Monday, March 5, 2012

New Job! 21 days training in Houston!! :)

Dear readers,

              Despite the fact that I haven't written anything lately, I have been right around here. I read as many posts as possible, and even make my opinionated comments from time to time :)
              It turns out during my quest for that so desired Brazilian job, I received an awesome offer from a great company based in Chicago and accepted...my new job will be based in Boston!! So we are not going anywhere for a little while! :)


Happiness by accident!! :)

              The new company is expanding and growing and needed me to hit the ground running, which is my specialty, but this time it was really crazy. I accepted the offer on a Thursday and on Friday they made all the arrangements to send me to Houston for a 21 day training marathon, on Monday.
              The new job is in the same Industry, but this time, I will have an opportunity to expand my experience in other areas and increase my future chances to find that dream job in Brazil.
              What is incredible and amazing all at the same time is that my new boss in married to a Brazilian and they have an apartment in Rio, where they spend most of their holidays and vacations, the boss is also trying to learn Portuguese. :)
               I have been working for this company for two weeks only and I can already tell you it's the best place I have ever worked in my life, yeah, it's that good. Everyone I talk to in the new company tell me they dream in retiring here. I will even be able to put Gil on my health insurance, full benefits for same sex couples, believe it or not, it's 2012 and it's the first time we have a chance to do that, to say that we are happy is an understatement.
               So, it turns out I have been in Houston since February 20th and will stay here until March 12th.
               I hadn't been in Houston for a couple of years and they were always fast trips, you know, your run of the mill, Aiport-to-Hotel-to-Office-Back-to-Aiport trips.
               This time I feel like am living here, 21 days is a long time and it's giving me an opportunity to get to know Houston again, since the last time I was here often back in the 90's. I am even absorbing some of the southern Texas draw and I think I am more polite than before already  ;)
                My "born again" impressions of Houston are great! I am in LOVE with all the awesome ethnic food options in Houston, Persian restaurants are all over the place. I am trying a different one everyday. Lebanese restaurants too. I love Lebanese food, we grew up with many awesome Lebanese restaurants in Sao Paulo.
                It turns out Persian and Lebanese are very similar. I have pictures and will make a nice post with more details, soon, soon, I promise.
                As most of my regular readers know, I don't like talking about negative stuff but this was a very personal close call to me and there is no denying that Houston is far more violent than my quiet life in coastal New England.
                I watched on the news that a 20 year old shot an 18 year old at a Karaoke place next to the Hilton where I am staying this past Sunday.  
                The scary part is that I almost went to the Karaoke place on Sunday night, because I didn't want to drive and I could walk to the place, which is also a Mexican restaurant specialized in Sea Food.
                 It was all over the news, they were drunk, one didn't like the other's choice of song for the Karaoke singing, this is Texas, everyone and their mother have a gun, bam, murder, too close for comfort if you ask me. I thanked my guardian angels profusely Monday morning when I watched about this tragedy on the news.
                 What really scares me about crime in the US is how totally random it can be. I am staying in a "apparently" nice part of Houston, near the fancy "Houston Galleria Mall" and something horrible like this happened right at my door step.
                 In Brazil, I know the areas to avoid, most crime in Sao Paulo happens in far away poor areas, near or inside favelas and it's usually drug related. Avoid favelas and avoid beeing involve with the drug business and you should be fine.
                 On another note, Houston, as many of you know, also has a HORRIBLE traffic, I don't get it, they have GIGANTIC freeways going in every direction. I noticed that most streets don't go under or above the freeways, they end in the highway. So there are very few streets that allow you to "cross" to the other side of the freeways. This is just my simple quick observation and speculation. I could be wrong and the heavy traffic here happens for a completely different reason.



A picture of Houston's typical traffic jams, they are everywhere, all.the.time!!

                 I also noticed lots and lots of super expensive luxury cars, like I have never seen it anywhere else. It's ridiculous, again, my plain superficial speculation could allow me to say that it's either a lot of wealth from "OIL" money or simply because housing here is so ridiculously cheap, people have money to buy fancy cars!! :)          


Porsche Panamera anyone! I see one of these every 5 minutes and I am not even exaggerating!!! :)
                On the other hand, in New England, not as bad as New York or California, but still way up there, real state prices just make it nearly impossible for people to do much more other than pay for their high priced mortgages or rent!! So we (New Englanders) drive old beat up Volvo's and Subaru's, Gil and I drive a 2003 Ford... :)
               Long story short, I am in love with Houston. Houston has grown into an awesome cosmopolitan city. Maybe it has been for a long time, but I just got to know it better now.
               Lot's of people from every African country you can dream of, Serbians, Croatians, Ukrainians, Lebanese, Iranians, Middle Easterners from several different countries. I went to the Mall on Sunday looking for a pair of Sunglasses, yeah, it's bright here! :) And I heard so many different languages it was amazing. I am really impressed by the great variety of immigrants in Houston.
               You can see it in the variety of options of ethnic restaurants, I am having a great time here!
                I also wanted to thank our dear friendly blogger "Ginger" from "Flowers and more" for the great recommendations of awesome Houston places to eat and visit.
                I will write another post with pictures of the awesome places only an expert local like Ginger would be able to recommend.             
                Thanks again Ginger.
       
       
Abracos to all

Ray

38 comments:

Nina said...

Yeah, I have to say that Texas has come up on my list of areas I would return to in the US. Never saw that coming.... Partly things I like and partly a place Ricardo and I both agree on.

Congrats on the new job. It's sounds like fun going to experience an area... missing home and loved ones, then going back home for a honeymoon period.

Well, your house isn't in boston, right? Are you commuting?

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Nina,

Thank you! :)
I am just in Houston for 21 days, for training. The new job is indeed based in Boston and we will be living at our home back in New England.
I do miss Gil and Okie so bad it hurts!! We talk all the time but it's not the same thing.
I would love to live in Houston, houses here are dirt cheap I have the impression people here actually do have a great quality of life. I love some of the neighborhoods I have been driving thru.
I also heard the Texas school system is one of the best in the nation. :)
You and Ricardo would be just fine here. But Gil and I fell better raising a family in progressive New England, you know, two dads in Texas sounds a little scary, for the two dads, not for anyone else. Too many radical right Republicans around here for comfort. ;)

Thanks for your comment

Ray

Alex said...

PARABENSSS!!!!

This is awesome! I'm glad that you think this will put you one step closer to your overall goal. It's also perfect that you didn't have to relocate or anything, because that would be a pain especially if you like where you are now.

Never been to Houston but I've heard not-so-stellar reviews about the place from my dad who's been there more than a few times for business...but try to enjoy the warmer weather there! It's probably almost hot there because it's getting "quentinho" here. I mean, I still freeze to death with my 3 obligatory layers, but other people say it's getting warmer...

Small world about your boss having a place in Rio and being married to a Brazilian! Weird! Hey, who knows, maybe they'll expand operations internationally and put you as their head in Rio or SP!

Anyway again Parabens and please keep us updated on how things are going!!!!!

Abs,
Alex

Andrew Francis said...

Hi Ray, congratulations on your new job and all that.

You mentioned ethnic restaurants and that got me thinking. My own experience of that type of restaurant in the US is less than ideal, mainly because they always seem to have hamburgers on the menu (in addition to the other food, of course). To me that just takes away from the authenticity of the place. Do you think that's fair or have I just been unlucky?

Jim said...

CONGRATULATIONS! While the new opportunity sounds great, I know you were looking forward to returning to Brazil. But now you will have more time to grow your savings before you return.

Ray and Gil said...

Alex,

Thank you!
We are so sicked that we don't have to move, we love the Boston area and we have moved 12 times in the past 10 years, yeap, we have had our share.
And how we say it in Brazil "Eu nao dou ponto sem no!" (ask your Portuguese teacher to translate this one ;) )
I know this job will get me a lot closer to an opportunity in Brazil, not only because they are in talks to expand into Brazil but because I will also be expand my experience and opening a whole new deck of possibilities.

Abracos Alex

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Andrew,

I think you have been very unlucky. To be honest with you, I don't remember the last time I ate at a restaurant that had "Hamburgers" in the menu.
It's like you go to Brazil and all you see is "Feijoada" in the menu" :)
Example: Yesterday I had lunch at an awesome Persian restaurant here in Houston and I ate grilled lamb served on Cherry basmati rice with pistachios and almonds and grilled vegetables. It was healthy light and delicious all at the same time and no "Hamburger" anywhere on the menu.
I have also been eating at some Brazilian Churrascarias, they are all over Houston, they love this style of restaurant here.
There are many other "Hamburgerless" options around here.

Thanks for your comment

Abraco
Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Jim,

Yes, we haven't changed our minds about returning to Brazil at all, but I am a little bit closer now, because I will have a more diversified experience and this will make it easier for me to find that dream job in Brazil.
And yes, an opportunity to continue to save more. ;)

Abracos

Ray

Jana said...

YAYAYA!!! PARABENS!!!!!!

Very happy for you! Perhaps Ill run into you in Houston then before Sao Paulo! Will you be going often after the training? My aunt lives there so I go often and we have an annual trip to the Galleria and eat at the Cheesecake factory! Anyways fabulous and hopefully in a few years you will be here =) So awesome about the insurance too, must be a wonderful company!!!

Andrew Francis said...

Thanks Ray. I thought the hamburgers were just a way of ensuring the restaurant had something for everyone. Like a vegetarian option but for people who only eat ground beef and white bread :).

Jessica said...

Congratulations - sounds like a great opportunity! We lived in 2 different towns close to Houston for almost 12 years before we lived in Canada. Our boys were born in Victoria, TX - two hours SW of Houston.

SN said...

OMG I would love to be in Houston right now for the food!!

Sushi- Blue Fish house on Richmond. The volcano roll is to die for.
http://bluefishhouse.com/

Indian- Indika on Westheimer right before it becomes Elgin
http://indikausa.com/indikausa/index.htm

Favorite Brunch- Tiny boxwoods :) http://tinyboxwoods.com/tiny_boxwoods/home.html

Bibas One's a Meal for late night greek food.
http://onesameal.com/

o my the list could go on forever!! I won't even get you started on Mexican!! Good luck and stay safe!

SN said...

Sorry all I got from your post was food. Can you tell I am hungry!! Congrats on the new job even if it delays you coming home.

Luasol said...

Congratulations on your new job.

Ray and Gil said...

Jana,

Thank you! We are so happy about the insurance, not because of the money, because Gil has had insurance thru his job, but because we finally feel respected as equals, something that most people take for granted but we value and treasure as something very special. :)
My new company is actually based in Chicago, so I will be going to Chicago all the time. Houston I am not sure, most probably not. They sent me here just for the training, and getting to know the company better.
Yes, Jana, thank you, we are counting the days to move to Brazil...even if it's still a few years away... :)

Abraco
Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Andrew,

I think when it comes to chains, like Outback, Chili's, Applebee's, Denny's and such, you have a point, they all have a "Hamburger" option. However, I avoid these chains like the plague. I love to find the little mom and pop owned restaurants everywhere I go, and I have a tendency to go for exotic different ethnic options.
Perhaps if I only went to American restaurants, I would always find a "burger" option in the menu.


Thanks again for your comments :)

Abraco
Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Jessica,

Thank you! I am really happy with this new job.
Yeap, I know Victoria, TX, we have lived in Dallas in the 90s and I have to say we loved our time in Texas. Maybe if we weren't a gay couple we would be totally happy to live here. Great quality of life and low cost of living.
:)

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

SARAH!!!

Love your list of suggestions!
I will get working on it tonight...
But please PLEASE!! Get started on Mexican!! It's my all time favorite food ever and we don't even have Mexican food in New England!!
Please do share any tip on good Mexican food in Houston you can think of!
We are so happy about this job, yes, it will delay our return a little bit but it will also improve our chances for finding a better job in Brazil.


:)
Thank you
Grande abraco

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Luasol,

Thank you for your kind comment!
Hope you guys are doing ok.
Sending good energy your way!
:)

Forte abraco

Ray

Shelley said...

Congrats! Thanks for sharing the good news!

Jennifer Souza said...

COngratulations on your job....and too bad Brazil isn't in the cards RIGHT NOW. Your intuition about Houston traffic is correct AND they did no city planning or zoing. Houston is truly an American failure on how to out together a walkable city, and this has far-reaching negative affects- like Houston being the fattest city in the US year after year. It's a travesty, and I hope Latin America starts to take the focus off cars, and put it on multiple means of transport. Could you imagine commuting on a bike anywhere you've seen in Houston? No. It's impossible.

Anyway, your restaurant finds sound WONDERFUL! I do the same thing- independent restaurants and museums, everywhere I go!

Tracy said...

Congrats, Ray!

You've worked so hard to get here and deserve this amazing job. Enjoy Houston while you're there for training!

Ray and Gil said...

Jennifer,

No, I couldn't picture myself going anywhere in Houston by bike. It's flat and the weather is nice this time of the year, but the drivers here are the most agressive I have seen in the US. :(
You know, the discussion of car versus public transportation is an old one in Brazil. And the consensus is that the Automotive Industry is the pulsating heart of the Brazilian economy, so one car for each citizen is the general goal! Which is awful.
A good thing is that Brazilians are no longer dependent on foreign Oil. And I am still hoping Brazil would embrace new forms of fuels such as sun powered cars, hydrogen or even electric, who knows, we half ditch gasoline cars in the 70's, we could and should lead the way in energy policies again. :)

Abracos

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Tracy,

Thank you for your kind comment, yes, I have worked really hard to get here, and it paid off... :)
I am really enjoying Houston, despite the heavy traffic I have a huge crush for TEXAS :)

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Shelley,

Thank you! Good to hear from you! :)

Ray

SN said...

Hope I didn't miss you and your chance for some good mexican!

Cyclone Anayas is my absolute favorite mexican restaurant- Great salsa and get anything really. You can't go wrong. I don't remember the name of the dish I think it's valencia?? anyway chicken with mushrooms... amazing. Steak quesadillias are always a fav.
http://www.cycloneanaya.com/home.php

Also Chuy's is great too!! They have great tamales!
http://www.chuys.com/

Mama Ninfas Original (on navigation road- kinda sketchy south of downtown) makes their own tortillias and chips right in the restaurant. LOVE them :)
http://mamaninfas.com/


Of course you can always go to Papasitos which is pretty average but always a winner.


Good luck!!!

Rachel said...

BIG congrats on the new job and a big BOO for it not being in Brazil. I suppose you can't win them all ;) Thank goodness we all have the internet!

And Yay for new adventures (even the work ones)!

Born Again Brazilian said...

Congratulations! I hope you get to visit Chicago often. I'll put a list together for you of some great places. Hooray! Ok, "sob" on the fact that you won't be back in Brazil for awhile, but I'm still happy to you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rachel, it will definitely open up new opportunities for a future return! Hopefully soon! :)

Ray

Anonymous said...

B.A.B.,

Thank you, a list of places in Chicago sounds great! :)
We will keep trying, until we get the right opportunity to get back to Brazil.
Sorry I am typing like I am 2 years old, just got a stupid new freaking Droid type phone and I am having to learn how to type all over again, about to trow the dam thing in the cold waters of the Boston Harbor and have my own private t party... ;)

Ray

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your job. If you ever get to miss Brazil too much I highly recommend CWIIL AIR (www.cwiilair.com) for your traveling requirements. They provide Single Window Solutions so you not have to worry about anything from the time you leave till the time you come back home :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip ammonia

Ray

Tom Le Mesurier said...

Parabéns! A new job and in a new and interesting city - sounds familiar! :D

Gina said...

Hey Ray, Congratulations on your new job! It is so nice to hear when someone loves their job(it is so rare nowadays)and am also very happy to hear about the insurance portion, this is how it should be!

Anonymous said...

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/08/brazil-s-surge-in-violence-against-gays-is-just-getting-worse.html

Ray and Gil said...

Dear Sara,

Thank you so much for the Houston Mexican restaurant tip. I went and had the best Mexican dinner ever! :)

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Tom,

Thank you. I was just training in Houston. My job will be based in Boston. :)

Ray

Ray and Gil said...

Gina,

Thanks, yes, it should be like that, everyone should be allowed to put their husband, wife or significant other on their health plan. I have a solution for that: UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE FOR ALL, no more issues :)

Ray