Sunday, 24 July 2011

The O&G expats WAGs are coming into town!

Non British readers won’t be familiar with the WAG concept.  The WAG term is widely used by the press in the UK to describe the Wives and Girl Friends of (very rich) footballers. Most of them are like their partners, not particularly bright! Anyhow, read the  British tabloids for more on that!
What I have noticed in the last 10 days is that about 90% of the expats I met are linked to the oil and Gas industry. Only for 2 couples was the husband/boyfriend working… in finance.  In my Portuguese school, of the 5 WAGs there,  4 of us have our other-half working in the industry. The last one her BF works in finance (but still for Petrobras!).
So many are arriving that I am tempted to create the O&G Expat WAGs club! (O&G being for oil And Gas !). J
 At the moment there is an enormous influx of expats linked to this industry. Not surprising considering that only yesterday, Petrobras (the Brazilian government owned Oil company) announced that their investment budget for 2011 to 2015 is going to be…. 225 BILLIONS dollars!! (
 Now, you should start to understand why pretty much any company linked to the oil industry is sending a representative to Rio.
But why Rio could you ask? Well about 4 years ago, end of 2007, was discovered a massive 800 square kilometre of oil reserve  offshore, not too far off from Rio.  Last year one reserve was found to be the biggest reserve found for decades. Brazil is bound to become one the top 10 exporters of oil. (
However, the investment required to reach the oil (I understand it will be deep drilling!) and bring it to shore will be massive and require a lot of machinery, engineers, expertise, etc ….. Hence why we and so many others are invading Rio!
So there, if you fancy working in Rio and have experience in the Oil and Gas industry, you should be able to be sent here by your company at some point! Start learning Portuguese! ;-)

On another subject we had some good news. The company is finally registered so we can FINALLY start our Visa application! Alistair wants to try for a 5 years Visa straight away (instead of the 2 years one). We will see how that works!  We live in hope ;)

and here few pictures we took this morning in Urca (near famous Sugar Loaf Mountain!)

Monday, 18 July 2011

Busy days in Rio

Someone asked me how we proceed regarding our Visas (Troy!).  As I have been unable to comment in my own blog (!  Seems to be stuck in a loop!) I will answer here.
Many people immigrate to Brazil but this is not easy! For us the company for which Alistair works is opening an office in Rio. Alistair is doing this with a lot of help from the Parent company which is already present in Rio and the help of agents employed by the parent company to help for proceedings. Even with all the logistic help from the parent company (lawyers, finance etc…) we are not finding the process easy. After 4 months the company that Alistair is creating is not event registered. As such we cannot apply for a permanent Visa.
So far he was on a 3 months tourist visa, and when he went back to the UK at expiry, applied for a Business visa of 3 months.  I am currently on a tourist visa. Once the company is registered, we will be able to apply for a “permanent visa”. That is 2 or 5 years.  On non-permanent visas we can only stay 6 months a year in Brazil.
Other people are coming because their partner is Brazilian. Even like that it is rather complex to obtain the permanent visa. The best bet is to employ an agent (extremely costly) and create a company (not easy!).
We met last Saturday with various expats and from their experience the same things came out:  the bureaucracy in this country is incredibly complex! Be patient and get through the hoops!

Anyway, last week was very busy. Through my language school we visited a favela that has been recently “pacified” in the complexo Alemao.  The process of “pacification” of the favelas started few years ago. Now the police (or often the Military Police”) takes control of a favela, root out the drug dealers and remains there.  I was interested in the point of view of the people living in the favelas. The tour was guided (in Portuguese) by an artist who was born and still lives in one of the favelas of Complexo Alemao.
In one hand they are happy that there is no risk of getting shot in a cross fire between cops and dealers, but in another hand, for what I understood, the police was rather heavy handed and people who have members of family involved in drugs were targeted. Angelo told us of the cops coming into houses and destroying TVs for example, saying it was the result of drug money from a family friend or member….
The inhabitants of the pacified favelas also fear that once the world cup and the Olympics are over, the police will retreat and violence will return.

It was interesting to walk through the favelas and visit our guide’s house. If you expect cardboard houses you would be wrong. As you can see from the pictures, these are mainly like town houses built in bricks over 2 or 3 levels. There is for what I saw running water, electricity, TVs and more or less modern facilities. As Angelo told us, nobody goes hungry. The main problems there are similar to any inner city town or, in France, to the suburbs council estates:  bad schools, poor teaching, low expectation, and lack of opportunities…
 Although to be fair, Brazil has now a growing middle class which 10 years ago would have been categorised as poor or very poor.

nice bike in the favela! Honday CB300... sexy toy! :)

Policia militar I think! with BIG guns! We saw few patrols around... 
Street where Angelo, our guide still lives with his family and his grand mother. His father was a drug dealer who got killed in a shot out when he was a baby.  

Angelo, a painter and artist, and Otovio Junior, a writer from the same complexo Alemao. Otavio wrote a book about (his happy childhood, honest!) growing up in the favela and his love of books.... He runs a library to get kids into books.

Standards of living have definitely been improving a lot, but there is still a lot that needs to be done and changes are slow. I read this morning in the local “Metro” that internal flights are now up 230% y-o-y as flying is not anymore the privilege of the rich but also accessible to a very new and  growing middle class!

On Saturday we met with some expats living in Rio (and Sao Paolo!). It was a guided tour of the city centre organised by Jim, an American blogger living in Niteroi! His partner was our guide as Ruiz  is Carioca (i.e. born in Rio). It was very interesting to get a guided tour of the city centre and hear about the history of Rio, but also to meet and compare notes with some expats who have been herefor some time.
(Jim's blog is very interesting by the way:

Rio town centre.

The cathedral is such a monstrosity that I could not bring myself to take a picture. Here it is reflected from the British Gas tower!
That's all for now!

Monday, 11 July 2011

After a very cold spell last week, the weather turned to a better 25 degrees and sunny. Normal winter day in Rio! Locals have been complaining that this cold was not normal and blaming global warming! By cold weather I mean about 16 to 19  degrees during the day … maybe a drop down to 14 at night, so pretty much similar to a damp British summer J
In any case last weekend was glorious and we went to the beach in Copacabana yesterday to meet Alistair’s new BFF (Best Friend Forever – Sorry Steve, see how BA replaced you so fast!). His name is Yanis and he is coming from London as well to open an office in Rio. While the boys played a bit of futball I did my best to get a bit of a tan and stop looking so much like a tourist!!
We had some good news last week. Alistair finally has his CPF number! This number is asked for everything! You buy a fridge and want it delivered, you need the CPF number, you want a phone, you want a bank account, rent a flat, buy a washing machine or even adopt a dog and guess what! You need the bl**dy CPF number! So now we may try to open a local bank account and not have to pay our rent in cash! Walking in Rio with one month rent in cash in your pocket IS NOT a good idea!
But we also had some bad news! After 3 months of paper work, the application to register Alistair’s company was rejected by the government! In the UK it took us about 10 minutes to register our company online. Here God knows how long it will take. So now he is providing more info and we hope we can get it registered by end of this month. Only once the company is registered can we apply for a permanent (i.e. 2 years!) visa. So we hope it won’t take forever as otherwise we will have to go back to the UK to apply again for a business visa of 3 months in September! We live in hope! This is Brazil! They love their bureaucracy almost as much as the French do!
Today I started my 1st class in Portuguese. I joined the intensive course (3 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks) at Casa de Caminho in Ipanema (
It’s a charity that supports an orphanage, so the money goes to a good cause. Also the tuition is reasonably priced and of very good quality. I am very pleased with my choice! Also I am lucky. I joined the intermediate course ( as I speak Spanish!) and everyone in my group (with the exception of an American lad) are Spanish speakers,  so the course should move fast!
That’s all for now folks as I have 14 irregulars verbs to memorise in Present and simple past form for tomorrow!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Few pictures of Leme

 Living room with dining room on the left side.... Not much furniture yet!
 balcony that runs along the bedrooms
 Nice big fitted Kitchen....
Leme's beach

 Terrace next to the dining room
Leme's beach again....

And Guarana Antartica... my fav drink in Brazil! :)

Monday, 4 July 2011

Hectic last few days in London and how not to do it!

The last few days in London were very hectic as everything seemed to pile up.
We found a leak under the kitchen sink and managed to get Arturas (our trusted Lithuanian plumber / tiller/decorator) to come on the Wednesday evening to fix it. We were flying off the following day, at 1 pm!
At the same time Alistair spent the evening filling and repairing/painting a wall in our dining room!
The next day as we finalised the suitcases, one exploded. Alistair had to rush to the closest shop selling suitcases and come back with a flashy one.  That same morning we had a polish builder doing some final fixes around the patio and fixing the back bedroom door!
As we left for the airport, cramming over 100 kilos of luggage (4 suitcases  + one bicycle!) into the rented car, we left the polish builder in the house with instructions to finish by lunch time as the cleaning company was due then before the tenants arrived the following day!
We also found 2 days before that we had a leak in the roof, in the loft part! That will have to be dealt by the agency as we were unable to find someone at short notice!
At the airport we had to repack one suitcase as it was over the max allowed of 32 kg per luggage.  Fun!
By the time we sat on the plane we felt we fully deserved a G&T!
I was fearing passing through custom in Rio with so much luggage but in the end we were waved through no problem despite being asked if the big box contained a big TV, which was ok when I explained it was the bike!
Now we have been here for 3 days. The flat is great, very big and empty. We went to the antique market to check out the furniture but all is rather terrible or ridiculously expensive.  Furniture, among other things, seems to be very expensive.
Anyhow, for the next few weeks I will concentrate on learning Portuguese in an intensive class, and sorting out the house to make it more of a home.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

We arrived!

Finally got to Rio, to the flat in Leme. Just had internet sorted in my laptop and set up this blog!

More to come about what has been an eventful week!