Chica's Blog

Nina July 02 2022, 0 Comments

2022

I went to the beach as soon as I finished breakfast with my dad the morning I got to Rio and she wasn't on the beach. After a few trips, a beach vendor finally told me they had been kicked out that spot because the guy had become violent to others. I spent hours walking up and down the streets of Copacabana looking for them and finally, yesterday, I see her, guarding over the owners who were passed out on a sidewalk as usual. I called she came to me and we sat there for a while, I was crying with relief, she loves being petted but always goes back to her couple. While I was petting her some people walking by gave me puzzled looks, but most smiled and some talked to her, they know her name. She looks older, gray but clean, well fed. The "tribe of Nina" must know her new spot and they are still caring for them.

I do have a couple of places I could take her if they ever gave to me, but I don't know if she would be happy, she is extremely attached to them. One of my customers were right when she pointed out, they are her "kids", her responsibility nd she takes it very seriously. I thought about putting my Brazilian number on her collar, but I risk having the wrong people contact me with scams.

So for now I go on loving her, offering the couple help (many people have tried), tare not ready to take and trying to be grateful to have met such  special dog.

July 2022

2019

This is Nina. I met her over 3 years ago on a trip to Rio de Janeiro, I was going through a bad break up back in the US in which I was losing my heart... My dog Mina.
So when I met Nina, running free on the white sands of Copacabana, being such a happy beach bum I fell in love, she looked well taken care of, good weight, ears clean, nails cut, nice collar, after asking around I found out she belonged to an alcoholic, drug addicted homeless couple who usually hangs out on the same spot on Copacabana beach. Apparently neighborhood dog lovers and vets helped them take care of her.
You may have many questions, why not help the couple? Many people have tried and failed, they aren't ready.
Why not take the dog? She absolutely ADORES them, and they like her, she is also their protector and means to get more money and food. On one of my trips the guy got sick and went to a public hospital for a couple of days, the other homeless people were taking care of her but she was restless, crying, trying to cross the streets, looking everywhere. He was dry for a week or two after that, we talked, I told him she dependes on him that he had to be more careful, he told me he depends on her and that he would... But a few days later he was back in the bottle.
I always look for her first thing on my trips to Rio. I ask around, I walk to their regular begging spots until I find her. I help them out the little I can.
I had never been away for this long, so today when I spotted her sleeping next to them on the sidewalk my heart screamed a million happy songs. I almost got run over crossing the street and I had a huge smile and tears down my cheeks when she came to me tail wagging, lips curled up in a funny smile. We hang out for a bit, I petted her and told her I had missed her so. She never looks for food, she just makes me happy for the little time we spend together.
The couple was sleeping nearby and never woke up, I told her to go back to them before I left and she did. I always leave behind a little piece of my heart when I leave her, praying she will be there the next time.
There are so many beautiful love stories out there. I am glad I have this one.

June 2019 

2021

After the pandemic, she was there, healthy and a bit chunky, it has been 5 years since I fell in love with her. I got to see her a few times, the homeless couple she watches over is doing the same, drinking and begging. If one day I feel she is too old to live on the streets I will talk to them and think of an alternative, for now, they are her life and she acts like their mama, that is her mission and I won't get in her way. For people who haven't seen my posts about Nina: her owners were offered help many times but they are not ready yet to change their lifestyle.

January 2021

December 2021


Cas'Amazonia June 30 2022, 0 Comments

COMING SOON!

Casa do Celso June 30 2022, 0 Comments

COMING SOON!

River community Limão do Curuá. December 19 2021, 0 Comments

The riverside community of Limão do Curuá, located in the Bailique archipelago, state of Amapá, is a village of about 140 residents. It is a local reference in the extraction of pracaxi oil and, over the years, it has developed innovations in the process, such as the no cooking the seeds and using an artisanal press, with two wooden boards, made by the residents themselves. With these innovations, the extractors of this community increased their production scale and, consequently, the sale of this oil.

Since the men usually leave small villages either to work in larger cities, or in fishing or river transport of goods to the main local ports, the women stay behind. The harvesting and production of pracaxi in this community is exclusively done by women.

Meetings and analyses of results.

Local producer peeling seeds.

Different parts of the production process.

Their oil is beautiful and great quality, and I love the idea of bringing money to the women of a small river community.

These past two years because of all the difficulties they are still facing due to the pandemic, the production was small and the cost to bring this oil to the cities to export was very high, therefore I only got a small amount and I am selling it in only two sizes since the price is way higher. If you are interested in larger amount contact me. By next year their production and transport will probably normalize and I will be able to carry both pracaxis at the same price.

Scroll to the end of options to find the Women's Pracaxi.

This video was from the first time I was working with them, check it out!


My Favorite Dessert - Cuscuz June 13 2021, 1 Comment

I am not going to go on and on about this recipe, the first time I ate this was from a beach vendor, after a great surfing session. So yesterday when my aunt said she makes a great cuscuz I immediately asked for a list and went to the supermarket.

This recipe is basically a sophisticated tapioca pudding, but OH!! so much better!

I am giving you some of the amounts in metrical system, all you need is to converte it online.

TAPIOCA GRANULATED - 500 g

SUGAR - 1/2 cup (more if you like it really sweet).

MILK - 1 to 1.25 liter.

SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK - 1 can (395 g)

COCONUT MILK  - 200 ml

COCONUT FLAKES - 100 to 200 g (unsweetened, dehydrated).

FOR TOPPING:

COCONUT FLAKES -  sweetened - usually softer - or unsweetened, to taste, if you can find coconut shavings get some!

FOR SERVING:

CONDENSED MILK - to taste

Make sure you have a spot in your fridge.

Mix: Tapioca, milk (if you think you will like it a bit softer use more milk, for a firmer texture use just one litter), coconut milk, half of condensed milk can, unsweetened coconut flakes and sugar. Mix it all very well and put in the fridge for 1.5 to 2 hours depending on how cold your fridge gets.

After it is firm, take it out and mix it again, break the big pieces, make a paste of it again, after mixing well even it out and top it with the rest of the condensed milk and the "toppings" coconut.

After an hour or two take it out, cut into big pieces and serve it with even more condensed milk on top.

You can adjust this recipe in so many ways from the amount of sugar, to the type of coconut flakes. I have had vegan cuscuz and it is just as amazing, just go use a good thick vegan milk and coconut condensed milk!!

Perfect Summer dessert! Try it out and let me know! 


Not All Oils Are Born The Same September 15 2016, 0 Comments

"An oil is any neutral, non-polar chemical substance that is a viscous liquid at room temperatures and is both hydrophobic (does not mix with water, literally "water fearing") and lipophilic (mixes well  with other oils, literally "fat loving")."

VS.

Butters vs. Oils

The right term for what we call "butters" is "fats" - Physically, oils are liquid at room temperature, and fats are solid. Chemically, both fats and oils are composed of triglycerides. 

Some vendors sell the "butter" version of some oils, those are just a blend, mostly a mix of Shea butter and the oil advertised. Oils and Butters come in just one form, what gives them the texture they have is their chemical composition, we can't "magically" turn an oil into a butter or vice-versa. 

In my shop you will find Tucuma butter and Tucuma oil - the butter comes from the seeds and the oil comes from the pulp of the tucuma fruit, they are two different products chemically and physically.

 

Essential vs. Carrier Oils

Carrier Oils or base oils - characteristically, carrier oils are rather bland and viscous (thick in consistency), with little to no aroma. The good quality ones are mechanically extracted from fruits, seeds and nuts (take a look at "cold processing").

Essential Oils or volatile oils are aromatic and derived directly from various plants through a distillation process. The distillation process is usually with water or steam and makes use of the petals, leaves, bark, stem, and even roots of various plants. Essential oils are not fragrances or perfumes.

 

Mineral, Vegetable or Animal

Oils can come from 3 sources: Mineral - a distilled from petroleum, Animal - extracted from animal fat tissues and Vegetable, extracted from plants, most commonly the seeds and nuts but also from leaves and pulps of some plants.

Expeller pressed vs. Solvent Extracted Vegetable Oils

Oils and butters can be extracted mechanically, by a presser, the ideal way of extracting them is mechanically under controlled temperature. When mechanically extracting an oil, the friction generates heat, the harder the part of the plant is being pressed, the more heat it produces. In order not to change the oil's properties, this process is done inside cold rooms resulting in the products we call "cold pressed".

There are no chemical residues in oil that has been expeller pressed resulting in a cleaner, more pure oil, higher in natural colors and flavors.

Oils can also be extracted chemically, which is easier, cheaper and extracts more oil but produces an oil extremely inferior in quality and that can still carry microscopic particles of chemicals.

Unfortunately mass market oils, however, are not required to be labeled as solvent extracted.

 

Refined vs. Unrefined Oils

 An oil that has been refined has passed through a series of processes such as neutralizing (to remove FFA), bleaching (to remove color) and deodorizing (to remove odor and taste). These processes are done chemically and by high heat and besides leaving chemical particles behind, they also strip all the good properties from the oils.

Unfortunately big corporations need their products to look the same every time, they also want them to have very little taste, color and odor as these are also considered "impurities" by modern consumers (silly consumers), so refined oils are more popular than ever. There are two kinds of Refining:

Chemical Refining - the Vegetable Oil is treated with caustic lye for separation of free fatty acids from oil. This is a conventional process that can be applied to all oils. The waste-water from refinery requires extensive treatment, resuming - it creates a poor quality oil and leaves a mess behind.

Physical Refining - In Physical Refining, Vegetable Oil is subject to distillation to remove free fatty acids. This reduces the amount of waste water therefore pollution. This process is becoming more popular but it is also more time consuming and expensive resulting in a more expensive oil.

Unrefined Oils (also called Virgin, Extra-Virgin or "Raw") preserve their odor, taste and color, these can change depending on the producer, area and time of the year the oil is produced. Unrefined oils can also carry some impurities and can go rancid faster. But when comes to skin and hair care you should choose unrefined oils as they keep their medicinal and cosmetic properties intact. They may be more expensive and some of them may have a stronger scent, harder to mix with essential and fragrance oils. So it really depends on your goals for the final product.

 

Wild Harvest, Wildcrafted, Sustainable, Organic, Fair Trade, Responsibly Sourced

We see all these health "buzzwords" everywhere, but what do they mean?

"Wild harvested" or "Wildcrafted" is the practice of collecting plants in the wilderness, on their natural habitat. They are not farmed therefore they are not modified in any way and usually do not have the presence of any chemicals. "Wild-harvest" is usually a "Sustainable" practice: generally only the fruit, flowers, seeds or branches from plants are taken and the living plant is left, or if it is necessary to take the whole plant, seeds of the plant are placed in the empty hole from which the plant was taken. Care is taken to remove only a few plants, flowers, or branches, so plenty remains to continue the supply.

The USDA defines "Organic" products that "are produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation."

"Responsibly Sourced" is a term used freely to say that your products come from sustainable and/or fair trade practices. It is used from diamonds that come from non-conflict areas to sea food and basically means that a product is not damaging the planet and the people on it any further.

In the oil industry it became popular after the deforestation the palm oil farms are causing came to light, most products that use it now say theirs is "Responsibly Sourced Palm Oil".

"Fair Trade" in Brazil refers to products that were harvested, farmed and produced by people who are being offered good working conditions and being paid fairly and in currency not by bartering (bartering gives an advantage to the "big city" people - the buyers - who usually have the upper hand when dealing with harvesters and farmers.)

In the US Fair Trade Certified Products "were made with respect to people and planet. Our rigorous social, environmental and economic standards work to promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency, and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses. When you choose products with the Fair Trade label, your day-to-day purchases can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives."


A little bit of our history. January 20 2016, 0 Comments

This is the map of Brazil, I marked with arrows my hometown of Rio de Janeiro and up north, Belem, the place I usually visit when I go to the Amazon forest. They are about 1500 miles apart - about the distance from Miami to Maine.

Even though I was born in a big city and raised to be a beach girl, my parents would always take me to the beautiful forests of Rio (we have the largest urban forest in the world) where I learned to appreciate every aspect of being in contact with Nature, even the bugs.

In 2010 I decided to stop in Manaus, a Brazilian city in the heart of the Amazon forest, for a couple of days on my way to Rio. It was in this trip a street vendor offered me Pracaxi Oil, I was having a horrible melasma at the time and trying all sorts of chemical treatments. Four weeks after starting with the Pracaxi I decided I had to, somehow, share the many amazing Amazon products with more people. And five years later Rainforest Chica is doing just that! It is extremely exciting and rewarding!

 


Capoeira. January 10 2016, 0 Comments

Capoeira - an Afro-Brazilian fight style. The slaves brought to Brazil weren't allowed to train fighting. But since there is a solution for every problem, they incorporated dancing and music to their fight moves, tricking their owners into thinking they were just dancing. As cool and peaceful as it looks, Capoeira can be deadly in a street fight, just imagine one of these kicks hitting someone in the face.

Most capoeira schools do street demonstrations and it always amazes me the moves they can do inside a small circle without hitting anyone watching. 


Buying exotic oils and butters. January 06 2016, 1 Comment

When buying an exotic oil (or butter) our first instinct is choosing by the price. Unfortunately, even if you are on a budget, you definitely should be more careful with this choice. 
Most of our exotic fats come from parts of the world that have little to no regulation on this market. And the FDA knows very little and is way too busy to be really effective. As long as it says "vegetable oil" and "for external use only" chances are, the product is entering the country.
The FDA isn't even regulating the whole "organic" thing for cosmetics. Anyone can slap an "organic" on the description of a product and charge you a couple more bucks.

Things that can go wrong with exotic fats:

  • they can be mixed with cheaper oils or butters.

  • they can be produced by other methods than cold pressing, losing a lot of their properties.

  • they can be contaminated with undesirable stuff - eww!

  • they can be using slave-like working conditions.

  • their plantations can be destroying forests and animals.

  • their plantations may use a BUNCH of chemicals, stuff we sell to other countries because they are illegal here.


When buying a new oil or butter contact the shop, ask questions. Make sure they sound like they know what they are talking about. It doesn't matter if you are buying 1 oz. or 10 kgs. Ask where the product comes from, how it is produced, how it is harvested, if it is cold pressed, unrefined. If not wild harvested, if it is organic. Ask questions, wait for the answers, then make your decision!

It is your body, you only get one. Be very kind to it!

This post is also on my FORUM, please check it out and share your ideas and experiences with us!


Market Ver-O-Peso, Belem January 02 2016, 0 Comments

mercado ver-o-peso belem rainforest chica

The Ver-o-Peso Market is located in Belém, capital city of the state of Pará, in the north area of Brazil. It is considered the largest open-air market of Latin America and supplies the city with various types of food and medicinal herbs from the interior of the Amazon forest, mainly provided through the river.

It is called "Ver-o-Peso" following a colonial era tradition, since the tax collector's main post was located there, which was called "Casa do Haver-o-peso" ("Have-the-Weight House"). It was there that the taxes over goods brought from the Amazon forests, rivers and countryside should be paid to the Portuguese crown, but only after their weight was measured, hence the name, which later suffered a contraction. It is one of the oldest markets in Brazil.

I was reading a few bad reviews on Trip Advisor, and I can't deny it, they are right, the place does smell, it is loud, not too pretty, very crowded at times, no one speaks English and if you don't pay attention and follow the usual "traveling to South America" rules, you will lose your wallet. Still, one of the coolest places I have ever been, and all the gringos I met there, agreed with me (strangely enough, most of the bad reviews came from Brazilians).

The market is located in the old part of the town, by the port and besides a big old warehouse, it is open air covered by big fixed tents. There you can find: fruits, veggies, herbs, oils, cures, candles, folk medicine, dried meats and fresh fish, jewelry and crafts and a bunch of little kiosks selling quick food and drinks: croquettes, beer, juices, sandwiches and the local favorite, their staple food: fried fish an acai. 

mercado ver-o-peso belem rainforest chica

They usually serve a fish called "filhote" which literally translates to "tiny son" but, ironically, is a huge fresh water fish that can reach up to 600 lbs. They eat it pan fried with a light flour coat. Their acai is just the pulp blended with water. As I was sitting there eating it for the first time, the locals were trying to teach me how to eat it, asking questions and cheering me on. 

    

Mangoes, starfruit, cupuacu and passion fruit pulp (in the yellow bags).

I had never seen quite a few fruits and veggies they sold there, while they do have the southern imported apples, grapes, watermelon and oranges, and some local known ones, like passion-fruit, guava, mangoes, soursop, the most fun part is walking around checking out all their exotic goodness. I felt like a kid in a toy shop, I asked questions, touched everything and, of course, bought a bunch of different stuff. I have videos of me trying some of them on my YouTube channel. While most of them are quite good, I don't recommend that amount of exotic fruits in one sitting... It may cause a week long war in your belly (caused in mine, and by then I was in Rio for Carnaval! I had no time for that!)

   

Pupunha, a little fruit that needs to be cooked and tastes like potatoes and the locals like to eat for breakfast with black coffee,  local boys selling fruits.

    

Separating Cupuacu's pulp from its seeds is hard task and needs to be done with scissors - Bacuri. was quite interesting, strong smell and taste, not bad, just like nothing I have had before. A lot of the fruits from the north have thick, strong skins and white pulps strongly attached to the seeds.

      

Dried meat and fresh fish. The meat comes from the south of the country, the fish is locally caught and sold daily at the market and to restaurants. They don't use fridges for their fish, they lay them on a counter and use a thin layer of ice on top. It gets less weird the longer you visit, and by the third time you eat fish there, you don't worry about it anymore... 

      

Tons of Brazil-nut and cashews, seeing these usually expensive snacks being sold for the price of peanuts, makes you go a little overboard. I was walking around with 5 kg bags. Grapes and apples brought from the south of the country and the local guava usually cultivated in community farms.

     

Their jewelry are made from seeds, fish scales and leather. They are colorful and either made by indigenous tribes or inspired by them.

mercado ver-o-peso belem rainforest chica

Me, in white, probably bugging that bacuri vendor with a thousand questions.

The market has the, mostly commercial, old part of the town on one side, the river on the other, little bay with the boats that bring their goods on one end  and the main historical port on the other.

It is an amazing place for the open minded and I hope to, one day, plan a Rainforest Chica group trip to Belem with friends and customers! 

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