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Thursday, January 27, 2011

FSO – F in Rio – Farofa, Ficus & Fairs; Feiras na Ruas

It is impossible to talk about Rio de Janeiro without talking about the food, the flora, and the fun atmosphere on the streets.  We don’t have all day, with a need to keep it short, I’ll give you one example of each that I think SAYS Brazil.
You cannot order Brazilian food in a restaurant without having farofa (toasted manioc meal or coarse flour - farinha de mandioca torrada) coming as a side.  Brazilians eat it with all kinds of carne, (churrasco), with beans and rice (Feijoada) and with the soups and stews from the north like
Bobó de Camarão.  At first taste, it taste like what you would expect sawdust to taste, but over time, mixed with the juice of the meat or mixed into rice, it soon become something you enjoy with your meal.  Sometimes it is served plain but more often (and my favorite / how I make it) is mixed with herbs, butter, sautéed onion and scrambled egg.  this is how it is served at our favorite picanha place in Rio.
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The streets in Ipanema are lined with tall, old, twisted, hairy looking trees.  The majority of these are a common species of ficus.  Don’t you love that sentence?  I don’t know which species they are, and all my tree reference books are in Friburgo.  I am so not scientific in my thinking so they are FICUS.   According to Wikipedia, ... “Ficus (pronounced /ˈfɪkʊs/)[2] is a genus of about 850 species of woody trees, shrubs, vines, epiphytes, and hemiepiphyte in the family Moraceae.  Collectively known as fig trees or figs” ...  I read in a museum here,  long, long time ago – that there are 167 species of Ficus in Rio.  I do know that these trees lend a unique look to our area of town and shade the streets from the hot summer sun.  One species turns interesting shades of red and drops leaves during the winter months. 
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And last but in no way the least are the Feiras na Ruas – street fairs.  In Ipanema, there are both  craft fairs and huge vegetable and fruit markets, with trucks selling sea food and spices and other much needed good things.  One veggie market is about two blocks from our apartment on Monday mornings and is the best market.  On Tuesday, it is on the other end of the barrio at Praça General Osório, and on Fridays it in the Praça Nossa Senhora da Paz – (our lady of peace – don’t you love it!) 
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The Arts & Crafts market also in the Praça General Osório on Sunday mornings – is a must see if you visit Rio.  (sorry no photos)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday My town Shoot-out / black and white

This has been a black week in Nova Friburgo.  A week a dealing with death and destruction, a week of mourning the loss of life and property, homes and businesses.  The atmosphere has reminded me of the sense of shock in the weeks after 9/11.  No longer in Friburgo but in Rio, in the comfort of the apartment in Ipanema, I have read many news articles, scrolled through hundred of photos and have wondered why?  You can imagine the list of whys that have gone through my mind, no answers are there and are likely to never come clear.  In the randomness of death and destruction by Nature, there are no answers to why.
This week has also been a white week.  The purity, the kindness of neighbor helping neighbor, the relief on hearing of loved ones safe and uninjured, shines white in all our minds. 
The relief of this week almost as painful as the fear of last.
The battle of good and bad, happiness and sadness, life and death, White and Black.
A few photos I have taken this week with my little point and shoot.  A few examples of use of black and white, the colors, in Rio de Janeiro.
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our famous sidewalks made with black and white stones. a dressing room made of black and white and shadows, A glass wall made with black etched glass, a dining room set for lunch, a statue of Joseph made of white plaster, old building and new construction, and the Harleys for the new motorcycle cops of Rio.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Close to home–In honor of Lucia

I was browsing photo I found on line at RioGringa blog and found this photo.  The woman in the blue shirt is Lucia our maid.  I have spoken of her several times on the blog.  She has worked for Camillo over 20 years.  Taking pride in keeping us clean AND organized.
While still in Friburgo I was unable to walk to her home (when we heard that it was damaged) because of the slide on the road between her home and ours, this photo says all that needs to be said.   It is hard to tell but her house was almost attached to her daughter’s and both are gone.  Her home was across the road from a high peak, but sat more on the valley floor or at least relatively flat area.  We were told that she only lost part of the house when the house up on the hill came down on hers, but this looks like a complete loss to me.    I hope she will honor us by letting us help her get her home back together.
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Information for donations from The American Society–Rio

Dear Friends
Sunday’s news is that donations of ordinary clothing are no longer needed, because the response from donors has been outstanding.
What is needed is personal clothing—underwear, disposable diapers (for babies and the elderly) and sanitary napkins. Raincoats and galoshes can be used by rescuers.
Toiletries (soap, toothpaste and shampoo) are top priority, as are candles and matches. Cleaning products for the entire house (floor, walls, tiles) will be essential.
Non-perishable food continues to be high on the list of needed items. Plates, cups and glasses, knives, forks and spoons, are also needed, as is bedding.
When you next go to the supermarket, think about the victims’ empty homes. Some supermarket chains have arranged donation centers serviced by the Red Cross, so if you buy an extra set of candles, or plastic cups, or bleach, or detergent, you can leave the extra at the donations center. Your gift will be appreciated.
If you prefer, you can bring your contributions to Christ Church and the BCS at Rua Real Grandeza 99, Botafogo, call Karen (2226-7332) or Gaynor (2537-6695). Or take them to the Union Church in the Barra—call Carol (3325-8601).

Sunday, January 16, 2011

In the days after

A before photo taken from the top of the cable car.
It is obvious from my last post that I really was not tuned into the scope of the disaster in Nova Friburgo.  Only after arriving in Rio, talking with all our friends and family that had been looking for us, after reading news posts, reviewing photos, and watching international news coverage last night did I finally understand how devastated Friburgo is.  Conversations I have had this morning ranged from how to help now, to how will the city rebuild; replacing homes and businesses without using those areas that now show themselves as unsafe?  In this minute there seems to  be no answers.
As you can see from the before photo above  the city is built on steep hills along a river that runs right through its center.     On the outskirts of Friburgo - on the 116 between the new bus station and the city center is an old factory.  It is for sell, and could be converted to many small apartments.  The asking price last year was $R5,000,000.00 - to rich for my pocketbook, but have always thought it would make a great 'loft' apartment complex – Could the government buy this building now.  Now maybe it could house many of the homeless, temporary but stable, and much better than living in a school cafeteria.  And later turned into homes that could be sold to the poorer but strong middle class of Friburgo. 
More before shots, so we can all remember how beautiful it is up here in the mountains.
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If people aren’t allowed to build on the steep hills, where will they live?  Does the government just say ‘sorry, the good building areas are full you have to move to a slum in Rio’?  Where, by the way, most are built on unsafe sides of mountains.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The night the sky fell, and the mountain began to flow to the sea …

Camillo and I have been told more than once that we live a charmed life.  After Tuesday night, I am becoming a believer. 
At 11: pm, another thunderstorm began to move through, and like I had done for the past 4 nights, and off and on through the days, I turned off the computers, unplugged everything including the internet connection, and at midnight we went to bed.  At 12:30 Wednesday morning the lights began to blink so  I closed my book and turn them off as thunderstorm continued to rumble through.  At 2am, the lights went off and came back on (the alarm clock starts blinking and woke me up), at 3 am, they went off again and stayed off.  It was totally black, the street lights apparently off also.  A total neighborhood blackout.
The lightening flashed, the wind howled, the rain pounded on the roof, and I slept. 
When I got up Wednesday morning I made my coffee, life was normal; no electricity – which meant no internet and no phones but in the summer rainy season this is normal.  It would be a quiet morning.  I  took my coffee out on the veranda to greet the day and before me the land showed ugly welts of red, stripped of trees and grass, as far as I could see from one edge of the veranda to another the mountains had slipped and made a run toward the sea.  All around us. 
DSC_7466By the time we were through with breakfast the neighbors began to come by.  We started to hear the stories.  Lucia, our maid, had lost her home, her daughter’s was also gone. The road below us and back to Lucia’s house was impassible,  The road to Lumiar and to Mury were both closed; and the mountains were still coming down.  Our neighborhood was closed to the outside world.
By noon we knew that four family members of the workers had been lost.   We learned that Lucia’s daughter had also a broken leg and the daughter had been carried on a wooden door taken from the rubble; out by foot through the forest and down the mountain to Mury and then helicoptered to Cachoeira de Macacu for surgery.  A young boy who lost his parents also had a broken leg and was carried out by his neighbors.  Cars could not get in or out but motorcycles could and they did; in and out, up and down, checking on family members, bringing in necessities, finding ways around the slides and keeping us all informed.  Off and on all day we were checked on and updated on the news.  We heard of Friburgo: with no communication with the outside world we were informed by word of mouth, all of you knew more about what was happening than we did.
On Thursday morning we knew that the death toll was upward of 100 in Friburgo and that recovery would be slow; all of Friburgo, Teresopolis and Petropolis were involved, resources where being stretched, collections were being taken to help cloth and feed those who’d lost everything.  By Afternoon the death toll was climbing to 200.  Raphael took phone number of Camillo’s family to try and get messages out that we were okay.  We were ask by the gardener’s sister if we needed anything from town; they were walking down to town and carrying food back.  We were fine.
Our house had no damage.  We had food in the cupboards and in the Freezer.  I was low on coffee – good heaven I couldn’t ask Manuel’s sister to carry me coffee up the mountain.  As soon as the roads opened we had another home to go to – one with electricity and internet, and air conditioning if we want it.   Yes, we live a charmed life. 
On Friday we went through our closets and gave two bundles of cloths; we cleared out the freezer of the foods that would need to be cooked that day and sent it down to Manuel and his family.  We bought a ticket to Rio and spent 5 hours a little anxious about traveling down the mountain.  All around us was chaos and we lived on – our charmed life.