Monday, 29 March 2010

The one thing I hate the most!

For those of you who know me, you know I have a special relationship with cockroaches.

They love me.... they love to run after me , surprise me in the shower, hide in my laundry basket or sometimes just want to hang out and watch TV with me. 

Surprisingly I can't stand them. In my mind they range on a scale of big, massive to ginormous! So one of my few qualms of moving to Sao Paulo - a big, hot, sweaty and dirty city - were cockroaches. (I will give London one point). I can recount every meeting I have ever had one in detail. I've called my mum from inside my room to save me from a giant cockroach waiting outside my door. I've moved tables at Taj Mahal restaurant in Chung King Mansions when there was one crawling on the wall.  I've had to call housekeeping to get rid of one having a shower with me. I have literally cried being in the presence of one.

But to my delight I hadn't seen a single one  - not in the apartment, on the street or in any restaurants ... until today. I stepped out of our apartment block and there lying on the road was a MASSIVE, squished roach. I had to look twice to double check before I screamed. Sophie giggled. I'm sure that is not the last time but will make sure to carry a can of spray in my handbag from now onwards : (

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Getting back to work

Roberto Carlos has just scored a third for Corinthians in the 'classico' against Sao Paulo so I think I can afford to pull my eyes from the TV. Each goal has been accompanied by firecrackers being released somewhere in our neighbourhood which adds something to atmosphere in our small apartment.

Anyhow, the purpose of my first post here is to talk about my first business trip. I am working with a small agribusiness company that raise money to make loans to various producers, could be anything but the majority seem to be forestry, sugar & ethanol producers. This week I went on a trip with the founder and another guy from our team to the interior of Santa Catarina state to look at some facilities. The travel went fine which was a plus, caught a early flight to Cacador, changing in Curitiba.

My summary from what I saw would be that lunch is very important. We went to churascaria's both days, I am going to clearly have to look my self-control as I found the afternoons quite a slog. After eating a load of incredibly tasty steak all you want to do is sleep, but I guess that is where the coffee comes in. Over the two days we visited 6 or so projects, covering quite a lot of territory and ending up back in Curitiba. The special treat was a visit to a winery for an evening and it was work related as the proprietor also had a forestry plantation. The evening at the winery was great fun, very sociable with various other friends/associates of the owner dropping in.

Some takeaways from the trip:

1) Despite the much publicised and clearly visible boom happening here, running a midsized private company is difficult because financing is patchy. Loan facilities have been pulled at short notice (banks reducing exposure) and many very good companies are being denied the funds they need to develop.

2) This will probably not a surprise but road rules here are definately open to interpretation. We spent a fair amount of time crossing double solid lines (as in do not cross) to overtake, even around corners. Best not to dwell too much on this when you are in the car.

3) All business owners who have been around for the past 20 odd years are to be respected because they have steered their companies through some unbelievable times, its easy to overlook this and just consider the present.

4) The obvious stuff - the scale of this place is enormous, and the people really love football. I have had two more sets of firecrackers since starting this piece and its now 3-3 in the classico, going to have to give the blogging a rest and watch the rest of it.


Last night we popped by our first Internations event. We took Sophie with us as we haven't quite sorted ourselves out a baba (babysitter). We tested one out the night before but we don't have space for her to stay over in our tiny flat so she could only stay until 11pm. Kinda pointless when the nightlife here starts at 11pm!

Internations is an online network for expats and for locals who have lived abroad. They have monthly drinks (last weekend of each month) where members that are in the area can attend. There were a great range of people to meet and we only managed to met a handful before Little Miss Sophie woke up.

To give you an idea of the different types of people:

- the Paulistana's who organise the SP drinks run their own expat company. One of them has spent time in France.
- An American who has lived here for 3 years with his Brazilian wife
- A Brazilian born in London
- An English couple who have just moved down from New York
- A Venezuelan who lives in HK but travels to Brazil for work
- A Brazilian who has just returned from Milan after finishing her MBA
- An English guy who is at the end of his 2 year tenure here
- A Brazilian who use to work for an American company in Illinois

I think we will try and attend a few more of these. It's a great way to meet people and I love that it's not just expats but Brazilians as well.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Paulistas are from Sao Paulo state
Paulistanas are from Sao Paulo city
Cariocas are from Rio

The Brazilian Wax

I didn't particularly want to blog about my first Brasilian wax in Brasil by a Brasilera... (Dad, don't read this!!). But when I was researching more info when we came here on holiday in 2006, and before we moved here this time I couldn't find any information so wanted to make sure there was something out there for the next person. For me, what was nerve wracking, was the language barrier so I had to make sure I was prepared.

I had the chance to ask one of my new friends on the weekend. So here's the lowdown - you can get them done at most cabeleireros (hairdressers), and for a 'completo', which is everything as in legs, brazilian, underarms it should cost about R50-70. A brazilian wax should only cost abut R15-20. 

I had picked out a cabeleireros around the corner on one of our daily walks. My portuguese is basic enough to ask if I could have a depilação, and after waves of portuguese rattled off at me and me nodding my head and smiling I was ushered into a small room in the back. Sophie was being 'muito linda'd' at by the receptionist so I left her there. First bonus, she used hot wax rather than strip wax (evil evil strip wax!). Secondly, she was super fast and thorough. Thirdly, I learnt some new portuguese words (see below).

The wax cost R30 - ok, so I got ripped off a little - but I haven't learnt how to complain in portuguese yet. And Sophie was still there with the receptionist when I came out. I'll put the extra down to the cost of babysitting for me! So I have survived my first (but certainly not last) brasilian wax here in Brasil. It's essential... particularly as we are going on holiday next week to Parity with some Paulistanos. Now I need to go and buy a brazilian bikini...

Eu gostaria - I would like
depilação - depilation
quente - ow, hot!
ligne - line
pinçer - tweezer 
anus - anus (not 'anos', I thought she was asking me how many anos (years) we were going to live in SP..)

p.s. I have recommendations for hot waxers in NY, Singapore, Wellington and London. Email me if you need one!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Food / Comida

A big part of our travelling to new countries is trying new foods. We'll both try anything and for most part, will just pick something random to try and guess what it is after (though Tim has memorised the portuguese for chicken heart (coração) so he can avoid it!). 

It's great when we are out with our Brazilian friends who can order on our behalf and explain the history of, debate whose mother makes the best of and show us how to eat it. 

Unfortunately they are not with us all the time so we have to revert to guessing. I have to link to another blog which we are avid readers of - an aussie and kiwi couple who lived in SP until last year. I check their blog religiously to make sure I have memorised their list of recommended foods (and the not so recommended) so I'm much more confident when I'm walking into a lanchonette or restaurante by myself! Today I started at the top of their list with Coxinha de Frango and I have to say it was pretty good - washed down with a compulsory espresso pequeno of course (another con for Tim as he much prefers flat whites but is too embarrassed to order a mug of warm milk alongside his espresso).

Of course I am missing my asian food desperately - Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indian - but the sushi restaurants are making up for that, for the moment. I will have to hunt out any Asian restaurants (any recommendations from Paulista's are much appreciated - I will travel far and wide!). So far the only recommendation for dimsum is Ping Pong! I think I'm going to have to learn how to make siumai myself or just live without : (

Monday, 22 March 2010

Mercado Municipal

Yesterday we were taken to Mercado Municipal by our friends Rodrigo e Ines.

This is Sao Paulo's answer to London's Borough Market. You can find the best quality foods here - fish, meat, dried fruits, amazing selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, cheeses, herbs, spices, oils and alot of Heinz tomato sauce... 

Firstly, MM is set in a beautiful old building in the old part of town (Centro). We were told that Centro use to be considered one of the lovely parts of town, lots of old businesses were based here and people sought after residences in the area. This has changed considerably and Rodrigo asked us to walk fast and not take photos whilst walking from the car to the market. Most of the buildings are derelict, covered in graffiti and I didn't see many people that would want to rob us. Maybe they were all hiding. It did look like a war zone - it's such a shame that there has been no effort to maintain the historic, old buildings in this area.

We didn't park at MM as the queue for the carpark was ridiculous. If there is one thing I hate, it's queueing. Rodrigo feels the same way so he dropped us off and went to find a parking space.

Upstairs are the restaurants and they are well known for pasteis de bacalhau (like a samosa with salted cod) and sanduiche de mortadella (basically 30 slices of mortadella ham in a sandwich!). We tried them all - Tim isn't a fan of bacalhau. It's historically the way the portuguese preserved their fish on their long boat journeys over to the new found land. I don't mind it; it reminds me of dried, salted seafood that we have in chinese cooking.

We bought some cheese and lots of fruits. We got to try lots of new fruits and some of them are the same as what you can get in Malaysia. We've come back with a box of starfruit, persimmons, figs and dragonfruit... makes a change from bananas, apples and oranges!

Apparently all the restaurants in SP come here for their groceries but it's not where we would come to for our daily shopping.  I think our next visit here will be when we have our first visitor!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Rugby in SP

Yesterday we were invited to SPAC - Sao Paulo Atletico Club by an ex-Nomads player. Nomads is a rugby team in HK that Tim use to play for and oen of the guys put us in touch with Duncan who has been living here for 17 years. We went out to the Santa Amaro venue which has pitches as they were playing a couple of games in the afternoon.

It took us about 40 minutes from Moema in a taxi (traffic wasn't great, as usual). The taxi wasn't allowed to drive in and we had to wait at the entrance while they confirmed we were guests. My first impression is that it was very similar to the USRC in HK, without the military connection. It use to be the old British club over a 100 years ago but today there are no English speakers left; the only remnants of the English is a photo of the Queen in the restaurant and the Union Jack flying over the entrance.

We met Duncan and his fabulous girlfriend Dr. Fabiana. Duncan speaks fluent portuguese and Fabiana speaks a little English. It still meant we could use our basic portuguese to communicate. Every little bit of practice helps! I still managed to get my order wrong - I ended up with one bolognese and one carbornara. Not quite sure how.

The games were pre-season and were played in thirds. I managed to catch Tim running on a minute before the whistle went of the second third. He swears he played the whole of the next third! The standard was pretty good, all the guys playing were Brazilians aside from a couple of expats who all spoke fluent Portuguese as well. The pitch looked pretty green from a distance but close up Tim swears it was more weed than grass.

While the boys were playing, Fabiana, Sophie and I hung out by the pool. We had to have a medical to enter the pool as guests - basically a once over to make sure we didn't have any big open sores. My sunbathing ethics have changed drastically since I was 20.... I use factor 50 and lie in the shade rather than when I use to lather myself in cooking oil and bake in the sun. The pool was lovely and met lots of families who, despite knowing I couldn't speak much Portuguese, just kept rattling on. Most of it was about how 'muito linda' (beautiful) Sophie is! I smiled and nodded alot.

The drinking after the game isn't as full on as some other countries... maybe because wags were around. The mossies came out in full force, and since we had Sophie we decided to opt out of the drinking session (first time for Tim) and head home. Fabiana kindly drove us all the way home instead of just dropping us off at a taxi stand. I have to keep a list of favours to repay - the Brazilians are definitely one of the most hospitable nations!

Rodizio Japanois

Next door we have a Temakaria - a Japanese restaurant that are known for their Temaki (hand rolls). Not only am I excited about having a Japanese restaurant right next door but they do a rodizio - which means all-you-can-eat! The idea of a rodizio is very popular here in Brazil. You can also have rodizio BBQ (also known as a churrasco), rodizio italian...

I forgot to take a picture of our order of temaki. It looked pretty impressive, nevertheless, we managed to get through a plate of 20 rolls, accompanied by a sakerinha (a caprinhia made with sake - delicioso!)

RAS – Robata & Art Sushi
Alameda dos Arapanés, 1.190
Moema - São Paulo - SP
Tel. (11) 3578-9545

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

A Cozinha - The Kitchen

The kitchen sink only has a cold water tap - no hot water! I find it really strange and am always boiling water to do the dishes.

I have pots and pans of water boiling at any one time on the stove - they don't use electric kettles here either!! We will have to bring one back from the UK or US our next trip.

It's also not common to have toasters - we haven't been able to find one in the shops we've been to yet but will keep looking.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Pizza on Sundays

We've been told by Brazilian friends that Sunday is the day that everyone goes out to eat pizza. so if you want pizza on a Sunday in Sao Paulo - make sure you go early enough to get a table!


On Saturday afternoon we went to see about a second-hand crib for Sophie in Aclimicao. It was a small, quiet neighbourhood with mainly houses rather than apartment blocks. There are security measures but not as much as I had expected.

We decided to walk from Alimicao to Liberdade, the Japan-town of Sao Paulo. One of the things I've been most excited about this move is the food in Sao Paulo, particularly sushi. When we lived in New York we grew a taste for fusion sushi originating from South America but then were really disappointed by the lack of choice in London.

The walk probably wasn't the best idea as there were alot of hills and it was in the midday sun! We knew we were coming into Liberdade as there were more signs in Japanese and more Asians on the street (all speaking Portuguese).

We spent the afternoon checking out various supermarkets to see what they had available, futon shops, kitchen shops (to see if they were any cheaper and if they sold electric kettles or toasters - which they sadly don't) and restaurants. We have a list of restaurants to try and from what we saw they ranged from hole-in-the-wall shops to restaurants where you could probably spend your month salary.

As we weren't quite hungry and we had been out all day with Sophie we picked up some takeaway sushi. It was R45 (£16) for 28 pieces of really good sushi and salmon.

SP 2 - 1 London

Sunday, 14 March 2010

muito caro!

Wow - some things are expensive here! We popped into AoBebe and now wish I had bought everything overseas and carried it in. I know that's not practical at all and we will just have to get use to the cost of living here.

Just to give you an idea

measuring jug = R69 = £25
avent milk powder holder = R29 = £11
johnsons baby bath soap = R11 = £4
lindt chocolate box = R29 = £11

Not happy about the chocolates! I'll be filling up my suitcase with them on the next trip back.

SP 1 - 1 London

Thursday, 11 March 2010

We are finally here!

We have finally arrived in Sao Paulo!

We flew from Auckland via Santiago and Montevideo arriving almost 24 hours later but 16 hours behind in time! Moving through immigration and customs was quick and painless. The ATM's at the airport weren't working but luckily we could pay for our taxi with credit card.

The traffic wasn't heavy but there are some pretty crazy drivers! I was surprised we didn't see an accident on our way in to Moema.

We arrived at our apartment block (short term rental) and after some back and forth with the night guard he gave us the card key that had been left for us.

We were absolutely starving by now so we popped out to find a restaurant or cafe to get a quick bite to eat. There was a place on the opposite corner - not only were they open for food they had a very cool jazz club upstairs. Since we had our bebe with us we stayed downstairs and had a lovely meal. Now there are very few places in London you could find serving food at 11pm! (ignoring kebab shops and 24 hour McDonalds). SP 1 - 0 London

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

On our way

We have been planning this move to Brazil for some time. We were initially supposed to move to SP in January 2009 with my husband’s old company. The move was cancelled due to the downturn in the economy and then a few months later I found I was pregnant. So we delayed our move to Brazil until after Sophie was born (21st August 2009) and started planning once again. Tim resigned and we left London on the 29th December 2009. We’ve been travelling slowly through Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand visiting family and friends along the way.

We’re not quite in Brazil yet. Our flight out on the 2nd March was postponed due to the 8.8 earthquake on the 27th February in Concepcion, Chile. The airport in Santiago was closed as there was some damage. We have to fly through Santiago as it’s the only South American city that we can fly direct to from New Zealand. We had an onward flight to Sao Paulo via Uruguay.

They had initially said that we wouldn’t be able to fly until the 16th but Tim was able to change that until the 9th. We’ve been enjoying a lovely additional week’s holiday in Coromandel but at the same time are itching to get to Brazil to start our new lives.