We have arrived safe and sound after an all-night journey, and the pups seemed to have made the trip without becoming traumatized. Poor Cricket had a damp trip, as her water bottle leaked, so she just wanted to be held during the two-hour drive from the airport (apparently the traffic was worse than usual). But both seem to be adapting well to the strange smells and sounds, and the vision of the city from 24 stories in the air.

Our apartment is very nice. VERY high, a good thing, since it puts us above the bugs and most of the noise from the two major roads that run behind us. Fortunately, we have air conditioning, too, in the living room and our bedroom, so we can lock up the windows and close out the noise. I’m definitely feeling the height, like a touch of motion sickness, but that should go away soon.

We have a large living room, with a terrace that runs the full length, with floor-to-ceiling windows between the living room and the terrace, and all along the terrace. Unfortunately, the curtains on the living room windows don’t open all the way, so we only get the middle-third of the window view, but we’ll ask them to come change that for us. More light, always more light!

The furniture they gave us for the living room is temporary, we hear, which is a good thing. Only one person can sit on each two-person couch, or you tip toward the middle. And the one chair they gave us has the bottom falling out. There’s a nice, if old-fashioned, dining table and low hutch, and two end tables with ok lamps, but we definitely need new furniture for the living room.

Great new beds, though. Very comfortable. Ours is a queen-size, and the rest are only twins. That’s how they do it here, I guess. Of the four bedrooms, two can only take a twin. Very small, but with nice closets and tiny private balconies. The larger one could take a queen, but there is no closet in that room. I think I’ll ask for another queen, and then we’ll buy an armoire or something for the room.

Three and a half baths, a European kitchen with a brand new, top-of-the-line refrigerator and freezer, and new washer and dryer (European style) in the wash room off of the kitchen, where there is also a small bathroom with a minuscule area for a shower (the fourth bath), and a teeny-tiny maid’s room (room for a twin bed and not much more). We’ll likely use that for storage.

No pictures on the walls, and no rugs (hardwood floors). It’ll take a bit to make it feel like home, but that will happen as our own stuff arrives. I hope to make the terrace our main living room. Only problem is, if I turn on the air conditioning in the living room, the condenser/motor is on the terrace and pumps out lots of heat. But maybe I can cool the house from the bedroom, and not turn on the living room air unless absolutely necessary (which it is, today).

We’re expecting the “usual” of warm days with rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon for the coming ten, and possibly 365, days. The storm yesterday was unlike anything I’ve ever been in. The front came so quickly and obliterated the view out our windows. We were in the storm (which was exciting for the pups when the lightning struck and the thunder clapped!), and could see the torrent blowing sideways past us. Such volume!

We have four parking spaces in the second-floor subterranean parking. Four! Two, one behind the other, in two different areas of the garage. Plus, near one set of parking spaces, we have a lockable storage closet, though we couldn’t open it, so I have no idea how large it is. We’ll likely keep things like the dogs’ kennels there, and maybe our sports gear.

Tom and I went to the local grocery store yesterday, the Mambo. It appears to be pretty high-end. And the prices are astronomical! We bought five little bags (literally) of groceries, and paid R$245, which is about $170. My gosh, and we only bought some basics. I’ll try the Carfours down the street next time. Maybe they’ll be cheaper. Rumor has it that there is a Sam’s Club here, as well, but I have no idea where. Mambo is nice, but seems too expensive for the big stuff. I was pleased to see how modern it is, and recognized much of what was on the shelves, though there was much I couldn’t identify. I have to take my little dictionary with me next time. Funny thing was seeing the huge salted cod that they had in the bins next to the vegetables. Must have weighed 50 or 60 lbs. I guess you just cut off what you want. One day, I’m going to just go hang out at the store and watch what people do, there and throughout the store. I did notice three young women stacking soaps while sitting on the floor and chatting. And a lady working by the dairy, filling the shelves while chatting on her cell phone. And there were about six or seven young men in Mambo uniforms at the front of the store, apparently to help with groceries, but I’m not sure how. Time will tell.

I took the pups out and about in the neighborhood today, though we didn’t walk too much. It was hot and sticky (again, they say this is unusual), and we arrived back at the apartment panting and dripping (I’ll leave it to you to figure out who was doing what).

I’m hungry today, but haven’t worked up the nerve to try to order by myself in the shops around here. I know I have the vocabulary, but I just get all tongue-tied when I think about speaking.  I keep reminding myself, though, that Aubrey did this when she was in Greece, all alone, so I’d better be up to the task!

Our condominium doesn’t seem very pet friendly, and I have a horrible feeling our dogs shouldn’t even be walking around, since the women (I believe they’re “help”) I see with dogs are carrying them! True, most are fru-fru lap dogs, but still. Are they not supposed to walk on the grounds, to use the few spare lawns among the planting, or go in the “social” elevators, but only use the “service” elevators? I hope not, ’cause those take forever to get to the 23rd floor! I suppose someone will tell me if we’re doing something wrong. I only hope I can understand them when they do! [[Turns out, we are NOT supposed to let the dogs relieve themselves on the condo grounds. In fact, they’re not allowed to be on the grounds except to pass through, and certainly can’t be back in the gardens. And, no, they are not allowed in the “social” elevators, but must ride the service elevators. I cannot carry them both at the same time, and there’s no way on earth I’m taking them out one at a time, so the powers that be just have to accept them walking out…albeit at a quick march and far from any lawn patches!)

I did spend a couple of hours studying my Portuguese today before we ventured out. Still nowhere near capable of carrying on a conversation, but I’m getting better. Little by little. I can read it, as long as I know the vocabulary, but understanding it when spoken is much, much harder. Well, all it will take is practice.

This week’s tasks: get Internet, get Sky satellite (local cable has only Portuguese shows), get service for my cell phone. We do have internet at the moment, but our signal is “borrowed” from someone in the building, so it’s kind of weak. But what a blessing it was when I found it. Communication  with the rest of the world! We were no longer marooned!

More to come. Até logo!