Sunday, February 26, 2012


Yes, we did make it to Carnaval. Everyone's been asking, but I haven't been able to sort through the pictures and pick out the ones that I like for the blog. So for now, here's a little starter.

People (mom) keep asking about the nudity. We really didn't see much, other than a homeless woman who might have had too much to drink. Instead of scantily clad ladies, in northeastern Brazil, you'll see girls that look like cheerlearders with umbrellas doing a toe tapping, looks-like-a-great-quad-workout, move your feet fast kind of dance. It's called Frevo, and is a well known style of dance hailing from our region.

King and Queen of Carnaval. She danced a lot. He did mostly what he's doing in the picture. Very entertaining.

See MORENA TROPICANA on her thigh? It's another school of dance, like FREVO (I think). This was the beautiful street that we got to watch Carnaval from one night.
DIABO LOIRO? What's that? Another school of dance! And a great street decoration. Who doesn't like getting flashed by a 20 foot woman?
Handstands in Brazil. Of course!

We were on our state's tourism blog! I'm sure you can do the translation, they pegged us as foreigners...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shopping Brazil

Malls are called 'shopping'. Like our mall is called Shopping Guararapes (Jaboatao dos Guararapes is our city's name). Recife's mall is Shopping Recife. But it's really just a mall. I don't think people say "Hey, you want to go to the mall?" They say "Hey, you want to go to Shopping Guararapes?".

Now, on the other hand, I'm still having a hard time understanding people, so that could easily be way wrong. In fact, it probably is. But I like to think that's what they're saying. Other funny things while shopping are:

Yes, it was the most expensive paper towel brand. What a...uhh...what's the word?
The picture takes away all the fun. There's no reference to the size of these. They were like 5 gallon buckets of margarine.
Green or orange toilet paper? Why? Or, more appropriately, why not!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Dinner with Lena

I go to my Portuguese tutor about three times a week. The first week I swear I heard her say "always eat with Lena". At the time I knew the words for always (sempre), eat (comer) and Lena, of course. So I'm almost positive that's what she said. Maybe I was wrong, but either way, she still feeds me every night, whether or not I tell her I am hungry (or not).

The first night was dinner with her and her daughter, we learned words around the kitchen table, and it was one of my first conversations that was slow and deliberate. The point of it was to get me in a conversations. I very much appreciated that, and I thought it made good sense as a lesson plan.

Since then I think the focus turned more towards showing me a little bit of Brazilian cuisine. Lena, my tutor, loooves to cook (she tells me every night). I did manage to tell her once that she should open a restaurant. I think she liked that. Or she liked that I could form a full sentence by myself. One or the other. The meals in the middle of my span of lessons were more 'traditional'. Local fruits and veggies, combinations that I do not think people use in the states. But by the end of my lessons (we're on a Carnaval hiatus right now) the meals turned into what I imagine would be good eats when you come home from a bar late at night. Or early in the morning. Not as much of a lesson in Brazilian culture. Or maybe it was?

An example of a meal that I thought was more Brazilian: macaxeira (a starchy vegetable, similar to potatoes) with a scrambled egg, shrimp and cheese on top. It was tasty.

A normal dinner meal, to me at least, since dinner is usually a little lighter: bread with cream cheese and like 10 other kinds of cheese, fried bologna, and maybe some crackers or biscuits (sweet crackers). A banana cooked some way.

One of those 'came home drunk and raided the fridge meals': See below:
What is that? It's a slice of pizza with two slices of additional cheese on top. Two bomboms on top of that, ice-cream on both sides and then honey, chocolate and some fruit syrup on the whole thing. 
This is lena. See her bread, the cheese in the cup (it's spreadable cheese) at the bottom of the picture. A plate of cheese is to the left of the frame, and chocolates at the bottom. I think that is cake too.
Lena's daughter, Larissa, and husband, Antonio (I think). And Cindy, the world's oldest dog.
So that being said, I really love my lessons. Lena is sweet, her husband seems like a normal guy, always walking around in his boxers or shorts (it's hot here, no AC), and Larissa is a normal daughter. It's fun to learn how to speak with this family. And I'm not losing any weight.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Doing a little good

Toby and I are both big fans of doing good things. Like helping people out, community service, you know, things like that. When we met I was big in to Habitat for Humanity. I hope I can find something like that here.

Our Jiu-Jitsu Academy went to volunteer at a local church last week, so we tagged along. All we really knew about it was that it was an event for the poorer children in our area. It was pretty fun. The kids played games the whole time, and I painted faces for a few hours. Big hits in the face-painting station were strawberries, hearts, butterflies and spiders. Luckily I knew most of those words. Spider was new, but I had my translator (Toby) with me. We had a fun, ate a weird sandwich for lunch, pinched little chubby kids' cheeks, I talked to the kids in my rough Portuguese and they understood. A successful day.

Truck full of toys and Jiu-Jitsu guys for the kids to play with. Yes. They will play with them both.
All the churches are open air. When there is a service, they fill this space in with plastic chairs.
See the fist this kid is making? She was super cute, but a toughy. Threatening me with more paint! Somehow we got this picture before she had both cheeks, both hands and forearms painted. She followed us around for about an hour, literally carrying a chair with her wherever we went and plopping down next to us.
Painting away. Also, see the girl in pink behind the boys? Waiting for more paint!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Reef 2

I stepped on a barnacle and broke it. I'm so sorry little guy, but isn't it pretty on the inside?
Guuuuh, NEAT-O!!!!!
I think the scenery here is often dreamlike, but also this camera, because it's waterproof and is most often dripping with water, gets droplets on the lens sometimes. It makes for a great dream-like quality to photographs.
Blue coral. It's really small (like the little heads are about the size of a grain of rice or so), and you can see on the bottom right, they are insanely bright teal and green, almost iridescent when open. Neat!

Looks like the guy from Finding Nemo right? Imagine a seagull on the right saying 'mine...mine. MINE!"
Huge barnacle!
The huge barnacle on left and crab on right.
A nice pool with loooots of live coral to the side (left)

Reef 1

Not too much to write about here, mostly pictures. Another post with more pictures to follow. 
Okay, it's not really a picture of anything, just a sampling of things that are living in the water. Things.
A tidal pool from a distance. It's hard to get in there and not scare the fish away. So this is proof from a distance that there are fish in these little pools. It seems that the only ones I can catch a picture of are the boring ones.
Luckily, coral doesn't more. Or it doesn't move much at least. Isn't this crazy looking?
Another little pool. See lots of fishies?
I think this seaweed is so pretty. It's really bright sometimes, but sometimes has a pastel teal look to it.
TIIIIINY sea urchin alert. To the right of my big toe. Also, I've rarely been complimented on these shoes (mostly made fun of), but I'm sure on the reef there are a lot of jealous peeps.
I normally stay more to the right on the reef; it's calmer, more sea creatures. I walked all the way to the edge here. There was even a guy snorkeling to the left. But I assume the reason I didn't see him after I took this picture is that he was consumed whole by a shark.
Coral, and bottom left, one of those kind of boring fish.
Whose hand is that? With that great pink polish, wouldn't you think it was the hand of a local? Thanks Florencia for helping me look like I belong here!
Dinner? Or maybe appetizers...
Blue stuff that I assume is some other kind of coral.
Stay tuned, more to come. Maybe even three posts on the reef. Whoa.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Toby just hates kids!

Okay, no, Toby really likes kids. Okay, no... Toby is a kid. Last weekend we had some good quality pool time with family and some neighbor kids. 

We found a set of twin neighbors. Very small neighbors. Good for throwing. 
Cousin Bruna goes flying. 
Me and Bruna. Testing the waters.
Some family: L to R Solange (aunt), Me, Bruna (cousin) and above Renata (cousin).
 And then, one more note. Waving, you know, flatten your hand, spread your fingers a bit, and flail your hand back and forth? They don't do that here. What do they do instead? Well, good thing we live here. I can tell you what they do. Thumbs up. Crossing the street and getting the go-ahead to run in front of a car (okay, I'm kidding here, no one checks before crossing, it's just a mad dash), give a thumbs up. Arriving at your condo, and looking to your security guard to open the gate for you? A thumbs up. And in return, another thumb. "Hi, how's it going?" Sometimes a thumbs up.  Me, I'm trying to bring the wave to Brazil. Look out for it when you come to visit. I'm a trend-setter.

Also, Happy Valentine's day to all you US folks. Here, it is not Saint Valentine's day. They don't celebrate it now because it conflicts with Carnaval. So it's in July. Go figure.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What's that you say? You'd like to know more about where we live?

Or the World Cup? Did you know that we're living in a host city for the World Cup? We knew. Here is a very nice informative video.

Maybe if we're lucky we'll get to see some of this action in 2014.

The people here love this dance/song thing. It is catchy though.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

How will I stay fit?

Toby is Jiu-Jitsuing on a regular basis, and I'm at home blogging about the great food here. How will I stay thin, you ask? Swaaammin! It's not the only way, but I tried it out today, and it's like God made a sweet lap pool just for me right in front of the house. See images:
You see how the reef protects me from shark attack? Teal dot on land is our house.
If I want to get in really good shape, I swim beyond the reef. Swim fast.
Why will I swim so fast? Well, look at the teeth on these things!