Friday, November 13, 2015

Where Do I Start?

I wrote a first post a few days ago, but I decided to delete it because it was very negative and I wrote it after the husband and I were fighting (what a great idea). Anyway, I don't want to digress into all of that, so I'm going to start over. I'm going to try to make this blog as authentic as possible, because I don't want to sugar coat our experience for anyone that may undertake this adventure in the future and I also want to preserve all of our memories of living in Brazil - the good and the bad.

Since I've re-written this post a million times and couldn't quite figure out where to start, I think I'll start off from a logical place. Things I'm glad we brought, things we didn't need to bring, things I wish we brought.

Things I'm glad we brought:

  • Shark Rocket Vacuum - Holy moly, bugs are everywhere in Brazil. I have a very strict no-food-in-the-house policy due to all the bugs. Most people here clean their floors with a broom and then mop with a squeegee/towel set up. I don't feel like sweeping with a boom gets all the dust and particles off the tile floors the way I neurotically need it to and it's also very time consuming to sweep the whole house and patio. The Rocket vacuum is small and light and has a "hardwood" setting and attachment that I use to vacuum our whole house in less than five minutes. Then I mop. But if I don't have time to mop or if the kids are still running around (wet floor + running kids = broken noses), I whip out the vacuum and feel good knowing the floor is super clean. 
  • Cloth Diapers - The cost of things here is either very cheap or very expensive depending on whether you a purchasing with dollars or reals. The dollar to real exchange is very good, so you can get a lot for your money or for similar to US costs (considering the exchange). If you're purchasing Brazilian goods with Brazilian earned reals, things get very expensive, very quickly. For example: A meal for two at Subway costs R$40, more or less $10 at the time of this post. Pretty comparable to US prices. However, the average Brazilian only earns R$50 per day. So that R$40 is worth a lot more than that $10. Does that make sense? That's why I'm so glad we have cloth diapers. We use disposables as well, especially if we're out and about and we use them overnight. But they are very expensive now that we're no longer earning US dollars to spend. (Again, the dollar to real cost for diapers is comparable, but the value of that money is different). With cloth diapers I can boil them on the stove real quick, hang them out to dry, and we get to use them again! Unfortunately we're without water for the next 30+ days so the water part is a little tricky, but in a normal situation it's very cost effective. We only have about 10 of them, but since I'm home all day I have the time to wash them really quickly and let them dry overnight to use the next day.
  • Tools - Everything in Brazil is "China cheapie" quality and tools are no exception. Unless you want to spend a LOT of money, bring tools from the US. My husband was in construction in the US, so thankfully we had a nice supply of tools already. For Father's Day one year I had purchased for him a 3-in-1 Dremel tool that we've used numerous times already. It cuts, it sands, it's compact, it's amazing. We also have a buzzsaw, an impact drill, a regular drill, and a drill bits/heads/misc pieces set that we brought. 

Things we didn't need to bring:

  • Computer Printer - I wish I brought ink and left the printer at home. I found the exact same one here for the exact same exchange rate price.
  • iMac - I go back and forth about whether I really need a full iMac or whether I could have gotten by with another Macbook. I purchased my first Macbook in 2008 and I had it up until the month before we moved. The motherboard-ish failed on it because a certain toddler decided it was a step one too many times. I mean the thing is like a inch thick, how much of a height advantage did he get out of it? Sheesh. Anyway, that thing was a beast. I purchased it in college because I was taking a journalism minor and had a lot of design and layout classes the required a Mac and I fell in love. I opted for the iMac as a replacement because it was on clearance for $989, which meant it was actually cheaper than the Macbook and had more storage. I ended up buying a 1T external hard drive for my Macbook because when Maicon came along I went a little overboard with the photos and videos. (I was not given the nickname "the Chinese tourist" for nothing). Anyway, the iMac is large and space here is limited. I don't have a desk yet, so I have it set up on our dresser and have to stand while using it. But it was the iMac or the Macbook, one had to come - I'm just not sure this was the smarter choice. Time will tell.
  • Ninja Chopper - This one is my fault. I really wanted to bring it because it chops ice like a mofo and I figured I'd be making a lot of smoothies. Well I forgot the motor part in the states so now I have a pitcher and some useless blades. Also, blenders are easily purchasable here and the exchange rate price is fair. 

Things I wish we brought:

  • Singer Sewing Machine - This one is totally Farley's fault, although his mom saved the day. Farley convinced me not to bring my sewing machine because his mom had one here for me. Waiting for me here was a 50 year old metal Singer sewing machine completely in Portuguese. Let me stop you right there. I fucking love it. Have you ever used a sewing machine from the 50s? Before they were made of plastic crap? They are durable, strong, and I don't break needles every five stitches. However. However. However. My exact sewing machine is in the stores here for over R$500. I sold mine at our yard sale for US$10. Queue super sad music about how I could have sold that bad boy for good money. And it totally could have occupied the computer printer space in our luggage. Well... hindsight.
  • Coat Hangers - That may sound like a weird one, but since we hung all of our clothes in the states, we had amassed a nice collection of child sized hangers and those super thin hangers that used to be on infomercials. Everyone here uses "guarda-ropas" aka wardrobes, so obviously there is a high need for these bad boys. I'm not sure why they are so expensive or only seem to be sold in packs of three. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places? Anyway, we already put in a request with my aunt and uncle to mail down a box of hangers to us. Sometimes the cost of shipping is less than the cost of purchasing new and I think this is a case for that. Update: we were able to find coat hangers at a reasonable price, pretty cheap actually. I guess I was looking in the wrong places. We found them at a store that sells store furnishings.
  • Tampons - Ladies of Brazil, please break something down for me. Or don't actually. Maybe I should have researched this before we moved, but it was a complete non-thought for me. No one here uses tampons! Everyone uses pads! It is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit on most days and ladies are using pads. It just feels so unsanitary to me. I'm running through them like crazy because I need to change them the moment they become -eck- soiled. Like, I'm sweaty already and now I have to deal with this too? No. No. So I purchased 500 tampons in bulk and my brother will be shipping them down to me. Disclaimer: I did find tampons at the pharmacy, but they are pretty expensive and only come in small packs of eight or ten. I put my foot down slightly on the need to spend money on these guys and my husband was kind of like, "Okay, take this wad of cash and do what you need. I just don't want to talk about it!" Whatever, as long as I get them I'm happy.

So, since this is the first post in what I hope becomes an active and informative blog - let me know what you liked, didn't like, and what you'd like more of or what you'd like to hear about. Tchau! Jeanie


  1. I find it interesting. Great post! I love hearing about all your stuff!

  2. I'm so glad I came with my sewing machine(s). I actually have a Singer from the 50's too! It was my first one and I love it but I needed to do more that a straight stitch, so the one I use now is a computerized Pfaff that I bought in Canada. I'm so glad I have it because here it would have cost at least the double. Plus, money wise with the cheap prize of fabric / expensive clothes in the stores, it's so worth it knowing how to sew.

    1. I would looovvveeee a computerized one, I'm jealous! I wanted to bring a serger as well, but I just brought some double needles instead. I give Brazilians great credit because they actually fix and take care of things rather than throwing them out. Even my brothers-in-law know how to hand stitch a small tear. We have a baby monitor that we re-purposed as a security camera, but the charging port on the monitor broke. Wouldn't you know my husband found a small electronics store to solder the piece back together? Pre-hubby I'm sure I would have said, "Damn, out of warranty. It's garbage now." And when my mother-in-law's fridge stopped working, my husband and his brothers took it all apart and fixed it good as new.

  3. If you still need hangers (yes, I am aware that this post is a few years old, but...whatever), I just bought a set of 30 of them at Sam's Club in Vitoria for R$70ish, which, to me, is a steal compared for 3 for R$10. And they are the velvety ones to grip your clothes, or they had an option for 20 wooden ones for the same price. No, not cheap like in the US, but not bad for here, it was a mess the last time I tried to bring hangers here.

    1. We did end up finding a store that sells... just hangers... isn't that how all stores are in Brazil? They seem to specialize in just a few products! BUT, I am SO EXCITED to hear that there is a Sam's Club in Vitoria! Adding it onto our "to do" list for December!