Friday, November 26, 2010

Where To Go To the Bathroom in Rio de Janeiro

So, my line of work is full of movement.  Yes, I'm a teacher.  But I'm essentially a private teacher.  This means that I am all over the city travelling to my students place of business or home.

When doing this you have to be smart about how to schedule your classes.  There's nothing worse than having to go to Flamengo for noon, then boot it all the way to Ipanema for 1:30 and back up to Centro for a 3 pm class.  No sir, that is asking for stress, and stress I want none of.

So I group my classes and plan them so that I'm in Ipanema during this time, Flamengo this time, Centro this time.  You want a class? You gotta make it work in these times.  And usually they do!  This is also the power of the native teacher in a foreign country... :)

Now, hot Rio weather = me drinking tons of water (or at least trying to).  And you all learned a long time ago what happens when you drink a lot of water.  That's right.  Every hour.

Usually I can use the bathrooms in the offices I work at, but sometimes (and at some student's houses) it's not exactly appropriate or offered to me so I need to go in search of a bathroom on the street.  This can be a little tricky because public bathrooms here aren't exactly in optimal conditions.  Ie. piss all over the seat and floor, no toilet paper, no soap... I even once saw that someone had missed (???) the toilet entirely and crapped on the floor instead.  Clearly, they didn't see this sign:

I can totally imagine that situation.  The person is having one of those SERIOUSLY THIS IS AN EMERGENCY situations.  They made it into the stall and facing the toilet started desperately jumping around, fumbling to unbutton and unzip their pants (and you know you can NEVER get it done smoothly - Smooth is Fast People!)
But the emergency would have been SO severe and SO uncontrollable that the poop just fell out of their butt before they had time to turn around and sit.  Then, they decided 'well, they have someone here that will clean up my poop so I'll just leave it for the poor foreign teacher to look at while she hovers about the toilet precariously, trying to avoid the other voided material surrounding her.'


This is why I have developed a guide to help you and your loved ones on their quests -nay, RIGHTS- for a decent bathroom.

1.  Ipanema (General Osorio) 
A little difficult to find a place here unless you go to a restaurant.  The place I use the most is the bathroom in the McDonalds at Visconde da Piraja and Vinicius de Moraes.  About 5 mins walk from the metro but there are several restaurants that would let you use the bathroom if you just smile sweetly enough and bat your eyes a little.  Also, asking if you can use the bathroom rapidinho seems to help.
There is actually a bathroom right in the metro station too (located at the cashiers counter and before you pay) but it's not very nice.  It's just convenient.  

2. Copacabana (Cardeal Arcoverde)
I believe the street is actually Cardeal Arcoverde but either way, it's the main street out of the subway that goes towards the beach and has a Bob's on the corner.  The Bob's bathroom is always out of service but if you walk about a block from Bob's, there is a little botequo that says "Bathroom: R$2".  Again, if you smile sweetly and say "rapidinho" they won't charge you the R$2 and it's clean enough.

3. Flamengo (Largo do Machado)
The best bathroom here is in the Oi Futuro building, located on 2 de dezembro.  It's on the right-hand side, halfway down and it's a free cultural art centre.  You go in (don't mind the guards, they always look at you accusingly but you don't have to pay) and take the elevator to very top floor (8th) where there is a little cafe with a very nice bathroom.  They also have free wi-fi and some F'd up exhibitions on regularly so, while you're at it, stay a while to take in the craziness inside Oi Futuro. 

4. Centro (Carioca)
I have yet to find a free bathroom here but I did find a decent pay-bathroom in this little downstairs mall that is in the same complex as the Bob's Restaurant, located directly outside of the Carioca metro station.  You go down the escalators and pay R$1.50 to use the bathroom.  Just remember, you have to pick up your toilet paper on the way into the stall.  Definitely forgot that about 17 times already.

5. Centro (Uruguaiana)
Lots of Fast Food restaurants like Bobs, McD's...

6. Centro (Cinelandia)
The worst options for bathrooms are in Cinelandia.  Yes, you can use the Bob's on Presidente Wilson but it's actually disgusting.  The only option I would really suggest is to sneak into the Vale building on Santa Luzia because they have a bathroom on the main level so you don't have to check in with the front desk.  Just make sure you're not wearing shorts or Havaianas because the dress code inside is strict and you don't wanna mess with them.  The bathroom is so worth it though ;)

In Barra da Tijuca it's much easier to find places to go to the bathroom because there are lots of malls that have bathrooms.  Barra Shopping has bathrooms apparently made for Queens so whenever possible, go there.

Reminders when using all public bathrooms:
-squat, don't sit
-throw paper in the garbage (even though it goes against every moral fibre of your being)
-wash your hands and try to open the lock and door with a paper towel (I've seen some nastiness out there)
-have fun!  It's a free-for-all in there so go nuts

Monday, November 22, 2010

I am alive!

Still exist!  Just incredibly busy working.  It's what I need to do to match Ro's ridiculous amount of time spent working so that I don't disappear into a lonely oblivion. 

Class update - I'm now up to 21 students both private and through my school.  It's pretty much right down the middle and while private teaching is more profitable, I really love the relationship I have with the school.  I was working at another school too but it was ridiculous and unprofessional so I quit last week.  Thank God I have the strength to get out of bad situations.  God, what a nightmare.

Anyway, loving teaching and loving my students, btw!  Seriously, I am sooo lucky to have some freaking fantastic students.  

So my friend Laura came last week.  We stayed in a hostel in Ipanema and met an awesome Brazilian girl who stayed with us in the hostel.  She speaks English too so it was a lot of fun speaking in both languages and also teaching her some very useful words!  We reviewed 'puke', 'hangover' vs ' hungover', 'break the seal' and many others related to very real situations we experienced, including the former.

Laura was so impressive with her bravery to try speaking Portuguese (even though she was literally learning on the spot).  She got down 'chopp', 'banheiro', 'obrigada' and 'desculpa'.  Any guesses as to what we did for 6 days straight???

That's right.  Drank and peed. 

Last Saturday we all went to Lapa and met up with Blog Molly and her fiance (Molly, from here on in you are known as BlogMolly) as well as another girl and her bf from my Good School and another friend and his bf from the Bad School.  Ro came too and gave us all a reeeeal entertaining night (considering he doesn't drink very often and he drank 4 'street' caipirinha's ie. Do you want some ice and lime with your giant cup of cachaça?")

Then I proceeded to sneak him in like a bull in a China Shop quiet as a mouse to our Girl's Only Room in the hostel, nurtured him through a particularly traumatizing bout of vomiting, got one hour of sleep and then got back up to go to work.  Crazy.

Let me just say that I do not party like this.  I know I've made some jokes about drinking in the past but they really were slight exaggerations.  I was not prepared for this night. 

Anyway.  Those are the basics.  Tomorrow it's back to work.  I am counting the days until I go home for Christmas.  Today officially marks one more month.  Can't wait.  I haven't been home once in an entire year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Laura is coming!!!

The official "Laura is coming" blog is here!  My good friend Laura is coming from Canada today!  Actually she should be here in 10 hoursssss!!!

I'm not a great tour guide because I haven't really planned anything but I'm sure we'll just take it as it comes and have a great time regardless.

Anyone have any suggestions as to what we should do for sure? (Aside from the usual touristy stuff?)

Yeah Laura!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Did you think we would waste all of that pumpkin?

Well you're dead wrong.  We've got pumpkin for days here, people.

What do you do when you have 30 pounds of pumpkin to use up??

You make Doce de Abobora... 

And you make Pumpkin Spice Muffins...

Soon to come - Thai Pumpkin Soup (that is, if I can find lemon grass)

I LOVE Fall time and all the pumpkin-y goodness!  Now all I'm missing is my Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks..... MMM!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hallowe'en in Brazil

When you move to another country that doesn't celebrate the same traditions as you, you start to really understand which holidays are near and dear to your heart. You all saw the Thanksgiving dinner Ro and I put together. This is one holiday very special to me. It's more sappy nostalgia than anything, but the idea of family getting together, giving thanks for good fortune, and sharing together is a very important tradition to me.

There's one more holiday that really touches me.  Really makes me feel all warm inside.  It's a holiday that I don't think I could leave behind very easily.  

And that holiday.  Is...
Helllllls yeah!!!  Hallowe'en is The Shit. I freakin' love it. You're damn right I wanna carve a pumpkin and dress up like an 80's aerobics instructor whilst eating Hallowe'en size serving after serving of delicious chocolate covered whatever!
You're damn right I do.

So, I forced my family into celebrating another of my favourite traditions last night. Alright, who really needs to be forced into cleaning out the guts of a pumpkin with your bare hands and carving a finely detailed face into its thick-ass rind with a steak knife, then being forced into watching a horror movie while making yourself sick on chocolate.

Yeah, you see why I love it? It's amazing.

We fully went out and spent R$60 on the two biggest pumpkins we could find. We did pretty well I thought! The outside of the pumpkins here are more white than at home but the inside is juuuust as orangy and perfect.

Then we spent R$130 MORE on chocolate, alcohol and movies. Ahahaha aha.

It was the perfect Hallowe'en. (Sans fake spider webs but I'll live).

It would have been WAY more hilarious if we had all dressed up but I think even that would be going too far. We're taking baby steps here in Brazil.

Anyway! Check out our work. I think you'll be proud.

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