs but you still buy for underage prostitution. The beer must be -5 degrees otherwise it is horribly hot but if the weather is around 10 it is already horribly cold. The country of beauty, manicure, pedicure, beauty salons in every corner, every week, in a fixed calendar bases; where you can find the best dentists and plastic surgeries in the word and at least one person around you had already made at least one plastic surgery. It is a place that in order to get to one of the most beautiful beaches in the word you will have to pass trough a very ugly, and some times dangerous, corners. A place where the best views are owned by the drug traffic dealers and so is the biggest show on earth. Brazil gives you the breath-taking Carnival and the breath-giving Amazon Forest which, by the way, we are still learning how to take care of. Because we prefer fun over serious all the time. When you are there you feel alive and powerful, but when your are away you feel safe and serious. What should you chose?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

NY with kids.

I never thought I would go to NY with a baby. But when you leave abroad with no family (read “grandma”) around to help you, what other option do you have but to carry them everywhere? It is that or nothing, and nothing is definitely not an option for me. Traveling to NY with kids is not an easy task nor relaxing but... who is going to NY to relax anyways? And besides, let’s be honest, Manhattan is ALWAYS worth it! You just need a little bit of more planning. There are thousands of kids friendly activities, from the more traditional ones like the ferry to the Statue of Liberty (my girl was super excited about being in a “boat” for the first time) to a super “private” (tickets are restricted) Cottage in the middle of Central Park with a cozy and fun Marionette show. There are 2 Children’s Museums, 2 Zoos, the double-deck bus tour that she loved!, and “en plus” as the French would say, the biggest Toy’s R Us in the word! where us, parents, get more excited than them with so many high-tech toys! It is true I didn’t go to any Broadway show (not that you can’t go, because most hotels have babysitter services) but because at 9PM by the time we arrived we were just too exhausted! I didn’t go shopping either, nor went for a fancy dinner, but watching by girl running trough central park happier than ever with her first hot-dog was priceless. All you need is to prepare yourself, physically and psychologically, to explore a different face of Manhattan which by the way, has many, many different ones.!