Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The truth about expat life….

I stopped language school 10 days ago. That kept me busy and socialising a bit.
Being an Expat WAG is not all great all the time, even when you live in Paradise.  Last week I felt rather lonely. When Alistair went to work I had no one to talk to, no company. It can feel lonely. The weather wasn’t great either.
Going to the grocery shops can be frustrating as well. I can’t even start of a conversation with the cashier, because I really do not understand what they tell me. We don’t have pets yet and we don’t have kids… so yes when you move abroad in a country where you do not speak the language it can feel lonely in this big empty flat. Still! Don’t feel sorry for me folks, things are starting to pick up nicely!
But the really annoying thing is that I really look local. I mean, after 14 years living in the UK my beautiful olive skin had turned pasty white from lack of sun. But now, after almost 7 weeks here, I am starting to be fairly tanned, and I do not look like I’m out of the “Thriller” video anymore! So people talk to me all the time! In the aisles of the shops old ladies and folks will start conversations with me. Even in the street! The look of surprise in their eyes when I tell them that I do not understand!
The most annoying thing is that Portuguese speakers can understand Spanish, but Spanish speakers CANNOT understand Portuguese!
The funny thing is that Alistair looks so obviously like a Gringo that when we go to shops together, the shop assistants don’t even bother to talk to him! They come straight to me. We have been in many furniture shops, and even when Alistair asked a question, the shop assistant would ignore him and answer to me. Now he knows how I feel when we walk into a motorcycle shop! God that used to drive me crazy in the UK! I’m the one who want to buy a bike, never mind, they would still talk to Alistair and ignore me! Grr!
AS I have discussed previously it would be nice to meet locals. So we are starting. Today in the lift I met an old lady who lives in the 10th floor. She spoke good Spanish and we started talking. People love doing that all the time here. She is soon retiring and was learning Spanish at the Cervantes centre. We agreed we should meet from time to time to talk Spanish / Portuguese so we can both improve! How cool is that?
Last week was slow but this week, so far, I have been very busy. I saw my doctor again today and she wrote an explanation for AXA as to why I need a mammography. So again I will have to talk to some fat American bloke on the phone about my breasts! Don’t you love that!  J
Let’s see how that goes!
Last night we had a birthday party in a bar in Ipanema. It was a good turn out and we met another  couple of expats who live next door to us! We also drank way too strong Caipirinhas and got quite drunk!
So after finding a moment today (hey I’ve been busy!) I decided to go down the beach to work on my tan for half an hour. After that I was meeting Marnie. She was “introduced” to me by email. She is a friend of a friend. Both Canadians, both airline pilots.  And when Marnie  is not flying airlines she lives in Leme, just round from my flat. So we met for a drink in one of the bar/ restaurant by the seafront.
There, again another new friend! She told me she wanted to buy a plane in Rio. She can hire small planes too and fly round the town. Sounds cool. I told her to let us know when she wants to go for a flight!
Tomorrow I am doing a cookery class to learn to cook the Feijoada, with an American friend (another O&G WAG!) ! And more caipirinhas! Oh my poor head! I think I will have to spend Friday lying on the beach! ;)
I wanted to talk about my washing machine. It’s unbelievable! Honest.
Few weeks ago we went to a shop and bought one, for a prohibitive price. Hard to ask any questions as no one spoke any English (or else) and we do not speak enough Portuguese.
Anyhow, apart from the fact that the machine’s technology is from … hmmm. ..about the 1970s, it did not cross my mind to ask about hot water. Well I just found out, I opened the bloody thing while it was washing… and I can confirm.. it’s only cold water. I mean, this is not even 1960s tech… that must take us back in time to the 50s? At least?


  1. Maria, didn't you do ANY research before you arrived? lol. DO not buy anything electronic or household appliances in Brasil. Wait till you get your residency and import everything tax free that you need. Even if you have to buy it new, take it out of the box and kick it a couple times to make it appear used (except for TV's).
    On another note, tell me about your language school experience. I'm considering a 5 week course when I get there for about US$1700, because they are supposed to be the best. But to be honest, for someone who already speaks basic - intermediate portugues but like you can hardly understand anything anybody says. Can I really learn $1700 worth of portugues in one month? What's your take on the language school experience?

  2. It is next to impossible to find a washing machine that uses hot water. (Plus your utility area probably does not have a source of hot water anyway...) What the machine lacks in hot water it makes up for in soaking time. A typical wash with our machine takes nearly two hours!

    Welcome to Brazil!