Steve’s Newsletter 3 (2005)

Monday 5th December 

Some friends from my Portuguese classes

Once again this newsletter is a bit later than originally planned but here it is now.

Yesterday was my birthday so on Saturday evening we had a small party here in our apartment. We invited family and friends. The picture to the right is some of my classmates from the Portuguese classes which are now unfortunately over until February. The people are left to right (standing) Eneida, Talia and me, (sitting) Tamara, Catalina, Lynge and Inge. Apologies if I’ve spelt names wrong. See bottom of email for some other pictures from our party. 

The federal university largely shuts down (apart from exams) from December until after Carnival is over which this year is 28 February. However I believe my classes will start again at some point before this. Sadly it is very likely that most of the class will go separate ways and next semester there will only be a few of us continuing. The party is probably the last time most of us will be together as a group. 

Following advice from others who also had to learn Portuguese, I am going to start watching one of the many novelas on TV. The novelas are a kind of Brazilian soap opera that are televised 5 or 6 nights a week that most people watch. Apart from perhaps football, they are the most popular past time in Brazil so are also good from a cultural perspective as well. Not sure if I will like them, but guess I could get hooked and it’s an excuse to watch TV.

Eneida and Steve

Although the Portuguese classes are over, I am hoping to be able to continue getting some tuition. Fatima, one of Eneida’s friends that teaches English in Belo Horizonte, has offered to ‘exchange’ some Portuguese tuition if I help her with some English teaching. To me it sounds like a very fair deal particularly as I find it hard to sit at home studying.

To the right and below are a few of pictures of Fatima’s sitio. A sitio is a basically a small home built on a piece of land outside the city. These shots were taken a few months ago so are not really current news. However I thought they were worth showing to give an idea of the countryside and life here in Minas Gerais. In fairness to Fatima, I should also say that the photos of the sitio were taken whilst it was in the finishing stages of construction.

Having started this newsletter with the recent news, I’ll now go back to where I left off previously.

My trip to the UK to get my permanent visa and to ship my belongings to Belo Horizonte went smoothly. I am hoping to have my boxes before Christmas but this will depend on the port authorities in Santos, Sau Paulo and those in the UK. I’m looking forward to finally having my books, CD’s and other personal items with me.

The waterfall. Nice place to swim & cool off

I am also now well on the way to getting all the documentation and identity cards etc that I need to live and work here. I have my temporary ID and a document allowing me to drive for the next 6 months. I now have to wait for probably around another month or two for my actual permanent RNE (identity card) to be processed. This in turn will then allow me to apply for a provisional driving license that lasts 1 year. There are a couple of other things I need, but they are also only available once I have my permanent RNE. However thankfully the temporary ID was enough, after much discussion, to allow me to open a bank account. I will be very pleased when all this is over, but although things are getting easier, it will be at least another year before I have a full and permanent everything.

On returning to Brazil I was asked to get involved in a small press conference in Sao Paulo by a former colleague but after a similar event in London where no guests turned up, the production company who was organising the event in Brazil decided to pull out. However I contacted the production company that was taking over responsibility and was asked to continue in my role of overseeing the technical aspects here. However after another change of date, struggling to find a company that could build the set (or at least get one to quote in under a week!), the event was eventually cancelled a week before it was due to happen. I’m hoping that it will happen at some point in the future. It could still end up being my first job here. 

The kitchen and my first straight cachaça

Now that I have the required documents, I am starting to look to for work. I expect this to be varied for quite a while. Unfortunately, since I arrived in Brazil, the exchange rate has dropped by about 30% so am now finding it tough to live off the rent I am getting in the UK. In terms of work, I would like to become a local contact for European or American production companies working in Brazil. Given that it will take time to build up contacts, last week I also applied to a language school to teach English. In the short term I think teaching English is perhaps the most likely way to earn some money. Once my Portuguese has improved, I intend to start looking for work as a lighting designer here in Belo Horizonte but I expect this mainly to be architectural rather than event based projects.

We have decided to spend Christmas in Rio de Janeiro with some family and friends. We haven’t decided our plans yet for New Years but may stay in Rio if the weather is good or chose to travel elsewhere. At some point in mid-January we also plan to have a week away relaxing before Eneida goes back to work in February. 

Although it will not be the first time I have spent Christmas on the beach, I am looking forward to getting some sun and a tan. Contrary to what you may think, the weather in Brazil is not always nice. Since returning from the UK 5 weeks ago, we have probably only had 5 nice sunny days. Lots and lots of cloud, many thunder storms and rain most days. Not much different from what it is like in the UK apart from being around 10-15ºC warmer. The rainy season apparently usually starts in late December or January and not November so I am hoping it will end early this year as well. 

That about wraps up my news. I’ll write again after New Year’s depending on our plans. Have a great Christmas and New Year.