Tag Archives: Kate Romero


imageBy Kate Romero

This is my last column for the Papagaio.  I am feeling all the feels about this because I have loved this job. I can’t believe I never got fired. Yay me! I’m getting ready to head back to the United Plates of America for a bit of home leave and tutoring my kids so they don’t fall behind in school. And when I say tutoring, I mean training them to be restaurant critics. I thought I would use this space to highlight the highs and lows of my time here in Brasilia. I’ll start with the lows, not to be negative, but just to present a few of the challenges that I’ve encountered while living here.

The Lows:

  • Internet/Cable: I can’t even. I mean, my internet is sooooo slow (HOW SLOW IS IT? shouts the audience) that it takes me three days to download a movie. My internet service makes me want to punch a kitten in the face. I haven’t been able to Skype my husband this past year or even use our internet phone. Okay, to be fair, sometimes our internet is amazing. Yesterday we had it four times!
  • Electricity: During the rainy season, simply having electricity is a bonus. I don’t mind being without power, but we’ve lost a desktop computer and two laptops to brown-outs because I’m not very good at lesson-learning and surge protectors.
  • Language difficulties. This is totally my fault because I am a lazy learner.
  • Fear of critters. More about that here and especially here. I will say that creepy-crawlies don’t bother me nearly as much as they did when I first got here, because I am adaptable (hush, you).
  • Requirements and red tape and getting things notarized. So many steps. So complicated. That’s all I’m going to say about that. If you’re still waiting to receive your CPF you know what I’m talking about.
  • Speeding tickets. I think I’m supposed to pay them, but right now they are propping up a broken chair in my living room.

And now for the highs:

  • The people. I could go on and on. I love you all. Except for the cable guys, whom I most definitely have strong negative feelings for.
  • The weather. Perfect in every way. I prefer the rainy season, but my hair looks better in the dry season, so it’s kind of a tie for me.
  • The birds. I still get excited when I see a toucan out my bedroom window. And then I want Fruit Loops.
  • Buying things out of my car window. And buying things out of the back of a car. It makes me feel dangerous.
  • Mangoes, giant avocados, limes, and those little bananas that aren’t too sweet. And my guy who sells me strawberris at the bottom of QI 23 and makes fun of me because I told him his Christmas strawberries were so expensive they would make the baby Jesus cry (sometimes my portuguese comes through in the clutch).
  • Caipirinhas. Hmmm, that should have been at the top, but I don’t feel the need to go the extra mile to change it because what are they going to do, fire me? Hahaha! I kill myself.
  • Rio, and also Rio. It’s my second-favorite city in the world. Seattle has my heart for number one.
  • Foz do IguaçuSure, I nearly died by insect there, but it was an amazing trip.
  • Beer in line at the grocery store. Okay, I admit that I’ve never actually partaken in this, but I find the concept delightful.
  • Getting paid to write snarky things about the cable guy.
  • This past Sunday, when Richard Salazar carted off my kid’s drum set. Apologies to Laura Chamberlin.
  • The awesome coffee table I bought at Jardim Botanico.
  • The Marines. I love them. I have this fantasy where I move into the Marine House and become their house mother. I think it would make a good TV show.
  • CEASA. It’s a perfect slice of Brasilia.
  • Traffic signs. I like how they are more like guidelines here, because that’s how I drive. I feel like I’m mature enough to make the decision to stop at a stop sign if there are no cars coming.  Can you believe people sometimes let me take their children places?
  • How much does Brazil love children? So much.

I’m sure I’ll think of a million more things I love about Brazil after I leave. Well kids, thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. And you don’t have to be a stranger. You can catch  up with me on my personal blog, Pulling Stakes, which has suffered serious neglect since I took over this gig. It’s way more personal and has no helpful tips, but I’m sure there is a future post in there about trying to get cable and internet hooked up in Belgium.




Surviving the Friendly Skies

ProfilepicBy Kate Romero

Hi kids! Remember when I couldn’t stop talking about the ants that have colonized the copy machine in my office? And then I was bragging about my awesomeness in getting rid of them on my own?  You would think that would be the end of the story, but of course you would be wrong. They are back and stronger than ever. I’ve decided to peacefully coexist with them, at least until someone comes to take them away, which should be soon. Just today I got this message in my inbox:

Distributed Work Order request is Pending: Ants have colonized the CLO copy machine.

Pending is good, right? Anway, I’ll keep you guys posted. I know you are on the edge of your seats. Meanwhile, I am busy planning a Home Leave that Uncle Sam is forcing us to take for a month. Related: school is for losers. There will be a lot of plane rides involved in getting home and then on to Belgium. Everybody seems to have strong feelings about flying. Just the other day I overheard my girls and their friends in the back seat of the car discussing which airline was better. Delta won based on the spice cookies they give out. It’s the little things.

At parties, I have found the perfect icebreaker for meeting new people. I always ask what their worst flying experience was. Everyone has one, and in this transient lifestyle, most people have several. I love the horror stories. Vomit, crying babies, families being split up, luggage being lost, the list is endless.

Continue reading

Rancho Canabrava

ProfilepicBy Kate Romero

Hi kids! Okay, I know you guys are DYING to hear how my ant situation is going. The ants are still sort of alive. I mean, they were multiplying like crazy so I felt like I should slow down their growth a little, lest they eat all the snacks in my bottom drawer. Anyway, I put an ant trap thingie behind the copy machine yesterday. Supposedly they will eat it and take it back to their colony and kill everyone with it. Ant ebola. This morning when I lifted the lid of the machine there were very few ants left and only a couple of shrivelled up eggs. I was surprised to discover that I feel terrible about it. The babies especially.  I mean, I’m a mother, too, you know? I know what it’s like when a child goes away, since my firstborn is RUDELY leaving me tomorrow for college. Doesn’t he know that college is dumb and moms are awesome? What were we talking about? Oh, yeah. the ants. Dead. I’m a murderer. Continue reading

So, Ants are a Thing Now

zBy Kate Romero


SOS! SOS! I can’t write anything this week, you guys. I’m busy doing CLO stuff outside of the office and I’ll tell you why. No……..I’ll show you why:

See this nice little copy machine? It’s right behind where I sit, chained to my desk here at the factory. It makes copies. Because it’s a copy maker.


Anyway, being the helpful assistant CLO that I am, I was going to show  a newcomer how to make a few copies of some school paperwork. We couldn’t get the thing to work, despite the fact that it worked fine last week. I opened the lid because that’s what you do when things don’t work. You look under the hood. Continue reading

Lady Who Lunches: Outback Steakhouse

ProfilepicBy Kate Romero

This week I am going to tell you all about my experience with an American chain restaurant. First, though, I am happy to announce that we finally have an onward post assignment! The Romero family will be spending the next three or so years in Brussels, Belgium. The job was supposed to begin last month, but sometimes paperwork is really hard, so I plan to stick around for a little while longer. I’m going to laugh at my kids when they make the transition to a colder climate. Yesterday I came home at noon to find my girls walking the dog in parkas, scarves, and boots. Continue reading

Parting is Such Sour Sorrow

ProfilepicBy Kate Romero

Hi kids! How are y’all enjoying the World Cup? Believe it or not, I’ve gotten totally into it now that there are pictures out there of the Croatian team, uh….swimming at their hotel and guys biting each other and all sorts of drama, like my home team still being in the show. Woot! USA! USA!  Watching the games and listening to my kids dissect the standings ad nauseam has actually been a good distraction for me since just about everyone I’ve ever met in my life is packed out and ready to leave if they haven’t left already. In case you’re wondering, we still DO NOT HAVE AN ONWARD ASSIGNMENT. Raise your hand if you’re sick of hearing about that! Whatever,  I’ll just keep going to the despididas and pretend to be happy for everyone while I  sit here twiddling my thumbs in the corner.  It’s a familiar feeling, taking me back to my days being the last one picked for dodge ball at St. Xavier’s because I was renowned for my inability to succeed at anything involving physical movement.  Here I am again, standing against the wall watching everyone say their goodbyes and heading off on their R&Rs and exciting new assignments in the thrilling game of Foreign Service Dodge Ball. Continue reading

I Guess There’s Some Kind of Soccer Game Thingie?

kateBy Kate Romero

Hi kids! I haven’t visited with you for the past few weeks because I was busy trying to kick down Death’s door. How sick was I? I missed an opportunity to spy on a bunch of teenagers in their natural habitat during their prom. I missed a week of hanging out with my husband who flew gazillions of of miles across several war zones to be with me. I missed the entire last week of my kids’ school. I could go on and on, but I’m not one to complain. HAHA! Just kidding. You guys know I love to complain. I finally got out of bed in time to go to the airport this week to pick up my oldest son from an unchaperoned senior trip to Porto Seguro. He came back alive and without any visible tattoos, so I’d classify the trip as a success. Have you guys been to the airport lately? The roads are all gussied up with signs and flags and no potholes.  The airport itself is also very fancy with chairs to sit in and shiny new counters and whatnot. Trying to park in the parking lot still makes me want to punch a kitten in the face, but you can’t have everything, you know? Continue reading

My Big Fat Garage Sale


By Kate Romero

Hi kids! Since I am such an optimist (hush, you) about receiving an onward assignment, I joined two friends last weekend in a giant moving sale. I mean, it could still happen for us.  We have a few months yet before Brazil throws us out on our ears. Can you tell that I’m trying this new thing where I don’t whine about getting a handshake yet? Whatever, you guys are stuck with me, at least for the time being.

When my friend Katie first mentioned the words ‘Garage Sale’, I was all, “Ummmm, no”, because where I come from, garage sales are a ton of work for very little return. I’ve had only one garage sale in my life. It consisted of me sitting outside with my junk for an hour watching people paw through my stuff. When I got bored of that, I put an “Everything Free” sign out and went inside for a snack to engage in academic play with my gazillion toddlers. From that point on, whenever I wanted to get rid of stuff, I just donated it to charity. Continue reading

College. Wait, What Just Happened?

 kateBy Kate Romero

Hi kids! I know it’s been a while, but I keep running out of time to write every week. This has nothing to do with my new photo app that let’s me try out different hair colors without commitment.  It’s because they work my little fingers to the bone in the CLO office. Those diarista ads don’t write themselves, you know. Speaking of diaristas, mine quit on me last week. She’s been with me three years and she knows how I like my socks rolled instead of folded inside each other so they don’t get stretched out. Don’t judge. Being the positive person I am (shut up, you), I’m using this as an opportunity to whip my kids into shape in the event that Uncle Sam ever gives us an onward assignment and we can no longer afford household help. Considering that one of my kids complained about his underwear not being folded since our maid left, we have a long way to go. Continue reading

Ladies Who Lunch: L’Entrecôte de Paris

By Kate Romero
7Full disclosure: I totally forgot to write this restaurant review. I’ve been very busy running out of office supplies and crying into my keyboard without our trusty assistant Juliana around. But hey, good for her and her new job! Who cares about my needs? Also, my husband was home visiting from the Sandbox, and you know how that goes. I had to kiss his face and impress him with my mad skills of surviving alone near the wilds of Jardim Botânico with nothing but part-time household help and four children to do the dishes. To make matters worse, my massage lady has been on vacation and IT’S HARD TO BE ME, you guys. In addition to all that, I was apparently very busy bulking up for the Biggest Loser Contest, so if you need to find me, I’ll be the one crying into my rice cakes in the corner. Continue reading

All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

ProfilepicBy Kate Romero

Pssssst. Hey you.Wanna be a sponsor? It’ll make you feeeeel good. The CLO is busy putting together our summer sponsorships.  We are particularly in need of sponsors for the months of June and August. Please contact the CLO if you can help. Not only are all the cool kids doing it, but sponsoring makes you look at least fifteen years younger and ten pounds thinner. 

beWe arrived in Brasilia bewildered and culture-shocked. It was our first post. We had no car, no language skills, and no CPF numbers, which meant no internet or tv. On the upside, we also didn’t have a drum set. Our sponsor met us at the airport and had stocked the house with some food. She also took me grocery shopping the next day so I could stock up on wine to drown my sorrows healthy food for my children.  A friend of mine recently arrived at her new post to find that her sponsor had left nothing but a jar of pickles in her refrigerator. It was 10:00 at night and she had three hungry kids, but hey, who doesn’t love pickles? Another friend with no kids arrived at his first post to find just a six-pack of beer waiting for him. Fortunately, it was a happy enough discovery. Continue reading

Got Romance?

profileloveBy Kate Romero

Hi kids. Happy Valentine’s Day! Barf. Okay, maybe I’m a little bitter because my beloved is on another continent dodging rockets this Valentine’s Day. Last year I was feeling all the feels that accompany February 14 as dictated by commercialism.  I even made up some handy dandy printable Valentine Cards for you guys to give to your namorada/o.  Click here if you want to see those and you have a loved one to give them to. Whatever.  I’m not bitter.

Juliana in the CLO office has compiled a list of romantic places to eat this Valentine’s Day, and since it is not a Brazilian holiday, it won’t be crowded and reeking of dumb grody love everywhere you look.  And hey, don’t worry about me.  I’ve got a heart-shaped gluten-free pizza with my name on it. And a date with my interim namorado, who goes by the name of Vinho. Continue reading

Jardim Botânico Shopping

ProfilepicBy Kate Romero

Hi kids!  This week I will be talking about the area in Lago Sul known as Jardim Botânico. I’m not talking about the Botanical Garden, although it is lovely, but the Jardim Botânico commercial district.  I’m guessing it’s called that because of its location next to the Jardim Botânico. I’m pretty good at deductive reasoning. The area is just up around the corner from my house, and if there’s one thing I like, it’s not straying too far from home, because agoraphobia.  Head up QI 23 in Lago Sul and the Jardim Botânico district is right at the top (take a right at the third roundabout).   You are likely to find anything you might need here, from blood tests (Sabin Labs) to plants.  More importantly, you will find a lot of things you don’t need, but will die if you don’t get them.  This happened to me, but more on that in a bit.  There is a shopping mall right in the middle of all the little shops, which I have yet to explore, because my limit of outside exposure always runs out by the time I’m done looking at plants and furniture. Continue reading

Feliz Ano Novo!

ProfilepicBy Kate Romero

This is my third Réveillon (Brazilian New Year’s Eve) in Brazil.  My first year here, I dressed in a chic black outfit to go to a party.  That’s when I discovered that Brazilians wear all white on New Year’s Eve, to symbolize peace and renewal, a certain kind of hope that the New Year will be better than the one that has just passed.  Brazilians must be neater than me.  The instant I put something white on, I spill food on myself.   Continue reading

Fake it Until You Make It

imageBy Kate Romero

You guys!  Next week is Christmas. I’m not SO EXCITED.  Because:


Continue reading