09 December 2013

Reader's Query, Part 1

I recently received an e-mail from someone who found her way to my blog while researching Búzios. She and her husband had moved elsewhere in South America from the U.S. They weren’t as happy as they had expected to be, and Búzios began popping up in conversations as possibly a better alternative. She asked if I could answer some questions, so I sat down, rolled up my sleeves, and here’s the result, which I will spread out over the next two blogs.

I’ve done a lot of reading, so I want to ask you about safety issues. Can you comment?
          A good first question, but a hard one to answer. Yes, my husband and I are concerned with safety, but not that much more than we were concerned with safety in New York or, for that matter, wherever we are. We try to pay attention to our surroundings. We try to stay under the radar. I don't use a pocketbook, or jewelry, so any bad guy looking to grab my purse isn't going to find it! In addition, we drive a fairly commonplace car. We pay our bills. We treat our employees with respect. Basically, we are not attractive targets. Statistically, crime in Brazil is committed by people known to the victim, with lots of vengeance crimes and family crimes, that sort of thing. Friends of ours have been assaulted here, but we have not. Are we worried about that one time we'll be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Yes. Will that make us move? I’ll get back to you on that one.

Is there any airport closer to Búzios than Rio?
          For the majority of international flights, Rio is the closest airport. There is an airport in the neighboring town of Cabo Frio (30-40 minutes away by car) that is supposed to have international capability, but they seem only to serve charters and cargo flights. Believe it or not, Búzios has an airport too, but it's used almost exclusively by celebrities and wealthy businessmen, who jet in on the weekends.

How is transportation around town? (It’s very good where we are now and there are lots of cabs.)
          Búzios is very spread out. There are cabs, there are buses, there are vans, and they run round the clock. But if you live here, it’s best to get a car.

Can you tell me about the grocery stores in Búzios? Are American products available?
          There are four large supermarkets in Búzios plus some smaller specialty stores that are more than sufficient for our needs. Products that you can't find here can usually be found in Rio. As for American products, well, I'm not sure what you mean. If you have to have Skippy peanut butter you can find it, but you'll pay for it. Brazil is not in awe of American brands, they have their own brands which are very good. Plus import duties are extremely high. But we don't go hungry here, and we're able to cook everything we want, Italian food, Indian food, even good old American barbecue!

What about shopping for clothes, tools, etc.?
          Yeah, this is a hip place, you can find what you want (except for a few things I mention in my blog, like poppy seeds, which are prohibited here). I'm not really sure what to answer. You won't find a WalMart or a Costco, but you can still shop ’til you drop if you want to. Whether or not you’ll like the South American women's clothing styles is another question. I have found the one or two clothing shops I like and stick to them.

And are clothes expensive?
          Yes and no. You can find good clothes at good prices, just don’t expect to find outlet stores.

Are restaurants expensive?
          Most people agree that Búzios restaurant prices have gone off the charts in these last years. As a result, most of our friends here, like us, eat mostly at home, and entertain at home as well. We do, however, have our favorite places, the ones that have kept the quality-to-price ratio at a sane level.

Does everything go up in cost during the high season, from December to March?
          YES, YES, AND YES. And it doesn’t necessarily go back down in low season.

My husband and I are thinking about buying a sailboat and sailing to Búzios. What can you tell me about marinas, and the facilities for yachts?
          Well, all I know about the Búzios Yacht Club is that we've been to some wedding receptions there! Otherwise I have no information, but here’s the club's web link, www.icab.esp.br. There is also a sailing club, www.buziosvelaclube.com.br.

Are there any tennis clubs?
          There used to be one, but it's now a condominium. I do see tennis courts around, some private, some possibly public. I’m sure you’ll find partners! There is also a golf course in Búzios that is said to be one of the best in Rio State, www.buziosgolf.com.br.

How about hair salons and spas?
          There are a zillion of them.

We’ll be bringing our dog with us. What can you tell us about veterinarians?
          Not only are there plenty of veterinarians in Búzios, but there are entire pet centers.

. . . to be continued next week.

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