A little of what we’ve been up to, in photos…
I want start by CONGRATULATING the newly engaged couple, Julie Foley and Sebastian Palmer! Seb and Michael grew up together in Phoenix, and their families are long-time dear friends. Lucky for us, Seb’s grad school was taking a trip to Brazil last week, so he brought along his girlfriend, took her to Iguazu Falls and got engaged! Then they returned to SP and stayed with Michael and me for a few extra days at the end of their trip. It was so wonderful to get to spend that time with them and show off our new city! Here is a glimpse of the fun we had…
Seb & Julie – it was so great having you! Congratulations on your engagement and best wishes on all of the fun you have ahead. 🙂
The thing that I have found in Brazil, is that while much of the educated population speaks (some) English, most of the “everyday” folks do not. Translation: people who Michael is interacting with on a day-to-day basis usually speak English (although he looks for every opportunity possible to speak Portuguese!), but, almost NO ONE who I interact with speaks ANY English. It has taken me a while to get used to this because when I studied abroad in Spain, I would try to speak Spanish and people would default back to me in English. Even if my Spanish was better than their English! Well, that does NOT happen here. Which, I know, is a GOOD thing for me. And lately we have had a few fun experiences to practice.
1) Apartment Hunting! Apartment hunting was great Portuguese practice for me. Michael usually called to set up appointments because while Portuguese in person is one thing, Portuguese on the phone is completely different. I need to be able to utilize sign language. I need the person to see the confused, blank stare on my face for them to realize that they need to SLOW DOWN and E-NUN-CI-ATE. This is quite difficult over the phone. Anyway, Michael would call and set up appointments for me to look at apartments and I would usually meet a broker at the building or get the keys from the door-man. This was all great practice, AND an interesting experience. I will get into the differences in apartments here later, but suffice it to say it was interesting.
Michael was usually too busy with work to go see apartments, but one guy, Waldomiro (we like to call him Waldo for short) had a place very close to Michael’s office, so last Thursday he decided to go for a quick break and a little Portuguese practice. Michael said that Waldo sounded super shady and the first apartment he showed him was pretty gross. Then Waldo took him to a second place that was OK but not what we were looking for. At this point Michael was ready to walk back to work but Waldo said he had one more to show him. THANKFULLY Michael went. And he loved it. I met Waldo the next day to see it myself and I loved it too. We went back together on Saturday and loved it even more. It just felt friendly and open and right for us. And it’s right next to a PARK. Parque do Povo. Which is BEAUTIFUL and SO friendly and happy, full of runners and dogs and kids and sunshine. So… it was a little faster than we were anticipating, but we went for it! Now we are in the process of going back and forth on the contract, so if all goes well, we will have the apartment by April. Here is a sneak peak of the building:
2) Portuguese Bible Study! My dear friend Fernanda and her husband Daniel attend a Baptist church here (Brazilian, Portuguese speaking). They are involved in a “Community Group” of sorts with 6 couples who meet every Friday to study scripture or a book together, pray for each other, hang out, etc. Being amazing as they are, Fernanda and Daniel invited us to attend last Friday’s meeting which they hosted at their home. Everyone was so kind and welcoming to us, and it was over 4 straight hours of Portuguese practice. I didn’t understand that much but it’s great practice and a unique opportunity to get to know other Brazilian couples. And Michael was a good translator.
I am so thankful for Fernanda and continue to spend time with her each week. I went over there Tuesday and got this picture with her precious kids that I had to share. They are pretty good Portuguese tutors too.
So, while I still have a LOOOONG way to go, I am definitely seeing progress. And that’s about all I can ask for right now.
So, this may not really be an authentic “Better Know Brazil” post, but I HAD to share the craziness that is all around us in Sao Paulo as the city prepares for Easter.
OCEANS of Chocolate Eggs that I believe are filled with toys. Think Kinder Eggs on steroids. Hanging from the ceilings in EVERY supermarket. Placed in prominent displays at every turn. Entire STORES of chocolate eggs. You can’t escape them!!!!
Monday was my 25th birthday. I understand that this is still very young, but it was weird to realize that I’m a quarter of a CENTURY old. I feel pretty good about the past 25 years though. Pretty THANKFUL for the work that God has done in my life. For bringing me into the world into a fabulous, loving family (my mom almost cried on the phone with me as she remembered back to “that special day”), for opening the eyes of my heart and bringing me into a relationship with Him, for bringing so many special people and experiences into my life, and for bringing me the most amazing man on earth to call my husband.
Speaking of the husband, he did a pretty awesome job making sure I felt celebrated on my birthday. Michael started the morning by surprising me with breakfast and presents in bed. It was a very happy sight to wake up to. And he bought me a sweet, 25-year birthday card…that we later realized was a 25 year ANNIVERSARY card. But it’s OK. I know that on my birthday Michael likes to reminisce about the years of memories that we have shared…
A friend of his from Phoenix is actually in Sao Paulo this week and brought down a suitcase full of presents from Michael and his family in the states. (My mama sent a package by mail last week so this will be a great experiment of Brazil’s postal system!) It was all a total surprise and then after opening the “real presents,” Michael told me to open the suitcase and let me tell you, I almost lost my mind — it was filled with grits, mac & cheese, fruit snacks, peanut butter, girl scout cookies…and all kinds of amazingness that we can’t get here!! wooohooo!
He also surprised me with these beautiful flowers.
Michael planned a lunch date for us at one of the best coxinha spots in the city since one of the only things I asked for on my birthday was to be able to eat coxinhas all day long without any judgement. 🙂 And these coxhinas were AMAZING.
Later in the afternoon Michael called and sent me on a little scavenger hunt in our apartment to find another gift that he had hidden for me — a beautiful JCrew blouse below! (Good job picking it out!) For dinner we went out for sushi and it was incredible.
After dinner, I got to talk to Brad, Suzanne and sweet little Augusta Clare on Skype and seeing them all was another wonderful birthday gift!!
And a birthday is never complete without a little dessert at the end of the night, right?
Thanks to everyone for all of the sweet messages, emails, surprise phone calls, and gifts. I was truly overwhelmed by the blessing of being surrounded by such love.
It’s been another great week in São Paulo! Michael has been staying very busy with work and I am staying busy with fun. 🙂 This week I went to lunch with 8 other ex-pat ladies — a couple of whom I had met before and some new friends too. We tried out a new spot, D’olivino which is participating in SP’s Restaurant Week and I think I was literally there for almost 4 hours, doing lunch the Brazilian way and enjoying getting to know new friends.
I also had another fun day with my Brazilian friend, Fernanda, and her kids. We drove out to São Bernardo do Campo, where she and her husband used to live, to go furniture shopping, but stopped first to drop the kids off at her in-law’s home. Her mother in-law made us a great lunch of feijoada, rice, beans, chicken and salad. It was so fun getting to see their home and have a meal together. Then Fernanda and I hit the stores in search of a guarda-roupa (wardrobe). After some serious shopping, Fernanda found the right one, and then she showed me around some other parts of the town. We went into one store that was particularly overwhelming – it had EVERYTHING from toys & games, to pots & pans, to craft supplies & toiletries – but it was all crammed into a small space. The photo below doesn’t do it justice, but suffice it to say that I got a little claustrophobic. But, the prices are cheaper there so…
This weekend, Michael and I went to our first movie here at the Kinoplex in our neighborhood. We saw Drive, which Michael was pretty fired up about (and I can watch just about anything with Ryan Gosling in it). Somehow we got tickets for R $13 each (about USD $7.50) which is SUPER cheap here. We had to choose between “Meia” tickets (which means, “Half”) and “Inteira” (which means, “Entire”) and the only difference we could detect was the price. Meia tickets were half the price of Inteira. We walked in and I was completely convinced that we were going to get kicked out half-way through the movie. Shockingly, this didn’t happen, and we got the inteira movie for meia the price. Still a total mystery, but we’re fine with how it turned out. (If anyone has any insight into this, by all means, please share the wisdom. We thought it may have to do with seat selection since you select your seats in advance, but our seats were completely normal so I don’t think that was it…)
Today we checked out our fifth church here. Their morning service is traditional and in English and then they have an evening, contemporary service in Portuguese. We went this morning and really enjoyed it. Then we met up with friends after to check out the markets in Bixiga – a cool little Italian neighborhood that has a great antique, flea market every Sunday.
We also had lunch in Bixiga and experienced the LARGEST filet parmesan EVER. It easily fed our table of 6. And please notice how the meats come with rice & fries. We tried desperately to substitue fries for veggies but…it didn’t really translate. For some reason rice & fries are the normal sides.
All in all it was a great week, and each day, slowly but surely, we are feeling more and more comfortable here. More and more at home.
God has been so good to us here and in His grace, He balanced out lasts week’s “adventures & accomplishments” from my last post with a lot of fun and joy too.
On Tuesday our friends Trent and Paige invited Michael and me over for dinner at their apartment. Paige did make-your-own pizzas that were out of this world. The crusts were made from nan bread dough (amazing) and then there were toppings for days. They have a friend who is currently living with them right now so we got to meet her and her boyfriend as well as one of their upstairs neighbors and dear friends. It was tons of fun and we loved getting to know them better.
Thursday night Michael and I met up for beers after (his) work at a neighborhood spot called Vaca Veia. Michael happend to go here with Joe when he visited SP last year and loved it. He was so happy when he realized it was just a few blocks from our apartment. It serves the coldest beer around.
Friday night we cabbed across the city to Jeff & April’s apartment in Perdizes. Due to traffic this 20 min drive took three times as long. And, we happened to pull up at their place literally 3 minutes after a storm had just rolled in. Now when it storms here – especially during the summer – it’s like, a storm. A tropical STORM. Out of nowhere, raindrops the size of cannonballs. Usually they come and go within an hour, but you do NOT want to be outside when they hit. Anyway, we proceeded to get DRENCHED in the 20 feet that we walked from the cab to their building. But these are just details. The night only got better from there. April had made tons of great appetizers and her own version of sangria (which was yummmm). Suzanna and Jeff Jones were there as well so we hung out for a while and then headed out to a neighborhood espeto place, Casa de Espeto.
Here, everything comes on espetos (like kababs) and they just constantly come by offering you more food. If you take something, they write it down on your card and you pay at the end. We had everything from sausages, steak and chicken to grilled mozzarella and other cheeses to hearts of palm and zucchini…all on a stick. But the highlight was, of course… CHICKEN HEARTS! I actually thought that they were mushrooms but the waitress explained that no, these were “corazãos de frango.” You would think this would be a deterrent but she seemed so genuinely excited about them and nodded her head, insisting that I try them. So what else was I supposed to do? Shockingly, they were actually NOT very tasty in my opinion, but I had two, just for the experience. Everyone at the table actually partook, except for April who insisted that she had already had her share before.
Despite the gross chicken hearts, it was a great time. Live music, perfect company, and otherwise delicious food. After dinner we headed back to the Yureckos for a lively game of…FARKLE. Farkle was a first for Michael and me (although we are pretty certain that we actually own the game as well), however I can assure you that it will not be our last run with Farkle. It was a long, hard-fought game but after an incredible come-back, April came out with the win.
Saturday Michael and I walked around looking at apartments. Actually, more like looking at apartment buildings, trying to talk doormen, and collecting phone-numbers of real estate brokers to call. That evening we tried a neighborhood sushi spot, Temakaria, and it was honestly some of the best sushi I’ve EVER had. Joe met up with us there and then we grabbed a drink at another spot to catch up with him. So nice having family here!!
Sunday we checked out another church. Our 4th so far. We have gone to 2 Brazilian, Portuguese speaking churches and 2 International, English speaking churches. All of them have been great in different ways, but we’re not sure yet where God is calling us. For now we are going to keep trying and try some again and continue to pray for direction in that. It’s hard for us not to miss City Church but we trust that God will lead us to a new church family here.
Anyway, we feel super blessed by all of the warmth, kindness, friendship and hospitality that has been offered to us here, and we are having FUN checking out this new place!