Thursday, October 28, 2010

Afternoon in Centro do Rio

Yesterday James and I had arranged to meet each other outside a Metro Station in the Centro of the city. With 1 cell phone, and unfamiliar metro exits, I always anticipate missing the other person. Although James waited inside for me and I waited outside, we were finally able to find each other, and the afternoon adventure began. The objective was to get James' CV printed, and to find some sort of Halloween costume for the Baile funk we will be attending Saturday in Rocinha. We were able to find some fantastic hats (pix to be posted post-party), and a print shop. That left some time to do some aimless wandering - my favourite!

We stumbled upon an area we had been to before, at night when it was pretty deserted and sketchy. The area is called 'Travessa Commercio' and it is around some lovely old museums (CCBB),and the Praca quinze Novembre. Tucked away on a bunch of small streets were numerous little bars and restaurants where people go to have a bite /evening drink after work. Think Ciutat Vella in Barcelona, if you have ever been there. Anyways, definitely right up my alley (pardon the pun!) There's just something about old, narrow streets and dining/drink in open air that I love. We will definitely return for sure!

Another pleasant suprise on the walk towards our bus stop, to take us back up to the hills of Santa Teresa, was a cute shop /farmacia on Rua Primeiro de Março.  Granado Pharmacia /coupled with Phebo Perfumaria are two Brazilian companies founded in 1870, and 1930 respectively. Granado Pharmacia offers all sorts of wonderful smelling, natural bath & body products with many ingredients native to Brazil. Phebo Perfumaria, from the city of Belem, in the heart of the Amazon, has various perfumes, lotions, candles and diffusers, again with interesting scents and combinations that are uniquely Brazilian. Think light, flowery, delicate scents. According to the website, Phebo is a cherished Brazilian perfume brand that generations of Brazilians use. Did I mention that the design of the packaging, branding and store   for both Granado and Phebo is gorgeous,  colourful, and  reminiscent of a nineteenth century apothecary?! I will certainly be going back to purchase presents to for myself and others!

Granado/Phebo has 3 locations in Rio de Janeiro:

Pharmácia do LavradioRua do Lavradio, 32
Lapa - RJ
(21) 2224-8640

Pharmácia do Centro

Rua Primeiro de Março, 16 
Centro - RJ
(21) 3231-6746 / (21) 3231-6747

Pharmácia do Leblon 

Rua General Artigas 470, Loja A
Leblon - RJ
(21) 3231-6759 / (21) 2512-5066



Monday, October 25, 2010

Rio in the eyes of the Terminator

For those of you who missed it when we posted this on facebook, here it is again in all it's glory: Arnold's trip to Rio circa 1970-something - classic, corny and creepy! Enjoy!

Brazil - Who knew?

3. I know I had heard this before, but here in Rio and I guess in Brazil in general, one must  queue for everything! Case in point :  you form a line at a 'cashier' to get a ticket printed out, and then you get into another line to get your order - this goes for fast food places, bars/clubs, even in shops!

4. Number four is related to 3 - in Rio, you don't need to have exact change or a pass to get on; besides the driver there is usually a cashier who you pay and they make change for you then - although anything over R20 reis (12 US/CAD dollars) seems to be too high to break.
So, today's post in a nutshell, is about peculiar, different ways of doing things, that takes a bit of time getting used to;  at least the way they do it here twice/three times as many people have jobs!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The PercPan Festival! Oi! Casa Grande, Rio de Janeiro

     The only guy we knew in Brasil before we arrived, just from Facebook, is a DJ, music collector & bang up fellow who told us about the PercPan festival ( one evening when we were watching an afrobeat concert at Circo Voador (in Lapa). When he mentioned all the groups that were going to be there, the mind couldn't handle it, grew unstable and exploded. Several hours later, consciousness came back and we were naked in the jungle. It then sunk in that we'd be able to see Orchestra Poly-Rythmo, Novalima, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Kocani Ochestar, Buraka Som Sistema and a bunch of other groups we'd never heard of all at the same festival.

     Perhaps this means nothing to you, that's okay. But as an audio nerd who ear-snorts tunes like the most seasoned addict dishes cocaine to their nostrils, this was a line up that produced insane levels of excitement and anticipation. There's no time to give you the backstory on all of the groups, but we grabbed a little footage of Orchestra Poly Rythmo de Cotonou (Benin) & Kočani Orkestar (Macedonia) with our wee camera. That footage was uploaded to Youtube and can now be viewed below.

     We were most excited about Orchestra Poly-Rythmo, a group that was massive in Benin in the 70s but got rediscovered by European Djs & collectors in the last few years and now enjoys new found popularity among african, funk & jazz enthusiasts all over the globe. It would be an honour to discuss all of the groups in great detail, but to keep it short, we'll just mention Letieres Leite & Orkestra Rumpilezz. This is an orchestral samba group from Brasil that was unfamiliar to us prior to the festival, but ended up being one of the best shows. It had about 20 members led by saxophonist Letieres Leite and the arrangements they played so tightly totally educated me on what this country can sound like. The only sad part is that we haven't found a record, CD or digital file of their music. Hopefully this is rectified soon.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rio landmark's one claim to fame is being featured in a Snoop Dogg Video!

Who remembers this little diddy?! Beautiful- Snoop Dogg & Pharrell - twas a catchy tune! I especially like the intro. when Snoop is talking on the phone. Did ya know we are staying about 2 minutes away from these renowned tiled steps they sit on in the video? These are called 'Escaleras de Selaron', and they are just that - The set of steps by an eccentric Chilean artist by the name of Selaron, who has been painting and tiling the stairs as his life's art project for the past 20 years. See his mug below. Who wouldn't give for a moustache like that!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Seleçoes Da Samba! DJ mix

What kind of half-assed DJ living in Brazil wouldn't sew together a mix to send off the ship that is
their blog? Twould be madness! Thus, with a click at your leisure, you may absorb a compilation of no fewer (or greater) than 17 songs to get immersed in the musicgasm that this place has produced.

Predominantly Samba, Brazilian Funk, MPB, Tropicalia, Batucada & Jazz from the 70s, but with a sprinkling of other treats from the country also.  To save space, all of the track names can be found on the mixcloud website (

The sound snippets in the earlier stages of the selections are clips from political parties promoting themselves that were on the radio just before the Oct.3rd election (No affiliation with our political beliefs) and the later sound clips are from a great film called Estomago that we borrowed from the great people renting us our apartment.

Some of the names will be familiar, but there was lots of digging for these and so hopefully there's a lot of material that you Brazillophiles haven't yet encountered. I can't think of a country more skilled at incorporating sounds from outside their borders....can you?


Brazil - Who knew?

Each day, We will add 1 curious thing about Brazil that we've encountered and find noteworthy.... Here goes...

'requeijão' do Brazil.
1. In Brazil, there is a delicious cheesy spread called 'requeijão' - it tastes like extra creamy cream cheese and has the consistency and texture of Cheez Whiz but  not gross like Cheez Whiz is. Not only is it delicious, it also comes either in a plastic cup or glass, which we have been saving and using as glasses - apparently every Brazilian does this too! Perfect size for cerveja!

2.Which brings me to number 2 (okay 2 entries today!). In Brazil it is common to order a large beer (500ml) to share between a number of people. Each person gets a little glass and more beer is ordered once the bottle is empty. Beer is served extremely cold and to keep it that way, each bottle is  served in a beer cooler cup (James says 'temperature maintenance sleeve' !).

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Our first video link must be this one:

Old Disney Cartoon : Donald Duck in Rio. Amazing.

Oi, Tudo bem?!

          Welcome along to our tiny patch of territory in Cyberlandia.  A period of one month has now snuck by since we alighted on Carioca turf and began pecking away at understanding how things function here.

         The purpose of this page is merely to catalogue, process, digest and interpret as much as is feasible from the infinite, glistening heap of culture that exists in Rio de Janeiro & wherever else we can visit in Brazil before returning to Canada.  It is also a means of maintaining contact with friends, family & the random folk who might give some kind of a damn about what it is like to exist in this country.

         It is hard to say right now about the exact contents of what will emerge here, the goal is to have it evolve and form itself into something as more posts are concocted & we begin to communicate more thoroughly with the people here & the internet community.  We'll let that be the first post as the evening is lovely, we've been cooped up all day, and the two stomachs in the room are demanding sustenance (probably feijoada)

Stay tuned for the first installment of the Brazilian music that has thrust itself at us in the last couple of weeks (already accidentally purchased 20 pieces of vinyl...shhhhh)

Jasmine n' James