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!