Friday, August 31, 2012

Hey Toby, put that drumstick on my plate

Oh. It's not a drumstick. It's a foot. The frozen chickens here come with EVERYTHING. Feet, head, all the organs that are edible (I imagine), neck. And we get it all in our food (oh, we have a lady that cooks for us...more on that later). Not the head. We actually tried to fish with the head. Apparently the fish thought it was as terrifying as we did. Caught nothing. And I didn't eat the foot either.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Change in the seasons

A little writing post, since I've been really busy with work lately and I feel like my posts have been more about pictures.  The seasons seem to changing now, back to summer from "winter". Winter pretty much entailed rain, cloudier skies in general, and lots of wind. The temperature was a bit cooler, but no more than a degree or two. Summer time is warmer (I think much warmer feeling because there's hardly any cloud cover) and much less windy. In the morning we wake up and it is hot. Regular old hot. The breeze seems to die out overnight, and strengthens throughout the morning. Our beef with that is that morning is the sunniest time in our condo, so with the lack of wind and addition of the sun, it is super warm when we get up in the morning. It's not a huge problem, we just may start sleeping with the air conditioning again.

And on that note, what I had planned on writing this post about. I woke up this morning and it smelled like summer in Brazil. This place has a great smell to it. I have no idea what it comes from, but I forgot about it over winter. It's one of those smells that brings back memories (okay, we've not even been here a whole year) of the first times you smelled it. So I was thinking back on the things that I remember from when we first moved in here. We were without a lot of things that we had readily available in the US, and it really sort of seemed like we were doing without, in a 'livin tough' kind of way. Now those things we don't have I have almost totally forgotten about. Here's a little list:

1. We don't own a microwave. It's not a all-of-Brazil thing, I've seen then at lots of people's houses. We just didn't buy one when we moved in. This is something I used so many times a day in the states, and when we first got here thought we would have for sure bought eventually. Now I don't even remember what I would use it for. We're pretty accustomed to heating up leftovers on the stove and in the oven. We can pop popcorn on the stove pretty handily (except I think my corn is old, our last batch was awful). I don't even remember what else I used it for! Thawing out frozen things I guess....but in this climate all you have to do is leave it out for a tiny amount of time, and it's thawed.

2. Water heater. No houses or condos in our city (that we know of) have water heaters. That means cold showers, cold wash laundry, and dirty dishes are cleaned with cold water. That was what I had the hardest time with at first. I couldn't figure out how to get the grime off the dishes without heating up a pot of water and using it for dishes. Now we've found an all purpose bar soap (family, you're getting this soap for Christmas) that is the most amazing grease-fighting thing I've ever used. The laundry we've just upped the detergent, I don't notice that our clothes are any less clean. Except our Jiu Jitsu gis. They are pretty gross. They could use hot water. The showers were amazing in the summer time, since it was pretty hot out. Over the winter I missed a hot shower, but still, wasn't bad. We had an attachable water heater (for all you cautious people, this is a super sketchy device that attaches to your shower head and plugs into an outlet IN YOUR's that for unsafe?) that ended up blowing up right after I got out of the shower, so we don't use that anymore. Our guest bath has a nice heater attachment, so maybe once a week I take a hot shower, just because I do notice feeling more clean (we've noticed ear wax removes easier with a hot shower) after a hot shower every now and then.

3. Dishwasher. We don't have that.... And it's pretty annoying. We're just so lazy and we both dislike doing dishes... Add in no hot water and they pile up more often than they should. But still, I don't think about it like I used to.

4. Garbage disposal. Don't have one of these, but have totally gotten used to the little mesh screen in our sink that catches the food. I did love to use the garbage disposal, but it's definitely not a necessity.

5. Air conditioning. There are two window units in our house, but they're only meant to be used at night in the bedrooms. All winter we haven't used ours at all. With the stronger winter breezes it's been so comfortable sleeping at night. But this morning I woke up drenched in sweat, so I think we might need to consider turning ours back on. We always have our windows open, and there are parts of the condo that are meant to be always open (our back window, for example, just used to be a gridded wall, you couldn't close it), and we don't have any problems with it at all. I used to imagine that there would be bugs, and figured that was the reason most US homes didn't go open air, but we're on the 13th floor, so we get a rare mosquito, but not more than once a month. All in all, I can't seem to remember why AC seemed so necessary in the states. I guess it might be hotter...or more humid... or less breezy. For some reason, not having AC in this climate works well.

That's pretty  much it. I've been thinking about it, and I'd love to total up my 'carbon footprint'. I used to do that in the US, and it was relatively low for someone in the US, but here! We use very little electricity in the home, we use our car once a week, tops, about 90% of our food is grown in state.... I've gotta have a super great carbon footprint.

So. Moral of the story. Go turn off some appliances. You probably would be fine without them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Working hard, hardly working.

Brazilian workers have this great way of napping during lunch break. I've thought of picking up the style. These guys are great examples. Just find a flat-ish area, maybe a piece of cardboard, take of your shoes, and snooze. Snoring, drooling, looking like you're sleeping on the job, don't worry about any of it, because as much as we see city workers asleep on the side of the road, it must be a job requirement.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Country driving

We drove out to the country a while ago (err, like a few months I guess) and drove through a little city whose name I cannot remember. Anyway, if you're still here after this great intro sentence, we saw a crazy tent city on the way. There is a good bit of poverty here, but nothing extremely drastic, or at least not until we saw this. It was pretty much a cardboard city. I was super impressed with the construction of these houses, but one stray flame, and I imagine you'd have a problem.

And then this guy too. Cute little monk, huh?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Look at this guy!!!

So I have a draft post coming up, and eventually I'll get enough material to post it. But short story, it's about the things that I do not understand about Brazil. I worry that if we move out of the country at some point in our lives, we will be extremely bored with the normalcy of the rest of the world. Or, possibly our next move will be somewhere just as interesting. But I doubt it.

We were driving home on a highway bride, in rough traffic, when we saw this guy coming. Walking his cart, against traffic, on a 4 lane highway bridge. Shouldn't this be illegal? The guy didn't even flinch when we had a tough time changing lanes and almost side swiped him. Traffic wasn't moving slowly either. People were buzzing by him!

Brazil, seriously, you crack me up. In a good way though.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Some thoughts...

 Every time we drive by this building I wonder if they will change that 6 to a 7 next year. It's a big sign, I can't imagine they update it every year, but what else are you going to do, right?
 Maybe this place was a little less run down when the ad was put up, but it's for pet funerals and cremation services. I feel like the people in this neighborhood probably aren't buying custom caskets for their cats and dogs. But maybe I'm wrong.
OOOoooh! Yay, the mango trees are in bloom!!! You can see a few mangos at the bottom of this tree. When we arrived the trees were jam packed, and they seemed to be full of mangos all spring. Now there's hardly a mango to be found on the trees. Just flowers. So hopefully by the time these turn into fruit my Portuguese will be good enough to ask "May I climb you tree? I'd love to pick myself some mangos!".

Monday, August 20, 2012

Election Time!!!

Well folks, it's voting season. 
It's really hard not to notice, too. Every available wall (almost every building has an 8ft cement wall around it, so there are lots of walls) has been whitewashed and logo-ed for whomever's campaign. They two big elections (I guess) are vereador (city council) and prefeito (mayor). We don't watch TV, so I'm not sure if there is advertising on TV, but when you walk down the street, it's impossible not to pass about a million campaign signs. It's really hilarious. 

Also, my favorite thing about the elections (since I don't vote here, my favorite thing is something unpolitical) is the election song each candidate has. It's something catchy, like each candidate has a number, say 1234-56, and they make a song that goes like this:

Saaaaraaaaaaaah, she's your best caaaaaandidateeee, voooote for vote for vote for SARAH! Sheee's 1234-56, 1234-56, and say it one more time, sheeeee's 111112233333334- 566666!!!!!

Pretty much the idea of it is take whatever car you have, take the biggest speaker you have, cover it in plastic, and strap it to the top of you car. The incumbents have pretty sweet systems, but the newbies have really rough looking music cars. The election isn't until November, we think, so I'll post more on this, as it is a hilarious topic. See these pics and a vid for now.

Also notice the large flag that says GREVE, that means strike. Apparently the civilian police on this road are on strike.
Humberto's stretch of logos like this goes on for about a mile.
Now I don't want to confuse you, this is a professional music truck, most candidates don't have this sort of music. It is playing a campaign song right now, but all the other months of the year it plays ads. I've been trying to get a video. Soon. They're hilarious.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Some random images from the last few weeks

There's a huge Mormon population here. Our first few weeks in the country I noticed it a ton. Lots of guys with black pants, white shirts and ties. This is the Mormon Temple in Recife. It's really beautiful, so sorry for the bad picture.
This is a museum...I think. We drive by it on the way to a friend's house. Eventually I will stop the car and see what it's all about.
There was a beautiful sunset, but I couldn't figure out the settings on my camera, and by the time I did, it was below the horizon. So here are two decent ones. But it was way more impressive (as most sunsets are) in person.

This little bird was sitting down at the pool, soaking up the sun. 
And so was this little bird. Just minding his own business, when all of the sudden...
Giant monster Toby attacked!!! What a jerk! Picking on things way smaller than him. Don't worry, the picture looks like he got the bird, but he didn't. The bird was fine.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

O-lympics in Brazil

Well, maybe I should have posted this earlier, as I'm pretty sure the Olympics are ending soon. I love the Olympics, but we didn't really get the best viewing experience (we'll fix that in 2016 when they're in Rio!!!). We don't have any access to US cable programming, so we couldn't get anything with commentary from the US, also, I saw maybe one or two events from the US in general. The countries that I found broadcasting live, free, and on the internet were showcasing odd countries. We watched the whole Italian and Polish gymnastics teams? Or something like that. On Brazilian TV. Why were they featuring those countries, I have no idea? Anyway. I did find one Canadian broadcaster, and two Brazilian ones. The Canadian one I never watched, but both Brazilian channels were great (on the internet). They had lots of live feeds, and although they were goofy choices of countries, it was good broadcasting. Although most of them had no commentary at all. The Olympics are so different when you're pretty much watching it on mute. But still good. We watched a lot of Judo. But without sound, and when we did have it, in Portuguese, we're still not sure how you win.
We had a little US flag from 4th of July or something, but no Brazilian flag (oddly enough, we have a full size Brazilian flag though) so I made us one. I like the Brazilian one way more.
OOOH DANG! Nice glasses, right? Made them myself. Can you tell?

Monday, August 13, 2012


Like I've said a billion times on here, we're open air here. That means no AC (okay, we have a window unit that if the wind isn't blowing, or it's unreasonably hot, we use at night to sleep), open windows to keep the place cool. And lots of humidity. Some of our things that we've brought down are incredibly rusty. And fast too. Our red compost bin top is falling to pieces, after only 6 months. I have many other hilarious pictures of rust, but here's two for now.

Monday, August 6, 2012

First Non-Family Visitor!

Last week we had our first friend come visit (oh parents, don't worry, you are our friends too). We took her to all the sights we could think of. Here's a rundown (you know, so you know what you're missing out on).
We took her to Porto de Galinhas, where the fish eat out of your hands (you're not supposed to feed them)
And you can snorkel there too. The water is much clearer there than at our house.
And there is much sealife to be seen. You're not supposed to torment the wildlife, so we gave him a kiss to make him feel better.
One of our favorite things about Porto is watching the vendors. There are tons, usually with very common stuff, but every now and then you come across something original. We saw some eagles made out of shells. We should have taken a picture of them.
And we took her to the Sao Jose market in downtown Recife. Fruits and veggies are waaaay cheaper there, and it's full of touristy stuff.  Sorry for the horrible picture!
And we gave her caldo de cana, which is fresh squeezed sugar cane. It is deeeelicious. If you like sugar water. Which I do. Our friend drank some, but I finished it.
We should have gotten her this chesburg. But we didn't.

Oh and we went for a ride on the boat. It's in ship shape. We've moved it to another location and have lended it out to a local fisherguy in trade for fresh fish every now and then. And we still get to take her out whenever we want. 

Deck needs a little work though.

Oh look at handsome captain Toby!
And we went to another market in Jaboatao, but I don't know the name of it. There's a large blue church there, that's all I know. It might even be in Recife, I don't know if it's before or after the "Welcome to Jaboatao" sign. 
And of course, to Olinda, for a little heritage. We need to read a book on all these sights. I had to look up why it's a World Heritage sight. And I don't think I found the answer. Because it's old? Does that sound right?
Olinda, where they never sell the same paint color twice.
We taught her about the Frevo. Not much though, just as much as the change we had leftover would buy us. But these kids were pretty good.
And ended the trip with a dooouuuble raiiiinbooow! How magical. This was our view out of our windowless back room. It was all soaking wet from the rain. Turns out it's a good idea to have a window.

I've taken a ton of pictures lately and have some more substantial posts coming up. But for now I'm getting ready for a big work announcement (which involves me sprucing up my other blog). If you're interested in finding out first hand, you can follow the announcement in two tweet chats (just follow #talkNT). Otherwise, I'll be back later this week with posts about campaign season, fishing and mooooore!