Friday, March 30, 2012

Now Where Was I...

Something about this Guinea Hen I snapped last October, struck me as the poster bird for this familiar feeling.

(To enlarge, right-click and open in a new window.)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Phobias of the Creeping and Jumping Kind

Do you find this creature cute or terrifying?

I think it's cute! Personally, the only time I was a little apprehensive around these things is the time when I was stuck in a bathroom with 2 of these high-speed froggies, that were literally bouncing off the walls. They looked like a pair of super high bouncing balls. My only concern was what would happen if they accidentally landed in my hair. Would they get stuck? Would I unintentionally hurt one trying to free it from my hair?

Other than that, I find these creatures adorable. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I don't plan to be holdin' one any time soon! I appreciate that they catch mosquitoes & bugs, and provide entertainment for my kitty. (It gives her something to watch & do the kitty-twitch at...)

However, there are a lot of women here who hate these creatures, known as pererecas (tree frogs) and are terrified of them. Some women are so scared of these things, that they will run to the kitchen and grab salt to pour on them! :( Others demand that the nearest male catch and remove it from the premises.

I'm not sure why these bouncy little things are so vilified. I've asked if they are some unusual poisonous species, to which I've found out: no, they just lose out in the looks department.

Speaking of losing in the looks department, here's another creature that is sure to creep out the ladies. It is the common house gecko.

This albino gecko isn't much of a looker, that's for sure, but geckos catch & eat mosquitoes and other insects. Mosquitoes around these parts can carry the Dengue Fever virus. In my book, that makes the gecko my friend. A gecko a day, keeps the Dengue away.

What about you? Are you scared of these creepin' creatures, or like me, do you not pay them much attention?

What are your feelings on geckos and tree frogs?
  free polls 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Street Art in Goiânia

(To enlarge, right-click and open in a new window.)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Five Facts For Foreigners - Volume VIII

Fun New Fishing Feats

One of the main draws in the state of Goiás is the Rio Araguaia (Araguaia River) for the unique fishing experience, and abundance of fish species. Here are a few facts you should know if you want to look like a fishing pro. Things are done a little differently down here. Get ready for a wild ride!

  1. This isn't your grandpa's tranquil, traditional fishing experience. When you catch a fish be sure to hoot, holler and scream in delight. Apparently noise has no effect on catching fish in these parts, and as such it is a lively experience.

  2. Make sure you bring your heavy-duty pliers. They come in handy when you need to remove/break the jaw of any piranha you catch & would like to keep. (You can't exactly just throw them in with the rest of the catch, otherwise.) The pliers are also used for other species of fish that have poisonous barbs that must be clipped in order to handle them, should you decide to keep the fish.

    It is for these reasons that I no longer fish. It’s too brutal. I am a “bleeding heart,” if you will, and cannot stand to see anything suffer – not even a piranha. I understand that something has to die in order to be eaten, but until I can find a humane way to achieve that, I prefer not to be a part of it. That’s just my personal preference. My motto is, “Kill it - fast!!! (...or leave it alone!)”

    Safest way to handle a piranha: a metal cage.

  3. Avoid any sweet-smelling sunscreens or bug sprays. This will attract more bees, hornets, and other wasps than you have ever seen in your life. Jumping into the water with the piranha will suddenly seem like a good idea. True story.

  4. Pic found through Google Images.

  5. What in the world is that noise? It is a dolphin expelling air through its blow hole. There are freshwater dolphins in Amazon tributaries as far south as central Brazil, but they don't look like “regular” dolphins of the sea. There are two types of dolphins: one is the 'traditional' grey, and the other is pink. (I have yet to see a pink one.) All kinds of stories & strange folklore surround these pink dolphins, but they are usually treated with disdain by fishermen for the occasional theft of their catch.

    Image found on Wikipedia.

  6. Never go running into the river or lake for a swim. Freshwater stingrays are common in Brazil. The smaller ones like to stay in the shallow areas along the bank, so one must be careful when entering the water. Keep your eyes peeled, and shuffle your way to the desired depth. If you were to inadvertently step on a stingray - no matter how small - its instincts would be to defend itself with the poisonous barb on the end of its tail. This could be a major problem for your calf (and health) since the hospital is more than a few hours away.

    Stingrays are timid creatures. They tend to steer clear of humans. The smaller ones scurry away in a cloud of murky water, and the bigger ones seem to be gentle giants. There have been instances where they unintentionally grabbed the bait on a fisherman’s hook, like this enormous one a friend caught in July 2008. (It was released after the photo op.)

(To enlarge pics, right-click and open in a new window.)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Being A Tomboy in Brazil

We all know that people come from different backgrounds. Our individual viewpoint is formed by several factors that include upbringing (which can determine our sense morals and cultural identity)... socioeconomic factors (which can affect our education options and range of potential experiences)... and our unique temperament (which is a filter on how we see the world). All help to shape who we are - and how we will live & relate in this life.

As I’ve mentioned before, I write from an American viewpoint - specifically that of a female... Austinite... Texan and tomboy. I measure things in feet and inches, judge weight by pounds and ounces, and relate distance in miles. For these reasons, I have thoughtfully placed a conversion widget for your convenience at the bottom of the page.
I write from my handful of experiences thus far. I am a jack of all trades, and master of none. I have a certain array of skill sets that, while valued back home in Texas... are not only useless, but regarded with disdain in the culture in which I now live. This is due to my individual choices in life, and while I’m okay with that, it occasionally accentuates the homesickness I feel.

At a young age I determined to ‘never need a man,’ and spent my time investing in a nice assortment of tools and know-how. Here I was forced to retire my tools, keep my know-how on the DL, and learn what it means to be "a lady.”

In this region of Brazil social functions are usually divided into two sides: the men and the women. The men talk about business, cars, fishing and sports, while the women tend to discuss certain novelas and/or fashion related topics. If they have kids, the women will discuss the finer points of whichever theme they are considering for their child's upcoming birthday bash. Needless to say, I tend to gravitate towards the conversations of the males, as the go-to topics for females bore me stiff.

Although I am now aware of some of cultural protocols that enable me to fly under the radar, I still get made for someone who’s not from around here, due to certain personal preferences. Some things we can change, some things we choose not to. Some things we have absolutely no control over: like how a culture may see a woman that doesn't conform to the accepted padrão [standard, model].

It's not like I am leading a one-woman revolution... I just don't have the strength to pretend to be something I'm not. I don’t blowout my hair – I wear it naturally, which means wavy. I avoid high heels at all costs. I don't do lace or bows. (Not only is it nearly impossible to find clothing for a grown tomboy in the city that I now call home - there isn't even a true translation for it). I can count the number of times I've worn a skirt in the past 5 years on one hand (well, 3 fingers). I prefer watching a sports event to watching a novela (or discussing one). I’d prefer to take an arrow to the knee, than to have to go to the salon.

I’d also rather go hang out on some campsite along a river than to stay back in town “with the women”… Do I like being the only woman in camp? No way. (That’s usually seen as volunteering to be the cook – which normally turns out to be a huge disappointment for someone else.) Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a female friend that can hang.

The fact that my husband accepts me & loves me for who I am is a blessing – with an ata on top. There have been more than a few times that he chose to bring me on an otherwise all-guys fishing trip, to the surprise and chagrin of his friends, rather than leaving me to suffocate in our urban high-rise. I honestly try to not to rock the boat, so to speak, but chauvinism is no friend of mine. I miss the inclusive social structure of the U.S. We mingle. We work & play together - at least, back in central Texas.

As a young adult I typically worked in fields that were predominantly all male. I have worked for various companies where I've been the only female outside of the office, but I was seen as a liaison rather than a liability. My friends and family back home never thought twice about it. The fact that I could change a flat or hang a ceiling fan was a running joke at the weekly ladies' Bible studies, but they never looked down on me or shied away from me.

(Thanks to Zach Montoya for Mechanic Girl!)

Here... I just don't bring it up (it's one of those DL-things). However, every now and then something might accidentally slip out that makes someone look at me for a minute as they ponder on what exactly I just said. ("Watch it! That plug is not grounded!" or "Wow! Feel the horsepower in this thing?!") ...but it's usually attributed to the fact that maybe I don't speak Portuguese too well. ("She can't have meant that!" or "That crazy Americana is babbling again...")

Truthfully, I have made some changes voluntarily, just to minimize the overwhelming effect the local Brazilian females can have on a man (and each other - just ask the local hairdresser). Goiânia is infamous for the ratio of 6 females to every 1 male, and boasts the most attractive Brasileiras (oozing their femininity) in the country. I can't confirm or deny this, as I haven't been all over the entire country, but from what I’ve seen it has inspired me to be a tad more feminine. (More on that later...)

Just as I’ve not yet made it to every area in Brazil, neither have I been to every area in my home country. I've been to 11 of the 48 continental states, and on almost every side of my home state, with the exception of West Texas. I hear the speed limit is awesome there.

That said, what I write is simply observations based on my point of view. I remember as a 5-year-old kid, the world looked amazing when seen through a prism… I’d walk around for days on end looking through that thing, no matter how many near misses I had with a wall or flight of steps. These days, I call it as I see it sans prisms, in accordance with the Laughter Is The Best Policy ...uh, policy.

I try to keep in mind that most females, even those back in my home country and state, probably won't share my affinity for old cars, the smell of the grease-oil-gasoline mix that comes from a long day in the garage – even if it’s only observing & admiring the work of someone mechanically inclined, the intoxicating smell of freshly cut grass from weed eating and mowing the yard, or the buzz that one gets after a successful home improvement project comes to fruition.

The thing is, I wasn't as much of a rare breed back home, as I am a potential sideshow freak here (were I really able to get to do what I love). Living in a 100% concrete high-rise helps to keep me in check, as there is simply less to do, but hopefully we will move into a house by the end of the year, so that I can get back to my roots (literally). I told my husband that I will take care of the yard. Since all of the houses have a high wall surrounding the property, no one has to be the wiser. ;)

(Unless otherwise noted, all images found on Google.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Five Facts For Foreigners - Vol. VII

Surprises in the Supermarket &
Detours to the Drugstore

One challenge that is sure to arise almost as soon as you settle into wherever you are calling home here in Brazil, is how to successfully navigate the local grocery store.

Save face (up to 95%) when using these tips to successfully steer clear of any major missteps in the supermercado.

  1. Hear those store specials that are blaring over the store speakers? Think the ads are a little too personalized - almost creepy how they seem to know you are looking at this very item as they speak? Don't freak out everyone else by screaming aloud, when you discover that it's a live broadcast from that guy in the hat [with the mic in his hand] that started following walking behind you on the last aisle.

    The most memorable incident with a live mic store announcer occurred when I rounded the end of an aisle & we came face-to-face(+mic) while the guy boomed out something about me being in a hurry, to the rest of the store. I didn't really understand it too well at the time, but wanted to melt into the floor out of complete embarrassment. It reminded me of the episode from The Wonder Years when Kevin goes shopping for pants with his mom, and envisions that the PA announcer is filling in the rest of the shoppers on how well they fit. “Attention shoppers…”

    Only a grocery store musical would have surprised me more...

  2. We’ve all had the misfortune of grabbing the only item without a price, thereby bringing our checkout to a grinding halt, while a sales associate takes a tour around the store to verify the price.

    In most cases, this is an agonizing wait while the other shoppers in line glare at you as if you are a sociopath that only chooses items without price tags, just for fun. Here in Brazil, there is a fresh take on quick price checks in the supermarket: management on roller skates - complete with a helmet, knee and elbow pads. Awesome.

    For those familiar with the Sonic food chain, the sight of people roller skating to get stuff done isn’t all that surprising. Speaking as a native Austinite, the sight of chicks in roller gear is the norm, but seeing store management deftly weaving around shoppers and carts at a quick clip is impressive, by any standard.

  3. What are you doing, just standing there, while they are ringing you up? Do you think those groceries will bag themselves? I didn't think so. In case no one told you, it is rare that a store employee will offer to help (unless they need to have a quick discussion with your cashier). Avoid “the look,” and holding up the line by bagging things as they are rung up. Waiting to so until after you have paid is a no-no.

  4. Over-the-counter meds are not available in supermarkets. They are only sold at the pharmacy. Some supermarkets have a small pharmacy located in the front of the store. If not, don't worry! The good news is that most pharmacies deliver. Ask someone in your building which drugstore delivers to your address.

    Guys, feel free to skip this last part, and go on to #5.

    Ladies, like over-the-counter meds, certain feminine items can only be found in a drugstore. Three cheers for pharmacies that deliver!!! They rock!

  5. Suppose you find yourself at the drugstore in search of a prescription that some doctor has failed to mention is an injection. Don't be shocked when they hand you a [packaged] syringe, and try to send you on your way.

    If, like me, you suddenly think back to the scary scenes from every movie where someone dies by lethal air bubble injection (embolism) and feel that neither you, nor your significant other [or travel buddy] is qualified to take a stab at inserting a syringe into any portion of your body; they will see your look of horror hesitation, and offer to do it there in the pharmacy.

    "What's that?" you ask. The girl who was just showing me the latest scented lotion is now going to give me an injection? They assured me that only pharmacists are legally allowed to administer injections. The idea that it would be a registered professional put me somewhat at ease, so... it being the first time I did this, I expected a mini version of a doctor's office (you know, with a bed, or something - in case I needed to lie down afterwards due to low blood pressure, etc.) located somewhere in the back. Instead, my choice was the restroom or a broom closet. Um, maybe I'll lie down in my car... if I can make it that far without falling & hitting my head?

    An added degree of awkwardness was that I found out that it wouldn't be in my arm, either. As this was the guy I had regularly seen for other drugstore purchases over the past few months, my routine bout of nausea (par for the course when dealing with needles) presented earlier than usual. The concept of the local pharmacy people, uh, going there... was more than I could handle. Needless to say, after that I conveniently found a new neighborhood drugstore to get my necessities.
    I haven't had the pleasure of needing another prescribed injection, so I cannot speak for other pharmacies, as to the quality of the facilities. However, I now ask my doctors at my appointments if there's any way I can bring them the syringe + Rx for them to do it - which still seems kinda weird to me.
Now you have the straight dope on where to go to buy your goods. May you fare better than those who have gone before you.

Next in the 5 Facts For Foreigners series...

  • The Look: Hotels, Houses and Apartments

  • Seen Out & About: Unique Looks & Trends

  • Fun New Fishing Feats

  • ...and more...

All pics found on Google images.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Meet & Greet in Goiânia

I have received several get-together requests from Brazilian/American couples. Although there are more than a few Brazilian/American (or otherwise) couples here in Goiânia, there really is no network. The best bet is through my blog, and through the Expat Blog. I actually know of about a dozen American/Brazilian couples living in the area, though I have not met them personally. We honestly have no idea how many of us there are, but it might be a nice change of pace to have that camaraderie.

It seems that April would be ideal to allow ample time to get the word out, and to accommodate everyone’s schedules. As this is the first function of this kind here in Goiânia, we would like to give everyone sufficient time to hear about it, so that we can fully take advantage of this special event.

In my hometown of Austin, Texas, there was a large group of Brazilians that were able to get together regularly for bar-b-ques and soccer games, having found each other through the local Brazilian food/goods store. Here, there is nothing like that, but it appears that my blog is bringing people together. Cool! I have received several requests for meet ups, and it seems the best solution is a meet & greet in April.

Please let me know if you think you will be able to attend, and which Saturday in April would be the best for you. Let's not forget that 2 of these weekends are holiday weekends:

Friday, April 6th - Sunday, April 8th: Easter Weekend
Saturday, April 21st & Sunday, April 22nd: Tiradentes

Ha-ha! In my search for appropriate visuals, I ran across this cartoon by Maria Scrivan.

(All pics found on Google Images.)