Thursday, February 25, 2010

Registration with the Policia Federal in Rio

Per the terms of my Visa, I was required to register with the Policia Federal within 30 days of my arrival in Brazil. Knowing how difficult it can be to get things done here, I started one week early with the expectation that this wouldn't be an easy process. And I was right.

On Wednesday, I went to the airport where the Policia Federal is located (about a R$40 ride one-way) with a friend of a friend, Alex. Alex was going for a different purpose, but he speaks Portuguese and was a really big help. Despite scouring the internet and attempting to call both the Police station and even the US embassy in Rio, I could not obtain a list of what exactly I needed to register. I threw together things I thought I'd need (based on blogs I found), and was actually pretty close. I probably could've gotten the things that I didn't have there at the airport, though it would've taken a long time and been very expensive. Regardless, they only give out 60 numbers each day and there were no numbers left. I had no choice but to leave and try again another day.

I returned this morning for what would be a very long day. I arrived just after 7 (when they allegedly begin passing out numbers) and I got number 45 (apparently to get a better number you need to que up around 6 a.m.). I then went to the bank to take care of 1 last thing, but none of the banks were open. The Bank that is a 24H bank, didn't open until 10 (natch). The bank that was supposed to open at 8 opened just after 8:30 (a Brazilian woman waiting with me said it was because "this is Brazil."). I was worried since I thought they started calling numbers at 8. It was OK, though, because when I arrived back at the station at 8:45, they had yet to call a single number.

They started calling numbers just before 9 a.m. My number was called 9 hours after I arrived at the airport, at just after 4:15p.m. It was miserable. At least I had a good book and a couple of Lost podcasts on my iPod.

So tonight I decided to go for a run around the lake to shake off the day's irritation (800m of running, 200m of walking - repeat 8 times). While it was actually a great run and I feel pretty good about it, when I was exactly halfway around the lake, it started pouring down rain. But aside from getting water in my eyes and my earphones constantly slipping out, I didn't mind the rain so much because it was a lot cooler.

Right as I was walking between by final 2 sets of running, a Brazilian man came by me (he had likely been able to see me running and then stop and start walking) and started snapping at me (you know, the way Brazilians) and motioning for me to run with him. I laughed for a second and thought, why not. So I finished a lot faster and stronger than I would have alone and he thanked me profusely (no clue why) in English when we parted ways.

You can stop reading now. Below is a list of things required for Registration at the Policia Federal in Rio de Janeiro for Foreigners.

Since I couldn't find what I needed for the life of me to register, I wanted to put it here in hopes that it pops up in a google search for someone who is trying to figure it could save them a trip, some money, and a headache!

  • Requerimento de Registro Atualizacao (this is a form to fill out, they have it there at the station -- you can fill it out while you are waiting. Make sure you have information necessary like addresses of where you are staying and working)
  • Your passport with the Visa in it
  • A Photocopy of every page of your passport
  • 2 3cmx4cm photos with a white background
  • Your original Visa Request form (your consulate where you got the Visa should have given this to you when you obtained your visa...)
  • Fees -- go online to and click to GRU-Funapol (emissao da guia para pessoas e entidades estrangeiras) -- you will need to fill it out and print it twice -- the first code is 140082 and the second code is 140120. The fines are R$ 64,58 and R$124,23.
  • Take these printouts to any banks and they will scan it and you pay them. They staple the receipt to the printout and you need both of these to give to the policia federal.
  • Arrive early, probably around 6 a.m. The station is located at the international airport in Rion (GIG) in terminal 1 all the way to the right (as you are walking in the door) on the top floor (to the left as you get off of the escalator). Go in the room and all the way over to the right where there will be a an area to que. Get your number and fill out your form.
  • Before your number is called, go to the back of that area and have the man there take your fingerprints and stamp your form.
  • And then you wait. Hopefully not for 9 hours.
  • This is legit as of today, but I am not saying this is absolutely correct, so don't yell at me if you need something other than what is on this list. Other than that, feel free to email me or comment with questions.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Weekend

It was a pretty low-key weekend here in Rio...but it was a very welcome chance to get some rest! Since I have arrived things have been pretty mile-a-minute, so when Friday night rolled around I was really looking forward to some relaxation!

After work, I went for a quick run because the weather was cooler than usual. I have been running a bit since I arrived (there is a beautiful lake right near us that is just shy of 5 miles around), and I really enjoy it as a chance to get some time where I am completely alone. The rest of Friday night was spent watching some t.v., reading, and getting to bed fairly early.

And on Saturday, I didn't do much either! I slept fairly late, watched a couple of movies with Claudia, and just sat around mostly! I set out for a walk in the evening but ended up running about 3 miles (1 more than I am usually running) and walking the rest of the way around the lake. It was really pretty as it was around dusk and there are several little cafes and bars right on the path (a couple that I want to try out soon). Toward the end of the run as it got a little darker (don't worry Mom, there were a ton of people running, walking, eating, and generally just being there providing a safe public space) I spotted a couple of good photo ops, and I plan to take my camera down one night to get some good shots. Saturday night Paulo, Claudia, and I went to the neighborhood Leblon. We walked around for a while and then had a couple of beers and a small dinner at an arabic restaurant.

Today, I went to find a fera (like an open market) in Ipanema -- I thought it was on the beach, but I guess it is in some square, so I didn't end up making it there. I will try again to get to the Fera Ipanema next weekend, wish me luck! Instead I walked the beach from Ipanema and then into Copacabana and around a bit there before returning home. I ended up walking around for a few hours so, if nothing else, it was a nice afternoon outside in the sun! I even bought some things I needed from the Loja Americana (yes, the American store...they don't actually have proper American everything, but it is the closest I can usually get).

I have found that I am seriously missing some of the things that I took for granted back home. The most important being Diet Coke. If you know me, you know how much I really love the DC. Here, they do have Coca Cola Light in some places, but not most. And even still, it doesn't taste like DC. The next best thing is Coke Zero (which they love here), but I think it tastes horrible! I also really wish that I could find my own brands of lotion, chap stick, shampoo, etc. but I suppose I just have to get used to different things!

I am looking forward to a good week of work, and settling into a routine a little bit! I have a couple of "sightseeing" things I want to attempt this week and weekend, so hopefully I can start to figure things out!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Carnaval

There is so much to say -- Carnaval is such an exciting time in Rio, and I would encourage you read a little about it (even just the Wiki), because the production of it all is really interesting. I did not attend any of the Parades (tickets are expensive and the family I was staying with was going out of town), but I might try to attend the Parade of Champions on Sunday. Unidos da Tijuca was the Champion (they watch the scoring returns here with more excitement and anticipation than we do election returns), and I was pretty excited about that. They are the only escola de samba that I have any connection to, since I attended their big party the week before Carnaval. It was the first time they have won in 72 years, so pretty much I am good luck (come on cubbies, this is our year...)

Last Friday we went to see Monobloco. It is hands down the best show I have ever been to. It is essentially a drum corps on crack. But even more awesome. I still can't figure out how to post video here (if anyone can talk me through it, let me know) but I will try to post some later. The crowd was also REALLY fun -- old and young people alike singing and dancing and jumping and waving their arms to every song. They are actually performing again tomorrow, and we might try to go again!
Monobloco and a very little bit of the crowd (which was impossible to capture in one photo!)

This weekend, Paulo and Claudia also had some friends in town from Argentina. On Saturday, we went to the beach in Ipanema (where I picked up a nice sunburn), and then to a nice hotel for Feijoada -- basically beans and meat. This buffet was gorgeous and had so many different kinds of slow cooked meat -- some I tried and some I didn't (tripe, tongue, etc.) They also had a bateira perform. After lunch, we went to the street for Banda da Ipanema. Most people here go to the Carnaval da Rua (Street Carnaval) and we went to this one in Ipanema. I wasn't sure what to expect, but basically it was a parade consisting of one band, and everyone that felt like it following them. I think the band probably passed by us for a total of 2 minutes, while the crowd of people following them lasted at least 30 minutes? I also learned that Carnaval is the time for men to let their feminine sides out -- nearly all of the men dress in drag, and a lot go to great lengths for their costumes. In general there are a lot of costumes during Carnaval (we saw an adorable little boy dressed as superman...with a huge fumanchu mustache?)
Pots of stewing meat = so delicious.

Some of the crowd following the band at Banda da Ipanema

On Sunday morning we went to Buzios to stay with some cousins (no joke, everyone is cousins here...) and my days consisted of sitting in the shade to protect my skin! We had a great time, and I was adopted as an unofficial cousin (we spent most afternoons drinking and dancing by the pool) and promised lots of visits when I am back in Chicago. We returned from Buzios late on Tuesday night, and I had Wednesday to relax (read: sleep all day) before starting work again today.
Most of the crew

A common trick in Brazil -- when a tourist asks you to take their photo, you get a great one of their feet and then send them away. Less effective in the digicam age, but it is still pretty hilarious.

As much fun as we had, I am glad to be back in Rio and back to work -- I am ready to get a little routine going here. I am missing home a little but know that is normal. So I am just trying to focus on how awesome this experience is!

Update: I am going to try to throw a video on here....


Friday, February 12, 2010


Wow -- I just read yesterdays post and it was a little much...Sorry, I think I was in a fit of exhaustion and excitement! Yesterday was a really great day, and it ended with a really great night! A partner from the firm that Mayer Brown just associated with in Brazil invited me to go listen to a bar for some Samba last night. I didn't get home from work until 9:30 due to some late meetings, but I was in a taxi and headed to Lapa by a little after 10 (going out at 10 on a weeknight seemed crazy to me, but its Rio I guess...)!

Lapa  (another good page about Lapa here) is an old neighborhood in Brazil that has been explained to me several times as "bohemian." It is the place to go for good music and there were an incredible amount of people out on the streets and in the bars and restaurants (even very late into the night). I saw a large group of people drinking in the street and asked what they were waiting for -- I was told they weren't waiting for anything. The front of the bar had been opened up and the samba band was playing in the large doorway to the crowd in the street :) Lapa also has a lot of amazing architecture, including the Arcos de Lapa

We went to a bar called Carioca da Gema and heard a Samba band led by Moyseis Marques who has an amazing voice! I think it really is true that nobody can be seated or stay still during Samba -- EVERYONE was dancing. After the bar we went to another restaurant, and I did not get home until very very late...but it was nice to finally experience some good Rio nightlife and meet some new friends!

Tonight I am going to Lapa again, this time to Fundição Progresso to see Monobloco -- they are a big percussion group and I have been promised a lot of drums (maybe over 100 percussionists) and even more people (maybe 3,000 I've heard)!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Cidade de Deus

I don't have too much time (today is a VERY busy day!), but I thought I would write a quick note while I am waiting to have a meeting. I don't have any specific topic in mind, but I wanted to share what has been going on with me for the past few days.

The Portuguese seems to be getting better and better every day. I still cannot speak the language, BUT each day I can understand more and more of what is going on around me. It makes me very tired, though! At night, I fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow because my mind is pretty much working on overdrive all day long! One thing that people tell me is that when you start speaking another language constantly, you "lose your English." I am worried that even though I don't speak Portuguese yet, I am "losing my English!" I find myself speaking English as the native-Brazilian speakers do! And I often can't find the word I am looking for! Another interesting aspect to the Portuguese language is the hand motions -- they are a language in and of themselves! My Aunt Gail who speaks Portuguese fluently has always had crazy hand motions and facial expressions (even when she speaks English), and I told her that now I understand it a lot more!

I started work this week, and I think I am really going to enjoy it. CDI is such an amazing group that is doing such amazing things -- it deserves to have an entire post dedicated to it, and I am working on that! For now, I think it is enough to say that they are going into low-income communities and favellas and bringing education about information technology that changes lives. I will be working (I think?!?!) to help structure them as more of a global organization as they are growing like crazy!

Today, we went to two of the communities that have our schools located in A Cidade de Deus (you might recognize it as The City of God -- there was a movie of the same name set there) was really eye-opening. The second school we went to was in the favella (my first time in a favella). Again, I can post more on favellas and what the government in Brazil is doing in them and about them, but it was really interesting. It was dirty and there were shanty houses just like you would imagine. But there are also child care centers, and businesses, and -- very importantly -- centers like the one that houses the CDI school. It is run by a social worker in connection with a catholic church, and they provide health and social services to the community as well. The other community that we visited was absolutely incredible. The community has worked with a church that owns a large area of land in a hillside and created a school for free public kindergarten as well as many free and/or low cost courses for adults (aside from the CDI classes, they also offer classes in entrepreneurship, jewelry making, English, etc.).

I was there with another volunteer, Donal from Ireland, and upon noticing the very nice Samsung flat screen monitors and the large LCD TV that could be used to teach classes both said the same thing: wow, this is better than the public schools where we are from. These communities see that they don't have a lot, but instead of waiting for someone else to give them something better, they come together and find a way to get what they need not only for now, but to prepare them for the future.

It was really a great experience today in a Cidade de Deus, I am glad I went! Though, everyone was speaking in Portuguese almost exclusively, so I had to really pay attention and think hard so that I could have even the slightest clue as to what was going on around me! As a result, I am exhausted! But, Im not done yet -- I am waiting on a meeting with my boss at the moment. Later tonight I am meeting up with some lawyers from the law firm that Mayer Brown just associated with in Rio -- we are going to a neighborhood called Lapa to hear some samba...I am looking forward to meeting some young lawyers in Rio and to experience some night life for the first time!

This weekend starts Carnaval, and things pretty much stop around here is what I understand. I was given a list of things we are doing and it sounds crazy! I know we will go to a Bloco  which, to my best understanding, is like a big street party (a block party, maybe?!) on Friday that starts at Midnight and goes til at least 4 or 5 in the morning -- the weekend is full of beach going and other parties, and I think we will go back to Buzios on Sunday night for more parties (I am beginning to see that Carnaval is a big party and vacation time here in Brazil)!

Well, this ended up being much longer than I had intended -- I hope some of it managed to make sense! (Pictures are coming, I just didnt have my cord here to upload any!)


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Quick Language Update

I am planning to fill you all in on my Portuguese progress (rather, my lack of progress) but I just had a break through at lunch that was amusing enough to share.

I just tackled eating at the restaurant next door on my own (the kind where you make a salad and they weigh it...) and I had been pretty anxious about someone trying to talk to me when I don't really speak Portuguese. As I stood to go, I grabbed my tray and one of the employees reached toward it saying to me, "tirara," which means I will take it. I walked out of there pretty damn proud of myself for understanding an interaction with someone, albeit a small one.

Then I got to thinking about why that word sounded familiar to me. See, since I have arrived, people have been asking me, "Do you speak Portuguese," and my standard reply is, "No I dont speak Portuguese very well, but  I am trying."

Except that I have been telling people that I am trying by saying, "estou tirando" -- which I thought meant I am trying...turns out it means I am taking. As I realized today when the man told me he would take my tray (tirara and tirando come from the root verb tirar (to try)).  So, I have been walking around telling people repeatedly "I am taking" in a context where it makes no sense! So much for getting better at Portuguese!

Turns out, I love samba

I don't think that there are even words to properly describe Buzios -- it is SO beautiful!  We arrived late on Friday night, but had plenty of time to see the touristy part of town and have some dinner (I am still trying to get used to not eating until 9 on normal nights, and midnight or later on the vacation). On Saturday we spent all day at the beach, and at Paulo and Claudia's cousin's house -- which was so big and beautiful! Brigitte Bardot made small and beautiful fishing village of Buzios famous, and they even have a bronze statue of her along the water on the main tourist street!

The beach in Buzios -- finally I have found a country where people slather on the SPF 50 and sit under umbrellas (guardas de sol) at the beach! My pasty white skin and freckles are loving it!

Our fantastic lunch of bacalhau stew on the beach...we ordered to be served for 2 and this was all leftover after 3 of us ate it. Bacalhau is salt cod and is prepared many different ways, and if a typical Portuguese food that is also very common in Brazil.

Although Buzios was amazing, even better was attending the lunch for the practice of one escola de samba. It was really mind-blowing -- and to think, it was only a small portion of the group that was practicing, and it will be much more grand for Carnaval! There were over 2,000 people there (it took place in a large banquet or event area) and in order to get in you must be invited...but you dont bring an invitation, you just wear the t-shirt they provided with the invitation. The t-shirts were down right hideous -- all of the women go into the bathroom and cut them up with scissors to make them have fringe or be one sleeved or different things. 
It is kind of hard to see, but there were SO many people!

There was a lot going on --Adriane Galisteau, the Rainha de Batera (or, Queen of the Drums) for Unidos da Tijuca (Tijuca is a neighborhood in Rio) was there. She was dating a Formula One driver here when he died and, as a result, she has become very famous here as a model and a TV presenter. So was a famous Samba band (I can't remember the name, but I really liked them!)...and as it turns out, I really love Samba. It is such a fun music that you can't help but move to. And all of the people, young and old, know all of the songs and all sing and dance. It is really fun to watch! I am going to try to put a video of the music and dancing of the practice on here...

Adriane and the daughter of a friend
Solange (a friend of Paulo and Claudia's), Claudia, and me

And the Photo you all want to see of the Carnaval Dancers...

They are ridiculously fit -- and once you see the way they dance, you will understand why it is imperative that they be ridiculously fit. I wouldn't run on the beach in a bathing suit, let alone dance like these women do. There is a lot of shaking...haha!

So that was the weekend -- I have started work now and will post more on that later, but so far I love it!

Friday, February 5, 2010

So hot...

With a blizzard headed toward some of you, I am sure it is the last thing you want to hear, but WOW is it hot here! "It is so hot today," seems to be the most used phrase in Brazil.  I have quickly learned that most of my wardrobe -- consisting of jeans and cardigans -- is wholly inappropriate for the Rio weather. I think it is at least 40C here, which is over 100F. But, it is a heat I welcome having come from winter, so I ventured out into the neighborhood yesterday! And I only got lost once...

The neighborhood where I am staying (Copacabana) is sort of bounded on three sides, all by water -- 2 beaches and a lake. I am told the best way to acclimate myself is to always remember on which side of you is the beach and which is the lake! 

I walked the length of the Copacabana beach and most of the Ipanema beach, and to say they are beautiful just wouldn't be enough. The water is a beautiful color, and the mountains rising up on the sides of the coast are impressive. From the beach you can see both the Pão de Açúcar (Sugar Loaf Mountain) and the Corcovado Mountain where the famous O Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) statue stands (I can't wait to go see this). Below are some pictures I took while out strolling, but I don't think they can do the beaches justice!

Copacabana beach looking left (still not quite sure on cardinal directions here, which is really impeding my learning the way around...)

Copa Cabana beach to the Right

Looking across Ipanema Beach (you can see the Corcovado in the background, though its small)

Not a beach, but this is Floppy (as in floppy disc...and, I would imagine, his general floppiness on the tile to stay cool) and I really love him so far! It is funny to hear the Brazilians speak to him because it is a string of Portuguese with the word "FLOPPY!" in there somewhere

So my first day was great, and I look forward to getting to know the city better and better. We are off to Buzios for the weekend, which is a beach town about 2-3 hours away. Have a good weekend and be safe if you are snowed in!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I Made It!

Just a quick post to let everyone know that I got here OK! The plane ride was really uneventful, and I managed to get through the airport just fine. Claudia and Paulo, the parents of the family I am staying with, picked me up from the airport, and Claudia and I came straight to their apartment -- on the way I got a glimpse of the city! After a little nap I am going to walk down to the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, I think -- Claudia says, "it is easy." I hope so! First, though, I have to muster up the guts to use portuguese to ask for some lunch -- I'm pretty much terrified, and am considering starvation as an alternative!

*update: my portuguese is horrible and the attempt to ask about lunch resulted in a phone call so someone could translate for us. wahwah!

Monday, February 1, 2010

On My Way To Brazil!

Welcome to my blog about life in Brazil -- though, as I begin, I am still in Columbus, OH. It has taken a lot of time and effort to leave, but it looks like I just might finally make it down to Brazil. I am scheduled to depart on Wednesday February 3d and arrive on the morning of Thursday February 4th. I will be staying with a family in Rio for about a month (I think!), and they seem really welcoming and excited that I am coming. I cannot wait to meet them and the people with whom I will work. From Rio, I plan to head to Sao Paulo for the rest of my stay.

During my time in Brazil, I wanted to keep a blog to serve as both a way to keep my friends and family updated as well as a personal journal of my experiences.  So feel free to stop by and see what I am up to -- I will try to write as much as I can (but let's be honest, that might be hard!) and include leave me some comments letting me know what is going on in your lives, too!

Estou muito animada para indo ao Brasil!