Rio Apartment Hell

Today was just another standard day at work – had to wait in line again at reception to get a temporary pass (still don’t have a real one), spent an hour with HR explaining them what they were actually supposed to explain to me. Then went for a 2.5 hrs lunch at Porcão with the team because one of the senior managers was leaving. I’ve been there before, but the view was still breathtaking! Imagine the below view only during the day..

View from Porcão Rio’s

Once this was done, I was happy to find out that my connection to the real world was established – I got my own Brazilian Blackberry!! A small victory, at last ! My colleague who started a month ago, is still waiting for his… I did get a temporary SIM card this past weekend, however, because my levels of technological affluence are diminishing by the day, it was impossible for me to figure out how to use my soap-bar crap Nokia, and I was really getting frustrated.  Now, I got a new challenge – to learn how to use the touch-screen of the BB Torch…   Life is so complicated, my god!

I also had the pleasure to find out what $2500-$3000 /mo could buy one in the  Ipanema/Copacabana housing market… the answer is CRAP!  Considering myself a seasoned Manhattanite, I was so sure that nothing could surprise me, especially given the generous price I was willing to pay for a 1BD apartment. I have never seen something so terrible. The first apartment, which aside from being tiny and super smelly, featured things like a kitchen with a open window (without a glass or frame) with only a net covering it (one may call this constant ventilation), rotting closets (“oh, no problem, you could get them varnished..”) and various junk pieces under the pathetic excuse name of furniture. It was so disgusting that I told my real estate agent that I would not even put my worst enemy in this place.. I really don’t understand why would anyone want to stay in a place like this.. actually, now that I think about it, it reminds me of a hostel I stayed at in Costa Rica (an experience I swore myself never to repeat). The only difference is that the hostel was $25 a night and not $100 (not including utilities!!).. Absolutely ridiculous.

The next apartment in Copacabana had similar features (i.e. overpriced crap). But some of the highlights were the corner called “kitchen”, which consisted of a sink, a small cabinet and something resembling a toaster oven which the owner called stove. When I asked about a washing machine, the owner said that he could add one – he will just have to move the fridge into the living room, to make room for it!! I kept looking around to see if someone is playing a prank on me. But no, this was totally legit Rio real estate. Speaking to my friend, who is looking as well and even with a higher budget, I found out my experience was not unique. Looks like I will have to look into Botafogo.. which is the equivalent of  something like moving to Brooklyn here.

Ah yes, one final detail of the day. I was trying to listen to the morning news in Portuguese and heard something related to my current hotel and food poisoning. When I went to work later, I found out that there was a huge scandal in the hotel zone because people got food poisoning in several fancy hotels and then the police got involved and some of the chefs were arrested. I am not surprised!! At least about this hotel.. Never stay at the Pestana on Copacabana Beach!! The only nice thing about it is the lobby and the porters. Everything else resembles a hostel quality. I hear this is common in Rio.

At least until the end of this year I get to be the Garota de Ipanema — moving to my temporary housing there tomorrow.