May 28, 2010
Hello! Sorry for the lack of stories lately, but I think we’re about to get back on track. Our time in Brazil has been spent traveling to and from Catuçaba, where the fazenda is, and once to Picinguaba, as you saw from the second to last post. We are going to try to describe a little about all the dimensions of our life here in Brazil and first, I think we owe you a bit more on what’s happening in São Paulo.
When we’re in town our daily routine consists of waking up at a reasonable hour, sometimes using the small gym in the building, and making the 12-15 minute walk to work. We cross Avenida Paulista everyday, which is a visual reminder that SP is the business center of Brazil. This street used to be lined with mansions and at some point in the 40s or 50s they were all torn down to make way for high-rises. Though it’s a grand landscape of buildings it’s a shame the line of grand palaces has been lost! We continue on Rua Bela Cintra through the bairro (neighborhood) of Bela Vista a bit before we turn left to cross Rua da Consolação. Crossing this road is the worst part because the pollution from all the traffic makes you feel like you’re losing hours of your for each minute spent waiting to cross. Our office is down an alley called Travessa Dona Paula that leads to a small group of houses. It’s a spectacular location that is a little among the more typical high-rises. The office feels more like an apartment than an office, lined with beautiful pictures of the hotels. We often have lunch at the nearby kilo restaurant (i.e., pay by weight) – good quality and inexpensive – or one of the delicious padarias (bakery) in higienopolis (see below for details).
Our flat is in the Transamerica Flats in Jardins Paulista. The neighborhood is great – down the hill is an abundance of high-end restaurants, shops, cafes and hotels. Oscar Freire, only a few blocks away, is a well-known, chic shopping street with all the shopping you can imagine. To follow up on one of our early posts, we ultimately decided to stay in this flat (with the “American kitchen”) and supplement it with an electric stove and some pots and pans. It’s not ideal, but with its prime location and our frequent travel to the fazenda (and in all honesty, the lack of other options) we’re making due.
We’ve managed to create a reasonable social life so far, thanks primarily a few friends that have been kind enough to take us in. In one weekend we experienced a very cool club in Jardins, Dorothy Parker, on Friday night with Marina, an afternoon wondering around Liberdade, the Japanese neighborhood of São Paulo with Mirna and Aldin, and Saturday night at Vila Country, the largest venue/club for sertaneja music, with Fernando and Brian. Click here for a little sample of this music, which they intersperse with American Country. Another night Marina invited us to a party at her house, put on by her sisters who have an event planning company, as a promotion for Bacci, a meat company. It was incredibly classy, with delicious food from 7 chefs in the city, good drinks and incredibly nice people. This week we’re scheduled to catch up with a few other friends of friends and explore a bit more of São Paulo.
Places we like in São Paulo:
- Aracaju Pães e Doces – There are many padarias (bakeries) spread throughout the city, really on every corner but this is the best one we have found so far. We had great sandwiches (XXX attach picture) – the most American I have found so far, which is delicious! Their breads and fruit juices are wonderful and the variety of sweets, like chocolate filled croissants and little cookies, are hard to resist.
- Ipê Amarelo – The kilo restaurant near our office with fresh food and daily specials. Their “Thai” chicken stir-fry is a favorite as it helps satisfy our Asian food craving. Plus, they have freshly grilled beef and chicken everyday, which Jeff loves.
- Santo Grão – This place is a coffee house/restaurant in Jardins (a few others scattered about the city). It’s high-class kind of place with delicious food and a huge variety of coffee. The ambiance is also multi-dimensional which is nice – they have an outdoor seating area, a more café-like area and a bar area with couches.
- Dorothy Parker – This is a relatively new club that varies their music selection by night. When we went on a Friday night they played a great mix of hip hop and rock. The coolest part of the club is the video, created in house, that they play on the brick wall. It’s almost like a pop art video of fifties dancers mixed to current rock music.
- Vila Country – I’m not sure we need to go back here, but it was quite the experience and the music was good. When you are inside the huge facility with many different rooms, you feel like you could be in Nashville somewhere as everyone is decked out in cowboy outfits and they often play some American country songs.
May 24, 2010
Last weekend we were at the Fazenda “working”. We made further progress on the organization of the construction of the three hotel buildings by dissembling the team and starting with a new builder and construction manager. With Manu on site it was determined that this was the most economical and efficient way to do things. We totally agree as the communication lines were horrible previously, and trust was lacking. Jeff is now taking over the construction schedule, and for those of you who know him, you might imagine that he’s very good at organizing this. I’ll continue to help on the site plan for the hotel areas including a much-needed drainage and erosion control plan and a landscaping plan for around the new buildings as well as improvements to the existing areas, patio and relocated pool.
We spent a good amount of time in São Luiz do Paraitinga this weekend where they were holding their big annual festival, Festa do Divino. Espírito Santo. The town itself is lovely despite the destruction that major floods brought in January. Many buildings around the main plaza, included the most famous old church, were destroyed in these floods. They city and country have jumped in to bring it back to its feet quite quickly though, and the restoration efforts are in the works. The festival was incredibly interesting. Saturday they held the Cavalhado, which is essentially a reenactment on horseback of a religious battle that the Fazenda’s very own Bentão participates in. Both days they feed the entire crowd (of around 5,000 perhaps) with the Afogado. We didn’t taste this, as the line was 2 ½ hours long! Everyone in line came prepared with their Tupperware containers (no limit to size apparently). On Sunday many mini performances happened around the plaza. I think the pictures and video will provide the best description, so enjoy!
May 12, 2010
Exactly one year after we spent 6 days at Pousada Picinguaba for our honeymoon, we found ourselves back in this stunning, peaceful setting. We even stayed in the same room. It was a surreal realization that in just one year we actually did it – we picked up our lives in San Francisco and moved to Brazil for an adventure and an opportunity to redirect our career paths.
We worked a full day on Saturday with a few key members of the Picinguaba team: Emmanuel (owner), Marina (marketing coordinator), Oseias (on-site manager), Cleménce (guest relations intern from France) and ourselves. Part of our meeting took place at a table at Bar do Ulisses on the beach in Ubatumirim. We continued the meeting on the deck of Casa Verde, part of Pousada Picinguaba. The meeting included a review of marketing goals for Picinguaba and the Fazenda and an overhaul/review of current materials. Later that night we retired to the bar by the pool where we took some caipirinha-making lessons from Miro.
Sunday was meant to be a relaxing beach day, but the sun didn’t appear so we spent most of the day on the porch listening to the rain fall. I read and painted while Jeff worked away on the computer updating the Fazenda project financial model. Though we missed the opportunity to get a tan on the beach we thoroughly enjoyed the peacefulness of the rainforest. It gave us time to ponder how different a heavy rain sounds when you’re in the rainforest as opposed to in a city. The rain sounds healthy and natural as the trees and ground soak it up.
On Monday, after a half day of working, which included sustainability and native plant research for me, and financial modeling for Jeff, we took off to enjoy the sun. Along with Emmanuel, we kayaked to Praia da Fazenda, surfboards in tow, for the men to catch some waves and to give me an opportunity to sport my new Brazilian bikini!
As we headed back to our kayaks to return to the pousada we ran into Oseias, who was out for a surf after work. What a life!
May 8, 2010
May 7, 2010
We have had a great and busy week back in São Paulo, which included exploration of the city, meetings with contractors, architects, sustainable design groups, and potential financiers and research and planning for the Fazenda hotel project. This weekend, we are headed to the Fazenda and then to Picinguaba for some general progress meetings and even some relaxation time on the beach!
We will post more next week, but in the meantime here are some pictures of our previous week at the Fazenda. Scroll over the slideshow to control it manually.
Highlights: horseback riding around the property; hiking up the river; horseback riding under the moonlight; eating organic food grown on the farm; exploring farm life and getting to know the staff; sharing stories with Manu (French friend of Emmanuel who is living at the fazenda running organic farming operations, assisting with the construction process and much more).
Places we like in São Paulo:
- Ping Pong – We had a wonderful lunch at this Dim Sum restaurant. The vibe is great, the staff was incredibly nice and the food was delicious!
- Drosophyla Bar – We had a few drinks at this hidden bar with a friend. It has a very eclectic vibe with a very nice wait staff.
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