Bank Blowout

A little escapism in these difficult times isn’t all bad, and so last week I was devouring a copy of  Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Escapism is all well and good, unless you live in a third-world country. And Parable of the Sower is an excellent novel; I recommend it highly—UNLESS, that is, you…

Train Wreck

What was that in that dark corner? Chipped paint? Or was it… My daughter had been running all over this stadium with that diaper.. She had been playing in that corner. Was it…? It couldn’t be. I stood there by the door, barefoot, with no paper towels at hand (Sketchy Bathroom had been out of them by 11p.m.), armed only with the diaper wipes in my bag, I contemplated looking closer at what that might have been… just in case. I contemplated getting down on my knees and cleaning that floor, walking all the way across that hall with handfuls of poopy diaper wipes to brave that bathroom… And I turned my head and walked out the door.

‘Merrica, Can We Talk?

[Scene – A car in a mall parking lot, in a Red State somewhere.] California: Middle America, honey, can we talk? I know I said I needed a new dress for the Inaugural Ball, and the help of my best gals to pick it out, but that was a lie. Your wedding is just a…

This is What Corruption Looks Like

You really couldn’t imagine anything more dastardly or shameful. This week, in the middle of the night, while all the press was looking towards Colombia, and the nation mourned the loss of a whole team of talented, young men, Brazil’s politicians gutted an anti-corruption bill. The President declared three days of national mourning and the…

Broken Hallelujah

Goddamn you, world. You just gotta kick a gal when she’s down. Leonard Cohen died this week, one of my favorite poets. This loss coming on the heels of Trump winning the election in the USA, and the Republicans taking both the House and Senate. Seriously, life just isn’t fair sometimes. People here in Brazil are shocked…

12 Things About Brazil the Guidebooks Never Tell You

Waiting in line is over-rated. Brazilians don’t really do lines. Unless otherwise directed, they tend to form a large, organic crowd and all push forward to the front. Why is this important? Banks, grocery stores, bus stations, they’ll probably have lines that people respect. But if you’re trying to get through a market or a concert…

Elevator Talk

They were all waiting for the elevator: a businessman, a young man and his stylish wife. Three in a row, all staring at their cell phones.  The young man sighed and reached out to impatiently tap the “Up” button again. The tall, thin Steve Buschemi look-alike in the business suit looked up. “It’s on strike,”…

Racial Panels and a Drop of Blood

I have this cringeworthy memory where I’m pretty sure I offended a whole roomful of people of color repeatedly. I mean, it’s one of those really bad memories where it flashes back and I mentally go: “LA-LA-LA-I-CAN’T-HEAR-YOU. LA-LA-LA-I’M-STILL-A-GOOD-PERSON-SO-GO-AWAY-LA-LA-LA-LAAAAA!!”  Sigh. It’s an “oops!” memory of Epic Proportions. All of us probably have them (well… everyone except maybe Donald Trump,…

Zika Madness

I get a lot of questions from people in the States about how people here in Brazil are dealing with all the Zika craziness. Americans are absolutely freaking out about the problem. And Brazilians? My answer always is: “They shrug.” It’s true. Ask any average Brazilian their opinion about Zika, and they’ll lift their shoulders…

Fotocrônica: Drink Milk

Our region is famous for its milk production. It’s ranching country around here. Lots of local little producers, who deliver their milk daily to larger distributors who then either re-sell it to customers in-town or to larger, national buyers. Every morning the milk farmers drive their milk into town by pickup truck or by strapping their 50-liter…

Fotocrônica: Import Taxes

I nearly cried in the post office. My mother sent us a box of used Legos, used baby clothes and other assorted items (none worth more than USD$10 each). The Brazilian Customs upon x-raying our box re-valued the items, deciding that in total they were worth R$350. They issued a tax based upon that worth….

Getting Ready for the Copa

Here in our rural hideaway we’re pretty removed from all the World Cup preparations. The shops are all selling yellow and green t-shirts, hats, and vuvuvelas and everyone is staking out their favorite place in front of a big-screen TV, of course. Mr. Crônicas is lining up a back-up plan for when the satellite dish decides to…