By John Fitzpatrick
A number of Brazilian readers from another site have taken me to task because I lamented the fact that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had boasted about his inability to speak English recently.
This occurred after he had addressed the G-7 group of industrialized nations at their summit meeting in France. On his return to Brazil, Lula claimed that although, like most ordinary Brazilians, he did not speak English this had not stopped him getting his message across.
Of course, not speaking English does not make Lula any less serious on the world stage than, say, Russia’s President Putin, but it puts him at a disadvantage.
Compare his ignorance-is-bliss approach to that of the former German chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, who turned up at the UK Labour Party national conference in Blackpool about 20 years ago and, in beautiful, witty English, told delegates they were wrong in being hostile to the European Economic Community, as the European Union was then called.
Look how the former Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Nehanyahu, got his first steps on the road to power when his popularity among the influential American Jewish community soared thanks to his complete fluency in English .
Not only can Lula not speak directly to the most powerful English speaker in the world, US President George Bush, but he also cannot stand at the rostrum of the United Nations or any other international body and address the world directly.
Despite this, I was not criticizing Lula for being monolingual but for playing the populist card and behaving as though his lack of English somehow brought him closer to the people. In my view, Lula would be setting a good example to adults and children alike if he were to announce that he intended learning English.
No one expects him to become fluent but if he were, at least, able to make a speech in English it would improve his image abroad and, I am sure, at home. The less educated class was never impressed by ex-president Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s linguistic skills because they expected it from an intellectual but if Lula were to master English then the very people he claims to represent would consider it a tribute to them as well. They would be proud of him.
One example he should consider is that of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who started to learn English to try and improve his public image. Anyone who has ever heard Arafat speak knows that he still has a long, long way to go but, at least, he can speak and respond to questions in English.
In his case it must have been more difficult than it would be for Lula. Not only has Arafat spent most of his life on the run from Israeli bombs and bullets, not exactly conducive to quiet study, but since Arabic is his mother tongue he had to learn a new script as well.
My views did not win much support among many of the Brazilian readers and, as usual when I dare to criticize Brazil, I have been accused of being arrogant, dogmatic, opinionated, ignoring the fact that Portuguese is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world etc. Since is aimed at expatriates who are English speakers it would be interesting to hear some views and share readers experiences of other places.

John Fitzpatrick 2003
John Fitzpatrick writes on Brazilian politics and culture for sites, including and, and magazines. He runs his own São Paulo-based company, Celtic Comunicaes, which specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian and foreign clients. He can be contacted at

By Juliana Littlejohn
Gringoes reporter Juliana, takes to the skies to check out the wonderful delights of the northeastern state of Bahia, stopping at the colonial town of Porto Seguro as well as the nearby beach resorts of Arraial D’Ajuda and Trancoso. See how she fairs out.

The airline pilot announced that unless the weather conditionds cleared up, we would fly over our destination and head straight to Salvador, but he managed to glide though the turbulant clouds and arrive at the tropical Porto Seguro.
There is an intense concentration of Brazilian culture in Porto Seguro and the area around it. Typical churches in the center, with squares where children play soccer and bronzed, muscular Baianos practice Capoeira.
Colorful houses with ladies talking to each other from the balconies, stands where Baianas in their white, laced dresses and bead necklaces sell cocadas, and as you walk down cobble-stone streets people call you into restaurants where you can have your choice of muquecas and bobós.
Ponta Grande is one of Porto Seguro’s many quasi-deserted beaches. It is protected by reefs and in low-tide natural clear-water pools are formed. Taperapu is a more crowded beach with Northeastern atmosphere, calm waters, stands where you can have a cocó gelado (coconut milk) and milho verde (corn on the cob), beachside restaurants that serve camarão frito (fried squid), and helicopter flights.
The historical center of Porto Seguro has kept the essence of the colonial town it once was. Some of the various attractions for visitors include the old public jail of 1772, the historical museum, the museum of sacred art, a colonial house, the church of Nossa Senhora da Pena, and the chapel of São Benedito with the ruins of the old jesuit school.
For hikers there is a 2 km trail through the Mata Atlantica. Every night there is a Luau at a different beach, with typical music and typical drinks. Capeta is a northeastern drink made of vodka and guaran powder.
When we arrived at Porto Seguro it was still raining, so we explored the town, had a casquinha de siri (crab meat), and drove off in our rental unit to Trancoso. We crossed the tranqauil Rio Buranhm on a lopsided ferry and passed many fazenda’s (farms) on the other side of the river until we got to our pousada in Trancoso.
Trancoso village is located on the top of a cliff, facing the ocean and many picturesque beaches. The center of the village is called the quadrado” (square), a rectangular field with the church of São João in the middle protecting the city.
Restaurants, bars, and stores that sell ceramics, bathing suits, clothes, Brazilian stones, artifacts, and indiginous beads surround the square. We had diner at a restaurant called “Cantinho Doce”.
We ate a delicious muqueca de camarão (a typical seafood stew with dend oil, of shrimp, crab or fish, eaten with rice and pião, a mandioc and fish broth paste), by a fogueira ( a miniture bon fire) while two locals entertained us with their guitars.
In the afternoon there was a capoeira lesson on the quadrado for anybody who is willing to embaress themselves in front of very talented professionals. From Wednesday to Sunday bars and restaurants open their dance floor at night and all the diverse visitors and residents of Trancoso go to these discos.
In Trancoso, we stayed at Pousada Rio da Barra, at the pink sanded beach, Rio da Barra, divided by a river and decorated with coconut trees, cliffs and lagoons. The sunny weather on the second day of our trip made up for the rain on the first.
The pousada served us a complementary breakfast of typical sweets, tapioca pudding, seasonal fruits, bread with hunny, grilled cheese on a pãozinho, orange juice and caf com leite.
We took some Kayacks up the river, under bridges, and through mongroves. Blue herons sang to us and colorful crabs scurried up the branches of tropical trees. The rest of the day we spent drinking caipirinhas and riding horses on the beach.
From Rio da Barra one can walk north towards Porto Seguro. You will pass the exclusive beach of Club Med and various equally deserted beaches. As you aproach Arraial D’Ajuda the beaches get get increasingly crowded, and you will be guilted into buying coconut earings and baskets made of palms from coconut trees.
Arraial D’Ajuda has “Paradise Water Park” with tobogans and artificial waves, as well as bars, restaurants, and concerts. Arraial itself is a cute town with a typical church center and colorful houses that surround it.
There are many little stores similar to the ones in Trancoso, and in high season it gets very crowded. The nightlife includes luaus by the beach, typical drinks and great opurtunities to meet people.
Praia de Trancoso, which is down the cliff from the village is very crowded, but just south of that, towards Caraiva, there are some of the most beautiful beaches of Bahia. Praia do Espelho has transparent, calm waters, rows of coconut trees, and cliffs that range in shades of red, orange, pink and white.
To get to Caraiva from Trancoso there is a 30 km dirt road. Although it feels long, it is a pleasant trip, through buffalo grazing land, an indian village, parts of the Mata Atlantica and big fazendas. Once you arrive you have to park your car and take a conoe ride across the Rio Caraiva.
The streets or Caraiva are of sand, the public phones hardly work, and there is no electricity. Children of the Pataxó indians will sell you necklaces of seeds and feathers, or, if you speak English, they will make fun of you for not speaking a normal language. They offer excursions on horses around Pataxó indian villages, or on foot around the national park of Monte Pascoal.
This section of the Bahia coast is full of surreal beaches, quaint villages, delicious typical food and friendly, but spacey Bahianos. It is the perfect refuge from the stresseful life of São Paulo.

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By Ed Rowley
You know what it’s like, your best friend has just returned from two weeks in the sun and sends you all the juicy photos. Meanwhile, you sit at the end of a 56kbps link unable to receive any mail until this monster has downloaded. Outlook Express is telling you that it is currently downloading email number five of thirty-seven, but the blue line is not getting any closer to reaching the end, unlike your patience.

Or perhaps you miss your old radio station and try to connect to it to via the internet. You find the website, click on the Listen Live” button, watch hopefully as the media player spends a couple of minutes buffering the stream and then despair as you try and listen to random three second snippets of something that sounds like a Dalek with a speech impediment.

The solution is broadband and the surprise is that it is widely available in Brasil’s metropolitan areas, is very affordable and is extremely easy to set up.

If you here people talking about having ‘Speedy’ at home, they are not talking about a very fast animated Mexican mouse. ‘Speedy’ is the name of the broadband service run by telecommunications giant, Telefonica and getting it installed couldn’t be much simpler.

The first thing you need to do is determine whether your phone line is suitable. This is easily done by visiting Click on ‘Duvidas’ and choose ‘Disponibilidade’ and enter the first four numbers of your home phone number. If ‘Speedy’ is available in your area, you will then be prompted to fill out and submit a form. Once you have done, this you will be contacted within a couple of days to discuss how you want to pay. A good grasp of Portuguese is very helpful in this situation, but not essential as the staff at Telefonica are very helpful and patient.

In São Paulo, once you have signed up, you can choose between receiving a DIY installation kit or paying a bit extra to have a technician install it for you. I found the DIY kit very simple to use and help is readily available if you really do have problems. If you live outside of São Paulo, a technician will be sent to install the product for you.

‘Speedy’ only offers the hardware connection, it is not an ISP (Internet Service Provider). If you want to access the Internet via ‘Speedy’, you will need a broadband account with an ISP, such as Terra (, IG ( or UOL ( amongst others. If you already have an account with an ISP, you will need to contact them about upgrading your account to include broadband access.

As soon as you get your broadband username and password from your ISP, simply type them into the ‘Speedy’ user interface (double-click the icon on the desktop to launch the program) and you are on your way to a brighter, happier world full of MP3s, AVIs, MPEGs and chat rooms. It really is that simple.

‘Speedy’ is paid for on a monthly basis depending upon the conection speed. It starts off at R$64.90 per month for a 256kbps link, which is more than adequate for most people’s needs. On top of this you will need to pay a fee to your ISP for their services. This will be around R$55 per month. The DIY kit costs R$78.80, double this if you want a technician to install ‘Speedy’ for you.


1. Your computer will need to have a 10/100 Network card for the ‘Speedy’ conection. These are cheap to buy and easy to install.
2. Once you have a broadband connection, you should seriously consider installing a firewall to prevent unwanted access to your PC.
3. Microsoft Windows XP users should not install the software that comes with ‘Speedy’ as it may conflict with the built in software that Windows XP has for handling broadband connections. For a simple guide to setting up the connection in Windows XP, see:

By Fabiano Deffenti
So you’ve arrived in Brazil. You’ve spent a bit of time here and like it. Perhaps you were lucky enough to find your loved one here, have foreign backing for a great new idea or somehow got through the red tape and now have a permanent resident’s visa.

You want to open a business. What do you do?

Brazil is governed by civil law, that is, it follows the Franco-German (also called European”) legal tradition. This means that there is at least twice as much red tape for everything. You probably already discovered that at the Brazilian Consulate overseas where you got your visa in the first place…and everything takes three times as long.

Well, bad news. registering a company here can take a 100 times longer!

What type of company should I register?

There are various types of companies which can be registered pursuant to Brazilian law, but the key one for starters is a Limited Liability Company by Shares “Sociedade por Quotas de Responsabilidade Limitada”, generally abbreviated by “Ltda”.

How does a “Limitada” operate?

The Limitada is a mixture between a partnership (in the pure English sense) and a company. It is somewhat like a Limited Liability Partnership as operated in the U.S.

“Partners” are effectively shareholders of the company and have limited liability. Well, limited liability in the Brazilian way of doing it – partners (even those who are not directors) are still personally liable for many things, such as for debts under the draconian Brazilian Labor Code. However, it is still a company in some ways and it can go into the Brazilian equivalents of external administration/Chapter 11 and liquidation.

Where do I register the company?

This is generally done at the Juntas Comerciais, or the state-based Commercial Registries. In some less developed areas registration takes place at Civil Registries.

What documents do I need to register the company?

Brazil is the country of paperwork, so you will need:

another partner – you cannot register a Ltda with one shareholder only;
the “contrato social” (articles of association or by-laws) which is a contract between the partners signed by both partners;
a notarised copy of your Brazilian ID and your business partner’s;
a notarised copy of your CPF (your Brazilian tax file number) and your business partner’s;
a notarised copy of your marriage certificate (if you have registered your marriage in Brazil) and your business partner’s; and
an account or some document showing that you reside at the address where you live and the same for your partner.
You also need to pay some small fee and choose a name which reflects the business you want to run – for example “Joe Bloggs Distribuidores Ltda” if you want to run a distribution and representation business.
Then you need to wait, and wait, and wait a bit more. sometimes even several months. Your application will be analysed by a “vogal” or a bureaucrat who checks whether your application complies with all relevant laws. If you are lucky you won’t need to respond to an “exigncia” from the vogal – a demand for rectifying something which you may have got wrong in your application. The vogal will point out the error to you and you should be able to rectify it, with some help from the guys at the counter of the Junta Comercial or help from a local lawyer.
After that, the vogal will check your application for a final time and you should get your company registered.
This is just a brief summary of the steps involved. I recommended getting the help of a professional such as an accountant or lawyer to help with the formalities of setting up a company in Brazil. Good luck with your new venture!
You can get further information on how to register a company from the Junta’s websites: (Rio Grande do Sul) (São Paulo) (Rio de Janeiro) (Paran) (Minas Gerais)

Fabiano Deffenti, Esq. is an Attorney and Counsellor at Law (New York), Barrister and Solicitor (New Zealand) and Solicitor and Legal Practitioner (Australia). He practises international law in Brazil under the name Deffenti Consulting. You can contact him by email on

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By Juliana Littlejohn
People from all corners of the globe come to Brazil every year in search of precious stones. Luckily they no longer have to spend months excavating in the poorly ventilated mines of Minas Gerais. São Paulo is now overflowing with places where you can find any type of stone, in its raw or lapidated form, as well as jewelers that can carve stunning charms and jewels of your choice.

Downtown São Paulo is the epicenter of the precious stone market. Exagerated dangers keep some people away, but the trip is well worth taking, as you are bound to come across exceptional stones that are impossible to find elsewhere.

The owners of JM Lapidaes (photo above) and Deri Joalheiros are brothers, Jurandi and Deri. They have their shops in the same building in the center of São Paulo. Jurandi brings the raw stones from his mines in Minas Gerais and Paraiba. The factory where various workers lapidate the raw materials into different shapes and textures is one floor above the store. Clients can request a certain cut, and JM will have it ready as soon as you need it. He works with both local and imported stones. Among the native variety are tourmaline, aquamarine, diamonds, iolite, amethysts, emeralds and topazes. He imports Rubies, Safires, Tanzanite, Coral and every kind of salt and sweet water Pearl.

Deri is a jeweler and makes impressive jewelry from his brother’s stones. Above the store is a factory where workers hand make every emerald ring and topaz broach. He has the technology to mass produce, but only uses it when a store demands rapid and abundant production. He has many dazzling pieces ready to display and sell if you ask to see them, and he also takes orders and makes custom jewelry. He oversees the production of every piece, which is always meticulously done, and guarantees that it will be ready on time. If you are a tourist and will only be here for a little while, he will have your piece done in a day (as long as it’s not too intricate). Both JM Lapidaes and Deri Joalheiros sell their products to big companies, such as Vivara and H-Stern. They serve only an exclusive group of individuals, and have agreed to attend anyone who mentions as a reference.

While you’re in the center pass by JRL Biju. The very friendly owner, Eloisa, will be happy to show you her collection. Her elaborate jewelry is all made of national stones and there are rings, earrings and necklaces to suit every taste. For souvenirs you will find a variety of precious rocks, quartz, amethyst and crystals in cavern shapes or in the form of Brazilian birds. They make the perfect gift for your family back home.

Another favorite is Pedras Pedro in Santo Amaro. The owners Dona Ruthe and Sr. João bring their stones directly from mines in Minas Gerais and sell them both in their raw form and already cut. Their stones range from the popular citrine to the harder to find labradorite. This store has a variety of purposes. It is a gift shop in which you can find spoons of the endangered Pau Brasil, necklaces of Amazonic seeds and birds made of Brazilian stones, among other souvenirs. It is a distributor of precious stones, a jewelry store with lovely pieces that they design and it takes orders and makes custom jewelry to suit the customer’s taste.

The best place to buy prearranged jewelry is Francesca Romana. All the stones, except for the pearls and the coral are Brazilian and the design is Italian. Lately there has been an oriental inspiration in her pieces, so you will find a beautiful mixture of cultures in every necklace. She also mixes Brazilian seeds and woods into some pieces. Her selection varies from the delicate dangling earrings to the extravagant rock necklace. The attendants at Francesca Romana will do their best to please customers, even if it means taking a stone from the frame of the golden ring and placing it on a silver frame.

The variety and accessibility of these jewels are hard to find elsewhere in the world and almost impossible to find in the States. Precious Stones are one of Brazil’s many riches and while you’re here you should take advantage of the opportunity. The prices at these five stores are pretty accessible and I can guarantee you won’t be ripped off.

JM Lapidaes
R. Barão de Itapetininga 125 – 4 Andar
Tel. 3218 7878 (call before you arrive)

Deri Joalheiros
R. Barão de Itapetininga 125 – 2Andar
Tel. 3237 400 (call before you arrive)

Elosa – JRL Biju
R. Dom Jos de Barros, 67- loja 8
Tel. 3255 6486

Sr. João and Dona Ruthe
Pedras Pedro Com. Ltda.
Av. Santo Amaro 6358/62
Tel. 5182 5299

Francesca Romana
R. Oscar Freire 1149
Tel. 3061 1868/ 3081 4648

By Kieran Gartlan
T-commerce, or television commerce, has arrived in Brazil. This latest gimmick, aimed at boosting stagnant retails sales, will allow couch potatoes to do all their shopping at the flick of a button. Meanwhile, former hacker Kevin Mitnick will visit Brazil next month to give a speech on how not to get hacked. And Brazil’s business environment doesn’t look like improving much over the next five years, according to an EIU study…

The Sky’s the limit

While most people here are still getting used to the idea of e-commerce…technology waits for no man and we are soon to be presented with T-commerce, or television commerce. This new concept, which already pulls in $4 billion a year in the U.S., will initially be offered to Sky’s 2.5 million subscribers in Brazil.
Soon couch potatoes around the country will be able to order pizza, buy a CD, or make a hairdresser’s appointment with the flick of a switch.
If the idea takes off it shouldn’t be long before the country’s large TV audience is offered the same service, that is if they can be dragged away from their favorite soap opera for long enough.

If you can beat em, join em

Following on the heels of International Hackers Day, the most famous of them all, American Kevin Mitnick will grace us with his presence next month at an IT Conference in Salvador, Bahia. Reformed hacker Mitnick will give a speech on ‘social engineering’, jargon describing techniques used by hackers to obtain critical information allowing them to hack into systems. Mitinick, who runs a security company in Los Angeles, made a name for himself in 1981 when, at the age of 17, he broke into the US air defense system. Later he managed to hack into the Pacific Bell network among others, before finally being caught and imprisoned in 1995, where he remained until 2000.

Brazil: none of your business

Latest studies from the Economist Intelligence Unit show that Brazil will only rise one position over the next five years in the ranking of the best country’s to do business.
Brazil, currently ranked 38th, out of a total of 60 countries, is expected only to reach the 37th spot by 2007. For the same period Canada is seen ranking number one, followed by Holland, Finland, the UK, the US, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Denmark and Ireland. Nigeria will come in last place.
In Latin America, the top spot will go to Chile (18th), followed by Mexico (33rd) and Argentina (43rd).
The study used over 70 criteria for the advantages and disadvantages of doing business in each country. Brazil’s main downfall is excess bureaucracy, inefficient legal system, corruption and crime. The country also presents infrastructure problems, including its communications network, roads, power supply, rails, ports etc. The country’s strong points are ‘political stability’ and ‘market opportunity’.

By Ed Rowley
So, you’re reading this article, which means you are either interested in buying a PC in São Paulo or have already bought one and want to compare notes. São Paulo is a thriving, commercial city where you can buy almost anything you want (the ‘almost’ qualifier comes from my inability to find an electric kettle) and has a highly computer literate population. As such, PCs are widely available and the choice and price range is staggering.

The first thing you need to do is decide what you want from your computer. There is no point in spending over ten-thousand Reais on a piece of hardware that could design and run a spaceship if all you want is a glorified typewriter that can access the Internet to check cinema times. On the other hand, if you have children who enjoy playing super-fast online games on the PC, then buying last year’s model might end up causing a bit of a family row. Ask yourself if you want a DVD drive, a CD-R/RW, a large monitor (important if you want to watch films on the computer), lots of hard drive space to store all your MP3s.

You should also consider what sort of software package you want, after all a computer without software is a little bit like a bicycle without wheels.

The easy option is to go into a large supermarket, such as Extra, and buy a PC with all the trimmings straight off the shelf. You will get a good software bundle and a reasonably good, brand name PC. The specifications might not be exactly what you want, but PCs can be upgraded with little effort. Most of the software in the bundle will probably be superfluous to requirement, although may turn out to be useful at later time (usually just after you have purchased a similar program as you had forgotten it was included in the original, almost overwhelming software bundle). Setting up the PC will be very straightforward and it should not be very long at all before you are browsing the net. The cost will depend on the specification of the PC you purchase, but don’t expect a bargain.

Another option is to buy from a specialist PC (Informatica) shop. There are plenty of them dotted around the city and can usually be found advertising their current special offers in the ‘Folha de São Paulo’ every Wednesday. These shops are very good at putting together a computer that will match your specific requirements. If you know what you want, tell them and they will build a bespoke PC for you and deliver it to your door for a very reasonable price. The prices are attached to the dollar, so are liable to fluctuate from week to week but you should get a good deal, especially if you shop around. Another bonus is that you only have to buy the software you want. This will push the price up, maybe even matching supermarket prices, but you should find that yoy are getting a more powerful PC for your money. The cheapest place to find these specialist shops is Santa Ifignia in the center.

I find that buying from a specialist shop results in a much higher level of service. I bought my PC from ‘Easy Help Informatica’ on Rua dos Pinheiros and found their service to be excellent. They were very helpful and patient with me as I acted out what I wanted, although at one point I think the salesman thought my wild gesticulations meant that I wanted to eat his children rather than asking about the availability of a DVD-CDR/RW combo. Once we had established what I wanted, I placed the order and the computer was delivered within three days.

I had one small problem, which was a result of my combined poor Portuguese and poor acting skills, but they resolved that very quickly and without an additional charge. It is nice to be able to into a shop if you do have a problem and speak to people directly, things seem to get done much more quickly. I bought a PC from a large chain in the UK and their service was impersonal and a waste of time, this was quite the opposite. They will even install the software and set the PC up for you for a very reasonable price.

You can, of course, buy online. Both the large supermarkets and small, specialist shops offer this service, there are even some that only operate in this way. I have no problems with buying over the Internet, you can get some exceptionally good deals. I was recommended ‘Powercomp’ (details below) as being a very trustworthy site and very nearly bought from them until I decided I wanted to deal with a ‘real’ person working in a ‘real’ shop that I could shout at if anything went wrong, but that was just me being a paranoid foreigner.

It is very easy to buy a PC in São Paulo. Most of the shops have people who can offer advice and most are happy to let you pay over six months without incurring any interest. It is slightly more difficult to get exactly what you want at the right price. I recommend the following:

1. Know what you want before you buy. This applies to both hardware and software.
2. Buy the ‘Folha de São Paulo’ on a Wednesday before coming to any decisions as it will give you a very good idea of what is available at what cost.
3. Shop around and don’t be too hasty to make a purchase. Ask about post-sales support.
4. If you want to buy a brand name PC, buy a magazine or search the Internet for reviews.
5. If in any doubt, ask.

Easy Help Informatica
Rua dos Pinheiros 1376
Tel: (11) 3031 0096


By John Fitzpatrick
Thinking of moving to Brazil? If the aim is to make a lot of money then think again. Since I started writing regularly on Brazilian politics and culture for sites and magazines, a number of readers have contacted me seeking advice on living conditions in Brazil.
While some of these readers have been thinking of moving here indefinitely, others were considering spending only a few months. The only practical advice I have been able to give is that, while Man does not live by bread alone, he certainly does need money to survive.
If you do not have money in the form of savings when you arrive, you will have to find a source of income here. If you are lucky enough to have been transferred by your employer on an expatriate contract then you have nothing to worry about. Not only will your employer look after you like a baby, providing a house or apartment, maid, free schooling for your children, medical insurance for your family and so on, but probably part of your salary will be paid back home, far from the hands of the greedy Brazilian taxman. This article is not written for these fortunate few. Nor is it meant to be any kind of tourist guide.
Let us consider two cases: a) the single person who just wants to spend, say, a year either in one place or travel around; and b) the skilled foreigner, perhaps with a returning Brazilian wife, who arrives here with no job.

Living on the cheap

If you are in the first category then you are in a more fortunate position. Brazil can be a cheap place if you are prepared to rough it a bit. In the last year the Real has lost about 50% of its value against the dollar and, at the time of writing, is trading at around R$2.80/US$1. Life can be ridiculously cheap for someone with a fistful of dollars.
For example, in São Paulo you can buy a wholesome meal in a simple restaurant for R$5 or R$6. It will consist of a big helping of rice, beans, chips (that`s French fries to American readers), chicken, beef or fish, plus a huge salad with lettuce, tomatoes, peas, onions etc.
With that under your belt you should not need to eat for the rest of the day. From a street stall you can get a hot dog with an enormous amount of additives – cheese, chili sauce, crisps etc – for R$1.50 or less. If this kind of bulk is not to your taste there are places everywhere in which you choose what you want and pay by weight.
These places always have good selection of lighter fare, including salad and fruit. Since most Brazilians are poor by European or American standards, cheap eating places are the norm and often they are very good. Outside big cities like São Paulo the prices will be lower.
You can find rooms in simple hotels for about R$30 a day or much less. Travelling by bus, rather than air, is time consuming but the difference in price is amazing. It can cost up to 10 times as much to fly as to take a bus.
Why pay R$300 or more to fly from São Paulo to Rio de Janeiro when a bus will cost you around R$55 for a seat which folds down into a kind of bed or R$33 for normal seat? I reckon that with about US$3,000 could easily spend three to four months in Brazil and even stretch it to six months if you tried.
One point worth making, though, is that if your money does start to run out do not assume that you will find casual work as easily as in Europe or the US. Not only is the unemployment rate high, but the pay for this kind of work is so low that almost no European or American would accept it.
This does not mean there are no opportunities. Teaching English, or being a tourist guide, are some ways of making some money. Teaching English is the most common. The pay is low but if you are young and fancy free this could help you out financially. A site called has a Forum which has an extensive correspondence on teaching English, where a lot of useful information can be found. The Forum also has useful advice for those who want to work but have entered on a tourist visa.
One final point though which I cannot stress enough. If you are planning to spend some time here then learn Portuguese. Do not think that some basic Spanish will do – it won`t.

Professionals – be prepared!

If you are a professional you will have a tougher time. Unless you are married to a Brazilian or have some special skill you are unlikely to get a resident`s permit, known as a vista permanente”. Even with this permit, which contains your foreign registration number (RNE) you will need to get a tax registration number (CPF).
My advice is to get the residence permit at a Brazilian consulate abroad, if possible. Without these two documents it is virtually impossible to do anything – from renting an apartment to renting a video at the local Blockbuster. On top of these two essential bits of paper, you will also need a work permit known as a “carteira de trabalho”.
It took me six miserable months to get my work permit and even now I can hardly bear to think of the bureaucracy and bungling involved. This did not stop me working but was a Sword of Damocles hanging over my head the whole time. Fortunately my Brazilian employers were used to the bureaucracy and, with a patience I never had, just assumed it would get sorted out some day or other. It did but only because I took the initiative, not them.
When I first arrived in 1995 most of this registration was done by hand and even in the main labor ministry and immigration departments in São Paulo, there was not a computer in sight. About a year later I had to go through the whole process again when the system was computerized. Even then, my RNE was still an interim one and consisted of a flimsy piece of paper containing my picture, a smudged stamp and a scrawled signature.
It took almost two years to get the new RNE and during this time my document started literally to fall to pieces. As I did quite a lot of traveling in this period, I was constantly questioned by the immigration police on entering and leaving the country. In the end I hired a fixer, called a “despachante”, to sort the whole thing out for me. I had to pay him but it was worth it.

Brazil is a low wage country

If you can put up with all this hassle the next step is finding a job. Sending CVs to employment agencies and chasing up newspaper adverts is, in my experience, almost a waste of time. Brazilian companies treat people like dirt, especially job seekers, and being a foreigner will make no difference. Be warned.
If you do get offered a job you will probably be disappointed at the salary. The first time I was offered a salary to take up a position with a lot of responsibility I assumed the amount was for a week and not a month. Do not forget that the minimum wage here is R$240 and pay is often calculated as a multiple of it. Many people, including professionals, cannot get by on their salaries and have to take on extra work.
I know two people who have both recently been offered responsible managerial positions by multinationals, one in the services industry and the other in manufacturing industry. In the first case, the salary was much more than her existing salary but, in my opinion, still about 25% less than the position merited.
In the other case, the company expected this person to make a difference to its bottom line results in Brazil yet was only prepared to offer 10% above her existing salary. These were both foreign companies, which have a reputation of being better employers in terms of pay and conditions.
To be fair to companies, it should be pointed out that they face heavy overheads under Brazil`s labor laws, such as providing health insurance, travel costs, holiday payments and even food baskets, which are generally said to double the cost of the actual salary. They are also heavily taxed and, as interest rates are frighteningly high, are unable to get access to credit. At the same time, Brazil`s pool of cheap labour and enormous market makes it a tempting place for multinationals.

Doing it your own way

An alternative is to work for yourself, officially or unofficially, although I would not recommend the latter course. The black economy here is estimated at around 35% of the official economy. You just have to walk down a street to see it at work in the shape of stalls selling everything from food to CDs. Setting up a company is expensive and extremely bureaucratic.
However, it is a possibility for the foreigner who has a winning product or service and is prepared to take a risk. Brazil has one of the highest rates of self-employed people in the world and companies are used to dealing with them. Not only do these smaller companies offer tailor-made services but they save the client company the cost of employing extra labor.
The main foreign immigrants who have arrived here in recent years have been Koreans, Chinese, Bolivians and even Argentineans and Chileans. The Koreans have cornered much of the textiles market while the Chinese are still at the stage of running cheap restaurants and shops selling knickknacks to hawking running shoes in the streets.
The Bolivians often work as sweated labor for the Koreans while the Argentineans tend to be found working as Spanish teachers, real estate agents or waiters. All these people are learning for themselves that the streets of São Paulo are not paved with gold. Don`t forget there are hundreds of thousands of Brazilian working abroad – mainly in Japan and the US – simply because they cannot earn enough here to make a decent living.
These are just a few hints, which I hope may help anyone, particularly a professional, who is thinking of coming here. As wages and prices change all the time I have deliberately not given many specific figures. However, if you are interested in checking our current salary levels, both the Estado de São Paulo ( and the Folha de São Paulo ( newspapers publish detailed tables covering a wide range of jobs in their Sunday issues. You can also get more information on official government and industrial sites. Another source is the labor research body, which can be found at

John Fitzpatrick 2003
John Fitzpatrick writes on Brazilian politics and culture for sites, including and, and magazines. He runs his own São Paulo-based company, Celtic Comunicaes, which specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian and foreign clients. He can be contacted at

São Paulo is a hive of cultural activity, with hundreds of exhibitions, shows, plays and concerts taking place each week, many of them for free. Here is our pick of the current bunch…have fun.

Brazil British Center
English photographer Fay Godwina has over 250 images of famous ‘Landmarks’ on display at the Brazil British Center in Pinheiros, and previously at the Barbican Center in London. Godwina became famous for her photos of Salman Rushdie, Saul Bellow and Gunter Grass.
Where: R. Ferreira de Arajo, 741, Pinheiros, Tel. 3814-4155
When: Mon to Sat from 9am to 8pm. Until July 13
Entry: Free

Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil
The Banco do Brasil cultural center has over 77 polaroids from pop art icon Andy Warhol (1928-1987) on exhibition, including portraits of personalities such as Pel, Grace Jones and Liza Minelli, taken between 1975 and 1980. The center is also showing 56 painting by Keith Haring(1958-1990).
Where: R. lvares Penteado, 112, center, Tel. 3113-3651
When: Tues to Sun 12pm to 8pm. Until July 20
Entry: Free

Centro Cultural Fiesp
The Negras Memórias, Memórias De Negros exhibition, showing at the Fiesp cultural center on Av. Paulista, is probably one of the most visited in the city at the moment. The exhibition is made up of over 500 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, objects etc, detailing the history of Afro Brazilians since the time of slavery.
Where: Av. Paulista, 1.313, Bela Vista, Tel. 3146-7406
When: Tue to Sat from 10am to 8pm. Sun from 10am to 7pm. Until July 13
Entry: Free

Instituto Goethe
Over 40 black and white photos by German artist and poet Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze taken in the 1930s taken of everyday scenes.
Where: R. Lisboa, 974, Cerqueira Csar
When: Mon to Fri 9am to 10pm. Sat. 9am to 5pm. Until June 18

Pinacoteca do Estado
A group of works from the 18th São Paulo Bienal exhibition (1985).
Where: Praa da Luz, 2
When: Tue – Sun from 10am to 5.30pm. Tel. (11) 229-9844. Until July 20
Entry: R$4

Centro da Cultura Judaica
The Anne Frank exhibition is currently showing at the recently inaugurated Jewish cultural center right next to Sumare metro station. The exhibition, from Amsterdam, has already traveled to over 50 countries, and is composed of 30 panels reproduced from photos taken by the Frank family.
Where: R. Oscar Freire, 2.500
When: Mon. 6.30pm to 9pm. Tue – Fri from 10am to 9pm. Sat-Sun from 2pm to 7pm. Until July 13. Tel. 3065-4333
Entry: Free

Cultura Inglesa July 2003

July 2 – Pinheiros 21h30 Duos Brasileiros: Celso Vifora and Vicente Barreto
July 16 – Pinheiros 21h30 Duos Brasileiros: Maurcio Carrilho and Pedro Amorim

July 3 – Pinheiros 21h30 Duos Brasileiros: Celso Vifora and Vicente Barreto
July 17 – Pinheiros 21h30 Duos Brasileiros: Maurcio Carrilho and Pedro Amorim
July 31 – CBB 19h30 Alpha Jazz

July 4 – Vila Mariana 19h s 22h Audition for Hamlet – The Musical
Higienópolis 21h Dilogo com a me
July 11 – Higienópolis 21h Dilogo com a me
July 18 – Higienópolis 21h Dilogo com a me
July 25 – Vila Mariana 19h s 22h Audition for Hamlet – The Musical
Higienópolis 21h Dilogo com a me

July 5 – CBB 15h pera Comentada
Vila Mariana 15h s 21h Audition for Hamlet – The Musical
Higienópolis 16h Carmen Miranda – As Cores do Brasil 19h Dilogo com a me
July 12 – CBB 15h pera Comentada
Higienópolis 16h Carmen Miranda – As Cores do Brasil 19h Dilogo com a me
July 19 – CBB 15h pera Comentada
Higienópolis 16h Carmen Miranda – As Cores do Brasil 19h Dilogo com a me
July 26 – Vila Mariana 15h s 21h Audition for Hamlet – The Musical
Higienópolis 16h Carmen Miranda – As Cores do Brasil 19h Dilogo com a me

July 6 – Vila Mariana 15h s 21h Audition for Hamlet – The Musical
Higienópolis 19h Dilogo com a me
July 13 – Higienópolis 16h Carmen Miranda – As Cores do Brasil 19h Dilogo com a me
July 20 – Higienópolis 16h Carmen Miranda – As Cores do Brasil 19h Dilogo com a me
July 27 – Vila Mariana 15h s 21h Audition for Hamlet – The Musical
Higienópolis 16h Carmen Miranda – As Cores do Brasil 19h Dilogo com a me

A presentation of Brazilian music by two gifted musicians who show their talent and improvisation skills.
Tickets R$12

The Alpha Jazz quintet interpret music by Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday and Tom Jobim at the Poet’s Corner Pub in the British Center Pinheiros (CBB).
Entry R$7

Play about the delicate relation between mother and son.
Tickets R$20

The Cia. De Titeres puppet theater group narrate the story of Carmen Miranda in a humourous fashion.
Tickets R$ 12.

A series of commentaries on operas by a panel of experts.
Entry Free

Centro Brasileiro Britnico
Rua Ferreira de Arajo, 741, Pinheiros, telefone (11) 3039-0553.
Teatro Cultura Inglesa-Pinheiros
Rua Dep. Lacerda Franco, 333, telefone (11) 3814-0100.
Auditório Cultura Inglesa-Higienópolis
Av. Higienópolis, 449, telefax (11) 3826-4322.
Espao Cultura Inglesa-Campinas
Rua Dr. Antnio da Costa Carvalho, 480, telefone (19) 3255-8656.
Espao Cultura Inglesa-Vila Mariana
Rua Madre Cabrini, 413, telefone (11) 5549-1722.
Igreja Beato Padre Anchieta
Pateo do Collegio, 84, Centro, telefone (11) 3105-6899.

For more information Tel.: (11) 3039-0553
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By Juliana Littlejohn
Brazilian food is delicious, but every now and then it’s nice to nibble something from home. Luckily São Paulo is a cosmopolitan city, where you can find virtually anything, including imported food, from around the globe.
So next time you crave pancakes from Vermont, turron from Spain, tacos from Mexico or pralines from southern United States, head to one of São Paulo’s specialized import stores, which range from small, personal shops to large gourmet supermarkets.
In Shopping Iguatemi you will find Bacco’s (foto), a small store that sells imported chocolate, Guylian, Droste and Lindt, Spanish delicacies, turron and marzipan, as well as cheeses, wines, olive oils, pasta, cigars, and salad dressings.
Bacco’s is small enough that you will get personal assistance from helpful and efficient staff. You will find everything you need for a cocktail party, things that you can’t always find at the regular Carrefour.
In addition to imported foods, they also carry kitchenware, sushi sets, cook books, thermoses, champagne glasses, and aprons.
If you want to buy imported goods and do your weekly shopping in the same trip, your best bet is either Santa Luzia or Santa Maria, big supermarket style stores. Along with imported and national products, they also have their own brand, a bakery and gourmet pre-prepared meals.

Santa Luzia is conveniently located on Alameda Lorena, luring costumers with its large selection of products. For appetizers it offers various flavors of pts, the finest caviar, an assortment of cheeses, ready prepared garlic bread, and both meat and ricotta Arabic esfihas. A jar (125 grams) of Bonjour brie costs R$18.60, a jar of Celta olives costs R$5.30, salmon pt of Santa Luzia’s own brand costs R$7.80 and a tray of eight Arabia esfihas costs R$3.92.
The ready prepared meals include Paola di Verona’s ravioline di mozzarella di buffalo, capello di vitello, tortelloni di parma, and rotelle di ricotta for R$23.30, a choice of sandwiches, and pies. A smoked ham and ricotta pie costs R$12.30.
Want more? Try Hershey chocolate syrup, Hagaan Dazs Ice Cream, Campbell’s soup, Quaker Granola bars, Vermont organic pancake mix, and brownie mix. They have an entire room for fine liquors, mostly imported. On display last week was a provocative French red wine, Chateau Caroline Mouli.
They also have Baileys for R$84.00 and Crme de Cassis Sisca for R$67.00. Their sweet smelling bakery offers every imaginable type of pãozinho, many flavors of birthday cakes, pies, and mousses, brigadeiros, beijinhos, pão de mel, and quindim.

Santa Maria is a unique shopping experience. You will be inspired by the aromas, the visual stimuli and the mystique. Silken tofu, caviar, brie, camembert, salmon, champignons, anchovies, and pts, are screaming for your attention.
For a break during your grocery shopping you are invited to sit at Santa Maria’s Aqua Bar, which serves every imaginable international and local brand of water, a few unassuming wines and some light meals. Alternatively if you need more substance try some fresh sushi at the sushi bar. Pre prepared petit gateaux are a must for chocolaholics.
The bakery shouldn’t be overlooked with its pecan and lemon meringue pies, raspberry cheese cakes, and lemon squares. While at the check out counter why not throw in a bottle of Scope.

They have free valet parking. As you’re waiting for your car to arrive, go into the magazine store by the parking lot that sells international magazines, such as Vogue and In Style.

Santa Luzia
Alameda Lorena, 1471 – Jardins
Tel.: 3083-5844

Empório Santa Maria
Av. Cidade Jardim 790
Tel.: 3816 – 1329

Shopping Iguatemi – Av. Faria Lima 2232
Tel. (11) 3812-2488;
Rua Sergipe, 568,
tel. (11) 3661-7898.


Rua Lbero Badaró, 340 – Centro
Tel.: 3104-1520 or 3105-1625.

Rua Barão de Capanema, 416/418 – Cerqueira Csar
Tel.: 0800-10-9330

Avenida Comendador Adibo Ares, 275 – Morumbi
Tel.: 3744-5595

Alameda dos Nhambiquaras, 463 – Moema
Tel. (11) 5051-1263.

TEL. (11) 38733179

TEL.: 38466336

TEL.: (11) 2205177

TEL.: (11) 50510898


TEL.: (11) 5427866

TEL.: (11) 50511428

TEL.: (11) 38497928

TEL.: (11) 30218632

TEL.: (11) 5717739

TEL.: (11) 2829562


TEL.: (11) 247.2001

TEL.: (11) 7085.5760

TEL.: (11) 716.8566

TEL.: 4453.3674

TEL.: 3990.3700 EXTRA

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