Category: NOT FOOD

Culture Shock in Rio de Janeiro, pt 2

Traveling to Rio de Janeiro can be daunting. Beyond the language barrier (as Brazilians speak Portuguese), there are also cultural differences. Now that they’ve lifted the visa requirement for American travel to Brazil, perhaps more people will get to experience life there. And I hope these tips are helpful in interacting with Cariocas (people from Rio de Janeiro) and understanding Brazilian culture.

(1) A definitive “No” can be considered rude.
“We’ll see” and “Perhaps” are very common answers for questions when Cariocas don’t want to hurt your feelings or seem rude. Remember to always soften your no with grace. “Unfortunately, I don’t think I can…” Black women especially need to remember this particular social grace.

(2) Arriving early is rude (although being TOO late is rude too).
Rio time is super different than any other time. Its a version of casual lateness that is even wilder than CPT (google it). So when your friend invites you to a dinner party, do not arrive early “to help”, that is considered rude and tacky. But arriving right on time is not advised either. There is this weird balance that only they seem to understand about what time to arrive at things without being considered rude. Rio time.

(3) Smiling at strangers in passing is considered strange.
If I make eye contact with a stranger on the street in Atlanta it is super common to say “good morning” or simply to smile at them. This behavior is considered strange and can be a dead giveaway that you are a tourist. Cariocas will make eye contact, hold it for an uncomfortable amount of time and never crack a smile before directing their eyes somewhere else.

(4) Cariocas are forever unimpressed.
When I travel to Rio, I typically get really excited about samba classes, parading in carnaval, visiting some not-so-touristy locales. And I’m always deflated by Cariocas because they will nod and say “oh yes, you should enjoy that” or “that’s nice.” Even their wows or nossas seems lackluster. So no matter what you’re excited about, be prepared for a Carioca to nod in mock excitement. It doesn’t mean they aren’t happy for you to experience their city, they just don’t find the same things interesting.

(5) Not every Brazilian wants to move to America.
It is a common idea that everyone wants to move to the land of opportunity, but you’ll find in Rio that not everyone does. A lot of American men travel to Rio and they think EVERY woman who pays any attention to them is a gringo-hunter or after a green-card. But the reality you will find is that a lot of them want their American partners to move to Rio instead. It is no secret that life in America is all about working with a small amount of vacation. But in Rio, they understand a different quality of life can be achieved there.

(6) Small talk is super important.
Salutations and pleasantries are super important in this culture. In America, as long as you greet someone first, you can go directly into the business and particulars for your intended contact. In Rio, there will be a long surface-level conversation before they ever get around to asking about the business at hand. Even via text message this rule applies.

(7) Whatsapp is the only form of text message that matters.
Do not waste your time sending regular SMS texts in Rio, because unlike in America, SMS texting in Brazil is not free. So you’ll need to download WhatsApp if you want to text anyone anything. In fact, its the main mode of communication for Carnaval business. No one has websites or LinkedIn or business cards. And even if they have a business that is registered with google, the information will likely not be accurate. You can WhatsApp places for details about their business, but don’t forget to start with a pleasant salutation.

(8) The way you dress says a lot about your societal status.
Rio is a very casual place, but appearances are still very important. Not just your personal grooming and body fitness, but also your wardrobe. Even though no one ever REALLY dresses up, certain styles can make you look like you come from “the community” and others from “the asphalt”. The community is a polite way to say “favela”, which is largely a poor or working-class community started by squatters out of a need to live near their work. And saying “the asphalt” is a way to convey the idea that something or someone is not from or located in a favela. Just as a note: It is easier for me to spot a man from the favela than a woman. This could be a whole blog post in itself, but there are books that can describe this far better than I can.

(9) Thong bikinis and speedos are NOT considered racy.
Thong bikinis are standard in Rio de Janeiro. Anything else is considered a diaper. They aren’t just for young, sexy, fit models. Very young girls wear them, as do older women. EVERYONE wears them, even if they have a cover-up (a canga) over their bottom. While board shorts are becoming more popular, the male swimsuit (sunga) is pretty small also and very popular. Old and young alike wear these at the beach and no one is body-shamed.

(10) Sometimes the rudest behaviors are considered acceptable (if not polite).
As a Southerner (ATLien), saying “please” and “thank you” comes second nature. And when dealing with strangers, my level of politeness can be heightened, which is the norm in Atlanta. However, in Rio, saying to a stranger “would you mind…” before asking for some banal or simple task like passing a straw, will earn you a strange stare. In fact, by-and-large you will hear people use the command tense when asking for things. Give me a napkin. Grab that bag. Move out of the way. And the crazy thing for me is that it is not considered rude. Sometimes you’ll get a thank you after, most of the time not. And Cariocas don’t bat an eye. Pay attention to social queues.

None of these surprises should stop you from enjoying your time, but they might spark questions if no one talks to you about them. I always recommend making connections in Rio before you travel there to maximize your experience and have your questions answered about Brazilian culture. If you’d like to see more, share this blog post!

Favorite Podcasts 2018 || Recommended Listening

Dine With Dani Favorite PodcastPodcasts are a growing form of entertainment and news. Here are a few suggestions to listen to on the way to work, at the gym or while you cook and clean.



(1) The Read
Radio/TV personality and writer Chrissle along with YouTuber/actor Kid Fury dissect celebrity gossip and pop culture with bite and humor. They stan for all things Beyonce, they champion social justice and they celebrate black excellence. I’m all the way here for it. I’ve been a loyal listener for years. Get involved.

Image result for the read

(2) Pod Save America
This is exactly who the “right” talks about when they say “the liberal media”. Part of the Crooked Media Company, this group of former speechwriters, journalists, strategists etc. come together to unpack and explain the importance of the week’s political headlines. They joke with each other throughout creating a lighthearted but informative environment designed to rally their “leftist” base of listeners.

(3) Lovett or Leave it
Comedian and political speechwriter Jon Lovett hosts a live show, recorded at a comedy club. The weekly live show features interviews, panel discussions and hilarious games. His panels are normally engaging political figures, witty writers and well informed entertainers. I can’t wait for them to come to Atlanta to record.

(4) Bodega Boys
Desus Nice and The Kid Mero rep BX all day. The podcast is not about anything in particular. It is just two friends in a recording studio talking. To get to the hilarity, you’ll have to get through the intro, the drop and their MILLIONS of aliases which take approximately 15 minutes. Yes, the introduction is long and confusing for newbies, but the show is overall hilarious. In addition to their podcast they are actually the hosts of the hit Viceland tv show “Desus and Mero”. The brand is strong.

(5) The Thick
Plus size model Tabria Majors and friend Mindy J. discuss dating, love, beauty and more in a raw, unfiltered way. For me it’s refreshing to hear black women keep it so real about sexuality, finance and dating. Plus can I just point out how they celebrate their curves and other full-figured bodies.

(6) On One With Angela Rye
Angela Rye is an Ivy League educated attorney and political activist, come political analyst. She is probably best known for her lively, straight-shooter commentary on CNN in the wake of the Trump election. Her podcast quickly recaps the news of the week and why it matters. She shares important stories for African-Americans to follow. But I live for her no-holds barred conversations with some of the the best and brightest in politics, philanthropy and journalism. She refers to herself as “sophisti-ratched”. I actually love the descriptor.

(7) The Gary Vee Audio Experience
Gary Vaynerchuck is a master salesman, marketing guru, entreprenuer, motivational speaker and all-around hustler. He has a “Watch” Facebook talk show and a YouTube vlog. The podcast tends to be audio clips from speaking engagements, interviews on his talk show, advice given on his YouTube show. These quick bytes tend to work for those who are seeking business advice or motivation.

(8) EW Game of Thrones Weekly
Yes, I know this podcast is seasonal and coming to an end along with the HBO series Game of Thrones, for which it is the companion. But if you EVER decide to go back and watch the series from the beginning– these would be so great to listen to in between each episode. They talk about the episode itself, the making of and more. They have insights from the show runners and actors. And they frequently compare the show to the book series. It just makes the show more amazing. I’m definitely going to relisten when I rewatch!

(9) Insecuri’Tea
This companion to the HBO hit series “Insecure” features two of my favorite internet personalities who are real-life besties. If you watch Insecure, which you should, they break down the episodes delving into sexuality, mental health, relationships, friendships, careers, morality, social justice and more.

(10) Steele & Ungar
In short, Michael Steele is an interesting figure. You may know him as “the Black Republican Spokesperson”, but he’s so much more. Former Luitenant Governor, former Chair of the Republican National Committee (RNC) and now a politcal commentator. On the SiriusXM radio show he hosts with Rick Ungar, they try to present “Rational Republican Radio”. They try. But I sometimes enjoy the excerpts they share on the podcast.

Tips for Booking Airbnb || Rio Apartment December 2016

To get a real understanding of any city, renting an apartment or house is a really nice option when traveling. Here are a few tips for booking your next vacation on Airbnb!

I traveled to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the second time in December 2016. This time I stayed longer than I’ve ever stayed on any vacation: a whole two weeks. I went with my fiance and his best friend. Together the three of us shared a luxury two-bedroom, two bathroom apartment in the upscale neighborhood of Ipanema, just a block and a half from the famous stretch of beach (and two blocks from the foot of a favela).

While the apartment was huge and perfectly furnished for us, there were some challenges that had nothing to do with the property, the host or the neighborhood. There are local infrastructure problems that weren’t insurmountable, merely frustrating at times and slightly irritating at others. I discuss those at the beginning and end of the video.

Anyway, here is a walk-through of that apartment with commentary. I hope you’ll enjoy. Let me know your thoughts on the apartment! Below are some tips for booking on Airbnb


Tips for Booking on Airbnb

(1) Fill Your Profile– Make sure your profile is complete with pictures, info about what you do for a living, why you love to travel, why you prefer airbnb, etc. Get references if you can!!

(2) Make Thorough Lists– Airbnb has a function that allows you to make wish lists for different purposes and add friends, etc. This allows me to save all the places I like while I go ALL the way to the end of the search list. On Airbnb you can filter, but you can’t sort properties, so look at EVERY apartment. You might be surprised by what you find on page 16 or 17 of your search. Most people won’t even go that far. The more popular hosts get top billing and are featured on the first few pages of the search.

(3) Ask Questions– I usually start by asking questions as opposed to immediately requesting to book. Let the host have the opportunity to engage with you first before requesting to book their place. In my message I compliment the property and then ask my question (making sure the details are not in the description). If they aren’t responsive, that’s probably an indicator of why type of host they are. I understand there are always extenuating circumstance, but you want to make sure that you and host are on the same page

(4) Read the Details– there are places that charge additional fees, etc.  One host said i needed to email a copy of my passport and the country visa– as a mandatory policy. I didn’t comply because Airbnb has already confirmed my identity. When I asked “for what purpose do you need my passport and visa,” he backpedaled and said he’d need to see upon check-in, which is fine. There are also places that give discounts for renting more than 7 days! Just make sure you read everything!

(5) Report Prejudice or Discrimination– There are people who wont rent to blacks, muslims, gays, etc. Airbnb has said they don’t support these policies, BUT have put nothing in place to combat the practice. And many host continue to restrict their availability for certain people. I had a host say a property was no longer available. Then they marked it rented. When I resumed my search the next day– the exact same property was available again. I messaged the host who continued to say the place was not available. I made the mistake of going back and forth with this person when I should have just reported them.

I hope these tips are helpful when you book your next vacation rental. SAVE $40 ON YOUR FIRST AIRBNB!

booking airbnb

My FIVE Favorite Christmas Holiday Films

I’ve compiled my list of the top Christmas movies of all times. My favorites to say the least. And no, “A Christmas Story” is not on the list, classic though it may be. If you have a free night with your friends, or if your family watches movies after Christmas dinner, I’ve provided a list of films that you may want to check out. Grab a few bottles of wine, some tissue and all your blankets. It is time to curl up with the ones you love and get into the holiday spirit.

Love Actually (2003)
When people ask what we should watch around the holidays, my first thought is always “Love Actually”. But I have to remember the first line of the movie is filled with expletives (which I usually recite along with the character). Also in this film there is nudity, sexual innuendo, children with transgender dolls. NOT AT ALL A family friendly film, despite Freeform’s attempts to censor it. But I love this film because I laugh, I cry, I cringe, I cheer. You will feel every emotion for this film that intersects no less than 10 different storylines, all taking place over the five weeks leading up to Christmas. This is not your typical holiday film. But for me it is perfect.

The Holiday (2006)
This film probably spoke to single women in progressive nations around the world. It definitely spoke to me. Premise: In an effort to forget their present relationship status, a British woman in a one-sided love affair and an American woman in a failed long-term relationship swap houses for the Christmas holiday. The exchange doesn’t have the desired effects initially because it exacerbates their internal struggles, but in the end it forces them to explore parts of themselves that they had forgotten. I love Kate Winslet’s character so much and I relate to Cameron Diaz’s character more and more as I get older. I love Nancy Meyer films. And I love almost every score by Hans Zimmer. So just imagine her story telling with his audio support. Perfection.

This Christmas (2007)
Despite the brevity of this film, I felt like I knew every character in this movie. And the fact that they called their mother “Ma’dear” (not Tyler Perry’s Madea) endeared them all to me as my maternal grandmother was Ma’dear. If you aren’t familiar with the term, don’t take it personal—it truly is a HISTORICAL part of black culture that I’m not going to explain here. Anyway, all of Ma’Dear’s children come home for Christmas bringing all of their personal drama. It was predictable, but still GREAT to see people who spoke like my family (educated but not crazy wealthy) portrayed in a film. To my non African-American readers: The vernacular of this family is exactly that of my family.

The Family Stone (2005)
Where do I begin? Dianne Keaton. The end. LOL. No, I kid but she is amazing in this film, where her son brings home his frigid girlfriend to meet his regular-degular family. This film is so honest without being dark that I almost cried. You wouldn’t have to change one word of dialogue for this film to represent any American family. If I were a filmmaker, I’d remake this film in ten years with an all black cast. Claire Danes and Rachel McAdams are two of the other female actors in the film. But just grab your tissue. It’s a good one.

The Preacher’s Wife (1996)
Let me be very clear: The soundtrack ALONE is reason enough to watch the movie. Whitney Houston sings her face off in nearly every montage. But back to the film. It is a remake of an older film “the bishop’s wife”, but this version features an all black cast including Denzel Washington (uh, yes), Courtney B. Vance (oh absolutely) and the incomparable, late, great Whitney Houston. If you believe in love, angels and Christmas miracles—this film will give you ALL the feels. You can be sure that it is a sweet film with a sweet ending—as most Christmas movies are, but this film takes me right back to my childhood. And I miss Whitney Houston’s presence all over again. Trust me. Its worth a watch.

National Queen and King of Samba 2017

rainha do samba

In October 2017, SambAZ crowned the Queen and King of Samba for 2017. Though I was not a competitor, I was able to travel to Phoenix, AZ for the festivities, which included many classes taught by some of the best dancers and choreographers out of Brazil. Below, you’ll find my footage from the competition. I captured as much as I could while staying in the moment. I look forward to being a competitor in 2018!

rainha e rei do samba 2017

Fashion| Rompers for Men and the Comedy of Twitter

Fashion mavens are officially trying to make “fetch” happen with the new rompers for men. Celebrities like football player Cam Newton and rapper Young Dro have already embraced the trend, but general public seems a little skeptical if not completely resistant. As usual, the people have taken to twitter and the result is pure comedy.
As always, the internet remains undefeated. I love twitter so much. Make sure you follow me at @DineWithDani today for more.