Thursday, July 25, 2013


Belo Horizonte is home to two professional soccer clubs:  Cruzeiro Esporte Club (ZEIRO!!!) and Clube Atlético Mineiro (GALO!).  You have one team you cheer for, and when the games are on it is popular to yell out the window.  Or let off fireworks.  Or honk your horn.  For those of you who are reading this who might be considering a move to Brazil, don't ever imagine that the cities here are quite, peaceful places.  They are loud, and when there are games, it is ear-splitting.

The past two days have been especially noisy.  Atlético, who's mascot is the Rooster (i.e. "Galo") was playing in the final game for the Copa Libertadores.  Thankfully, we were out of town for the last game that happened last Wednesday.  Atlético lost, but apparently that didn't make much of a difference in the volume coming fans.  On Tuesday afternoon, the horn honking (quarter, quarter, eight-eight, quarter pattern), and m-80 fireworks began.  But the game wasn't until 9:00 pm on Wednesday night.  My son is a Cruzeiro fan, and the rest of us just prefer quiet, so we were all hoping and praying that Galo would lose.  Bummer.

I fell asleep at about 11:30 pm, despite the raucous neighbors, but then when the game was over and Galo had won, it was like Christmas and New Years all wrapped up in one.  It was Atlético's first time wining this cup, so people were crazy!  I was two delirious to get the camera, but my friend Ling caught this:

We had more m-80s going off right outside our window.  

Despite my complaining, I actually don't mind it all so much.  But here's what bothers me.  My husband was almost late to work this morning because fans were celebrating at Praça Sete and bringing traffic to a standstill.   The other thing is that the Paraguayan team was staying at a hotel in Belvedere, and apparently people in the neighborhood decided to make LOTS of noise to disturb their sleep, hoping to affect the outcome of the game.  The noise and general craziness got out of hand, and some fans lit something that started a forest fire!  I understand that Atléticanos are passionate and excited about this huge win, but really?!?

But to end on a positive note, you may remember this picture I posted last December:  

Ronaldinho had been written off, but now with this win he's back in the limelight!

Ode to Estrogonofe

Creamy, wonderful meal
Creme de leite

Comfort with corn!
Sprinkled with batata palha
Crispy slivers of potato chips
Too much goodness in one plate.
A meal that everyone loves
I pay to have someone else make it for me and clean everything up.

Friday, July 12, 2013


Hooray!  It's winter vacation!  Dora has finished her tests, I finished teaching on Wednesday, Beatrice was given her first semester portfolio (the book that her teachers make to show what she has done this semester), and Sebastian watched 2 movies at school this week (what's the point in trying to learn at school right before vacation, right?).  We have about 3 weeks off from classes, and I'm looking forward to the break.  Matt has a fairly normal schedule, so we aren't doing any big trips.  But I do have some fun planned, so as to not repeat last year's winter vacation.  

1.  Go to the zoo
2.  Go to the artsy-fartsy Festa Junina at Escola da Serra
3.  Go to Inohtim
4.  Visit the Clube to go swimming
5.  Spend a few nights at a pousada (farm/bed-in-breakfast)
6.  Go to Macacos, a small town not too far away that is supposed to be good for hikes and waterfalls.
7.  Go to Serra do Cipo
8.  Celebrate Matt's birthday
9.  Spend time with friends
10.  Take advantage of some of the fun things that are scheduled around the city

I started by eating a HUGE piece of chocolate cake and cleaning out my closet.  So far so good!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Book Depository: an affordable way to get books in Brazil

Those of you who are faithful readers here know that I am cheap.  I've never enjoyed shopping, but I find it much more enjoyable when I can beat capitalism by paying as little as possible for the goods that I need.  This has proven to be a significant challenge in Brazil.  Inflation is a big reality (especially in the past year), and Brazilian sales can't even shake a stick at end of season, clearance coupon sales found in other parts of the world.  And then there is just the reality that most things are just more expensive here.

Since we've changed schools, we been receiving more birthday invitations to what I would consider "high end" birthday parties.  Maple Bear tends to attract a certain population, and that population likes to celebrate in a certain way.  Gone are the days of the homemade birthday presents that were made at the old artsy-fartsy school.  Along with birthday party invitations, comes the need to buy birthday presents.  The birthday presents that I wisely bought at Christmas on clearance have LONG run out, and for the past few months I've been resorting to buying presents at the local book store or mall.  And paying W A Y too much.  

But then someone posted a link on the BH Gringo Network for the Book Depository.  The thing that got me was that they have things on sale, and FREE SHIPPING WORLD WIDE!  Within minutes I had put USD$70 of books that could be given as presents (Klutz books, sticker books, board books).  I ordered on June 5th, and on July 3rd I had received ALL of the 8 books I ordered.  They pretty much ship everything individually, and it is mailed Media, so it takes longer.  So it came out to USD$8.75 per book, or about R$20.  Not only is the price right, but I got some unique, good gifts, as opposed to cheaply made yet expensive imports.  Hooray!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


The local sacolão (fruit/vegetable store) has been having some smoking deals on produce lately.  I don't know if all the months of paying through the nose for tomatoes has finally caught up with everyone, but  it's nice to see some real "sales" in Brazil.  One of the specials has been on mangosteen, and today I finally decided to buy one for R$1.50 (USD $0.66).  I first heard about mangosteen back at the Tempe YMCA, where there was a big poster for mangosteen juice right in front of the Stair Masters.  I guess Mangosteen juice has antioxidants and is supposed to be good for you.  But the main thing is that it's DELICIOUS!  Very sweet, very yummy flavor.  You have to kind of crack it open, and there are about 8 segments inside, some with a large pit that you can't eat.  I'm not going to start trading mangoes for mangosteens (mangosteenes?), but definitely a fruit that I'm glad I've experienced.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Vale Verde

Bea's class went on a field trip to Vale Verde, and it just so happened that it was on a day when it didn't conflict with my teaching schedule. So I offered to go as a Mom/Teacher. I've wanted to go ever since I read about it here.  It is an ecological "park" built and maintained by Vale Verde, a company that makes cachaça.   I'd heard it is beautiful, has good food, and has some fun activities for children. I was excited to go.

But I neglected to really prepare myself for the fact that it was a field trip. Thankfully I know all the kids, and so I knew where the challenges were going to come from.  But we started off on the wrong foot by forgetting one of the children at the school. And the money. Thankfully we were only 5 minutes away, but turning the tour bus around proved to take an extra 20 minutes, and made us all feel nauseous.  Bea's teacher got sick on the bus, and the other parent chaperones were good for nothing, so I ended up helping kids get to the bathroom on the bus (the kids were so amazed by the bus bathroom, they all had to try it out!), get water, break up fights, etcetera.  Needless to say, I was feeling a little motion sick by the time we arrived.

line up, line up...

touring the grounds


The grounds of the park are nice and very landscaped.  They were actually making cachaça while we were visiting:  you could smell the fermenting sugar, and I saw lots of steaming copper distillery thingys. I don't know the names because we bypassed the cachaça museum, which is too bad, because I think some samples would have helped me enjoy myself more....


barrels of cachaça

The kids played in the playground, played with clay, looked at the animals in the very small zoo they have, and took a little walk around the grounds.  They got a snack.  They listened to a storyteller and then made a finger puppet, and then it was time to go home.  We ran into traffic, and the teacher got sick again.

It wasn't my favorite day, but like I said, I should have known better. I also realize I didn't get to see all that Vale Verde has to offer, but to be honest, I don't think I'd return. First of all, it's about an hour away from Belo Horizonte (traffic). But then it's expensive:  it's about R$20 to get in, but then you have to pay for all the extras (fishing, ropes course, riding that plastic globe thing in the water where you kind of look like a hamster in a hamster ball, horse rides, trampoline, etcetera), and then you have to eat there, which I can only imagine is expensive.  I know I shouldn't complain about the price of things, but in my opinion, if I'm going to drive an hour outside of the city and pay upwards of R$100 a person for the experience, it better be darn well worth it.  Vale Verde has a promotion going on right now with Peixe Urbano, and I know that if you have an Itau account you can get half price tickets.  But considering the distance, the cost and what they have to offer, I honestly don't find it worth it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Festa Junina

June is over, and so are most of the Festa Junina parties.  I've blogged about them before.  They are a big part of the culture, and a part of every school's calendar.  The party is a big deal at Maple Bear, and families tend to spend a lot of money on outfits, especially for the girls.  This is VERY different from the artsy-fartsy school we went to, where the children made their own costumes.  Since I'm a cheap "make it yourself" kind of person, I opted to create Beatrice and Sebastian's outfits.