Sunday, 31 July 2011

Canadian International Society

I've posted regularly about events of the Canadian International Society (CIS) and wanted to give you a little history.

I joined the Society last year when they needed some help with their major fundraiser. I was recruited by a fellow kiwi - and in the absence of any other kiwi group - joined their Board for 2011. The CIS recently changed their name from the Canadian International Women's Society, which had initially been set up (49 years ago) by a mix of expat and Brazilian wives to fundraise for chosen charities in Sao Paulo. Times have changed and we made an executive decision to become all-encompassing. The 'Canadian' aspect of the group is the official link we maintain with the Consulate here in Brazil. Previously, wives of the Consul Gen were the Honorary President and this year we are honoured to have Abbie Dann, the Consul General of Canada, who actively participates in the Society. The 'International' aspect of the group is reflected in the membership with members from all over the world. I was recently told that there is another expat group here in Sao Paulo screen their members and only allow their passport holders to become members - CIS is completely the opposite!

What drew me to this group is the active fundraising we do. There are some other great expat groups here in Sao Paulo too but they don't have a 100% focus on fundraising.  Yesterday we went to visit Casa dos Idosos- an old folks home where 90% of the residents have come from living on the street but have become incapable of looking after themselves anymore. They have no family ties and are brought to this home to be cared for - provided a bed, showers, food and medical care. The home houses 75 people at the moment which is at it's capacity but is in generally good shape. Irmã Natalina founded the Casa over 20 years ago and continues to be a big part of it. She has some exciting ideas and we are hoping to raise more money this year to be able to continue supporting the Casa (as well as our other chosen charities). 

Story telling

Irma Natalina

Friday, 29 July 2011

While we are away....

our nanny is available for work, nannying or cleaning. Juliete works 90% as our baba and 10% cleaning. She has looked after Sophie since she was 8 months old (who is now 2 years old). She is great with Sophie and highly recommend her. She is happy to work during the week and some evenings. Her rate is $80-90 a day depending on location / work.

We are away for 3 weeks (from the 19th August to the 11th September).

If you are also interested in sub-letting our apartment (Jardins) let us know. We could sub-let on a weekly basis or for the whole 3 weeks.

Leave your details below if interested!

Juliete with Sophie & Theo, of
Sophie & Theo's Cupcakes

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Bourbon Street Festival

Ahh so excited for some cajun food and jazz in the park this Saturday!

Like all the years, the Bourbon Street Festival is going to be held at Ibirapuera Park for free with lots of jazz, funk, blues bands from New Orleans!
The opening at the park is free this Saturday July 30th. 
Time: 3:30 p.m., near Museu Afro Brasil, gate 10

Monday, 25 July 2011

Friday, 22 July 2011

Baby monkey anyone?

Just had lunch at 7 Molinos on Lorena 1914 (just before Consolação), a cute little French-style bakery with fresh soups and (small) salads. The breads are all freshly baked and delicious; I almost didn't need lunch. Definitely recommended for brunch / lunch though strangely sandwiches were only available after 4pm. 

I wanted to treat myself to a bottle of O&C Balsamic Vinegar which I adore but they were charging R$150. I almost had a heart attack! Luckily one of my friends is heading back to New York next week and offered to pick me up a bottle for US$34, which I would already consider as expensive, and a luxury purchase!

On the way home we stopped off at the Pet Shop as I heard that they had a baby monkey in. I love the little puppies there but also know that they have lots of exotic birds upstairs. They have a toucan (is it not illegal to trade in these beautiful exotic birds???) in a tiny cage. He is absolutely stunning; I hope that someone buys him soon and sets him free. They also have a little baby monkey in there who is adorable - I was laughing to myself, imagining Tim's face if he came home to a new pet monkey! I hope he's not caged up for much too longer either. Someone go buy him please!!!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sao Paulo: 10th most expensive city for expats

Alot has been made of the Mercer list of 10 top most expensive cities for expats. Sao Paulo has made the top 10, and not surprisingly, for those of us who live here. I would argue for Sao Paulo to be even more expensive than Hong Kong and Singapore, but we did live in those cities in another life time.

I think it's also important not to compare how the locals afford to live - they benefit from public medical care, public schooling, public transport, family / government housing. Ok yes, they are not the best in the world but they are available to a certain extent. As expats we have to consider housing (at an expat rate), earning in US dollars, private schooling (eek!), cars (for the record we walk, take buses and taxis alot too but with number 2 on the way a car seemed more cost efficient over the next couple of years).

It's hard not to focus on the cost of things here; on a daily basis I will be shocked by the cost of something but at the same time, I am slowly getting use to it. We live here in Brazil on our (well, Tim's) savings (USD) and came here off our own back (no company expenses here unfortunately) so with a combination of us getting use to it, the real weakening with the dollar strengthening hopefully our lives will become more affordable!

1. Mercer
2. Huffington Post
3. CNN

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Sao Paulo Aquarium

We've started weekly trips to the aquarium in Ipiranga which Sophie loves. Her favourites are the albino jacares (alligators) where she can lie on the glass floor and peer at them from above (and less than a meter away which gives me a little heart attack!).  Hannah's favourite is the dinosaur display which Sophie is scared of - but there's something there for everyone!

Don't go there expecting the world's best - it can be dark and claustrophobic in some places - but there are some amazing and super-ugly things to see there. The second part has a giant tank with a beautiful seal, and lots of giant fish from the Amazon. Definitely worth a trip if you are at a loss for something to do with you kids! At the moment it's $15 entry over the school holidays - and try to go early to miss the kiddie groups!

I'm going to slowly put together a list of things to do with kids here in SP. There are lots of things to do but just finding out about them is hard!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Collecting your RNE

We finally picked up our RNE's! Its only been 10 months.... 

Anyhow, just a tip if you are still waiting on your RNE - there is an email address you can follow up with. Keep sending emails until you get a response. Tim heard back the third time..

To pick up your RNE from the Policia Federal in Lapa you need to go in after 3:30 and before 4pm. It's on the third floor and the queue on the right. We only had to wait 15 minutes for our documents. Hopefully we won't be visiting this building anytime soon again!

Send an email to this address

Bom Dia,

Por favor, fui avisado que o RNE sai em até 180 dias e até agora não recebemos nenhuma informação sobre eles.

Gostaria de saber se é possível verificar o andamento do processo e qual é a expectativa??? Seguem os dados abaixo...

Nome: XXX
Nacionalidade: XXX
Data de Nascimento: XXX
Número de Protocolo RNE: XXX

Muito Obrigado,


*update: My friend has just discovered that she picked up some parasite from the beach at Jeri, apparently from all the animal feces on the beach. She said that they looked like mosquito bites at first and then long lines grew out of them and they are still really itchy. This is 3 weeks after we were there. Be warned!

The journey
We had an 11am flight from GRU which landed just after 2pm. The pousada had organised a 4x4 to pick us up (Rs500 each way so if you can find people to share with the better! Other option is the bus which goes twice a day). The ride was just over 4 hours long and we took the main road until half an hour out where we turned off towards Praia da Prea (about 15 mins on average road) and then 20 minutes along the beach in the dark. It was really cool and the driver was a really safe driver (not what you would usually say about Brazilian drivers!).

The pousada
We stayed at Vila Bela Vista which is run by an American family but they were away and in their place there was a guy from England and a girl from Canada who's married a Brazilian, looking after the pousada. We had a 2 bedroom suite and they provided a cot for Sophie. The pousada was really lovely - clean, well designed and had a little area for breakfast. You can also eat dinner if you give their chef advance warning. I'ts located about 10 min walk from the main part of town, and they will give you a ride in by horse and cart (during the day) and buggy (in the evening). 

The first night we were too late to eat at the pousada so we went into town and it has such a lovely atmosphere. I know it was the night before the feriado so wasn't as busy. There are 3 main streets and small connecting lanes. We found a photographer and bought some postcards and asked him to recommend a place and he sent us to Tamarindo (next to Mosquito Blue) which became my favourite and Tim adamantly refused to go there for a third or fourth time (we were only there 5 nights..)

Tamarindo - fish, pizza and pasta- my favourite. Located next to Mosquito Blue.
Casa Dela - on Rua Principal down towards the beach. Local food.
Fish restaurant on beach at Praia da Prea. Grilled fish was delicious. Had lunch here on our buggy trip.
Pimenta Verde on S. Fran - sadly only went for our last lunch but the pasta was really good.
Club Vento on the far end of the beach - sandwiches, pasta and rice. A lovely spot for lunch.

There were two other local places we missed out on trying but that were highly recommended.

Chicken and Rice on Rua Principal - but keep walking up, I saw them serving at lunch time
Fish place on Rua S Fran. - only open in the evening

Horseride at sunset - organised through our pousada and Jose, our guide, was fantastic. Firstly he carried Sophie with him who fell asleep in first 5 minutes but he could still ride his horse, and guide all the other horses with a click of his tongue. For me, a definite must-do!

Buggy trip out to the Lagoas. We unfortunately were there on a bank holiday weekend so it was pretty busy. We went out early so the first lagoon was empty which was gorgeous and the girls had a wonderful time playing in the water. Lagao Paraíso was lovely too but a little more built up - with a little retaurant and chairs and tables in the water. Lagoa Azul is one where you have to take a little boat out to the restaurant and it was really busy, and the tide was pretty much all the way up so you had to sit in the water. I can imagine how beautiful it would be if there was no one else there! haha, wishful thinking. Some great people watching, especially poses for the camera.

Kitesurfing - Tim took a few lessons but unfortunately the second time the wind conditions weren't good, and the third time the wind was so strong his kite broke and that was the day we were leaving. We saw loads of guys out on the water close to Praia da Prea and they looked amazing. I'm not sure I would have the courage to go out there on the water - maybe if I was 15 years younger. For another lifetime!

Sunset - you can watch from the sunset dune wich is right next to the beach, and you can't miss it as everyone climbs up it just before sunset. There is also a walk you can do to Pedra Furada which is a rock with a hole in it that you can see the sunset through. We decided to late in the day, jumped in a buggy who took us to the other side though we didn't realise we still had to walk about 30 minutes along sand and rocks with the girls, so that's my excuse for missing it and not having a picture of it.

The beach
The main beach is not the prettiest beach - the sand is dark brown and the water is really low and goes out a couple of hundred meters. On the last day I noticed the sand slug things which grossed me out but Sophie and Mia loved it! They could run around everywhere, and make sand castles and splash in all the puddles. There are also alot of dogs and horses on the beach so make sure not to step in any poo!

The lagoons in the dunes are much prettier but there is still alot of horse, cow and dog poo - not that pleasant to hang out in and I had to stop Sophie from drinking the water.

The holiday
I had a great holiday, met some great people, read 4 books (more than i've read all year), had lazy afternoons in the hammock, and tried some great restaurants. Would definitely recommend but don't expect too much from the beach. 

Map of Jeri and Restaurants (from our Vila)

Buying books online

I've always been a big fan of Book Depository which has free international delivery. I've tested it a couple of times here in Brazil and receive my books within 2-3 weeks. Another bonus, is that you don't get taxed on books sent into Brazil. There are some nice bookshops around too but if I'm looking for something in particular they are bound not to have it!

Some of the bookshops I like

Livraria da Vila - my favourite (one on Lorena in Jardins and one in Vila Madalena)
FNAC - there is one on cnr of Paulista and Joaquim Eugenio
Cultural Livraria- supposedly the biggest bookshop in South America but always really busy!

Book Depository has just been bought by Amazon so am hoping that their standards continue to stay the same