Monday, August 24, 2009


In Ipatinga (and I think in many areas of Brazil) motorcycles (or motos) are an extremely important mode of transportation. Not only do a large majority of people use them, but they are used largely for taxis as well. They are fast and cheap (not to mention dangerous). Also a lot of people purchase motorcycles because compared to cars, they are more affordable with a month to month payment. But with all these things come reservations....All I can see as they fly by me are death machines.

The motos here scare the heck out of me. They weave in and out of traffic. Squeeze and ride on the sides of the road to pass cars, trucks, and buses. When waiting for lights they often weave in and out to get to the front. And then they take off before the light turns green. EVERY. TIME.

And every day, what do I see? Car and moto accidents. Moto and bicycle (another important mode of transportation) accidents, only moto accidents (usually from trying to avoid car, bus, bicycle, pedestrian). There is SO MUCH going on all the time on these streets.

Cars, motos, buses, they all ride EXTREMELY close to one another, pass eachother in tight quarters, make their own lanes according to need. I dont know how I'll ever learn to drive here. One thing I have noticed though, and only can say for the few cars I have rode in, here in Ipatinga, is there are no cup holders. Well there really isn't much of anything. I think mainly because the cars are so small. But there seems to be less to distract them. I have only seen one driver so far on a cell phone while driving (I'm SURE there are more, but not nearly as many as in the US), I have yet to see anyone eating. And in general it seems people here pay more attention, because if you weren't, you would for sure get in an accident.

There are auto schools EVERYWHERE in Ipatinga. So my question is, do they teach you to drive this way? In my opinoin aggressive. Or is it a natural Brazilian trait? I can tell you this much...I understand my husbands driving SO MUCH more now. And his disdain at the way we drive in the states. Not that I condone it. I prefer our spacious, slow ways.

So even though my husband would LOVE to have this yellow, very fast death machine motorcycle (since he is moto-ing it with no motor i.e. bicycle) I put my foot down. We will wait. And save. And buy a practical, somewhere in the late 90's model car. So that when I start to learn to drive, (and be a passenger) here, I can do so feeling a little more protected.

Until then, I will watch this, then look into puppy dog chestnut brown eyes and say....NO.

**Another important note to be made: Here they do need to wear helmets, which I am all for. If you are going to ride one of these things, helmets ARE necessary. For me so is fully protective clothing. Jeans, long sleeves, and close toed shoes. However, we are in Brazil.

***Another important note: I like motorcycles. My dad has a Goldwing (which for those who aren't familiar, it's a touring bike. You know the motorcycle with the big travel boxes on the side?) and we went on a trip together where we rode for days. I really enjoyed myself. But they bikes that go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds are insane. And dangerous if not trained properly and used properly. A huge factor that makes me biased is one of my best friend's from college Tori. Our freshmen year, she got into an accident on a motorcycle, she had major damage to her brain, lost ability to use the right side of her body, talk, walk, eat, etc. She has been going through years of rehabilitation and it has drastically changed her life. I am amazed at the leaps and bounds she has made in recovery and I am proud of her every day. However this makes me an advocate for safety and gives me the realization of what that 0 to 60 can do to your life in the flash of an eye.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Around the Neighborhood

Today I thought I'd just give you a glimpse of the things I see just about everyday. Gracie and I have been walking almost every day looking for things to capture!

Here it is REALLY difficult to capture a sunset or any skyline for that matter without either a satellite dish or power lines! So I was excited this particular one turned out well!

Did you know poinsettia's could grow into a pretty decent sized tree? I kid..I really have no idea what it is 'technically', but it looks like a poinsettia to me!

See what I mean about the power lines? If you look off in the distance, the tents you see are the traveling feira that comes to our neighborhood every Thursday! I really like going to see what all the vendors have set up. For the most part it is clothing, shoes, veggies, fruit, sweets...actually it has a lot. Just about any kind of thing you need for the kitchen, pots, pans, spices...Anyway you just have to be careful. It is a little walk way and all the considerate people of Ipatinga bring in bicycles, strollers, carts, etc. Better to go early and avoid the crowd...and the sticky fingers--if ya get what I'm sayin'. That later it gets, the stickier they are.

Just a beautiful red and yellow splash among all the colorless clay earth!

This is a sunset picture from my sister in law's kitchen window upstairs.

The moon is out just about every afternoon!

Looking down into the valley of our Bairro (the city is divided into different areas called bairros)

Same here..this afternoon was hot, you can tell by the "haziness" (or pollution, whichever way your glass is looking) The big strip of green you see is divided between the different blocks and is used on Saturdays by everyone to play soccer. I am always so impressed with how clean they are. In ipatinga the cleaning crews are out all day long picking up trash from houses and from the streets (though if people would just use a trashcan....anyway) and they do a really good job of keeping things clean..seriously. Because everyone litters here. It's really annoying. (not that they didn't back home, I just have more time to notice it now)

This is from our backyard looking up. We are surrounded by mountains and most likely when you look up, you always see this beautiful, rich, blue sky. And some days, the cows.

The moon rising

Different night, I believe this is what they refer to as 'blood around the moon' In any case, it looked really incredible live. The picture doesn't do it justice!

For now that's all I have. Not terribly exciting, but it is beautiful here in it's own right. I feel lucky to live in this particular area. We are not plagued with crime (like a lot of other bairros) and I feel safe. We live in an area where everyone has lived here forever and all the neighbors know each other. As far as I can tell, the same people (on our street) have been here 20 plus years! And for a city that's only 45 years old, that's pretty good!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

It's a blogging miracle!

Of course after I published my post, and totally bad mouthed blogger and the Internet trying just one more time, everyone started cooperating and pictures started uploading...after WEEKS of not doing so!!

So expect a few good posts coming up soon! At the very least I'll try!

But first, my precious-es

All ten of them!

And Gracie, who has not 1, but 3 different beds now! Not to mention two soft sided carriers, a hard case carrier, a wire kennel, and her cute ceramic bowls with stand. And treats.

Who's spoiled?

Don't worry, I always try to convince myself I'm not one of THOSE dog owners. After opening boxes today...I so am.

I opened boxes!! It was so fun! It was like Christmas! Except Sidnei wasn't as excited as I was(he is glad to have his stuff, he was glad to see it after not having seen it for a year and a half...My guess is my attachment to my things(how terrible)is a little stronger than his) about bah hum bug!..but who cares...I HAVE MY STUFF! Tomorrow we are going to try to organize all the boxes, take out what we need and pack everything again. Ugh. Let's hope we get a place of our own SOON! My kitchen aid mixer is in need of a home...and use! So many new shiny things just waiting to come to life!!..not like Brave Little Toaster banana cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies life... yummmmmmmmm

Oh Glorious Day!!!!!!!

Today is the day I have been waiting for since I have arrived here in Brasil!

This morning as I am laying in bed halfway in and out of slumber, a noise registers in my brain...a very large, loud, rumbling truck. (Which immediately puts my mind on high alert as it has been for several weeks now that I've been waiting...) The next thing I hear is the doorbell. I promptly jumped out of bed, threw my jacket on, and ran out the door.

In all it's glory was a shipping truck, two men that I was very excited to see, unloading my very heavy BOXES!

THEY ARE HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was so excited!!

I am trying very hard to wait until Sidnei gets home from work tonight to open the boxes together never mind that I've already opened 3 .

I only have three more hours to wait.

I can't wait.

P.S. I have also been trying very hard to download pictures with this post. However, blogger and/or my Internet hates me. And refuses to download anything even after several thousand attempts.

P.P.S. But not that you care...because they are pictures of boxes. And you don't care about seeing boxes. But you might care about seeing how cute Gracie is in her bed that she was so excited to get back! She has been laying down in it alllll day!

P.P.S.S. One of the boxes that I couldn't wait to open had our Christmas ornaments in them...and them seem to have made it all in one piece! Amazing!! (Now I'm just waiting to find my dishes....)

P.P.P.S.S. I'm so excited!!

But I still hate my Internet connection.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome to Ipatinga!!! (Purely FYI)

In Brazil, we are located in the southeast...see red states

Minas Gerais

This is a blown up Map of Minas Gerais, where we are located again, in the red. **Edited to add, you'll have to click on the picture to see the whole thing and the actual city Ipatinga highlighted in red**

So to answer the question I get asked most often...we are not close to the ocean. Though there is a very nice lake that we like to go to that I will blog about soon...

Also we are not close to Sao Paulo, Rio de Janiero, or the Amazon. (Please see map above) We are probably a good 8-9 hours in either direction from Sao Paulo or Rio. And I have no clue about the Amazon.

For quite some time, I have been meaning to introduce to you where I live. First here are the wiki stats:
Ipatinga is a city and municipality located in eastern Minas Gerais state, Brazil. The city was founded in 1962 and covers a total area of 166.5 km² (or 64.29 sq.mi.). Its population is 240,338 (IBGE 2001). It is part of the Vale do Aço Metropolitan Area (population 430,700).

Ipatinga is located at the site where the Piracicaba River flows into the Doce River, 217 km. (or 135 miles) from the state capital of Belo Horizonte. It is served by highway and railroad connections (Minas-Vitória). There is also a medium sized airport, Usiminas Airport [1] in the area of the neighbor city Santana do Paraíso, that serves the Steel Valley and can receive small and medium sized planes, including jets like the Boeing 737 and the Fokker 100.

Elevation: 220 mts. (or 721 ft.)
Climate: Tropical sub-hot and sub-dry
Average annual temperature: 23º C (or 73.4ºF)

Here is a video put out by Ipatinga's Tourism Board. You can see Ipatinga from an Aerial perspective. (It is only slightly less interesting than those movies they made you watch in biology of microorganisms.)

I am in process of trying to upload pictures that I have taken from where I actually am, to give you a glimpse of the neighborhood. However, I don't know if it is blogger or my Internet connection that doesn't want to play. But I promise they will be up soon!