quarta-feira, maio 16


So, FYI. Sprite in Brazil, sucks.

It's been a year, to when I packed up my last suitcase and headed to Miami to get a "good night's rest" before heading to Brazil to start the next chapter in my life.

At lunch today I decided to celebrate with a Sprite, a refrigerante I actually haven't ever drunk over the past year. It's a soda I always enjoyed in the US, it's light, crisp, refreshing...

...and absolutely terrible in Brazil.

So, if you ever come to Brazil, and you want a refrigerante, don't get a Sprite. Opt for a Coke. It's WAY better than the US version. Or, go Brazilian and get a Guaraná Antartica. That's delicious (and maybe a bit more natural? Maybe?)

sexta-feira, abril 20


Yesterday I needed to get a manicure done, a weekly ritual for me here when I'm not running around like a chicken with my head cut off, and I have yet to find a manicurist that I reaaaaly like. They were either too expensive (meaning it was R$30 or ~US$15 for a mani/pedi/massage/french tips) or I didn't like how they did the manicure. Yesterday those problems were solved.

I found the BEST manicurist BY ACCIDENT. I swear that is how the best things usually happen. I was walking up the main avenue in town after one of my tutoring sessions and I decided to find a salon. The clouds were also very ominous and it had started to thunder a bit, so I decided I needed to find a salon, and FAST. I walked up the street about 5 blocks and I ran into a pretty simple looking salon, and the manicurist was just cleaning up her space. I asked if they had a slot and she said sure, come on in! When I asked the price do do just my hands (I was wearing closed toe shoes that day so doing a pedi was just a bad idea), she said $R8, and I got worried it was going to be terrible, but since it was starting to downpour I decided to stay.

IT WAS THE BEST MANICURE EVER! She did it total Brazil style (check out this post that I remembered from a fellow blogger who is in Rio) meaning she managed to get rid of all my cuticle and excess dry dead skin around my nails (without me bleeding! a huge bonus!) ANNNND she slopped nail polish all over my finger. Brazilian manicurists do this because it helps to seal the paint around the nail (and yes, it works!). She was super nice and managed to clean off all of the excess nail polish even though the color was very dark. This is a big deal because for the most part, Brazilian nail polish remover sucks (note to self: bring back tons when I go to the States in June) and this is usually my biggest problem with Brazilian manicurists. They tend tend to miss spots and then I'm all irritated because I didn't notice it until I was already home, then I manage to screw up the whole manicure in my attempts to clean off the smudges... baah).

Anyhow, I'm sold. Problem? It's way far from my house, but just a few blocks away from one of my clients, SOOOO, I think this will be my new Tuesday or Thursday afternoon activity. Nails! :)

quarta-feira, abril 18

Something I love about Brazil

I love that I understand what is in my food (for the most part). In the states I hate buying anything in a can, box or sealed and almost always opt for making it on my own. I read labels, all the time (a terrible and awesome habit I picked up from my high school/college sweetheart) and I won't even think about buying things if I don't understand one of the first ingredients and I refuse to buy it if theres all  those crazy colorants and "artificial flavor" this and that. I really do try to lead a healthy lifestyle (with regards to foods) and by healthy I mean as few chemically altered and processed things as possible.

This is where Brazil rules.

I can grab almost any yogurt on the shelf and I understand EVERY ingredient. Butter is CREAM and SALT and cookies are normally just, well, sugar, flour and chocolateeeee! I love this. And High Fructose Corn Syrup?? Noone even knows what I'm talking about. Coca-Cola says SUGAR. Cereal says SUGAR. Things here are sweetened with SUGAR! Wow, who woulda thought!?

I was at the store today and saw a new Nestle brand yogurt with "cereals." I decided to check it out and it's really just fruit pulp, natural yogurt, and all sorts of grains. I understand every single thing on the label from the first ingredient to the last. Result? I bought it and daaayyyuuum it's yummy.
I love that I live in a culture that FOR REAL takes seriously eating naturally. Açaí shakes are available on almost every corner (from LOCALLY PICKED AÇAI TREES) made with milk from local cows and with all sorts of other yummy Amazon fruits and such. The only thing that isn't Amazon friendly is probably the peanuts that go in the shake, but I'm not sure if they are all imported or not. I have never heard of anyone growing peanuts nearby.

Lastly, I love that I live in a place in which the government incentivizes planting trees. You can get tree saplings (is that the right word? like, baby trees?) for FREE every WEEK! All sorts of local trees, including Açaí, palm trees and other LARGE fruit trees. We're trying to figure out where we want to plant some in our yard, even though we already have a ton of trees. You can never have too many!

segunda-feira, abril 16

Couch 2 5K

Well, I wouldn't say I am a couch potato, but more of an un-motivated fitness freak. I love working out, I love running and walking, but I am super un-motivated to do it. I love yoga and jumping rope, but alas, I am unmotivated to get off my butt and make time for it.

So, I decided (after missing 3 weeks at the gym) that I would start a new regimen. I have had various friends participate in the Couch 2 5K workout program and I have decided to take part. The fun thing about the C25K is that they have downloadable 30 minute mp3 routines that you follow (there are plenty of other resources as well if you don't like technoish dancy music for your runs). Your "coach" encourages you to keep going, to run faster, to walk and take a break. It's a 3 day a week program, each week getting a bit more difficult with the goal of a 5K run after 9 weeks. I'm pretty excited and I have done two days of the program so far and it's worked out great for Ice and I. He looooves the fact he is getting walked on a more regular basis and I love the fact I feel more motivated. I got up at 6am to go for a run this morning and it was perfect. No cars, nice and chilly (it had rained all night so it was extra chilly) and the sunrise was in-cred-i-ble.

So, so far so good. Two days of 30 minutes of active walking running. I'm going to try to run 4x a week (even though the program is for only 3x a week) and mix it up with at least one or two days of weight training at the gym, probably on Tuesdays and Thursdays since they are my more free evenings, and pay each time I go, instead of monthly. It works out to be much cheaper.

I encourage you to check it out if you have been wanting to get moving but just haven't been able to get motivated. Let's do it together! C25K style!!

One thing that bugs me about Brazil.

So, life as an ex-pat is always an adventure and in most cases you have to stop comparing where you were born to where you are living, or you either end up hating where you came from, or hating where you are living. That's my best advice to ANYONE who is planning on living abroad permanently (or for an extended period of time.

Anyhow, there is one thing that drives me INSANE about Brazil. Particularly interior Brazil, and that thing is the availability of tampons (or lack thereof) and the role of women in society.

First of all, tampons. I'm a good old American girl who can't stand pads. I hate them. I feel like I'm wearing a diaper and to make matters worse, its a million degrees and humid in Rondônia and i can't imagine a better combination for breeding bacteria and fungus than hot, wet, humid, sweaty PLUS a pad. Reason #20398098409534 for why I don't understand WHY Brazilian women don't prefer tampons.

Anyhow, whenever I need to go to the store to pick up tampons, it's always an adventure. They are (that is, if the store actually carries them) usually hidden on the bottom shelf behind a bunch of other things, out of view. To make matters worse, they are absurdly expensive (pads are about R$2 while tampons are about R$9 for the same quantity). And finally, as I make my way around the grocery store finishing up my other purchases and finally making my way to the checkout, I feel like I am doing something wrong. The lady (god forbid I choose a lane with a male cashier) always looks at me like I am sinning and quickly hides them in a bag, or multiple plastic bags, to save me from the shame of being seen with tampons.

In a more than a few conversations with my female friends I've come to the conclusion that women here don't use tampons because they simply don't know HOW. I had a friend tell me she thought it made no sense to use tampons because you had to take them out every time you needed to pee. She also told me that it hurt to use and she was terrified that it would get lost inside of her the few times she tried so she completely abandoned the idea altogether. This whole conversation worried me more than a little bit because 1) she doesn't know her own body... she thought her urethra and her vagina were the same thing 2) because she was obviously using the tampon incorrectly due to the pain and 3) I have no idea why she thinks it will get lost inside of her as in all my years of using tampons, I have never had a string break or have one go missing.

This leads me to the second part of this blog entry, the role of women in society.

These three problems that I have just highlighted are due to lack of INFORMATION! I get so irritated when things like sex and menstruation are simply avoided in schools and mother-daughter conversations because they are essential for women to have self-worth and feel reassured that they have a strong place in society. This obviously doesn't just happen in Brazil but also in the United States, but I feel that it is much more taboo in Rondônia than in Pennsylvania.

I took this moment to sit down and have a few important conversations with my 20 something year old Brazilian friend about her body, about how it's totally OK to use tampons and how it doesn't take away your virginity (she's married, but I still thought it was important for her to understand this point) and I gave her step-by-step (verbal, of course) instructions on how to properly use tampons, including the fact that you CAN PEE when you are wearing one.

I'm lucky to have had a mother who explained everything to me without imaginary stories of storks and was not afraid to help me to learn about my own body, my sexuality and even bought me my first box of condoms which were hidden in the back of our bathroom cupboard (obviously accompanied by a loooooong talk about healthy relationships, how sex, even with condoms, is risking your health, how its a BIIIG decision, etc....). It is because of these open and frank discussions, I believe, that I was the only girl out of my group of friends who did not smoke, who didn't drink, who didn't use drugs, who didn't have sex (until I was muccch older) and usually was the one everyone confided in when their boyfriends beat them or demanded sex when they didn't want it.

I continue to remind myself, however, that I live not only in a country that still is a bit "behind" as far as society roles go, and to make matters more complicated, I live in a very conservative, rural area in which women are expected to cede to their husband's orders and there is more than one church that says that women who wear shorts or pants or cut their hair are sinners. Brazil has come a long way (there are women as business owners, politicians, school directors, doctors, lawyers, etc...) but the country still has a long way to go, especially in the frontier zones.

It's moments like these that help me to stop and appreciate how lucky I am that my husband lived in the US for long enough that he realizes it's OK to let your wife go out with her girlfriends for a drink (which I do not have ONE male relative that thinks that is even a possibility), that it's OK to let her go to the gym on her own (I have a friend who's husband won't even let her go unless it's a 100% female gym....) and that its OK for men to cook and clean (which most of my male relatives here scoff at the idea at even being asked to wash a dish.) Although H has learned a lot as a result of his time abroad, he still is at heart, Brazilian, and this causes tension in our relationship from time to time. Interestingly, I have found the more I stand up for myself, the more respect I get in return (even though it may cause a bit of a quarrel at that given moment). That being said, I have been learning to pick my fights carefully when in pubic in order to respect the local culture as much as possible, thus avoiding embarrassing moments for both H and I, and I we choose a better moment to discuss what happened, what either one of us didn't like and try to come to an agreement on how to handle such instances in the future. This is a HUGE exercise of patience and humility for the both of us but it's worth every tongue-biting second of it.

So, even though these two things bug me about Brazil, tampons and the role of women in society, I still love life here. I take advantage of every opportunity to talk about respect, love and following your dreams, especially to young girls. I talk about the importance of healthy relationships and waiting to have sex, but not MAKING THEM FEEL BAD if they choose or have already chosen to. Girls (and boys) need a healthy environment to make their own decisions and healthy environments are created as a result of open conversations with real, unbiased information. It's obvious my mother did not want me to have sex, but as a result of her openness, I waited. It's obvious she didn't want me smoking marijuana, and as a result of her openness, I didn't become a user. Even when the majority of my friends were. She taught me how to use tampons and birth control instead of avoiding those discussions.

Looking back, I still didn't make all the right decisions, but I sure learned a lot and I didn't spend a lot of time lamenting the bad decisions I did make. I took care of myself and encouraged others to do the same. And, you know what, I'm feeling pretty good about where I am in life.

Thanks, Mom. :)

sábado, abril 14

Vicios. I've got 'em, and so does Brazil.

Vicio. Addiction. It's such an ugly word. It means we have an uncontrollable desire for something. That something is a necessity in our lives. I have various additions, some of which are positive, some of which are negative. Among my positive additions, I am addicted to being physically active--walking, running, hiking, working out, etc. This addiction in the states led me to parking far far away from the door of Wal-Mart, constantly irritating my shopping companions, but think of all the BENEFITS of parking far away! Less chance your car will get hit, it's easier to find, and you get to WALK! I'm also addicted to being optimistic in about 99% of life's situations which doesn't always turn out good for me, but helps me get through all of the typical ups and downs of life. Finally, I'm addicted to music and books and shoes and purses and youtube makeup video tutorials (which I don't use, but I love to watch) and facebook.

Well, those are not all GOOD addictions, but they are at least not HARMFUL addictions.

Anyhow, I do have one seriously detrimental addiction. Coffee. This addiction is confounded by the fact that I live in one of the largest coffee exporting countries, Brazil, and I also live in a coffee producing region. AND EVEN MORE SO because I live one block from a coffee processing plant that roasts beans two times a day, morning and evening.

See See! That's Ji-Paraná! (and surrounding cities) all by itself!
 This map is from the Coffee Museum in Santos, São Paulo.
So, as you can assume, life for this coffee fanatic has not been easy. My intake has only skyrocketed since I have moved here. Fresh, locally grown and roasted coffee available on a daily basis? It's like heaven. The fact I don't even have a coffee maker hasn't been a problem at all, either. I've simply bought a plastic support for the coffee filters (that look just like the spot where you put them in a coffee pot) and strain boiling water right through it, just like the coffee pot does.) I simply haven't decided it was important enough to invest in (they run around 30-50 USD depending on the model) nor do I actually have the counter space to put one, so logically it would be more of a pain in the butt to have one.

The coffee filter fits right in and it drips perfectly into my 0.5L Thermos.

I drank coffee when I was stateside, but nothing like this. I started reflecting on how in all stores, banks, offices, schools, churches, basically any place that gathers people has a community coffee thermos for free (this is NOT the case in São Paulo, but is 100% the case in Ji-Paraná). If you are stopping by the bank to make a deposit, you can grab a small coffee, if you are going to your accountant's office, have a cup of coffee, if you are going to church, sure! Have a cup of coffee! If you are going to the doctor, there is always coffee available for clients. It's part of the culture! When I go to my sogros there is always a thermos ready with some cookies or biscuits in a jar on the table to welcome guests and this is pretty much the case in anyone's house that I have gone to. So maybe it's not all my fault.

Coffee has historically been the central export from Brazil to the rest of the world, especially in the early 1900s. There came a point during the 1930s that as a result of overproduction, the stock market crash and depression as well as the fact it coffee is a primary commodity, prices plummeted and being that the Brazilian economy during this time was almost solely based on coffee the government resolved to burn large quantities of the production to maintain the export value. Here is a chapter (in English) from a great book about the Economic Development of Brazil by Celso Furtado, one of the most respected Economic Historians of Brazil. I've read the whole thing in Portuguese thanks to my Economics professor at USP. There has also been a Canadian movie made about the topic that I would love to see.

The government during this time was a revolutionary military government turned democracy turned military dictatorship again led by Getulio Vargas, one of my favorite Brazilian politicians to study. He single-handedly transformed Brazil's economy, educational system and is the reason that Brazil has so much buracuracy. He was extremely nationalistic, the founder of Petrobras and the Ministry of Education and Culture (among like a million other government entities). He declared the New State (Estado Novo in Portuguese) and is the reason for the importance of Carnival and Samba in Brazil as he was attempting to create a "national Brazilian culture" for national unity, a pretty impossible task that he was actually very successful at. His legacy lives on in the name of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, one of the top research bodies in Brazil (that I would love to work for) that also has a variety of courses and social programs. I love to talk with my sogro about what school was like after his reforms, as he was going to school during the post-Novo Estado era and the nationalistic ideals were still the base of the national educational system. See, all military dictators aren't all bad....

Vargas was a HUNK.
What is the most interesting this is that as a result of the huge excess of coffee, it became a central part of Brazilian culture and today that feeling is still largely felt. Especially here in Ji-Paraná. My husband's cousin's wife's father (did you follow that?) was a huge coffee fazendeiro. I love hiking through his old coffee fields and hearing him talk about "the good old days of coffee" which was one of the main reasons he migrated to Rondonia. BY A HORSE DRAWN WAGON. He reaped the rewards of the coffee boom and managed to buy tons and TONS of land and today is extremely successful. He has turned large portions of his old coffee plantations into passion fruit plantations (equally delicious) and it's so interesting to talk about the changes, the challenges, the successes and the failures of living in a country based on primary commodity exports, being that I have studied this stuff for the last, ohh... 8 years.

In closing, it's not my fault I am addicted to coffee. It's Brazil's fault. If they didn't have such delicious coffee I wouldn't be drinking so much of it. Also, if it hadn't been an essential economic tool for survival, it wouldn't have become such an integral part of their culture. Brazil simply loves coffee and Becky loves that Brazil loves coffee. Case closed.

And now, I'll leave you with a beautiful song from the late 1940s sung by Frank Sinatra (re-recorded in the 1960s) about Coffee and Brazil. It's such a perfect song for any professor that is going to begin a lecture about the importance of coffee in Brazil!

"You can't get cherry soda 'cus they've got to sell their quota And the way things are I guess they never will They've got a zillion tons of coffee in Brazil" (see more lyrics here
Sing it, Frank.

I particularly like at the end when he says "Eiiii Pedro! Get the flashlight! I can not find the sugar!" in a really bad Brazilian-ish accent. Nothing like being politically correct.

segunda-feira, abril 9

My Easter Weekend

Well, what can I say. It was incredible. I originally was getting all depressed about yet another holiday away from my family, but excited to experience Easter in Brazil (a holiday that I had not yet experienced here). I had been seeing the giant chocolate eggs taking over the grocery stores over the past few weeks and my anticipation continued to build as I thought about devouring one all by myself on Sunday whenever I had to make a stop to buy milk, bread or laundry detergent. I was reminded of when I first started dating my husband in 2009 and he brought me a giant chocolate egg. My grandmother and I spent weeks and weeks eating it and BOY was it delicious! Mainly children and boyfriends/girlfriends exchange these types of goodies, plus they are super super expensive here so needless to say, I did not get one this year. However, I am planning on stopping by the grocery store today or tomorrow to buy one at discount since Easter is already over ;)

The Eggs are hollow chocolate with chocolate candies inside, typically bon-bons and other goodies!
The whole weekend started on Good Friday (which is even better in Brazil since it is a holiday. Read: NO WORK!) and we went off to the farm. My in-law's farm to be exact. We had a few beers, relaxed, grilled some huge delicious fish and had a great lunch. Afterwards we went off to Humberto's cousin's farm where we spent the day swimming in the river and riding down the small waterfall in an innertube! Ice Finally lost his fear of swimming and swims all over! He got swept downstream a few times since the current was pretty strong but he paddled his way to the riverbank to run back up and try again! He's gotten extremely strong over these past few months and he had fun showing off his strength. He even rode down the waterfall with Humberto in the tube!

After all of that excitement I laid in a hammock by the river while the rest of the crew worked on the farm. I picked up a super inspiring book called Encontrando um caminho by Koji Sakomoto and practically finished it. I read a few chapters more than once as well as it is a really interesting book about self-realization and how to find true happiness. Unfortunately there isn't an English version but if you speak Portuguese I highly recommend it!

Ice and I spent the rest of the day playing fetch (which he still sucks at... He prefers to take all the sticks and such and make a nice pile of everything that I throw for him to fetch instead of bringing the same thing back to me every time. He's not as eco-friendly as I am, I guess.)

Later that evening while talking with my friend's uncle (and admiring the giant moon) we came up with the idea of hiking up a nearby hill (it was really big!!!) to sit on the rocks on top and look down at the city since we had nothing better to do. We had a BLAST. We got up to the top super sweaty and hot, but within minutes a nice breeze started to come through and we had fun taking pictures and being goofy, relaxing and finally simply sitting in silence looking at the beautiful valley surrounded by hills, the bright moon, the beautiful clouds and the simple fact that we were able to be in that location, at that moment and appreciate nature and the presence of some great people.

(Pictures of the outing to come....)

On the way back down, we ran into  a tatu or armadillo! Amadillos are popular in the rural areas as a food source and I had never eaten one (and I'm always complaining about that! You can't buy armadillo meat in the stores, though, because they are a protected species, of course, but I just want to try it at least ONCEEEE!) Anyhow, Humberto and my friend's uncle tried to chase it down (Ice enjoying the hunt to the FULLEST) and unfortunately for us (and fortunately for the tatu) he found his way back to his hole and was safe out of reach. We got home, fully exhausted after 1am and I crashed in bed until 10am! Ice was so exhausted when I got up to go say hello to my friend's grandmother and drink a cup of coffee with her and her husband (my morning routine when I am at their place since I normally get up earlier than the rest of the crew who stays up until 3am playing cards) that I thought he had gone on an adventure. He normally follows me over to her house without me even calling but as I was drinking my coffee I realized he was nowhere to be found. When I went back home I found him sleeping soundly on the porch, completely unaware to the fact that I was there. Poor buddy, all that swimming, running, playing fetch and mountain hiking wore him out!

The rest of the day we spent at our friend's farm, helping put together their fence and clearing out the old corn fields so they can plant grass for horses and cows. (By WE I mean everyone else. I continued to lay in the hammock by the river with Ice and only helped when it was necessary! haha!) I spent a lot of time thinking about my current goals and objectives (since I have realized I finished off my Pre-30 Bucketlist I had made in college (with the exception of saving a ton of cash...) I managed to write a few personal development goals and am still trying to decide what types of professional goals I would like to achieve in the next 5-10 years. I feel that I won't be able to decide that until Humberto and I really decide where we want to be living in the next 5-10 years since going back to the US is looking like more of a possibility, especially when we think about our potential future children. (We don't like Brazilian schools at all and don't even want to consider that option, however, home schooling is out-lawed here in Brazil, so we put into an interesting situation...). Needless to say, there was lots of thinking going on Sunday afternoon....

Later on, we had a huge lunch of stuffed grilled fish (MmmmMmMmMm!) and then went back to my in-laws later in the evening for churrasco and to watch the famous Fantástico, the most popular Sunday News show on TV in Brazil. I hate Brazilian news becuase I think it is largely manipulated by the government. They always show a few cases of corruption that are being taken care of, a few bandits that were caught, some suggestions on how to stay safe, make money, and stay fit and usually end on some type of documentary from British or American TV that takes you off to a far-away destination. It helps lesser educated Brazilians feel that the political problems are being taken care of (which I doubt any real improvements are being made) and that they are going to be okay (financial and personal security as well as personal health) and then makes them ooh and aah as they look at different places in the world and forget about the real problems. I might be being too pessimistic, but I think it's a big hoax.

After we got home around 10pm I worked on my lesson plans for today knowing not many students would show up (since in Brazil all holidays are extended longer than the official calendar dates...) and here I am now at the University working on my blog and some translations, getting ready to eat lunch. mMmmMmMmmmm.....

What did you do this Easter? Brazilians? Americans? American-Brazilians? Did you get any Chocolate Eggs? :)

terça-feira, abril 3

Just Shut-up and Drive

So, we're nearing my one-year anniversary of finally getting all of my suitcases not only on the same side of the equator but finally in the same city after over 8 years of diving my life between Erie, Indiana, Puebla, Sarasota, Nashville, São Paulo and finally Ji-Paraná. It's been an intense ride and it's finally starting to set in that I'm growing up, paying bills, starting a business and what? Now I'm freaking out.

Anyhow, back in 2007, my car that my grandmother had sold me for $1 finally died. It was a 1992 Cavalier and I loved that car. I still would be driving it if it was in working condition. Too bad I sold it off to a guy who was into demolition derby and I'm sure its in millions of pieces now. My mother then helped me out by buying a car that only lasted another year (mainly because I was an idiot and drove too fast in the crazy heat for too long of a period of time without checking the engine coolant or oil levels--I don't need to elaborate on the fate of said car.) I then decided to be eco-friendly and get around by bike, bus and my beautiful friends who had automobiles. Also, it is important to point out that these cars were both automatic. Which leads me to my big huge problem having moved to Brazil.

I can't drive a freaking stick.

This is essential because automatic cars are extremely expensive here. I'm so sick and tired of hearing, "It's SOOOO easy!" "Come on Becky! It's simple!" It's not. It's not because I am terrified of the car dying, meaning my feet start to shake so bad that I can't figure out if I'm on the clutch, the break or the gas or on a pedal at all. My first solo experience led me to sliding backwards into a ditch and being pushed out by a few guys that I had swear they wouldn't tell ANYONE what had happened (luckily H didn't see and still doesn't know about that one... SHhhhhhhhhhh!) so you can imagine that didn't help me at all with dealing with this fear and frustration.

After having many people who I love and care about (my husband, my brother in law, my husband's cousin's wife to name a few...) I decided to finally enroll in auto school. I'm just paying for two lessons at two hours each. We'll see how it goes. My plan is to drive drive drive until I get rid of my fear. I can change gears with no problem at all, I just 1) am terrified I'm going to hit the gas when I want the break 2) the car is going to die and 3) I'm going to put the car into the wrong gear and it's going to breakdown. I think 4 hours of straight driving with an instructor who I am not related to is going to be the best. Also, the fact the car isn't ours is going to help a lot, too, since I know I'm not going to destroy an investment that we had made.

I'm also terrified of driving because of the insane amount of traffic. Ji-Paraná may be a small town but every single semi that comes from south or north of us comes barreling right through our town. One block from my house. In addition, Ji-Paraná is the city with the most motorcycles per capita than any other city in Brazil and I am guessing that about 70% of them are uninsured, unlicensed drivers. This causes for a ton of headache for me because since I am a good law-abiding American I believe everyone should just freaking follow the rules. BUT when getting a driver's licence costs about R$1000 (or two months of minimum wage salary here) and takes 3 months of classes every day AND legally maintaining a vehicle incurs the yearly IPVA tax (which for our car was R$1000 this year) it makes sense that most people drive completely illegally.

IPVA=Tax for Politicians to Travel by Plane
Finally, as one of my professors and thesis advisors, Marshall Eakin says in his book, Brazil: The Once and Future Country, Brazilians are such big fans of Formula One, not just because of the famous Ayrton Senna, but because they simply think that all roads are Formula One race tracks. Lines mean nothing, stop lights mean nothing, speed limits (even when posted, when I have only seen one actual speed limit sign here in the city so far) mean nothing and of course, driving defensively simply doesn't even pass through the minds of the majority of the people here. It's all about driving offensively and I'm the most defensive driver in the world.

So, wish me luck. Hopefully by next week I'll be able to listen to the following tune while I'm blazing down BR-364 in 5th gear.

Oh wait, I won't be able to go past 3rd gear because of all the stupid pot holes.

segunda-feira, abril 2

Last Friday Night.... (Thanks Katy Perry)

Well, actually, it was last last Saturday night, meaning the 24th of March. I was busy working (read: facebooking) and Humberto had gone out for a drink with a buddy of his when he came home with a smile on his face, "LETS GO OUT!?" and I jumped for joy. I love dancing. I especially love techno clubs. (Note: I suck at dancing. I always have since the famous Becky Dance was coined when I suggested a dance move for the Ace of Base Littles - the first and last dance troupe I was ever part of. I assume that you have already made the assumption that this dance troupe was based on top-charting hits of Ace of Base during the 1990s, and yes, you were correct. Don't hate me. Also, don't ask me to do the Becky Dance for you as I may have an emotional breakdown remembering the torture that I was put through after that fateful day. I was kindly asked to step down from my position as secretary but then later re-installed after I wrote a letter to Ace of Base, thanks to their snail-mail address in Teen Beat magazine, about our group and how much we enjoyed their music. Of course we didn't ever receive a response from them, but I digress...)

I quickly got myself dressed, slammed down a beer before heading out the door and we were off. After another drink and dinner (I'm in Brazil, so obviously we ate dinner at 11:30PM...) we made our way to the dance club. Ji-Paraná is not renowned for it's dance clubs, nor should it be. There are only two that I would recommend you check out if you ever come to visit me, one being the Imperium and the other being the Parthenon. I know, they both are greek/roman references and I know it's pretty odd and I'm sure they are owned by the same person. Anyways...

The evening was incredible. Usually in Ji-Paraná, there is techno music for a bit, then a Brazilian Country Music Duo comes on stage for the next few hours and destroys the vibe of the location (unless you're already drunk, then it's awesome to square dance around the room in heels). However, this night was different. Instead of a live country duo, it was a LIVE SAXOPHONIST AND VOCALIST PERFORMING TECHNO DANCE MUSIC WITH A DJ. It was stellar. It was like Kenny G on ecstasy and I was enjoying every minute of it. We stayed until about 4:30, which was still early by Brazilian standards, but since I'm nearing 30, I was totally beat and I just remember giving money to the lady at the cash register and thinking really hard about how much she needed to give me back in change on my way out to pay my bill and then crashing, fully clothed and with full makeup in bed.

Anyhow, to prove how awesome this night was, I thought I would upload this photo that was taken by one of those "now required in every single dance club" photographers that are probably the cause of a million and one breakups every year. QUICK! SMILE! I HOPE YOUR GIRLFRIEND DOSEN'T SEE THIS! YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING TO YOUR MOTHER'S HOUSE!

Rosângela, Marcel (one of Humberto's friends from Orlando who lives in Ji-Paraná), Humberto and I (and my vodka and Redbull that became just vodka after the Redbull ran out...)

That was my last, last Saturday night! What about you?

domingo, março 11


I wish that everyone you meet on this day will be blessed by you.

This video made me stop and reflect in some of the most incredible ways, and I hope it has the same effect on you.

Once again, I must inform you that I love, love, love every single TED lecture. 

sábado, março 10


The word saudade is one of my favorite words in Portuguese. It means to miss someone or something, but has an incredibly complex meaning that I feel "I miss you" simply doesn't capture. It's a deep, passionate, feeling and can be used equally for people, places or things. Today, bateu uma saudade (I got hit by a saudade), and I'll leave it up to you to imagine of what or who.

I tried to embed the video but it won't work since the user responsible for the video disabled the feature.

This was the song that H's father sang to us on our first night on the farm after our long trip to our new home. I'll never forget the emotions I felt on that day.

segunda-feira, março 5

As the rain comes to an end....

This weekend was the first weekend that it didn't rain since November. Well, it did actually rain, but it was a 30 second drizzle so I don't count that as rain. Since we are in the Tropics there really isn't a summer or a winter. We have a rainy season and a dry season. From November or so until April, it's the rainy season. From April until November, it's (da da da DDAAAA) the dry season.

I have to say that I love the rainy season. It doesn't rain all day, but the rain is so refreshing when it comes. It heats up all day and then BAM it pours around midday, just like when I was in Puebla, Mexico in 2007. The rain brings a nice chill and cools off everything until the following day around 10 or so when it starts to heat up all over again. However, with the rain, comes all sorts of other problems. Mud. Flooding. Mold. New bugs. Mosquitos à vontade. And it actually gets COLD. Well, cold to my newly adjusted Brazilian circulatory system. I find myself in long sleeves and sweaters almost every single night. I LOVE IT. We don't spend money to run the A/C unit but we do spend money on our electric showerhead. And yes, it was terrifying for me as well to know that there was an electrical apparatus above my head that was shooting out water, while I was standing in water... but hey, life is more interesting when you live on the wild side, right?

With the rainy season also comes the POTHOLE season! This year is the absolute worst since there is a huge hydroelectric plant project in Porto Velho ( about 5 hours from us ) and all of the giant pieces of the turbines and such are being transported on our sad little BR-364, the only highway that connects this half of Brazil to the other half. For the majority of the road, it's only one lane. One each way. There are spots where it turns into two lanes, but this is only near big cities. This year the road has crumbled to bits. You can find all sorts of protest groups on Facebook and the web about how this road needs to be urgently fixed and they are not exaggerating. The other day we went to the farm and there was one curve where you couldn't figure out which way anyone was going since they were swerving everywhere. Semis, trucks, cars, motorcycles, bikes, everything on wheels was all over the road. Everyone was basically going 2 miles per hour trying to avoid the bumps. I found this image online and I thought it was hysterical, but so true. (And FYI, the majority of Rondonia does NOT look like this dry, sad, treeless landscape. The majority of it, at least where we are, is beautiful, lush and gorgeous! This photo is just infront of an old clear-cut style farm which, as we all know, destroys everything.)

It says:
Abort mission! You are in Brazil in the state of Rondonia!
The base looks like the moon but it's BR364. Repeat. This is not the moon. Over.

The rain has eaten away at the terribly thin pavement and on top of that, the huge, heavy parts of the turbines have completely destroyed the road. Humberto and I have stopped going to the farm every weekend simply because there are so many accidents on the highway. People just lose control, their tires burst or simply crash since there is no way to drive on one side of the road. At night it's completely impossible.

Finally, the issue is getting national coverage on the largest (and practically only) national news show, Journal Nacional. Even if you don't understand Portuguese, just watch the link to see the situation. The worst part is between Presidente Medici, which is the city just to the south of us (my in-law's farm is just before the small town). 

There is talk about how much money has been and is going to be spent to renovate this super important road (since the majority of Brazil's soy export, which comes from Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, travels this road before it is exported to China and other countries). However, as in almost any case in Brazil, the numbers don't always mean there is some type of result, as most of the money is eaten by politicians and friends of politicians. According to Globo, DNIT (The National Department for Infrastructure and Transportation) has invested 92 MILLION REAIS in this highway over the last three years. There are parts of the road where you can see the results of this investment... nicely paved beautiful two lane each way US-style highways, however, these are in the MINORITY. That is a TON of money. Where is it going? I'm pretty sure I have a good idea.

quarta-feira, fevereiro 1

Scams, Malandragem and Acceptance, OH MY.

Alright, so everyone knows that Brazil is sketchy. The government is sketchy, education is sketchy, even the weather is sketchy. (See this article from Veja from last week reprinted on this blog... my internet SUCKS so trying to actually find the article on Veja's website just will take too long.)

Well, all things in order, getting internet service is also sketchy.

So, where I live, there is, of course, only ONE telephone company and ONE DSL internet provider.( No cable internet, sorry.) There are some other options such as satellite and 3G but they are expensive and a pain in the butt to set up. Well, now I'm not so sure which is more of a pain in the butt.

The other night while discussing our friend's internet plan, the topic of a "provedor" came up. I thought this meant provider... like the company that provides your internet connection, but no, this is the company that you contract to provide you access to the internet that is provided by another company.


Yes. In Brazil you need to pay your internet fee (usually something like $60-$100 reais/month) to have a DSL line and then you have to contract ANOTHER company to PROVIDE YOU ACCESS to this internet service you ALREADY PAY FOR. This can range from R$3-R$10 depending on the company, if you see ads the whole time, if you want unlimited access to the videocams on Big Brother Brasil....)

I know, right?

I couldn't believe this. It is true malendragem. Welcome to Brazil.

Alright, well we found out that our only internet provider here in Ji-Paraná also has a contract with various companies of this sort and with your first year of internet service it is included, so no harm done, for now. Of course I didn't know why I chose one of the companies, it was the only company name I recognized, and hell, its free, and its required to have access to the internet. (I chose R7.)

Anyhow, after spending an hour on the phone setting up this whole internet deal (and now, to my surprise I finally have my CPF (or Brazilian-style Social Security number) memorized) I thought I had successfully completed this entire fiasco of setting up my internet. I had to get to one of my tutoring sessions and H had to go drink tereré, so we left our housekeeper in control of the house.

When we got home she said the phone was RINGING OFF THE HOOK while we were gone. She got so irritated she unplugged the phone and as soon as I plugged it back in, it rang again. I answered it and I was informed that it was a representative of the telephone company and that they needed to process the final payment of R$60, of course, for my convenience, it would be processed in three easy payments on my credit card, and I was informed that there were no possibilities for discounts or to put it on my telephone bill. I had to pay it NOW or I wouldn´t be able to access the internet.

Okay. Once I added up the following things:

  1. I had been told that I had no more fees to pay when I hung up the phone earlier in the day with the phone company
  2. She insisted that without this payment I would not be able to use my internet
  3. The payment NEEDED to be on a credit card
  4. She just seemed all around PUSHY
  5. I've lived almost one year in Brazil
I decided to ask to speak to her manager. Immediately she said "Okay, well, if we need anything we will call you back, thanks!" and hung up. No more calls since. 

Of course I called back the telephone company, complained, told them that if this ever happens again we will cancel or internet service (which doesn't really scare anyone since there is no competition here...) but I was proud that I was able to handle the situation, in a foreign language, on the telephone. 

Success. Becky managed to avoid being scammed.

What made me sad, and had me upset all day, is that I imagined all of the people who fall victim to this scam. Especially since Brazil is going through a huge technology revolution and many people are getting internet in their homes for the first time, and most Brazilians, even though they live in a country full of scams, they simply don't know how to tell if it is a scam or not, and are terrified of questioning authority. (Thanks, Catholic Church.) Brazilians like to accept their suffering as a necessity and inevitable and I just don't agree with this. (Once again, thanks, Catholic Church.)

In order to illustrate this "acceptance," take a look at what happened in Rio last week. Three buildings fell down due to renovations that were being done WITHOUT A CONTRACTED ENGINEER TO OVERSEE THE RENOVATIONS and people died. See this article from Reuters in English.

Again, WHAT?

Everyone in my husbands family, while we watched the news, talked about how its just something that happens. How you're born with an expiration date and there's nothing you can do about it. That people die because it was time. I just can't accept that it was the "time" for all of those people. There was a man on the news talking about how he was on MSN with his wife who was taking a computer class in the building at the time the buildings fell. He said that she just stopped responding. I have a hard time believing that it was "her time". The people in charge of the renovations were CARELESS and SELF-CONCERNED and didn't follow the correct protocols. If there is anything that we need to learn from this catastrophe, it is not that "it was their time" but that there needs to be efficient oversight, less bureaucracy and less malandragem. Most of the people who died in this tragedy were people who were trying to make a better life for themselves. They were taking computer or English classes AT NIGHT, meaning, they already have jobs during the day and were taking time off of being with their families and friends for a better future. How is it that it was "their time." Lives have been forever altered because of the ignorance of the person who gave the "go ahead" on the construction that ended in what looked like 9/11.

And finally, I was watching what appeared to be an interesting debate about mandatory voting on the Catholic TV station that broadcasts here. It is a national station, I believe, since the production was really well done. Anyhow, during the debate one of the participants expressed how he believed that Christians should avoid at all costs getting involved in Politics because they will be tempted by evil and sin.

Once again, my reaction was WHAT?

In the words of one of my wisest advisers in college, in order to make something better, you have to get your hands dirty and get inside. That is how you make change.

Dr. G, I still agree, and it is one of the reasons that when I start to become disillusioned with all of the madness here in Brazil, I also get re-energized. I'm here to start those conversations, to inspire my students to read the paper, to CRITICIZE AUTHORITY and to ANALYZE INFORMATION. Not to just accept the status quo. I don't think all tragedies happen because "it was time" but I think in many cases it is an opportunity for us to see what is really happening and to make the changes necessary so they STOP HAPPENING. One of my fellow bloggers, and fellow American-Turned-Rondoniense at Titia Amor is the best example of this. She sees a dog suffering in the street and schedules meetings with the school director and local veterinarian to put together a plan to end animal suffering in her small town. She gets on the radio and talks about it and makes entire lesson plans about the subject for her students (as well as tons of other things. See an interesting post about what she's up to here.). That is exactly what Dr. G was talking about, and it is what I am trying to do, as well.

In closing of this blog post, I hate scams. I hate malandragem. These are two things that kill me about Brazil. But what I hate more, is acceptance of the above. It's just not right. Any religion or society that teaches acceptance of these societal ills needs to be reevaluated and updated for the times. Change is coming, I just hope it comes sooner than later.

(PS-I don't mean to denounce Catholicism or Christianity in this article, what I am upset about is the culture that came along with it that has plagued Latin America since colonialization. The form of the religion that was taught here by early Spanish and Portuguese was that it is necessary to suffer and you need to smile and don't ask questions. Unfortunately, it still thrives throughout the entire region.)

quinta-feira, janeiro 26

Big Moves, Big Changes and Xixi

2012 is off to a GREAT start for the Reuse-Martins family! After spending over 8 months in our "provisional 2br apartment" that was rented from a friend that seemed great for a 3 month stay but once the rainy season started and all the leaks in the roof made themselves clearly known, I began complaining and demanding that we move. Once the kitchen sink clogged up at about 3.5 months of living there, and the landlord and my husband seemingly unable to unclog it...my complaining became nagging. It wasn't just the yellow walls and orange floors that drove me crazy but the fact that the small tree-shaded parking lot outside of our place became a common resting spot for truckers, people waiting for the bus, and most entertainingly, horse-drawn carts. I was at the end of my wits at the end of November and broke down talking about the issue with my minister.

"Você tem que se desapegar do problema, minha filha." he told me.
"You have to let go of the problem, my daughter." (minha filha is a way of referring to practically any female here. Mom, don't worry!)

So, I tried my best to "desapegar-me," went to the altar and I made a promise that I would stop complaining about our apartment and appreciate it for what it was, which really was a great, cheap, find in a pinch and was in a perfect location for us to start our Brazilian life together, especially since we had neighbors we knew close-by because Humberto had to travel from time to time and I was really nervous about being left home alone in a city I didn't yet know very well.

Well, whaddya know. Weeks after I did this, Humberto told me that we would start house hunting as soon as I was on vacation!

Our new place, at least so far, is perfect. We're still waiting on a lot of the kinks to be worked out (a new toilet, the broken windows are on their way to being replaced....) but it's the best house I have lived in besides my childhood home. It's HUGE. 3br, an office, 2 bathrooms, a "quarto da bagunça" (or the junk room which is supposed to be the maid's quarters, but since we don't have a live-in maid, it's my junk room!) a GIANT living room and dining room and a good sized kitchen. We have a wrap around porch and a front, back and side yard! Tons of trees including coconut palms, starfruit and papaya! There's also a tree we are still not sure what the fruit is... it looks kind of like a giant cupuaçú and no...it is not jaca. To help me take care of all of this, my maid starts on TUESDAY! Finally!

Ice has transitioned to being an outside dog with no problems! He loves patrolling the yard, alerting us to visitors and passer-bys and rolling and digging in the dirt all day. (Humberto bought all new sofas and as a result, Ice is not permitted in the house unaccompanied by a human and we are pretty sure he has already made the distinction that he cannot jump on the new couches, he only tried twice and after some stern, "NÃO!" he hasn't tried again!) We also have grass, and it is that interesting Amazonian grass that doesn't ever grow really high, and since the house was abandoned for a while and while it was occupied, I am sure the people didn't take much care of the landscaping, we have incredible black soil  due to all the trees. I cannot wait to start gardening!

Speaking of Ice, when I took him to the vet the other day for his second vaccination, I complained to the vet about how none of the spot treatments seemed to work against ticks and I was worried about him getting sick again. She let me know about an injectable treatment against fleas, ticks, and all sorts of worms and I have to say it has been a lifesaver. He has been tick-free since! I basically spent every other night petting him in order to find all of the ticks and pulling them off of him (which he didn't like at all, as you are probably aware of.) So, if you have a pup in the Amazon that is always full of ticks, ask your vet about the injectable complete anti-vermes treatment.

We had our first barbecue yesterday because of the Libertadores game... Flamengo and a team from Potosí, Bolivia. Interestingly, we didn't even watch the game, we had such a good time hanging out on our porch with old friends and new friends! I recently met the wife of one of Humberto's old friends who also migrated to Orlando for a few years while he was there. She is really nice and I am looking forward to getting to know her better. My little network of friends outside of the family is starting to grow and I have a feeling that as soon as I step foot onto the campus of ULBRA, that network is going to blossom.

The only downside about the new place, we are still without internet, I had to send my MacBook to Cuiabá for repairs so I am also without my own computer and that's about all for right now! Installing internet is just about the most painstaking process here in Brazil and I'm getting ready to call and complain again.

On a business note, Humberto made another sale to China which makes us both really happy and I am hearing through third-parties about how they heard about me teaching English, and even about a doctor who is promoting me like crazy in the local hospitals, trying to get me a nice big class together! I think 2012 is going to be the year that I do something I never dreamed possible: I am going to be 100% self-employed! This is liberating and exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time.

And, in closing, I am going to leave you with the best PSA I have ever seen in my life. Since we are getting ever-so-close to Carnaval (which, btw, I do not like Samba, Pagode, Axé or Forró that much so... I'm not all that excited about it....) Rede Globo (the biggest communications monopoly that exists on the planet, I believe) has put out the BEST PSA about not peeing in public.

The lyrics go:
"Tá com vontade de fazer xixi? -- Do you feel like you have to pee? 

Não faz aqui, não faz aqui -- Don't do it here.

Tá com vontade de fazer xixi?  -- Do you feel like you have to pee?  

Não faz aqui, não faz aqui -- Don't do it here.

Nosso bloco a gente vê -- Our block (community) we can see...
É cheiroso, é maneiro -- it smells good, it's cool (I have never heard this word, but that's what google translate says it means...it must be Rio slang)
Tô falando pra você -- I'm telling you
Lugar de mijão é no banheiro" --The place to take a big pee is in the bathroom.

And that's all for now, folks.

terça-feira, janeiro 10

Pamonha and Puppy Perfume

So, this week I have confirmed two more reasons why I love Brazil. Pamonha and Puppy Perfume.

Sunday my mother-in-law called the whole family together (and neighbors as well) to make Pamonha, a traditional Brazilian "country" food that resembles Mexican Tamales. I unfortunately didn't take any pictures this year of the Pamonha event (mainly because I was bedridden the majority of the day due to awwwful menstrual cramps) however, here are some pictures from my first visit to Rondônia in 2009 when I first met the whole family.

The family helping to shuck and grate the corn

Avô (grandpa) looking at the mess we had all made

Humberto's cousin Rita and Avô in the background
I love Pamonha because it is the epitome of Brazilian culture. More Brazilian than Churrasco, I would argue.

Pamonha only requires four simple ingredients. 
Your entire extended family and friends. Corn. Oil. Salt. 

Yep, thats all we use. For the sweet ones you substitute the salt for sugar. After you grate the corn you put it into a big bowl, mix in the oil and salt then make little cups with the corn husks, fill it with the corn mixture and whatever you want inside, tie another husk around it to seal it up and toss it into boiling water. We stuffed some cheese into some (and i snuck some cheese and guava paste (goiabada) into some of the sweet ones... mmMmMmM!)

The whole family assumes their traditional positions when the shucking of the corn begins. In our family, Avô is in charge of shucking. This year, since he is 87 I think..., H's cousin helped him out. They shucked 2 bags of corn, that is 240 ears of corn!! About 4 of us took the shucked corn and picked out all the hairs so they were clean and then 4 other people grated the corn into the paste. Men, women and children work together on this first phase. Once this is done all the men open up some beers (or in our case, start serving tereré) and get the churrasco going (of course, there can't be a Sunday without churrasco on the farm!) meanwhile the women share a few beers amongst themselves while they start preparing the corn paste with salt and oil (or sugar and oil) and then making the little pamonha packets with the husks as the casing. There's a secret to the whole process as the way the strings are tied around the pamonhas tells the person who is going to eat them what is inside and if it is sweet or salty! In our family they also like to put a ton of hot peppers in one or two of the pamonhas as a joke! This year my sister-in-law made the practical joke pamonhas so obvious that everyone pointed it out as soon as it was served so of course no one ate it, but we all got a big laugh out of the entire thing.

So, as you can imagine, my Saturday and Sunday were filled with corn this corn that... corn bread, corn cake, corn on the cob, pamonha, creamed corn, chicken-and-corn soup... I'm pretty much corn-ed out for the next few weeks (and my freezer is full of leftover pamonha!)

After the whole pamonha episode was finally coming to a close I took Ice on a nice long hike on the farm to a reservoir that I absolutely love. It was his first time heading back this direction on the farm and I am always worried about taking the pups there because the water is still and I'm always on the lookout for any blue anacondas (sucuri in Portuguese), as they have been known to eat other dogs on the farm. Humberto lost a Pitbull to one a few years back. There haven't been any sightings in the last few years and the pups on the farm have gone on two or three day adventures (meaning they just disappeared for awhile) and came back with no injuries, so I am assuming that they have mostly left the premises). Anyhow, Ice had a blast. The bottom of the reservoir is a thick clay that you sink into. Ice seemed to think that it was some type of animal that was grabbing his feet and he ran into the water barking barking barking and attacking attacking attacking, then ran up the bank back to me and then dashed back down to the water's edge only to repeat the whole process over again. He didn't get eaten by a sucuri, but was more than a bit dirty...which leads me to the next part of this post....

Puppy Perfume? Well, on my last trip to the petshop I decided to pick up some flea and tick shampoo for Ice and found bottles of puppy perfume (ranging in prices from R$20 (about US$11) to a whopping R$80 (about US$44)!!!!! I, of course, picked up one of the cheap bottles and went home excited to give the pup a bath after his Sunday jumping into the muddy water in the reservoir. Not only is he flea-free now... he smells DELICIOUS! I can't stop smelling my dog, and telling other people to smell him, too. You gotta love a country that sells puppy perfume, and it seems NORMAL for people to buy it. (Note: maybe this happens in the States but I have never, ever, ever heard of any of my friends buying their dogs puppy perfume!)

Anyhow, that about sums up what I've been up to this weekend. It looks like this coming weekend we might be taking a trip to some fancy fazenda that has pools and something like a zoo (it's a vacation resort type deal) and I'm pretty pumped about it! If it all comes together you can expect some photos next week!

I've been coming up with ideas for daily postings and I'm thinking of the following.
Motivational Mondays
Tuesday's Tune
Thoughtful Thursdays (i'll chat about some type of topic that isn't directly related to my going-ons)
Fitness Friday (where I will recap my workout progress that I've made throughout the week...)

We'll see how this goes anyhow...

Tchau!! xxxx

domingo, janeiro 8

Workin' Out is Workin' Out!

So, as many of you know form one of my last posts I have recently joined a gym. With the help of some of my friends I have also joined MyFitnessPal.com, which is INCREDIBLE for those of you who have a hard time sticking to diet and exercise plans. It's set up much like Facebook and you log your food and exercises for your friends to see (or you can keep them private) and it helps to calculate how many calories you can eat per day, how many calories you have to burn per day, pretty much everything. It's almost foolproof! It's fun because it lets you know when you friends don't sign in, if they are over their calorie goals, under their workout goals, etc... so you can BUG THEM to get on their game! My friend Natalie, who I have known since before I could talk and who is also a nutritionist, was one of the first to recommend it to me and also a dear friend Kenny, who I have known since high school, told me I had to join. I loooooove seeing where my calories are going.

I've been keeping up with my gym habit, going every day (except when I am on the farm, and when I am there I try to go on hikes with the pup at least once or twice a day). Today is the first day I have woken up with pain... and it was my last day of my "full body conditioning" workout. Today starts my targeted conditioning... whatever that means. Having a trainer has been the best decision ever. He's not my PERSONAL trainer, but he keeps me on my game at the gym, and doesn't let me leave until I'm done with all my sets and reps, something that I never was good at doing on my own. Especially when it comes to crunches... I hate crunches.

So here goes. Week three into the workout revolution and it's going well. I'm still sleeping TOO much for my liking (almost 10-12 hours a night) but my emotional health is much better than it was a few weeks ago, and this is one of the principal reasons why I wanted to start going to the gym. Living abroad is hard, but it's most difficult when your a woman I think. My hormones take me by surprise and things that would have in the states left me rolling on the floor laughing leave me running back to my house in tears (or at least wanting to.) Obviously this isn't every day but it's a rough process and I have a feeling that it never is EASY being more than 12 hours by plane from your relatives, but I have noticed that since I have started taking care of ME it has been much easier.

I'm considering trying to find some dance classes, too. I wonder if Ji-Paraná offers anything...HmMmm...

Anyhow, to talk about the dog, which is a requirement, of course, Ice is loving this whole new routine as I have started to take him on nice long walks both in the city and on the farm. I'm still hesitant since he still doesn't have his last vaccine, but I can't handle him being cooped up in the house all day. He's almost 7 months old and is so full of energy when we get home, jumping on the sofas, launching himself all over the place to play, I'm afraid that if he stays cooped up he's going to start destroying things, and that I will not be able to tolerate. His baby teeth have almost all fallen out and his big dog teeth are all coming in! It's exciting seeing him get bigger!

Well that's all for now.

sábado, janeiro 7

A Song for Your Saturday!

So I'm going to try to make this whole blog thing a bit more exciting by making at least two days of the week some type of featured entry. I've decided that Saturdays are for songs that I'm lovin' and want to share. I'll try to keep the majority of them Brazilian for my US based readers, but I can't promise that won't happen every week.

This week I'm loving this song by Claudia Leitte, "Preto." Not only is she gorgeous, the song is hysterical but true.
"Preto se você me der amor,
tudo de mim você terá.
Preto se você pisar na bola,
boto outro no seu lugar!  
Porque o carro é meu,
O celular é meu,
O silicone é meu,
Não foi você quem deu  
Tô cheia do vazio
Do que me prometeu
Quem Manda Em Mim Sou Eu..." 
The song talks about how she is an independent woman, how she's in control of her own life and is willing to "switch out her man" for another if he "steps on the ball again" (or messes up). I love the last sentence there... Quem manda em mim sou eu! (Basically, it means that she is the only one who can tell her what to do.) It's a fun song to sing while you're cleaning the house!

The song reminds me of an article that was put out by the National Geographic awhile ago about the new Brazilian Woman of today. (If you haven't read it check it out here.) Brazil is undergoing huge social transformations and it's exciting to be here witnessing all of this first hand!