Archive for December, 2006

Week coming to a close

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Well it has been a few days since I posted. Mainly because during the work week, we don’t get to do much sight seeing. In fact, we’ve easily been pulling 12 hour days. Chris made it OK. There was a snafu in her flight arriving at Porto Alegre, and I did not get the correct flight schedules back from the airline. Chris was only waiting for me for about 15-20 minutes tho, so it’s not too bad. I still feel guilty for not being there when she walked through the baggage claim doors.

We are wrapping up our on-site client work today. We still need some minor things to finish everything up, but then we will be golden. Sucks though as I wanted to be finished by now. Looks like it will be an afternoon finish.

So far, we’ve been sticking close to the neighborhood that our hotel is in. Chris went to Shopping Total yesterday, even took a couple of cabs without incident. Of course, around this part of Brazil, that is to be expected. Our neighborhood is quite safe. Some people call this town the San Francisco of Brazil.

The weekend starts tonight! We’re going to go have a nice dinner at a place near our hotel. Not sure if we are walking there yet, it’s a little warm out here now. We can’t seem to get an accurate number, but it appears to be somewhere between 87 degrees and 99 degress. Hot.

After that, maybe a brew or 2 around the neighborhood, and get some rest for a big weekend. We’ve not planned all of our sights out yet, but we have a few good ideas.

More later!

Back so soon?

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

Yeah, I know I just posted about 5 hours ago, but we just returned to the hotel from our late morning stroll. Well, I say stroll, but it was a haul. I was trying to figure out the distance, but the map that we have does not have any way to determine that. James & I were wishing we had a GPS enabled device that could have tracked our movements. We think that we avoided walking in circles, but that would have told the truth!

We started our trip today by taking a taxi from the hotel to the Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana, or the Cultural Center Building. Our information said that it opened at 9AM, though when we got there we found a sign that said they did not open until noon. On the way there, our taxi driver ruined an “indie” movie shoot. They had this street almost closed off, and were trying to shoot a scene. Here comes us, in the taxi, right up the street. Shot ruined. Anyway…

We decided we did not want to wait for the center to open (maybe we will see it when Chris gets here), so we started walking to the biggest part in the business center of the city, Farroupilha Park. On Sunday’s, they have a giant flea market which more closely represents an arts & crafts fair. Someone could make quite the interesting import business with the prices they were charging.

On the end of the park, we saw an amazing cathedral. They were having mass, but the whole church was open so we stood in the back for about 5 minutes of the service. Quite beautiful

From there, we started walking out of the park, and we found a map. First one we’ve run across the entire time we’ve been here! We realized that we had walked half of the way back to our hotel, so we decided to just walk the rest of the way. This part of the walk was entirely residential. About half way back, we saw Shopping Total. That helped us get oriented to find our way back.

We had lunch at Just Burgers, as we figured we earned ourselves a meal after the tons of walking we did this weekend. My dogs are really barking. I’ve got a couple of blisters, but I’ll push through it.

In a few hours, we’re heading to the other large shopping area in Porto Alegre, Shopping Center Iguatemi. We figure we will wander around there, see if we can find any place that has American football, maybe hang there for a bit. Eventually, we’ll make it back to our neighborhood for dinner, then turn in early as we have a work week in front of us.

On our walks today, we made a couple of key observations.

The first is that the disparity in beauty between men & women is astounding. Think about your favorite family sitcom that has the really hot wife, and the fat husband. We saw that all over the place.

The second is that the pregnant belly is a beautiful thing down here (and I have to agree!). Women wear the same tops as they did when they were not pregnant. That means that their bellies get a LOT of sun!

A Saturday in Brazil

Sunday, December 10th, 2006

We had an action packed day yesterday. So action packed, in fact, that we required a break about mid day to recover!

We’ve been trying to find things to do locally, and prepare for next weekend when Chris arrives. So again, we headed off to Shopping Total. It’s a mall that is close-by (bout a R$8 cab ride), and in a very beautiful neighborhood in Porto Alegre. Unfortunately, I’ve not kept a map with me while we’ve been on the way to Shopping Total, so I don’t know what the name of the neighborhood is. There are quite a few 1-way streets here in this part of Porto Alegre and it can be a challenge to keep up.

After arriving and looking for a hat for me (got a little sunburned on Friday), we began to trek out on foot. We walked down to one of the main drags through Centro (Downtown). We felt very safe walking around downtown. If we passed a street or area that did not have any children or women walking through, we would move along. Otherwise, it was fair game. I’m not sure I’d take Chris down through there, but it was fun none-the-less. Eventually, we reached a mass of people. There is an area in Centro where a major bus terminal & market collide. I believe it is called Mercado Centro.

James & I inched through the mob and saw some very interesting characters. As we walked, I was reminded of parts of downtown Playa del Carmen, but with much taller buildings, 10x the people, and quite a bit larger. The market seemed to go on for 2-3 blocks off the main drag as well. I would guess there was easily 5-8 thousand people in that area.

After getting our fill of walking through the market, we stepped our way back to Shopping Total for a bite to eat. We decided that we needed to try and find a tourist book on Porto Alegre. After trying to talk to some locals at a book store, we decided to go back to our neighborhood mall in Moinhos de Vento. There is a bookstore in that mall on the third floor.

We found some books on Brazil, but the amount of information on Porto Alegre is very limited. Chris had the same problem when she was looking for information state-side. I’ve just stumbled upon a wealth of info online (in English even!) that we will be using today, and next weekend to find activities. After reading “tourist” books that read more like “personal editorials on democracy,” we headed back to the hotel for a break. During this whole time of course, we were enjoying a few brews along the way!

After recovering a bit, we set out on foot again to find some place to eat & drink. We ended up at Pub Dado which is about 8 blocks from the hotel. We enjoyed some of the local Brazilian wine, and then had ourselves some sushi & steak. Sushi you ask? Why yes, and it was quite tasty. This place appeared to specialize in it.

Oh, and don’t try for dinner before 8:00pm. You will be waiting!

We have more adventures to tell about later! Today, I’m working on some sightseeing. Stay tuned to the MoBlog!

Tips for Traveling in Brazil

Friday, December 8th, 2006

James has posted several tips for traveling in Brazil.

Oh, and yes, we actually learned these things during the time we spent here in Porto Alegre!

Que? Sinto dor no meus ouvido.

Friday, December 8th, 2006

Last night was a little bit later for us than usual. We ate a late dinner that consisted of appetizers. We did not need much food after the big lunch we had. After that, we waited for one of our new Brazilian friends, Marco, to pick us up at the hotel for a night out. People get started late around here… especially single ones. We didn’t leave the hotel until 11pm.

Marco picked us up, and took us to a club. This three story establishment offered food, dancing, and a lounge area. There was a LONG line to get in, but Marco knew the manager. We were able to sneak in the back door. Whee!

The lounge area was PACKED until just before midnight when people began moving downstairs to dance. It was quite loud in there, and both James & I have had our fill of clubs for the trip. Even today we are trying to figure out if that music we hear is in our heads or actually playing. Gotta love Techno.

So as we are heading out, we wanted to catch a taxi. We flagged one down, showed him our key card, and he started pointing out the windshield. In our limited ability to understand Portuguese, we didn’t understand that he was trying to tell us that our hotel was just a few blocks in front of us. There are many one-way streets where we are, and Marco drove for 10 minutes before we arrived at the club. The club was roughly 4 blocks from our hotel.

So the frustrated taxi driver just slammed it in first and took off, clearly upset that his spot in the Taxi line would be wasted by 2 Americans that he cannot communicate with. We arrived about 2 minutes later, unscathed, and James gave him a big tip.

Right now, we are working at the office, but there are activities planned for later this afternoon. We’re still trying to figure out what is going on, but I brought my camera with me. I hope to have some good pictures!

How do you say Separate Checks in Portuguese?

Thursday, December 7th, 2006

I tell you, our biggest challenge here is definitely the language. Many say that Portuguese is similar to Spanish; and in some repsects it is. But pronounciation has elements of French, English and also some Eastern Europe languages. Listening to the soft “R” has brought me back to my French days, and in fact, I could understand some of the french dialogue that was being used by our waitress last night.

James & I are planning on trying to take a quick crash course in Portuguese this weekend. Trodding around the city should be interesting. Last night we went to a place called “Shopping Total,” which consisted of a mall area and some eateries. The beer here is alive with flavor, and can taste the German influence. We have not found any dark beer to try yet, but maybe that is because it is late Spring here and the weather is warmer.

I’ve been posting pictures from various areas in the MoBlog, but if you are looking for hot women, this Treo camera just does not do it justice. Porto Alegre has very beautiful women, but I would argue that you see the same “hotness” in various areas Texas such as Dallas or Austin. What you DON’T see is the sensuality, or the sexual nature of the woman walking by.

For example, it is more rare to NOT see part of a woman’s midriff as you pass by her on the street. Spandex & Lycra with heels are very popular–even in the workplace! Something that has been mastered here is the ability to wear EXTREMELY low jeans, and not have a whale tail advertising to the world. In fact, you don’t even see many coin slots. Quite interesting indeed.

We had lunch at a Churrasco, or “brazilian barbecue.” Holy moly, I’m going to need to eat rabbit food for at LEAST a day. Same type of setup as the Fogo de Chou; which Porto Alegre is home to the original! Food was awesome. Never been to Fogo de Chou, but I have been to Texas de Brazil.


It’s taken me about 6 hours between meeting breaks to post this. I think I’m going to finish up the day now!

Boom! Boom! Boom! Mr. Brown makes thunder!

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

So about 5:35 this am we hear this BOOMING crack of thunder. Lightning brightens up the room, and the sound wakes me up out of a nice dream (you know, dreaming of beer). Was one of those times that you shoot straight up in bed after hearing the noise. I calmly collected myself, then laid back down as I was planning on getting up in a few minutes anyway. A few more big cracks of thunder, then the power goes out.

Well, mostly.

The A/C went out with most of the lights in the room for sure. But you could still turn on the light over the door, and the light in the shower. So I got ready to go in the semi-dark, knocked on James’s door (across the hall), and he was just about ready also. I assume the power fluctuates frequently in that hotel as they had some areas under generator power (such as the Elevators. We were daring!).

This afternoon, we’ve been hearing a mix of commercial jets & fighter jets taking off from the Porto Alegre airport. There have been issues with three of the airports here in Brazil today, where many flights have been cancelled or delayed. Thankfully, neither the main Sao Paulo or Porto Alegre airports have been affected thus far. That means that Chris should have an OK time getting in!

Where in the world?

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

Hey kids… I’ve been in Brazil for nearly 3 days now. It was a fun adventure getting here! We took a flight from DFW to Sao Paulo (GRU) on Sunday night. While at the airport, we learned that the aircraft had a maintenance issue, so we would be delayed. Once the plane showed up at the gate from the maintenance hanger, we all boarded. James & I enjoyed a half-assed mimosa and were just getting comfortable.


Pilot comes on and says that a panel fell off the plane when it was being transported back to the gate from the hangar, and now the Boeing 767 is not air worthy. Luckily, there was another 767 fueled and waiting for us 8 gates down the way. So we all mad-dashed off the one plane to the next.

We kept looking at our watches knowing that we only had about 3 hours to make our connection in Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre. That includes going through Immigration & Customs, then back through security to catch our TAM Airlines connecting flight. Well, as you might guess, we walked off the airplane 8 minutes past the departure of our flight.

So we see an agent who gives us a new ticket. It’s for TAM Airlines again, but at the OTHER Sao Paulo airport (40 minute cab-ride through some interesting parts of town). And only 2 hours to get there. Still have not gone through Immigration or Customs.

Well, we make it JUST in time, but it turns out that a delay on our end would have been tolerated as the second airport was shut down shortly after our arrival. Overall, we ended up being about 5 hours delayed into Porto Alegre.

That said, WE MADE IT! Porto Alegre is absolutely beautiful. The town is very safe, and we tend to hang around the hotel after work.

Time to do some client work!