Sunday, February 12, 2012

First Impressions: Sao Paulo

Dear fellow blogger Rachel from "Adventures of a Gringa", a New Yorker who lived in Rio de Janeiro before returning home to NY with her Brazilian husband, wrote a great post on her first impressions on our hometown of Sao Paulo.

New symbol of Sao Paulo-Ponte Agua Espraiada

Gil and I laughed together as we read about Rachel's first impressions on Sao Paulo as she got it so accurately.
Rachel is a great observer to say the least and a brilliant writer and was clearly very successful in describing her experience in Sao Paulo.
Yes, we are biased and we have read and admired Rachel's blog for years now.
Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Jardim Europa, one of the nicest upscale neighborhoods in Sao Paulo, founded by British immigrants 100 years ago.

HERE is the link to her blog with the original post and below is the post we are referring to:

February 12, 2012

Republican Chokes Up At Gay Marriage Debate In Washington

Seriously, listening to this speech made me proud to be an American today!
Hell, who am I kidding, I am proud to be an American every freaking day... :)
Ok, let's say specially proud and all choked up today! ;)
Proof that not all Republicans are mean zombies!!!  :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Free dental care and eye doctors for Brazilian school children!!

Expansion of Universal Health Care in Brazil-Moving in the right direction
After forming a great partnership between the Brazilian Ministry of Health and Education, the Brazilian government just announced a new program to offer free dental care and eye doctors for children in public schools, they will start a pilot in 20 states and on a second phase of the project they will expand into all Brazilian states.
The program has adapted some large motor home type trucks into a hybrid of dental office combined with an eye doctor's clinic.

Yes, that is a picture of a naked boob without a blanket to cover it, in a national health campaign in Brazil!!  ;)

These trucks will use the University Hospitals as a base for their programs, 2500 or almost half of Brazilian cities will be a part of the initial phase of the program, if the program is successful, it will be expanded into the other half of Brazilian cities towards the interior of the country.
These trucks will rotate among certain regions covering all public schools of certain districts offering completely free basic dental care and eye doctors and free eye glasses for children enrolled in the public schools covered by the program.
I personally think this program has a great chance at success because it is practical and objective, keeping it simple and effective.
I really wish we had a similar initiative in the United States, God knows we desperately need it around here.

Countries with Universal Health Care in Blue

In the US, only Massachusetts has a form of Universal Health Care, it is very simple, if you have a job or if you have money, you are mandated by law to purchase Health Care Insurance, if you are poor, unemployed or don't have any money, the state of Massachusetts buys private Health Care Insurance for you.
It was a Republican initiative created under Mitt Romney's administration to assure his corporate friends increased their profits by forcing everyone to purchase private health insurance and use tax money to purchase private health insurance for those who couldn't afford to buy it.
Funny and disgusting to see the Republicans calling Obama's health care initiative "Obama Care" in a pejorative way, considering it was inspired in the Republican's sucessful endeavor in Massachusetts.
It is enforced by the state's branch of the IRS, when you file for your state taxes in Massachusetts you have to supply your private health insurance account number or you won't be able to complete and file your state taxes.
Trust me, everyone has health insurance in Massachusetts nowadays.

US medicaid overhaul map
I have one thing to say, regardless if you are a Democrat or a Republican, independent, conservative or liberal, we have to agree that Brazil is going in the right direction by investing in the health of our children.
What better way to reach all and to put an extra incentive for poor families already enrolled in the "Bolsa Familia" than to attach this program to children enrolled in schools?
Below is the original article in Portuguese:

Alunos de escolas públicas terão atendimento dentário a partir de abril

Carolina Pimentel
Da Agência Brasil, em Brasília
A partir de abril, consultórios itinerantes dentários e oftalmológicos vão atender alunos de escolas públicas em 20 estados.
A iniciativa é uma parceria dos ministérios da Educação e da Saúde. Os consultórios são montados em caminhões, que atenderão em frente às escolas que fazem parte do Programa Saúde na Escola. De acordo com o Ministério da Saúde, são 37 veículos, com até dois consultórios oftalmológicos, e 34 caminhões, onde será feito o atendimento.
As crianças passarão por exames de retina, de fundo do olho e receberão óculos quando detectados
problemas. Os consultórios dentários são equipados para limpeza, extração e aplicação de flúor.
Na primeira fase, o atendimento oftalmológico será feito na cidades com hospitais universitários, onde há estudantes de medicina e residentes. Depois, os consultórios serão levados ao interior do país.
De 2011 até o início deste ano, 2.500 municípios aderiram ao Programa Saúde na Escola, segundo o ministério.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

CMTC-Sao Paulo bus history

CMTC stands for Compania Municipal de Transportes Coletivos

HERE  is a cool video of Sao Paulo's Public Transportation Museum, it is located walking distance from the city's largest bus station "RODOVIARIA DO TIETE".
I know Tom Le Mesurier, from Eat Rio should get a kick out of all this, I heard he loves buses, and I am a big bus nerd as well!!!  ;)


Here is a little about the history of Sao Paulo and it's buses, since 1946, when CMTC was founded, until 1995 when it was closed.
If you grew up in Sao Paulo like Gil and I, subway and buses were a big part of your life.
A couple of posts ago, "HERE" I described my adventures with my dear grandma, riding the bus all the way downtown Sao Paulo from our little corner of the metropolitan area.
I also always took buses to school and to swimming classes and everywhere else I had to go.
I didn't like buses too much, mainly because they were always packed with people and we had to stand up.
But I have to say I got a little emotional when I watched this short video, buses were a HUGE part of my life and Gil's life as well.
This video shows buses we saw when growing up and buses my mother, grandmother and her mother took when they went downtown Sao Paulo in the 30's, 40's and 50's.
Yes, before you ask, Sao Paulo had double decker buses in the late 80's all the way thru the 90's. I am not sure if they still have them around the city, but they had a hard time with them because Sao Paulo is too hilly and that was hard on these buses engines.
Mayor Janio Quadros loved the double deckers from London and he brought the idea to Sao Paulo, they even painted them red.
I know there are HUGE cool double deckers for intercity travel around Brazil but I am not sure if the city's double deckers are still around.

Hope you enjoy!!!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wear Sunscreen, floss, happy!!

I loved this video, it was sent to me today from a great friend from Miami.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

São Paulo, a 1920's video and my personal memories!

Gil and I found this gem and wanted to share with you!
It is impressive to see how busy Sao Paulo already was back in the 1920's.
We love to see how beautiful the architecture was and how dressed up Paulistas already were, hence the present formality in our way to dress in Sao Paulo today.
My grandma always told us how elegant people used to be in Sao Paulo when she was growing up, she thinks people dress up like crap nowadays and never wore a pair of jeans her entire life, she is as old school as you can be.
Bus drivers used to wear perfectly clean polished shoes, white gloves and every one wore nice hats. She also noted that everyone smelled nice in the bus, French colognes were not expensive and were readily available.
Women wore make up all the time and had impeccable hair and nails, many still do it today.
The first time my grandmother visited the US she got emotional when she found products she and her mother used to buy at a traditional department store downtown Sao Paulo called "Mappin Stores", it was a specific brand of make up, and a couple brands of perfume that were no longer found in Sao Paulo in the early 90's. Her experience stuck with me because she cried when she saw the packaging and smelled those products she hadn't seen in several decades and it reminded her of her childhood growing up in Sao Paulo.
Nowadays we go to the Mall, back in those days, my grandmother and her mother used to ride the bus all the way downtown Sao Paulo where the nice department stores were located.
Sao Paulo also had many other department stores such as "Dillard's" and "Sandiz" and they were mostly located inside Malls such as Iguatemi, Ibirapuera and Morumbi Mall.
She also tells me they went to Sears because they loved the smell of fresh roasted peanuts and cashew nuts, who knew that is what Sears was famous for in Sao Paulo! :)

Shopping Paulista, former Sears Paulista near Paulista Avenue, Sao Paulo

Most Sears in Sao Paulo were located in such gigantic multi level buildings, and when Sears went out of business in Sao Paulo in the early 90's, their buildings became Malls, Jardim Paulista and West Plaza are two good examples of former Sears turned into Malls.

West Plaza Shopping, formerly Sears Lapa, the largest Sears in Sao Paulo
They also had a tradition of catching a movie to enjoy the new "invention" of Air Conditioned movie theaters, that was back in the 1930's.
In those days, Sao Paulo had HUGE cinemas that accommodated between 3000 and 6000 thousand people.
They were luxurious and everybody loved them. Sadly today, most of the traditional large cinemas in Sao Paulo slowly faded away in the 80's after a couple decades of porn movie exhibits and anonymous gay sex, and have finally become "evangelical churches", how appropriate!
Another Sao Paulo tradition of the early days, as described by my grandmother, was enjoying a cheeseburger with frech fries and a banana split before heading back to the suburbs on the bus driven by a driver with impeccable white gloves and a nice dark navy blue hat in an nice dark navy blue uniform.
This is some of the things people used to do in Sao Paulo before TV and facebook.
I was lucky because growing up in the 70's and 80's my grandma used to take us downtown Sao Paulo for a movie a cheeseburger and a banana split, my brother always had a hot dog and a sundae, yeah, he liked to be different that way.
I was born all crooked, and grandma was the designated person to take my brother and I downtown to the eye doctor, the same one my great grandmother knew, I know, he was very old, but he was the best.
She also took us to the dentist for braces and even the orthopedic specialist for specially made, super heavy orthopedic shoes, I told you I was born all crooked, it wasn't pretty, I was bully in school like nobody's business.
I have to say their efforts paid off, you couldn't tell today, I am almost all fixed up now , almost ;)
One memorable downtown afternoon with grandma was when she took us to the movies to watch "Superman", the 1978 version with Christopher Reeve, yep, I was already gay in those days trust me! :)
That special day was also the first time I realized I could order my banana split inside a half pineapple, and that was a life altering moment for that 7 year old boy from the suburbs who loved ice cream even more than Christopher Reeves, hey , I was already gay, but I was 7, give me a break, ice cream was an absolute priority.

The George Cloney of the 70's, Christopher Reeves

Mappin, originally known as "Mappin Stores" was the most popular and probably the most luxurious department store in Sao Paulo for a good part of the last century. Sears was also present in Sao Paulo with huge multi level stores but Sears was more of a suburban department store with huge parking lots far away from downtown while Mappin was the ultimate cosmopolitan experience downtown, with no parking available, you had to walk in the downtown streets where cars weren't allowed.
Here is a cool "Mappin commercial" I found from the late 70's or early 80's.
And here is the most popular "Mappin jingle" of all times, it was super catchy and anyone growing up in Sao Paulo in the 70's and 80's remembers it.

"Mappin Stores" where my great-grandmother and my grandma bought make up and leather gloves

Our last stop before heading to "Parque Dom Pedro", the largest metropolitan bus station in Sao Paulo, was at Lojas Americanas to buy candy by the weight, they gave us little plastic baskets that we could fill with our favorite assortment of candy and it was weighted at the end, we enjoyed all different sorts of delicious candy on the 40 minute bus drive back to our suburban corner of Sao Paulo.

Parque Dom Pedro, downtown Sao Paulo

Parque Dom Pedro, the largest metropolitan bus station in Sao Paulo
 And now the video that we wanted to share with you today, enjoy:


Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Ok, Brazil, we want to be next! Pleeeeeease!!!!

...and our saga continues, apparently, a lot of other people are beating us to it!!!
I have been interviewing with a few companies but haven't found a good opportunity yet, we want to do the right thing, so patience is key right now and I might add that the crappy "real state" situation in the US doesn't help us much.
We will keep looking and will keep you all updated. :)
I have to confess that I get VERY a little jealous of all these people going to my home country, getting jobs and starting new lives and we are still here "MORRENDO DE SAUDADES" of our entire families, friends and culture.

New Brazilian passport with electronic chip!

The Brazilian government is working to ease up VISA procedures for foreigners with high education levels applying for jobs in Brazil while at the same time trying to control the Haitian immigration occurring thru the Amazon region.
The idea will be to find jobs and relocate if necessary the Haitians that are immigrating to Acre and Amazonas and find them jobs where they might be able to use their French speaking skills in the larger cities in the South. Perhaps employ them during the World Cup and Olympics and help these folks establish themselves better in Brazil.
Meanwhile, the goal is to control the influx of Haitians with low skills, Brazil will limit Visas to Haiti to 1000 per year.
A bittersweet fact is that Americans are among the largest group of immigrants going to Brazil right now, and that is because the economy in the US has been destroyed by irresponsible behavior ON THE PART OF SOME REPUBLICANS in recent years.
Yes I totally blame BUSH for our economic chaos, are you kidding me! Do you think the greedy bastards would let us get away with it if this economic chaos had been created under a Democrat president?
Not in a million years!
It is bittersweet to me because at the same time that I appreciate all these highly educated and highly skilled Americans going to Brazil in droves, it hurts me that they are going mainly because most of them simply can't find jobs back home.
I truly love this country as my own, this is my home, it has been my home for 15 years now and I really hope things get better in the near future.

Here is a break down of all the immigrants going to Brazil in recent years

Brazil, just like the US, is a country built on immigration.
Immigrants who still bring new dreams, new skills, and new customs to add to the wonderful melting pot that  has been defining Brazil for a little over 500 years now.
Our home town of Sao Paulo had a HUGE influx of immigrants from Italy.
In my opinion, Italians shaped the Paulista way of life more than any other group of immigrants.
Both Gil and I have Italian ancestry. Gil was even able to get an Italian citizenship and passport because of his close ancestry line to that country.

Italian immigrants in Sao Paulo

Ukrainian immigrants in the state of Parana, Brazil
The video below will give you a great view of the new wave of immigrants going to Brazil: