Category Archives: Brazil

First Stop, South America

It was my idea to head west first to start us off on our travel, aiming towards Japan by cherry blossom time. I really wanted to see the mountains of Patagonia, the rugged landscape. And because almost all flights to Buenos Aires or Santiago from Zurich went through Brazil, it made perfect sense to stop in Sao Paulo for a short time and visit Kay’s Brazilian family.

Even though we had just visited his family at Christmas in 2015, you never know when you can get back again, so we decided we had to visit. And the whole family was sooo happy we decided to!
From Sao Paulo, we picked up a car and stopped at a dear friend of the family’s house for lunch on the way to the small town where most of Kay’s family lives.Eloy gifted us a special Brazilian flag work of art for our wedding back in 2011, and I still had never met him. He was incredibly sweet! And Brazilians are fantastically emotional. He cried and hugged us tightly when we arrived, and then cried again when we left, but not before feeding us until we might explode with the most delicious food you could ever imagine.There is nothing quite like Brazilian hospitality. They are some of the most welcoming, generous, friendly people in the world, and they LOVE to feed you. Below was just a sampling of fruits laying around on Eloy’s counter.When we finally made it to Pirajuí, we were overjoyed to see all of Kay’s aunts and uncles. We stayed with his Tio Tarcísio and Tia Vera. Below is Tio Tarcísio explaining some of the things in his workshop to Kay. He is such a handy, creative soul! He recycles tons of things into new designs and is always dreaming up a use for something else.The best part about their house might be the pool, which in the heat of summer was a.m.a.zing.And who wouldn’t love spending their days in the pool being fed fresh bite-size pieces of churrasco meat off the grill and caipirinha drinks that seem to refill themselves?It’s seriously heaven!!We also arrived right in time for a couple birthdays and managed to go to a family party with children running around in swimwear, jumping in and out of pools.I am still a far way off with my Portuguese, but I noticed a big difference after another year of classes. I could understand a lot more and even start to make very primitive conversation, where I could ask about things like holidays, traveling, the weather, our plans. Basically everybody was asking when we will have children, so I had to be prepared for that question as always!

I was also happy to meet some cousins again that I wasn’t sure if I had met in 2010, but who I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Kay has so many cousins! Way more than I do, and all of them are such lovely people.We even had time to visit Kay’s twin cousin in Bauru on the way back to Sao Paulo when our journey was ending.Overall, we were sure that visiting was the right thing to do. Lots of Kay’s aunts and uncles are getting older, much older than his mother was when she passed away and you never know when you will get to see them again, so it was nice to have a good visit.The only thing I might change about our visit here was accidentally leaving my sunglasses in the pool the night before we left when it got dark and there was a crazy bug attack. One week into our 9 month journey and I was already sunglasses shopping in Buenos Aires. 😛

Gluten Free Brasilia, Brazil

I didn’t really worry about how to eat gluten free on our whole trip to Brazil. The main food we eat is churrasco, which is BBQ meat with beans, rice, veggies, and salad. Plus, Brazilians label all packaged food, even things like cachaçha, as gluten free.
For breakfast at our hotel, there was also usually pão de queijo- cheese bread- which is made out of tapioca flour.There was also always a lot of fresh fruit to enjoy, and lots of Brazilian coffee!With lots of fresh vegetables and options, I was not feeling left out of the food scene, although I did miss enjoying the subzero beer from my previous visit in 2010. They serve beer extremely cold and keep it in a thermos on your table, ensuring that each glass you have is ice cold. Plus as soon as you finish the bottle, another one was on its way. I had to be a little more careful with the caipirinhas. 🙂Some meals were not quite as amazing as others, like this mediocre salad below, but that happens when you’re eating in a mall.We also enjoyed lots of cafezinhos, little coffees.If there was one thing we got enough of on this holiday, it was MEAT. Glorious meat.Another favorite of mine is Brazilian tapioca, which are a kind of pancake made out of tapioca flour, often served with condensed cream and coconut. Although they are less common outside the north of the country, we found them in a mall and made sure to order some!Another part of churrasco’s feijoada – stewed beans and pork served over rice- is farofa, which is toasted cassava, or tapioca, that you can see in the lower left of the photo above. That was also a typical part of my Brazilian diet. 🙂

Not all the people know what gluten is, but eating gluten free in Brazil is still a pretty painless process. The most painful part was eating too much meat and not enough vegetables!

Brasilia, Brazil

Kay had been wanting to visit the capital of Brazil for many years, so when I found “affordable” direct flights to Brasilia from Paris, where he was already going to be for his INSEAD pre-course in December, I booked us tickets together and started planning the trip from there.

Once he was done with his course, I whisked him away for some relaxation before the craziness of INSEAD would begin.Brasilia is one of the few “planned” cities in the country, laid out in the shape of an airplane, with many buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer, it also houses the three branches of government.
Brasilia was nice and hot when we showed up. So much, that we didn’t rub enough sun lotion on our little gringo bodies and got burned on the first day! Oops.

The domed building was the Memorial dos Povos Indígenas (Museum of Indigenous People) which had a photography exhibition at the time.The city was a bit more empty than usual as many diplomats who fill the city were on Christmas holiday.Here we are visiting the Catedral Metropolitana Nossa Senhora Aparecida, or Metropolitan Cathedral of Brasília.The inside of the church was very beautiful, with exquisite stained glass and an intriguing floor plan having people go below ground level to enter the church.Kay was very interested to visit the governmental parts of the city, below you see the towers that house the Congresso Nacional (National Congress).

And near the congress was the Praça dos Tràs Poderes, with an Olympic flame nearby.
We were two happy campers with the weather in December. 🙂Brasilia is not the most pedestrian-friendly city, and we ended up using Uber for the first time ever a lot on this trip.There are also some areas like around the TV Tower, wide, open, dark spaces, that you don’t want to be at night, because they are a big scene for drug deals and theft.We also made a visit up the TV Tower to see a view down the “belly” of the airplane.We booked a tour to visit the Palácio dos Arcos housing the foreign ministry.Also below was our visit to the congress halls, which took quite a bit of finagling to get in, and Kay needed shoes and a nice shirt. We actually went like three days in a row before we finally got tickets for a tour. Bureaucracy is strong in the capital of Brazil!After a few days, it was time to head to Bauru to meet Kay’s family for Christmas.

A visitor from faraway

A couple weeks ago, Kay got wind that one of his Brazilian friends of the family was going to be in Switzerland for the weekend and might stop by on Saturday morning.

We were planning to go to Liechtenstein for a short overnight trip that Saturday and never heard if they would come or not, but Saturday morning at 9:30am, Kay heard his phone ring and told me to get up because apparently they were almost here!!

Whoops… I quickly washed my face, brushed my teeth, and threw a bra on while thinking “Thank God I cleaned all the pantry items out of the living room the night before!” despite Kay telling me to just leave it after a lazy fondue evening.Luciano, next to me, is an old friend of the family and he is currently studying English for one month in London. My BIL’s friend on the far right picked him up from the airport in Basel on Friday evening and spent the weekend showing him around.

It was a little sad that we did not have more notice, because we probably would have done our night in Liechtenstein another weekend, but it was still really great to finally meet Luciano. I have been Facebook friends with him for around four years since Kay and I got married, but I haven’t been back to Brazil since.He is such a sweet, friendly guy. My Portuguese is still terrible and he was over here to learn English anyway, so we mostly spoke English and he told me some funny jokes that only make sense if you have some understanding of Portuguese and English and the mistakes that can happen.

I hope we can meet him again sooner!

Oi, Brasil! Learning Portuguese.

Never in a million years did I think I would be learning not one, but two languages, but the time has finally come to start learning Brazilian Portuguese.

Knowing how lazy I am, I really needed to book an actual course and go to school to start learning. I need the pressure and I need the vocal help from teachers, so I booked a course with Migros Klubschule.Portuguese courses are limited in Switzerland, but offer the Brazilian variant more often than Portugal, simply because we have so many Brazilians and Swiss-Brazilians here. Still, they are only offered in 6 month chunks, and at over 1000CHF a pop, it’s quite an investment.

With our trip to Brazil coming up in December, it will be my second time visiting Kay’s family and I hope this time traveling as his wife instead of girlfriend, that I will be able to say at least some small things to his family. They are really sweet and loving and we communicate a fair amount via Facebook translating, but it’s always different in person.

Here’s to getting my tongue around the pronunciation hurdles!!