Prof. Cludia
One of my students recently asked me about the difference between aqui, ali and l. As you will see, it’s quite easy to understand the difference between aqui and l but what about ali?

Activity 1
Lets take a look at the lyrics for some Brazilian songs:
s vezes difcil esquecer: “sometimes it’s hard to forget
– Sinto muito, ela não mora mais aqui.” I’m sorry, she doesn’t live here anymore
Acrilic on Canvas, by Legião Urbana

“Ali o malandro na praa outra vez over there, the cunning man in the square again
Caminhando na ponta dos pés…” walking on tiptoes
A volta do malandro, by Chico Buarque

“Vou ler a carta que o Biel mandou I’ll read the letter sent by Gabriel
Pra voc, l do Brasil.” to you, from there, Brazil.
A carta, by Djavan

Aqui, as seen in the first song, means “here”, while l, seen in the third song, means “there”. Ali, however as seen in the second song, doesn’t always have a consistent meaning, it depends on the context. It can mean “over there”, as well as “not far”.

Activity 2
Let’s have a closer look at this difference. Imagine you are on the corner of Paulista Ave. and Augusta St. in São Paulo:

“O meu escritório aqui, na Avenida Paulista. my office is here, on Paulista Ave.
Eu costumo almoar ali, na Bela Cintra. I usually have lunch over there, on Bela Cintra St.
Como moro em Moema, nunca almoo l em casa.” as I live in Moema, I never have lunch there, at home.

Activity 3
Ok now for an exercise, try to place the correct word (aqui, ali or l) according to the context.

1. (man in a shop):
Com licena, vocs vendem balas nesta loja?
Com licena, vocs vendem balas …………?

2. (woman on Faria Lima, to a taxi driver)
Por favor, quanto tempo leva at o aeroporto em Cumbica?
Por favor, quanto tempo leva at ………….?

3. (child in Ibirapuera Park, near the lake)
Pai, olha o lago! Quantos patos!
Pai, olha ……….! Quantos patos!

Answers: 1. aqui 2. l 3. ali

See you next class!
Prof. Cludia

To read previous articles by Prof. Claudia click below
Portuguese Tips: Comparative and Superlative
Portuguese Tips: Adverbs in Portuguese
Foreigners Through Brazilian Eyes

Prof. Claudia is available for private classes in São Paulo. She can be contacted at

This week Dear Gringo provides you with some tips in overcoming language barriers”. He provides some easy suggestions that will enable you to better overcome your difficulties with the Portuguese language. Dr G also draws an analogy between English speakers and cockroaches..

Dear Gringo,
I’m having trouble with Portuguese. I was ready and willing when I came to Brazil, but I don’t seem to be able. Is there a secret to learning languages? Or am I just going to have to face the fact that I am one of those people who don’t have the ear?
No Falo Portuguese

Dear NFP
It’s true that some people pick up languages more easily than others, in the same way that some people seem to have a special way with math, spelling or keeping a beat. However, not having the knack does not mean you will never be able to speak fluent Portuguese (or play the drums). I’ve done a bit of reading on language acquisition and the good news for you is that, as evidenced by the coherence of your letter, your brain has the proper hardware for speaking whatever language you want. If you can speak your mother tongue, you have the capacity for more.

As to the secret to learning, I cannot divulge that information (it’s a secret). What I can tell you is that learning anything is different depending on the person. You might have heard of “visual” learners. These people are purported to require visual stimuli in order to process information. (The next time you give someone a stern talking to, provide diagrams and pictures to help get your point across.) In reality, there is no such beast as a purely “visual” learner. We all learn best with variety. If you only ever study from a textbook, you’re probably going to sound like a textbook. Mixing up your methods could be the key for you in studying Portuguese. Try as many of the following suggestions as you can, and see what works best for you.

  • Language classes (always a good place to begin-there should be lots of variety within the class)
  • Self-study textbooks (not for everyone, but can be very effective when combined with a regular tutor to answer your questions)
  • Portuguese TV with captions (reading and listening at the same time is great for picking up natural speaking rhythms and intonation-the “beat” of the language)
  • Conversation partners (probably best if you have some kind of focus, like a magazine article, specific topic, or mutual attraction-otherwise it’s hit-or-miss depending on the personalities of you and your partner)
  • Print media (Portuguese newspapers, books, etc.-You don’t need to understand every single word, but regular reading is a great way to pick up vocabulary and to internalize troublesome prepositions)

    Actually, the best way to really learn a language is to find yourself in situations where you need to use it as a means, rather than an end. The trouble with being a native English speaker is that we can survive almost anywhere in the world using only the so-called international language. English speakers are like cockroaches-they crawl out from everywhere.

    Go bother some locals, NFP.

    Hope this helps.

    Dr G

    To read previous letters to Dear Gringo click below:
    Paulista Princess
    Amazon Woman
    Pining in Pinheiros

    If you have any unanswered questions that would benefit from the wisdom of Dear Gringo please forward them to with ‘Dear Gringo’ in the subject line.

  • By Prof. Lu
    Well, you are now living in São Paulo in a nice house with plenty of space, a beautiful swimming pool and barbecue. And this month your daughter will turn 15! You are thinking – why not throw a party and invite the natives? Be warned – you are stepping into dangerous territory here.

    Firstly, a barbecue in America (and England) is typically a very informal affair. In Brazil it can be informal but often not. In this case, a 15th year birthday celebration, you need to be prepared for a formal occasion. Remember this as you send out your invitations.

    Typically the Brazilians teenagers will arrive at your house very well groomed, wearing their Sunday best’s, with dancing on their minds. This is traditional here in Brazil. Despite the barbecue scenery and the swimming pool in the background, the main feature of this party is dance. Now pay attention to my special advice:

    Please, never (and I really mean NEVER!!!) push anyone into the pool. Also don’t jump in the pool dressed, after a few” drinks. This is considered to be extremely bad taste (“those eccentric Americans” might be the comment behind your back). Some Brazilians may say that this behavior is fine, however there may be problems for your children at school, who could be teased by other students. You might also find it difficult to find guests for your next party! I know this via my own experience.

    To read previous articles by Prof. LU click below
    Learning Portuguese Words by Analogy – Part 1
    Learning Portuguese Words by Analogy – Part 2
    Brazilian Portuguese – Don`t Mix Your Words!
    Portuguese Tips

    Prof. LU is available for individual or group lessons, translations, interpretations , business support and special city guided tours in São Paulo and can be contacted by email at

    Brazil’s Maria Cecilia Schmidt Maluf is an English teacher and translator. She has lots of experience working with foreigners and has traveled extensively. Read what she has to say about Brazilian culture, tips on overcoming obstacles and hints on better adapting to the Brazilian way of life. She also shares with us a great story describing her difficulties when traveling in Italy!

    Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?
    I’m from Promissão, a small town in São Paulo state, but I have lived almost all my life in the city of São Paulo. Nowadays I live in Capivari. I’m an English teacher at the Michigan School in this city. I also teach piano and do some translating for Americans who visit my city. Capivari is in São Paulo state, near Campinas.

    What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?
    The number one obstacle is not learning at least some elementary Portuguese. We love it when foreigners make an attempt to communicate with us because we know that Portuguese is not an easy language to learn. But even if the person speaks a little Portuguese, there are some expressions that really confuse them. For instance, pois não”. It’s difficult for a foreigner to know if we are saying “yes” or “no”. Another obstacle is to get used to the Brazilian “relative notion of time”. Normally Brazilian people are not punctual, mainly in social situations. It’s terrible for foreigners.

    What are the common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?
    I would say “about” Brazil. Thinking of Brazil as the country of Samba and Carnival, underestimating our capacity for working hard. Foreigners have a tendency to stick with people from their own countries and language groups. This makes it difficult to adapt to our culture. Foreigners often come to live here without an adequate knowledge of our history, customs, and culture. It would help if they could learn a little about Brazil beforehand by reading books, watching videos, etc.

    What characteristics of other nationalities strike you as different (eg.sense of humour, formality, dress)?
    Among others, I can mention Canadian kindness, British formality, a little disorganized Italian happiness, German strictness. In the USA I stayed among lovely friends, so I can say American loveliness.

    Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian?)
    I prefer the American accent because I’m used to it. I have many close American friends, and at my school we teach American English. We find that, because of American English in movies and on TV programs, many people nowadays prefer to learn American English.

    Favourite place travelled abroad and why?
    Europe in a general way. I loved Vancouver, Canada too, but the best place was Princeton, New Jersey USA. It’s a wonderful place. I have good memories from the time I went there to visit my good friends. We also drove up to Vermont and into Montreal, Canada. I loved it all. This was an unforgettable time in my life.

    Favourite foreign food?
    Italian food. For me it’s the best.

    Favourite foreign band, book and movie?
    As I have a preference for classical music, so all the great orchestras.
    I’m a book worm. So there are a lot of books I could mention. The last one I read was Angels and Demons, but I want to mention an author I like, Johannes Mario Simmel. His novels are wonderful. Who doesn’t remember “Nem só de caviar vive o homem” ( I don’t know the name in English. In German is “Es Muss Night Immer Kaviar Sein”.)
    Movie: The House of Spirits. It’s one of my favorites.

    What is the difference between dating (marrying) a Brazilian and a Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend?)
    I am married to a Brazilian and I never dated a foreigner!!

    Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or ‘culture shock’ that you have experienced with a foreigner?
    It’s a kind of joke on myself. I was driving in Italy, looking for a sign for a specific city. I don’t know Italian, and I saw many signs saying “UCHITA”. I was thinking that it was an important city, if there were so many indications. Then I learned that “UCHITA” means “EXIT”. People laughed a lot at my mistake. Me too. If I knew the language…

    What are the 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?
    Try to hang out much more with Brazilians to start understanding not only the language but mainly our culture, the “Brazilian way”. Enjoy the time they are here, in this beautiful country among a friendly and hospitable people.

    Maria can be contacted at

    To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:
    Marta Dalla Chiesa
    Cludia Ramis De Almeida
    Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
    Fernando Saffi
    Gabriela Kluppel
    Patrcia C. Ribeiro
    Fabiano Deffenti

    If you are Brazilian, or know a Brazilian, who has traveled abroad or has considerable experience with different nationalities here in Brazil, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to

    Eygpt’s Marsye Schouella has been living in Brazil for the past 44 years and not surprisingly now considers Brazil home. Read her story and some of the challenges she has had to overcome, particularly in respect to raising a handicapped daughter. She shares with us her love of the Brazilian way of life as well as her own perspective on how things have changed in the past four decades.

    Where are you from?
    I was born in Alexandria/Egypt where I lived for twenty years’. It was the time of the Suez Canal, and we were expelled. We emigrated to France, spending about four years in Paris, working as a Bilingual Secretary.

    When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?
    I got married and came to live in São Paulo, where my husband was working for a Multinational Company, who had sent him to Switzerland on an Educational Trip.

    What do you do?
    I work as an English/French Teacher and I am also a Translator/Poet working privately. I enjoy all my activities, especially contact with other people.

    What do you miss about home when you are in Brazil?
    As I have lived in Brazil for 44 years, I consider Brazil as my hometown and feel quite at ease here.

    What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?
    I would say that nowadays people can be very self-centered and hardly ever put themselves in your shoes. Unless of course you share the same kind of problems, such as having a mentally-handicapped child, as I do. This is a very harsh problem to endure, but is a very valuable experience, I would say, as you are constantly growing over time.

    I am quite grateful and consider myself quite lucky, as my daughter has always attended specialist schools/clinics. However society is not very understanding of the difficulties of handicapped people. It is costly to attend specialist schools, which a very valuable but beyond the means of many families.

    What do you like about Brazil?
    Their warmth/joy/and style of living, not worrying too much and taking life as it is. The hugging and kissing are often so automatic that they don’t always represent sincerity.

    Which are your favourite places in Brazil?
    I love São Paulo/Campos de Jordão/Ubatuba and also the State of Santa-Catarina as life seems to be quite calm and tranquil there.

    Have you tried any Brazilian food and drink?
    Yes, I certainly do enjoy the famous Feijoada” but it is quite fattening and I am always trying to control my weight.

    What difference between Europe/The States and Brazil, do you find most striking?
    Brazilians have an easy-going attitude and are usually quite relaxed, although nowadays, people are always rushing from one job to another to make ends meet.

    What are the two things you would recommend to do for a visitor to São Paulo?
    Visit the Ibirapuera Park and also spend a weekend in Guaruja/Santos/or Ubatuba to relax/renew energies and discover another pleasant way of living.

    Maryse is an English/French Teacher and a Translator/Poet she can be contacted:

    To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

    Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
    John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
    Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
    Lorelei Jones – England
    Adam Glensy – England
    Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
    Aaron Day – Canada
    Graham Debney – New Zealand
    Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
    Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
    Frank de Meijer – Holland
    Carl Emberson – Australia
    Kim Buarque – Wales
    Damiano Pak – South Korea
    Jonas Helding – Denmark
    Pari Seeber – Iran
    John Milton – England
    Ken Marshall – Australia

    Are you are foreigner living in Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to

    Text and photos by Jason Birmingham
    An interview with Brazil’s leading proponent of American country music
    2004 was a good year for Rodrigo Haddad. In June, he was on stage in Nashville, Tennessee, representing South America at the CMA Music Festival. Two months later, his single Santa F” reached number one on the Indie World Country Record Report. That same month, he performed his newest song, “Rodeo”, in front of 35,000 country music fans at Brazil’s Festa do Peão de Boiadeiro. In September, he was on the road again, headed for a country music festival in Argentina.

    Rodrigo Haddad at his office in São Paulo, Brazil.

    For a man who makes a living playing American country music in Brazil, it doesn’t get much better than this. Speak Up magazine caught up with Rodrigo at his seventh floor office in São Paulo. Sitting at his desk, looking out over skyscrapers and traffic jams, Rodrigo picked at his guitar while discussing his career, the differences between serteneja and American country music, and why the Brazilian country music scene is set to explode in 2005.

    SPEAK UP: How does a kid from São Paulo become a country music singer?

    RODRIGO: My dad started raising Quarter Horses twenty years ago and his friends would give him country music albums from the United States. Whenever we traveled, he’d play Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, and George Strait on the car tape deck. I was only 15 and we used to argue because I wanted to listen to the popular music playing on the radio – but little by little country music grew on me. A year or so later he took me to Texas and I was fascinated by the way people dressed and how they’d sing along to country songs. When I got back to Brazil, I started buying country music from the United States, I learned to play guitar, and I put together a band with a friend of mine. We called ourselves the Texas Rangers, but changed the name later on. George Strait starred in a movie called Pure Country (1992), which defined a generation and a way of life. We became the Pure Country Band, and the name stuck.

    SPEAK UP: – What attracts people in São Paulo to country music?

    RODRIGO: São Paulo is one of the world’s biggest cities… twenty million people live here… and you’ll find fans of just about every kind of music. Country is no exception. But American country music wasn’t really popular here… not the way it is today… until 1998. That year Country Music Television was on the air in Brazil and they brought Garth Brooks down to play at the Barretos International Rodeo. The show was such a success that Alan Jackson performed the next year… then Reba McEntire in 2000. Things have changed [CMT has since shut its doors in Brazil and the rising cost of the dollar makes it hard for rodeo promoters to book international artists] but country music still has a big following. Our band stays busy, playing anywhere from bars that seat fifty people to country nightclubs with space for three thousand.

    SPEAK UP: How is Brazil’s homegrown country music, sertaneja, different from American country music?

    RODRIGO: Let’s start off with the similarities. Both are rural forms of music. Both talk a lot about love, loss, partying, friends, road trips… that sort of thing. Both are about people and feelings… both tell stories we can all relate to. Now the differences. First, you have the language.Sertaneja is sung in Portuguese and American country music is sung in English. Also, sertaneja usually has just two voices – the lead and an accompaniment. With American country music you have more options – there are solo singers, bands, trios, and you also find more women singing. Sertaneja duos tend to be made up of men. But like American country music, sertaneja is undergoing a crossover trend. To reach larger audiences, many sertaneja bands are borrowing from the American country tradition – adding steel guitar and fiddle to their sound.

    SPEAK UP: Why couldn’t you sing American country music in Portuguese?

    RODRIGO: A lot of people think I’m prejudiced against singing country music in Portuguese. And in a way, I am. I lived in Nashville for eight months and I know how patriotic country music fans can be. When you talk about American country music, you’re talking about a tradition. You can’t just imitate the sound and translate the lyrics – the language is part of the music. It would be the same as going to the United States, where a lot of people like Brazilian music, to sing samba in English. It just wouldn’t fit…

    SPEAK UP: You were back in Nashville recently to perform at the CMA Music Festival. What was that like?

    RODRIGO: This CMA Music Festival… it used to be called Fan Fair… is the world’s largest country music show. It’s been around for twenty years, but 2004 was the first time they put on a show by global country artists. They invited six performers from Canada, Greece, Ireland, and the Netherlands – plus me from Brazil. It was an unforgettable night. I’d been to the festival several times as a fan and to be invited to sing was amazing.

    SPEAK UP: You talked about the boom of American country music in 1998. How were you involved in Garth Brooks’ visit to Brazil?

    RODRIGO: CMT asked me to show Garth and the band around while they were down here. I was backstage on the night of the show and it was one of those magic moments. Garth was at the top of his career and “Standing Outside the Fire” was playing on Brazilian TV and radio. 50,000 people turned up that night…

    SPEAK UP: What was Garth’s reaction?

    RODRIGO: He was fascinated by it all. When he sang “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” the people in the arena took off their cowboy hats and sang along – in English! But the highlight of the show was “Standing Outside the Fire.” In the middle of the song, Garth pulled off his country-western shirt. I’d given him a Brazilian soccer jersey and he was wearing it underneath. The crowd went crazy…

    SPEAK UP: Do you believe the hype that 2005 will be even better than 1998 for country music in Brazil?

    RODRIGO: Globo TV… Brazil’s most important channel… is filming a new soap opera called “America”. It’s going to air prime time in 2005 and it highlights the country way-of-life in Brazil and in the USA. The cast is made up of Brazil’s biggest stars – Deborah Secco, Murilo Bencio, Murilo Rosa, Juliana Paes, Vera Fischer. The author is Glória Peres, one of Brazil’s best screenwriters, and the director is Jaime Monjardim, who’s also famous. Plus, when Globo TV decides to do something, everyone else follows along. Record TV has a sertaneja program starring Chitãozinho & Xororó. Bandeirantes has another one starring sertaneja idol Srgio Reis. The country culture has never received so much media attention in Brazil. And to top it all off, the Barretos Rodeo will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. In other words, 2005 is the year it all comes together. Everyone’s expecting wonders… and so am I.

    Top: Rodrigo Haddad on stage. Left: Cover shot from a recent album. Right: Rodrigo and Pure Country Band founding member Marcel Gholmieh with Garth Brooks prior to the Barretos show of 1998.


    Rodrigo Haddad will be playing a one-night only acoustic show with Jason Bermingham at the Finnegan’s Pub in Pinheiros.

    SUNDAY, MARCH 6, AT 7:30 P.M. – COVER CHARGE = R$4.00

    Rua Cristiano Vianna, 358
    Pinheiros, São Paulo
    For information call: (11) 3062-3232

    Jason Bermingham works as a writer/musician in São Paulo, Brazil. This article appeared in Speak Up – Brazil’s premier English-language magazine: If you enjoy Bob Dylan covers, send him an e-mail at He’ll set you up with a table at his next gig.

    Manaus, capital of Brazil’s largest state of Amazonas, is located in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, home to over 3,000 species of bird and animal life. Over 75% of Amazonas’ population of 2 million people lives in Manuas, making it the state’s economic powerhouse. The city’s economy was given a strong boost by the rubber boom at the end of the 19th century, but later floundered following the arrival of cheap Asian imports in the early part of the 20th century.

    Despite its privileged position Manaus has few attractions and is used mostly as a stopover for excursions into the Amazon forest. The city’s climate is hot and humid, and during the rainy season, from January to June, there are daily downpours. Boat trips with large and small tour operators leave from the Escadaria dos Remedios Port to do jungle tours, including piranha fishing and visits to Indian communities, ranging from day trips to months of travel.

    The city has its fair share of museum and cultural buildings as well as a private nature reserve called The Amazon Ecopark. The city’s famous opera house, Teatro Amazonas, built at the end of the 19th century and recently renovated, still holds opera and ballet performances. All of the material used to build the theater was shipped over from Europe and it is still one of the city’s most visited landmarks.

    Other attractions are the popular river beach with a full range of amenities, including bars and restaurants, as well as the waterfalls, Cascatinha do Amor and Cachoeira do Taruma. An interesting phenomenon, not to be missed, is the Econtro das Aguas, the point where the black waters of the Rio Negro meet the clearer waters of the Rio Solimoes, which can be seen from the ferry boat which travels between Careiro and the Porto Velho highway.

    The city’s nightlife is centered around Praca do Congresso at the end of Avenida Eduardo Ribeiro, while some clubs can also be found in the Cachoeirinha district.

    General Information in Portuguese (English page under construction)
    In Portuguese, general tourist information
    In Portuguese, general tourist information

    This week’s entertainment guide features a famous São Paulo lanchonete located within the Mercado Municipal, an opportunity to try a new organic cachaa, a well known Brazilian band who had modest beginnings, the latest film release which has evoked controversy but is favoured to win at this years Oscar’s and a district in São Paulo that provides a touch of the Orient.

    Hocca Bar Located in the Mercado Municipal the Hocca Bar is a São Paulo institution. Located in Box G-7/F-8 of the market this small lanchonete has been serving food to Paulistinos for many years. Be warned, this place is wildly popular, and you can expect to queue for up to an hour to be served some of the best pasties, lanches, beirutes and juices available in São Paulo. The signature dish is undoubtedly the Pastel de Bacalhau (which is salted cod fish – made famous by the Portuguese) for R$2,50 which you will find most customers munching on. You may also wish to try the mortadela sandwich for R$5,00 which is jam packed full of layers of meat and not much else (think pastrami sandwich in New York). For drinks, you can try one of the many juices, such as goiaba or caj. Address: Cantareira, 337, Centro, Mercado Municipal. Telephone (11) 227-0839. Open every day early – till 4pm. Check the website

    Terra VermelhaThe Upstairs Lounge of the Grand Hyatt Hotel São Paulo is launching Terra Vermelha cachaa, which is first organic cachaa certified by the International Federation for the Movement of Organic Agriculture. Considered to be one of the finest cachaa’s available it brings a new concept in cachaa. The tasting is to take place between 5pm – 8pm on 23, 24, & 25 February, 2004, in the relaxed environment of the terrace, in the Upstairs Bar. Tasting will include cachaa, caipirinhas of various fruits, and delicious tidbits. Cost is R$30,00 per person. For reservations call (11) 6838- 3207. Check the website

    Charlie Brown JrCharlie Brown Jr (which lends its name from a coconut stand – not the comic strip star) hail from Santos and released their first album in 1997. Lead singer, Chorão (which means ‘big cry baby’), owes his music career to a call of nature. Charao who was playing in another band at the time was opportunistic and took hold of the microphone when the regular lead singer had a toilet break. Members of the audience immediately noticed his talent and the rest as they say is history. When: 10:00pm on 26 February, 2005. Where: Credicard Hall see website for details Tickets cost from R$50.

    Million Dollar BabyMillion Dollar Baby tells the story of boxing trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) who in the wake of a painful estrangement from his daughter, has been unwilling to let himself get close to anyone for a very long time, then Maggie Fitzgerald (Hilary Swank) walks into his gym. In a life of constant struggle, Maggie’s gotten herself this far on raw talent, unshakable focus and a tremendous force of will. But more than anything, she wants someone to believe in her. The last thing Frankie needs is that kind of responsibility– let alone that kind of risk–but won over by Maggie’s sheer determination, he begrudgingly agrees to take her on. In turns exasperating and inspiring each other, the two come to discover that they share a common spirit that transcends the pain and loss of their pasts, and they find in each other a sense of family they lost long ago. Yet, they both face a battle that will demand more heart and courage than any they’ve ever known. Released in Brazil on 18 February, 2005. PG-13 for violence, some disturbing images, thematic material and language. 2 hrs 17 minutes.

    LiberdadeImagine passing through the street of Japan without having to leave São Paulo. It seems impossible, however you only need to travel to the Liberdade district to experience a touch of the oriental in the heart of São Paulo. The city is known for its multi-cultural feel with many people immigrating here over the past century to start better lives. In the early 20th century thousands of Japanese arrived to work in the coffee plantations and soon established a home Liberdade. Nowadays many Koreans and Chinese also have settled in this part of the city. Taking a walk through the streets you will encounter things such as Japanese signs, Buddhist monuments, oriental restaurants and supermarkets. If want to know more about Japanese culture and history you can visit the Museum of Japanese Imigration (Rua São Joaquim, 381 Ph (11) 3208-5458). There is also the Oriental Garden (Rua Galvão Bueno) which you can see if you are lucky enough to visit during July and December when it is open for the Festival of the Stars.

    See below for previous editions of What’s On in São Paulo

    What’s On Guide, Feb 17 – Feb 23, 2005
    What’s On Guide, Feb 11 – Feb 16, 2005
    What’s On Guide, Feb 3 – Feb 10, 2005
    What’s On Guide, Jan 27- Feb 2, 2005
    What’s On Guide, Jan 19-26, 2005
    What’s On Guide, Jan 12-18, 2005
    What’s On Guide, Jan 5-11, 2005
    What’s On Guide, Dec 15-21, 2004
    What’s On Guide, Dec 8-14, 2004
    What’s On Guide, Nov 25 – 1 Dec, 2004
    What’s On Guide, Nov 17 – 24, 2004

    This week Dear Gringo tackles the phenomenon of Culture Shock”. There are three classic stages to culture shock and Dr G provides advice on how to recognize the symptoms as well as some tips that will enable you to better deal with this problem..

    Dear Gringo
    I met my Canadian boyfriend when he came to Brazil about 3 months ago. At first we had a really good relationship, but lately in his free time he just sits around at home and complains about everything in my country. He never wants to go out. Is Canada so much better than here? What’s wrong with this guy? Is this a phase or should I dump him now?
    Paulista Princess

    Dear PP
    I think I can tell you what’s wrong with your crazy Canuck, but don’t ask me if you should stay with him. To guide you on this point I would need to know his income. But seriously, only you can make such a decision. As to what ails him, does your morose namorado exhibit most of the following symptoms?
    – depression or moodiness
    – insomnia and constant fatigue
    – extreme irritability
    – anti-social tendencies
    – idealization of home country
    – stereotyping and criticizing of host culture

    If this describes your boyfriend, chances are he is experiencing culture shock. If your guy is remotely typical, here are the stages of culture shock that he will go through:

    Stage one-euphoria. This is when he falls in love with samba, churrascarias, and excessive foam on beer. It is sometimes called the “honeymoon” or “rose-coloured glasses” stage. Everything at this juncture is new and exciting, even coxinha, and it is difficult not to take photos.

    Stage two-bitterness. This is the crash that comes when euphoria loses steam. Here the host culture loses its charm, one learns the phrase “sem colarinho” (no foam), and “they” seem to do everything wrong. My diagnosis of your boyfriend would place him in the bitterness stage right now. He feels homesick, misses all the things he knows, and lets the little things bother him. He is likely to criticize even aspects of Brazil that are superior to those of his home country (like the weather). Fast food is a staple of stage two sufferers.

    Stage three-acceptance. If stage two doesn’t drive your boyfriend back to the great white north, he will eventually adapt to his environment. He might still complain about São Paulo traffic, but so do the locals. After he complains he will smile and flip a “tudo bom” at the nearest stranger.

    Now you might be wondering if there is anything that can be done to speed up your beau’s transition to stage three. The best antidote to culture shock is to carve out a comfortable life in the host culture. Both exercise and keeping busy are very important, so try getting him to the gym or to some kind of regular community activity. Learning the language also makes life easier, as does a circle of close friends (preferably not all foreigners in stage two themselves).
    Hope this helps.
    Dr G

    To read previous letters to Dear Gringo click below:
    Amazon Woman
    Pining in Pinheiros

    If you have any unanswered questions that would benefit from the wisdom of Dear Gringo please forward them to with ‘Dear Gringo’ in the subject line.

    Brazil’s Marta Dalla Chiesa lived in London for 13 years, meet her English partner and returned to Southern Brazil to start an eco-travel business. She shares with us her observations of adapting to a new culture, the difficulties in dating a foreigner and some tips on how to better understand Brazilians.

    Where are you from in Brazil and what do you do?
    I was born in the Brazilian wine capital” Bento Gonalves, Rio Grande do Sul, but I left quite young. I spent most of my life in Porto Alegre then in London, where I went to study for my PhD in biochemistry and ended up staying for 13 years! I now live in Florianopolis, where my English partner and I own an incoming tour operator called Brazil Ecojourneys. We specialise in South Brazil and our clients are mainly foreigners.

    What are the main obstacles for foreigners in Brazil?
    I think the bureaucracy and the language.

    What are common mistakes that foreigners make in Brazil?
    Wrong assumptions. For example, that everybody can speak English or that the whole country is poor and violent. Also thinking that Brazilians are morally liberal: in some cases is true, but, for example, going topless on the beach is still a taboo! Brazil is very diverse, there are many countries in one and, at the beginning is difficult for a foreigner to understand this.

    What characteristic of other nationalities strikes you as the most different (eg. sense of humour, formality, dress)?
    Englishnse of humour: it’s very ironic and self-deprecating.
    Italians and Spanish seem to have a great national pride. For them there is no place like home (especially when they think of food).
    Asians tend to be quite reserved and formal.
    Germans are so not self-conscious of their bodies: they have no qualms about getting changed in public or sharing a sauna.

    Which English accent do you prefer and why (eg. Scottish, American, Australian)?
    I find Scottish quite warm and friendly (when you can understand it!).

    Favourite placed traveled abroad and why?
    Difficult one. Each place is memorable for a different reason: Galapagos for the wildlife, Iceland for being so beautiful and strange and possibly Thailand for the culture.

    Favourite foreign food?
    THAI! That is probably what I miss most from living in London. I havent found a decent Thai restaurant here yet.

    Favourite foreign band, book and movie?
    I don’t have one absolute favourite band or singer. I listen to lots of different kinds of music: Texas, kd lang, Aretha Franklin, U2. The same goes for books and movies. Last year my favourite film was “The Motorcycle Diaries”. As for books, anything from Paul Auster.

    What is the difference between dating a Brazilian and Foreigner (if this applies to you or perhaps a friend)?
    Cultural differences are a good thing but can cause some tensions. Also, even if you think you are fluent in the language, misunderstandings always happen. For example, when I met my partner I used to say “nice” a lot, due to lack of vocabulary. I though I was being pleasant, she thought I didn’t really like anything! It seems to annoy the English a lot!

    Can you share an incident, misunderstanding or culture shock that you have
    experienced with a foreigner?

    Quite a few, but one that I remember right now is that I had an Asian doctor in England and while I was explaining what my problem was he kept moving his head side to side. I thought he was disagreeing with me but in fact is a normal movement for Asians when they are listening or speaking.

    What are 2 things you would recommend for a visitor to do in Brazil to better understand Brazilian people and their culture?
    Try to mix with Brazilians as much as possible in their everyday life and travel a lot, especially away from the coast.

    Marta can be contacted at she also owns a travel company Brazil Ecojourneys – South Brazil Specialists check the website on

    To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:
    Cludia Ramis De Almeida
    Vivian Manasse Teixeira Leite
    Fernando Saffi
    Gabriela Kluppel
    Patrcia C. Ribeiro
    Fabiano Deffenti

    If you are Brazilian, or know a Brazilian, who has traveled abroad or has considerable experience with different nationalities here in Brazil, we would like to hear from you. Please send an email with contact details and a brief description of yourself to