7th of September Blues

For those of you who don´t know, today is the Brazilian Independence Day. I don´t know much about politics and presume there is not much to celebrate, but you have to be blind not to see that something tense is going on. Something is shifting.

After some massive protesting, Brazilians are slowly learning one thing: the government should fear public opinion more than the press. This may sound a little obvious to countries like the US or European countries, but Brazilians haven´t fully understood the power they have. They limit their participation to voting and complaining, but little is really done toward forcing the government to listen to their woes. No one has been able to explain this to me, 11953267_1032919433414338_6114491051835807124_nespecially Brazilians, but I suspect it is just how Brazilian society works. Get on with your life, look after your own and pretend the rest is not there. That just isn´t working anymore.

Too much neglect has led to this point. Pointing the finger to the government they chose is not going to work. They have to actually get up off their asses and do something. Not many have fully realized this, but it´s changing. The two inflatable dummies created to shout public opinion in the face of the government seems to be a good step. Seriously. It might sound far-fetched, but those dummies represent more than outsiders could comprehend. They are the smack in the face the government needed, the F-you protected under tight guard.

On the government side, they are as deaf as usual although visibly more irritated, scurrying to find more idiotic ways to take money from Brazilians to pay for their inefficiency and bad decisions. Who was it that said people need a common enemy to come together? Well, that is what is happening in Brazil. It´s them against us now.


On the innocent bystander side, things are also changing. The economic hole the country is in is forcing people to treat customers better, create more innovative ways to attract our attention, offer discounts (whaaatttt?), show more respect, more “comradeship”… before all hell broke loose, you would not get much respect or attention from a shop attendant or waiter. Now they are falling all over each other to convince you to buy or taste something.

The other day, someone told me cars made in Brazil are cheaper in Mexico because Brazilians pay for the higher price. Simple as that. Service providers and manufactures in Brazil (and I presume people here in general) have this annoying habit of lowering quality, raising prices and treating each other badly for no reason. As if wanting to see just how far they can go. Now real-estate is going down, although they still haven´t gotten the knack of attracting customers in creative ways (free TV if you buy a 100,000 BRL 35m2 flat is not creative, sorry) instead of actually putting the price down to, say, what it´s worth. Oh, and car sales are hitting rock bottom. Clothes are actually almost the same price as they are in the rest of the world, although there is still a long way to go. People are now considering fixing things instead of throwing them away (buying = status, even if your fridge is empty) and of buying good quality used cars instead of bad quality new ones just to impress the Joneses.

Yes, things are changing. And as a firm believer that bad things always have a sunny side, I am just watching the social shift and eager to see the outcome.

Using HelloTalk to learn languages

I recently downloaded a new app called HelloTalk to brush up on my Spanish and Italian and was pleasantly surprised (see this article for details).
It has some nifty features like talk-to-text, text-to-voice, translation and grammar correction. It´s basically an online community with native teachers, so you can start from scratch. You write your message and it appears in another language, so you can start recording what the message should look like and learn using trial and error. You can also use the call feature.
It just really helped me with the frustration of not knowing how to communicate. Great stuff.

Give it a try
Android App
itunes App

How to Travel Like a Local in Brazil by Bus

For those of you who are planning on traveling by bus to see more of Brazil, I really enjoyed the advice provided in Busbud. It´s pretty simple and straight-forward but great for a first-timer.
How to Travel Like a Local in Brazil by Bus.

Things you have to try in Brazil – Cocoa Milkshake

Ok, there are THOUSANDS of things you have to try in Brazil before you can even start to form an opinion, and one of them is CACAO, or COCOA in English.

No, it´s not the cocoa powder you imagined when I first mentioned the word. I´m talking about cocoa, the fruit, where the beans come from to make chocolate.

My husband in Brazilian and has always lived and worked on farms, so he introduced me to this amazing fruit about 2 years ago.

The best way to eat this super nourishing fruit is in the form of a “vitamina de cacao” or cocoa milkshake. The result is a creamy, foamy, sweet and slightly sour milkshake that will never leave your brain. The taste and texture are totally unforgettable. We prepare the pulp at home, but you can have a cocoa milkshake at most lanchonettes in the north and north-east regions of Brazil. Most Brazilians have not even tasted this amazing fruit this way. Once the beans are stripped of their pulp to make juice, they are dried in the sun and mostly sold to cocoa export companies.

You can also just suck the pulp off the beans or make juice with the pulp using water instead of milk. I still prefer the milkshake, though.

Here are some pictures.

To make the juice, the first thing you have to do is remove all the seeds and put them in a container.

To make the juice, the first thing you have to do is remove all the seeds and put them in a container.

Opening the cocoa fruit.

Opening the cocoa fruit.

An opened cocoa fruit with seeds and pulp, and seeds without pulp in the dish.

An opened cocoa fruit with seeds and pulp, and seeds without pulp in the dish.

Cocoa beans in the container, ready to extract the pulp with a regular mixer.

Cocoa beans in the container, ready to extract the pulp with a regular mixer.

My daughter, eating the pulp from some beans.

My daughter, eating the pulp from some beans.

Our horse, Colorado

Buying property in Brazil: The Easy Way

After looking for years, I finally managed to buy a piece of land in Brazil. As I was the buyer, I decided to find the place first and then look for someone to help me with the paperwork. Of course, I live here and don´t have to worry about the “foreigner” part of the paperwork (that part took me about 5 years to complete), so I will jump a few steps here.

Anyway, I found a lovely piece of land in the rural area of Ilhéus, somewhere between Serra Grande and Ilhéus, on the motorway to Itacaré. There are some “neighbourhoods” here where lots of foreigners have purchased property and basically take care of everything. In the region I chose, I was lucky enough to also find some foreigners and other local neighbours who are very kind and helpful.


Sunset after a long day of work



View of the shed

View of the shed

Our beloved horse, Colorado

My daughter and dog.

My daughter and dog.

I was also lucky enough to find a “gringo” who had already gone through the entire process and he is very penny-wise (: so I decided to follow his steps for purchasing property.

First of all, most properties in this region so not have all the documentation and have never paid tax. So the first thing is to find a property that has all the documents or at least, as in my case, the “registro de propriedade” which is basically a piece of paper saying that the state or municipality has transferred a piece of land to the current owner and it no longer belongs to the state. This is very common here also, where most people simply settle on pieces of land and build their homes, after which the state may award them that piece of land (usually after 20 years). As the seller had most of this basic paperwork, all I had to do was find the “corretor” who would help me. Enter my gingo friend´s recommendation.

I contacted the real-estate agent/corretor and scheduled a visit. They offered me their full services, including all “cartório” work and “escrituração” (deed) for the modest sum of 2 minimum wages. They drafted the contract, checked all the paperwork, did the missing paperwork and prepared the deed. I paid 50% in advance and 50% when I signed the deed.

Easy peasy. No, seriously. It was really easy.

Then, I was introduced to an angel who knew all the builders, painters and electricians in the area and basically became my contractor. For just 5 thousand reais, I managed to prepare the entire house and moved within a fortnight.

So, if you are planning on living in the Ilhéus region, especially between Itacaré and Ilhéus, and need help doing the paperwork and getting the house ready for living, leave a comment. I would be glad to give you all the contact information.