This week’s Dear Gringo comes to us from a recently divorced Ameican. He would like to get a Brazilian visa so he can stay near his young sons, who are twins. The only problem? Bureaucracy. Read on as Dr. G tries to help Gary.

Dear Gringo,

I was recently divorced from a Brasileira. We were living in the USA, however she returned to Brasil 2 years ago to stay. We were separated until a week ago, but now we are divorced. We have twin 5 yr old boys from this marriage. Because I would like to be near my children and share my life with them, but also because I love living in Brasil (I lived in São Paulo for 2 years), I am trying to find a way to obtain a permanent visa in order to go to work and live permanently.

My wife (now ex) would do the paperwork to be my sponsor (we are still on good terms) but would not live in the same household as me (obviously). Immigration said because of this I would not be able to obtain a permanent visa, only a tourist visa. I have a college degree, I work in Technical Support on computers, I have many Microsoft certifications, and also I speak Portuguese on a basic level (but am currently studying to improve this). I have had no luck getting a Brazilian company to hire me because they do not want to mess with doing the paperwork to bring me over there from the US. If I already lived there it would not be as big a problem I think.

Is there anyway you can help me or any advice you can give me? I really, really want to return to Brasil permanently to live, work, and be near my sons to share their life with them.

Gary

Dear Gary,

From what I’ve been able to gather, you are in a kind of gray area because of the divorce. If you can prove that your kids are financially dependent on you, and I suspect that you and your ex could be a little creative” in this respect (i.e. one person’s slave wage is another’s dream salary), then you are entitled to a permanent visa in Brazil. Talking directly to people in any bureaucratic government office can be quite frustrating, but don’t let one bored employee discourage you with a random interpretation of the rules. When I was in the process of becoming permanent (my wife is Brazilian), I was given conflicting information by different people in the same office. To get to the happy ending, it seemed that just pushing through and getting second opinions when we didn’t like the first ones worked well.

If you can afford it, I think your best bet is a despachante (roughly means “facilitator”). These people make a living by handling the bureaucracy for you, and they usually have contacts on the inside who can speed things up (or at least let them cut to the front of the line). Unfortunately, the service provided by despachantes isn’t cheap. If it’s out of your price range, I’m not sure what to suggest other than trying to befriend someone at the nearest Brazilian embassy or consulate in the US. It will probably be a tough haul.

One despachante company that I know of is called Overseas. All the information you need to contact them is on their English website: http://www.overseasconsult.com.br/si/site/0000?idioma=ingles

Good luck in your dealings with Brazilian bureaucracy. Keep us updated, as I am sure many readers would be interested in hearing how it all turns out.

Dr. G

By Kyle Hedlund
Anyone who has returned to her or his own community after journeying to distant-seeming places has encountered the question: So, how was it?” It’s a terrible query, really, as it can only be answered with epic yet inadequate accounts or the empty, but socially acceptable, “great.” Many well-travelled souls fear this horror more than they do immigration queues.

There are, of course, exceptional people on whom lengthy descriptions, stacks of photographs, and revealing details are not wasted. But for the vast majority-the backyard barbecue crowd-anything more elaborate than an amusing (and stereotype-confirming) anecdote will do nothing but move the conversation in a different direction.

There is a reason for this non-receptiveness amongst the teeming masses. The people who stay behind just can’t relate to the traveller’s tales. While life back home keeps its monotonous pace, the voyager experiences mind-warping acceleration. Time is no longer measured in weekends, and schedules are not set by television programs. Mondays are allowed to be exciting, and even something as mundane as breakfast turns into an event, with morning meals in different cultures varying from cereal-with-milk to rice-and-soup to a surprisingly widespread preponderance of fish.

I have not yet returned to Canada since I arrived in Brazil, but I know what the folks back home are expecting. I’ll need to show photos of Carnaval and capoeira dancers. I’ll have to explain why Brazil has won more World Cups than any other nation. They’ll want to know all about Rio (“Did you go up to the top of that Jesus thing?”) and the Amazon. Someone will probably ask about favelas.

The catch is that most of these things are still as foreign to me as they are to them. Sure, I’ve been to Rio a couple of times (once during Carnaval) and I’ve seen some favelas, but I don’t really know what these places are like. When I think of Brazil I think more about the São Paulo neighbourhood where I live. I’ll remember this tiny three-‘bedroom’ apartment before beaches and rain forests. My Brazil is a valley of high-rise apartment buildings with echoes of futsal reverberating throughout (I learned how to swear in Portuguese through the players’ curses). It’s non-stop evening music and voices coming from the condominium churrasco area every weekend. Uniformed girls handing out flyers in the middle of nightmarish traffic. Picanha and people parking my car…

Brazil is no more Carnaval than Japan is geishas, Egypt is pyramids, or Canada is ice hockey. But how do I tell this to the people back home?

Meet Peter Baines, an Englishman in Brazil long enough to recall two currency changes. Read on as he discusses business ventures, his thoughts on Brazil, and the lack of HP sauce.

Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from? When did you arrive and what brought you here?

Born in Preston, Lancashire, in 1943; moved to Canada in 1949 and arrived in Brazil 1950.
My father was a textile man, and moved from England as the textile industry in England started to suffer the competition from India and Asia in general after the 2nd War.
We arrived here in Santos, Mum, Dad and six kids, later to be 8, 4 boys and 4 girls.
I went back to England, to boarding school, in 1953, Mount Saint Mary’s College, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire, run by Jesuits; it was tough. When I was 16, the school said they couldn’t do much more for me, they said that I was wasting their time and my Dad’s money. In fact I was, since my main interests were sports, and just having a good time. So in 1960 I returned to Brazil, went to Chapel School, to continue having an even greater time, partying, playing rugby, etc.; that’s when my old man said, enough.
It was back to England, and then I suddenly realized that I had to do something with my life. I did an OND in Mech Eng. at Bolton Tech, passed with good marks, and went on to Salford University which at that time was called The Royal College of Advanced Technology, the Royal CAT”, also our mascot, which we had to protect on many occasion before and after rugby games at home and away. During the holidays I played rugby for Preston Grasshoppers and occasionally for Manchester RFC.
On leaving Salford with and BSC (Hons) in Prod. Eng., I joined Reckitt & Colman in 1967, did 6 month training , and came out to Brasil to be the Chief Engineer at Atlantis , in St Andr.
I came back for good because of Diana Tinkler (my Di ), whom I had met on a visit to Brazil in 1966, we later got married in 1969,and had our daughter Lara who teaches at the Graded, and our son Terence who works at the BM&F.
During my 7yrs with Reckitt’s, I travelled back to England, went to Mexico, & South Africa, to obtain know-how to install a baby food plant in a joint venture with Gerber’s.

What do you do in Brazil?

At present I look after a small farm in Holambra (The City of Flowers.), producing Green Tropical Plantas, breeding Canchim registered cattle, and growing sugar cane. I also look after the remains of two inactive companies, not closed for obvious reasons , which in Brazil can be a full time job.

What were you first impressions of Brazil?

As I was only 7yrs old, my first impressions that still have stock in my mind, was my first meal, , rice and beans, and a bife as hard as leather and Guarana da Antartica, and the feeling that we were in a very big city. São Paulo had about 2.2 million people, and was the 13th largest city in the world, smaller than Rio. This was the year Brazil lost the World Cup at home, and Corinthans were champions.

What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Leaving Reckitt’s to join a family business, which suffered first the death of the founder; then the tremendous impacts of the government economic plans from 1989 through the 1990s, not being able to save the company, and being obliged to sell out for peanuts.

What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Being asked to be President and then being elected as President of the Canchim Cattle Breeders Association, 1997 to 2001, from engineer to cattle breeder.

What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

The opportunities, of every kind, with little restriction, other than of course money, in all walks of life, if your willing to work hard and go along with the Brasilian way of life and turn a blind eye to many of the idiosyncrasies of the country and it’s people.

What do you dislike most about Brazil (in general)?

Security, impunity, corruption, lack of value for human life.

What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

For special occasions the Jardineira Grill, in fact the same restaurant where my son Terence, paid out of his first salary the first meal for his Mum & Dad.
For a good meal on the spur of the moment, the Cantina Bella Donna, Itaim, two block from home.
Use to be the English Club(SPAC), now it’s nowhere special, mainly at home.

Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

This happened, not exactly in Brasil, but at the border between Brasil and Argentina , Uruguaina.
Once again, involving rugby, at the time I was the coach for the SPAC U-17, 40 boys and I,were on are way to La Plata RFC.for a weeks Rugby Clinic by bus,
On arriving at the Argentina border, we handed over all our passports for the normal scrutiny, well after about an hour the police came back to inform us that there was a passport with a problem. I tried to think whose it could be, since we had Brasilians and other nationalities with us.
So I decided to find out who and what was the problem, to my surprise I find out it was my British passport.
This is unbelievable, I had visited Argentina a few years before on business, on leaving, the airport police had not stamped my passport, so for the border police I had not left the country, and had been living illegally in Argentina for two years., ( This was just after the Falklands)
Well after a lot of explaining, they decided that they would have to put a stamp on my passport referring to my leaving two years prior, so they found an adjustable rubber-stamp, and made a exit stamp in my passport, unbelievable, all this took about 2 hours.
Then put an entry stamp and we carried on our way.

What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

Its on the Brasilian flag ” ORDEM E PROGRESSO” , the difference is ORDEM. It’s as clear as that!
No HP sauce, Heinz BAKED Beans or good TETLEY’S tea, can’t have baked bean on toast, with an egg on top covered with HP sauce and a good mug of tea.”
Fortunately I have friends who supply me with the ingredients, and you can always have a good FEIJOADA!

What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

I believe this is the country of the future, I have done so since I started working here, and so did my father who worked for Alpargatas till he retired, and passed away last year after 54 years in Brasil. We’ve had many obstacles put in our way over time , internal and external, but PROGRESSO continues.
Don’t be put off by first impressions, this country has a lot to offer, it’s not the cushy life of back home, it’s getting better, at least you can still have a maid.

What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Travel in Brazil north to south, east to west, preferably by car; see the immensity and differences in the regions.
In the city of São Paulo, visit the museums, the town center, and other points of interest.
In the state take a trip along the main highways the best in Brazil, visit some of the larger cities in the interior, feel the wealth and warmth of the country, agriculture, industry, tourism, remember: this is a city of about 15,000,000 people, a state going on to 35,000,000, and a country with 170,000,000. There’s plenty to see!!!!!!!!!

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

Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
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 gringoes@www.gringoes.com

By Kyle Hedlund
She tells me that the Portuguese word, saudade, can’t be translated. I love a challenge, and I hate absolutes. I think I make a good start when her Password English Dictionary for Speakers of Portuguese gives a one-word definition: homesickness.” My suspicions are confirmed. It’s so simple. The Longman’s dictionary concurs on homesickness, and adds the somewhat related “nostalgia.” A slight expansion, but not enough to discredit my hypothesis. Ready to rest my case, my smug smile disappears when she shows me page 17 of my favourite “Traveler’s Tales: Brazil” book. Someone called Neise Cavini Turchin, in a memoir entitled “Longing for Brazil,” says of saudade that “if you can explain it, you’ve made a poor translation.” Hmm. Time to roll up the sleeves.

Another favourite reference for navigating life in this country, Volker Poelzl’s “Culture Shock: Brazil,” says that “saudade is probably the most significant and typical expression of the Brazilian soul, a combination of longing and desire, mixed with nostalgia and melancholy.” My arrogant certainty about the translatability of simple words turns to curiosity at the poetic complexity of this palavra. The description of “longing and desire, mixed with nostalgia and melancholy” sends a barely detectable shiver through my chest.

She tells me that saudade is often misunderstood to be something negative, when in fact it has a positive edge to it. You don’t feel saudade for something that was never good. At a funeral it’s the warmth you remember from the person who is gone. After a nasty breakup it’s the hand you won’t hold any more. “Missing” someone or something gets you part of the way to the meaning of the word, but only part.

She says that saudade is also mistakenly defined as nostalgia, yet we can feel it for things we have never experienced. I picture sad-faced people with unsatisfactory lives looking out their windows at the beginning of adventure stories, yearning or aching for something more. But we still cannot be definitive. Poelzl says it’s “a state of mind that Brazilians seek and thrive on.”

She says that she felt saudade for me during our month on different continents. Bitter absence mixed with sweet anticipation. Humbled, and impressed, I admit defeat.

This week’s guide includes a Japanese restaurant ready to expand your horizons, a bar with a pun for a name, a show by a Paulista singer, a new place to hold a corporate party, and one of this winter’s not-so must-see animated movies.

YakitoriYakitori
If “Japanese restaurant” is synonymous with “sushi” in your vocabulary, you may want to expand your horizons with a visit to Moema’s Yakitori. You can still find raw fish in sashimi and maki-sushi form, but the place is famed, and named, for its grill. My favourite is the asparagus wrapped in bacon, but you’ll definitely want to order a variety of the sampler-sized specialties that come served on sticks. Don’t forget to order some of the actual yakitori (grilled chicken skewers). A little advice: get yourself a grilled onigiri (rice ball) stuffed with salmon if you are feeling extra hungry. Mike likes them. Located close to Ibirapuera Mall at Avenida dos Carins, 93, Moema. Phone: 5044-7809. Open 6:00pm to 11:00pm (Sundays until 10:00pm).

BarxareuPunning on the degrees given out by nearby Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing-ESPM (bacharel = bachelor when you are talking about university parchment), Barxaru is a good place to mingle with the student crowd. Our drinks last Thursday night were actually a sidebar to our picanha feast. The full food menu includes a 600-gram chunk of beef served on a “rechaud” mini-grill right at your table. The advantage is that you get to cook it yourself-the disadvantage is that you have to cook it yourself. We also tried the winter specialty, caldinho de feijão (bean stew). Located just up the street from ESPM at Rua Joaquim Tvora, 1150, Vila Mariana. Phone: 5539-2444. Open Tuesdays through Fridays from 5:00pm until 1:00am; Saturdays until midnight; Sundays until 11:00pm.

Zizi PossiZizi Possi
Slipcue.com’s “Guide to Brazilian Music” says that Zizi Possi‘s “background lies largely in the theatre, and her live performances are one of her greatest strengths.” You can see this Paulista singer in a special one-time only live concert of English songs on July 7th at Tom Brasil-Naes Unidas. Rua Bragana Paulista, 1281, Santo Amaro. Call the Tom Brasil ticket office at 2163 2100, or email: imprensa@tombr.com.br
There is also a website.

Mini GolfMini-golf
Shopping Eldorado recently opened a new 14-hole mini-golf course. I didn’t see any windmills, but it looks like fun for the whole family. The cost is R$10 per round; gambling within your foursome is optional. Companies can book the whole course any evening from 9 to 11 for their own events. The course is located in the ground level “Atrio Azul” area of Eldorado mall. Just off Marginal Pinheiros at Av. Rebouas, 3970, Pinheiros. For more information call the mall’s customer center at 3819-0688, or visit their website:

MadagascarMadagascar
Don’t go to see Madagascar expecting the likes of Shrek (from the same Dreamworks studio) and Monsters, Inc, or you will be disappointed. When the peripheral action, in this case some mutinous penguins and a wacky lemur king, steals the show from a lame main story, it may be time to head back to the drawing board. Is the animated feature becoming a worn-out genre? This movie uses the same old tricks, notably big star voices (Chris Rock and Ben Stiller do the lead Zebra and Lion characters) and pop culture gags, but it never really delivers. Madagascar isn’t terrible, but I kind of wish I’d waited for the DVD and its possibility of extra monkey scenes. Just opened on Friday (June 24) in Brazil; runs 86 minutes.

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

What’s On Guide, June 15 – June 22, 2005
What’s On Guide, June 6 – June 15, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 26 – June 6, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 20 – May 25, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 13 – May 19, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 6 – May 12, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 29 – May 5, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 21 – Apr 28, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 6 – Apr 20, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 31 – Apr 6, 2005

This week’s entertainment guide features a pizzeria worth visiting, a bar with culture, an upcoming show, a place to find your inner daredevil, and one of the newest Hollywood films.

Primo Basilico We celebrated Lcia’s return to São Paulo with a trip to Primo Baslico in Jardim Paulistano. It seems you can’t get pizza this good down in Rio. The atmosphere is casual, the prices are very reasonable, and the pizza is worth bragging about. I sampled pieces of the eponymous Primo Baslico, the Tosca, the Portuguesa, and, my favourite, the Caprese. All were excellent. One disappointment was the lack of draft beer on the premises, though I quickly regained my smile when I saw big bottles of Original (from Antarctica) being delivered to the next table. You’ll find Primo Baslico on Alameda Gabriel Monteiro da Silva, 1864, Jardim Paulistano. Phone: 3082-8027. Open daily from 6:00pm until just after midnight, Fridays and Saturdays until 1:30am. Note that they don’t take Visa, but other cards are fine.

Bar Nacional Bar Nacional in Moema was designed with patriotic Brazilians in mind, but culture-curious gringos will enjoy it, too. The spacious 360 square meters have become a popular meeting point for couples, groups and the happy hour crowd. Did I mention happy hour? Tuesday through Friday complimentary snacks keep the munchies at bay. If your timing’s right, you can also witness the daily flag-raising “ceremony” while you sing along to the Brazil’s unofficial national anthem, Brasileirinho by Waldir Azevedo. As you might guess from the name, the food and drink selection at Bar Nacional is heavy on Brazilian favourites. Try the chicken with jabuticaba (a kind of berry), washed down with chopp or your very own caipirinha concoction (mix and match with their selection of fruits). The place to be is Avenida Lavandisca, 457 in Moema (phone: 5052-2502). Mondays to Thursdays from 6:00pm to 1:00 in the morning; Fridays from 6:00pm until the last customer; Saturdays from noon until the last customer; Sundays from 2:00pm.

Vanessa da MataHer website says she is a force of nature (da mata meaning “of the forest”), but you can see Vanessa da Mata indoors this Friday and Saturday night at CIE Music Hall (DirecTV). She’s relatively new on the Brazilian music scene, but everyone knows her from a song on the soap opera, “Esperana.” Before checking out her concert this weekend, you might want to check out her website,www.vanessadamata.com.br/, complete with song excerpts. Shows are Friday and Saturday (June 24 & 25) at 10pm; tickets are from R$30 to 70. The CIE Music Hall (formerly DirecTV) is at Avenida dos Jamaris, 213, Moema. Phone: 6846-6040 or 6846-6000.

Hopi HariHopi Hari is a fictitious country with a population of 1300.employees, 40 attractions and the capacity to handle 25,000 visitors a day. This amusement park offers attractions in 5 different regions: Kaminda Mundi, Aribabiba, Wild West, Mistieri, and Infantasia. As an independent country it has its own language (Portuguese-Hops dictionaries are available), flag, anthem, and currency. To get your adrenaline flowing, try swinging at 120km/hr on the Hadikali (sounds like radical) or take a ride on Montezum, the largest wooden roller coaster in Latin America. For virtual rides and information check out their website. To get to Hopi Hari take Rodovia dos Bandeirantes to km 72.5 (municipality of Vinhedo), and follow the signs. Phone: (11) 3058-2207. Open Fridays from 10am to 6pm; Saturdays & Sundays until 8pm. R$ 35.90 gets you in and on all the rides except the Hadikali. For R$21 you can enjoy the shows without messing up your hair. Kids up to 1 meter tall and people older than 60 enter for free. Parking: R$ 12,00 (cars, mini vans); R$ 6,00 (motorcycles)

Batman BeginsThe early reviews for Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins are positive. Expect an about-face from the cartoonish direction the series had taken post-Tim Burton (with 1997’s Batman and Robin being the chief offender). This look at Bruce Wayne before he became the caped crusader is darker and less slapstick than the previous installments. Good news for the multitudes who would rather do without another lowest-common-denominator Hollywood disappointment. Batman Begins opened last Friday in Brazil, just a couple of days after its US release. It is rated 12 years and runs 141 minutes.

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

What’s On Guide, June 15 – June 22, 2005
What’s On Guide, June 6 – June 15, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 26 – June 6, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 20 – May 25, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 13 – May 19, 2005
What’s On Guide, May 6 – May 12, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 29 – May 5, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 21 – Apr 28, 2005
What’s On Guide, Apr 6 – Apr 20, 2005
What’s On Guide, Mar 31 – Apr 6, 2005

By D. E. Finley
Shopping in Brazil as a gringo can be difficult, especially, when you don’t know the right word for the thing you want. It often leads to new leisure activities such as charades, pantomiming, modern dance, and telepathic messaging. Shopping is often more like being on a game show. But, instead of winning a free prize like a trip to Hawaii or a shiny new car, the prize is a more modest item like, panty hose, anti-fungal cream, Compound-W, plunger, dental floss, exfoliating scrub, soap, or latex gloves that you’re expected to pay for.

The other day, I needed panty hose to go with my dress for a party Saturday night. I asked my husband to go with me. We went to the Lojas Americanas store at the shopping mall. (The name sounded hopeful.) We realized that we were going to have to ask a sales associate for help AFTER combing through the store, first together, and then breaking off separately for more in-depth, CSI (Crime Scene Investigation)-type coverage.

Since we’d left our English-Portuguese dictionary at home, we tried just saying, Panty hose, por favor?”

We got no response from the sales associate other that the usual, confused look, like we’d just landed our space ship to shop at the mall.

I re-enacted how I put pantyhose on while I’m dressing to Eduardo. (His name was pinned on his sales associate vest.). This prompted the Eduardo to call over three other sales associates for backup. Actually, he only called over one – the other two tagged along out of curiosity. They’d never seen extra terrestrials before.

My attempts at acting out and drawing panty hose sadly failed.

“Fruiteria. Fruiteria,” they replied. They must have thought that I was playing the role of a banana unpeeling myself, and backed up their theory with my artistic rendering.

So, our last option was to call our translator, Claudia.

“How can I help you?” she asked in her usual, friendly tone.

“Our friends are having a party tonight, and we’re trying to get hose,” my husband, Bob, explained.

“Bob, I’m sorry, but, hose are illegal here in Brazil.”

“Hose?”

“Yes, hose. They are illegal here. It’s not like Las Vegas, Bob. I’m so sorry.”

“Oh, no. No, no, no. I’m talking about panty hose like stockings, Claudia.”

“Oh, panty. You are in a painting store, Bob? You want to buy a hose in a paint store for your garden?”

“No, it’s to wear, Claudia. I’m talking about panty hose to wear – like leg stockings.”

“I’m so sorry, Bob. You don’t do that in Brazil either. Men don’t want to wear stockings to a party.”

“No, they’re for Debbie to wear.”

“Oh, yes. Now, I understand Bob. They are called, meia cala. But, you can’t buy them in a paint store. Try Carrefour. “

Bob thanked Claudia. We showed the word to the now seven curious sales associates and a few lurking customers who were hoping to help, and also practice their English on us. Now came the decision as to the color, length, texture, thickness, and size. We still hadn’t gotten to the other items on our shopping list like the soap and latex gloves. But, we wanted to be sure to make it to the party in time – in time to be fashionably late. We’d be playing charades. With the practice that we got shopping, we’d have a decent chance of wining.

Copyright D. E. Finley 2005.

To read previous articles by D. E. Finley click below:

Brazil Life: In-Laws In Town
Brazil Life: Got Floss
Brazil Life: Hiring a Maid
Brazil Life: Brazilians are so Nice
Brazil Life: Gringa Goes Shopping at Carrefour
Brazil Life: Amazon Encounter Lodge Vacation
Brazil Life: Keeping Track of My Purse

D.E. Finley is a writer and graphic artist. You can visit her website at http://defDesigns.com

This week’s installment of the Dear Gringo column deals with the woes of superficiality in the realm of online dating. One of our readers attacks the unrealistic chance for true love via dating sites, including the personal ads on Gringoes. Read what Dr. G writes and send us your comments.

Dear Gringo,

For two weeks in a row www.gringoes.com shows up with a middle age man narrating his experience in Brazil. We can say love, romance, or just great experiences. It depends on one’s point of view. My point here is that in both stories the two parts found each other through an online dating site. It got my attention. First because they both wanted to tell us about their great experiences with Brazilians, but also because I never really believed that this kind of help could lead to a sincere relationship. I’m too skeptical in this. Let’s take a look at Gringoes’ classified ads for an example. What we can see? A 35-year-old American businessman looking to have a serious relationship with a Brazilian girl. His requirements: 18-24 years old and a nice body!? An American girl looking for love.or at least something or someone interestingly distracting in the meantime. It’s without mentioning non-realistic profiles and pictures.
Do you get my point? Could you share with me some of your wisdom?

Tatiane

Dear Tatiane,

Sorry I didn’t get to your letter in a more timely manner. Readers wanting to read the two articles you are referring to can click these links:
http://www.gringoes.com/articles.asp?ID_Noticia=801
http://www.gringoes.com/articles.asp?ID_Noticia=797

Do I get your point? If I’m reading you correctly, you actually have two points. First, you’re wondering whether on-line introductions can really be expected to work. Second, you’re bemoaning the fact that men are superficial. Now where did I put my wisdom…

Once upon a time (and still to this day in much of the world) the way to meet prospective mates was to wait until your parents and other relatives arranged your marriage. Simple. Some might even say highly effective, as there was little room for cold feet or wondering if this really was the person you were meant for. Way back then there was a similar lack of options in such areas as food, career, and TV channels. Over the years, however, societies advanced (perhaps a poor choice of words) to the point where individuals are now mostly free to choose from amongst an incredibly wide assortment of foods, jobs, bad TV programs, and even dates. Many do not see this as a bad thing. On-line dating is a fine example of human beings using technology to give themselves more choices. Whereas twenty years ago one expected to make friends and meet potential partners through work, family, or school, today we can add the Internet. When we visit chat rooms or Internet matchmakers, all we are doing is expanding our pool of possibilities. In the end it will still come down to a question of face-to-face compatibility. There is no reason that computer dating should be any less effective than that socially accepted method of getting drunk and picking someone up in a club.

As for the businessman you seem to chastise for listing physical requirements in his Gringoes ad, you should be glad that he is honest about his superficiality. Had he been less up-front about his desires, many women hoping for true love might have been suckered into responding to a man who would not even consider them because of their appearance. The Internet is probably the ideal venue for this sort of dating. If this gentleman were to cruise the bars or church dances, he would probably still weed out the women who didn’t fit his supermodel requirements, but there would be more chances for hurt feelings or awkward moments.

And please don’t tell me that women do not look for unrealistic profiles and pictures. It’s not true, though men might generally be bolder about it. There are certainly more than a few ladies around who would choose Brad Pitt over Mr. Nice, and I’ve heard female friends say they wouldn’t date a guy without a car.

My feeling is that on-line matchmaking is no better or worse than being set up by friends or going to singles’ events. In the end, Gold-digger Barbie dolls will still find their Shallow Kens, and the rest will just have one more method with which to go about the business of perpetuating our species. Isn’t it romantic?

Dr. G

READERS’ REPLIES

Dear Dr. G,

I just finished reading your response to Tatiane and your considerations about online
dating. Youre quite right in what you said. And Id add more to your argument. I myself favor online dating, especially now that Im not a young “body” anymore. I think
that for ladies, our chances to find a compatible partner on line and have him fall for us are greater than in real life. You know why? Because in real life, and seems it’s a male characteristic, men get first attracted physically to women, sometimes discarding those who
dont fit their physical ideal without even giving them the chance of showing theyre more than just a body. Over the net, we can, if we want to, first get them hooked to our inner selves, mind and soul, then our body gets to be just a complement of a whole (Im not saying any body will do, but that body will not be the sole parameter taken into consideration). I often say that instead of love at first sight, what we get is love at first e-mail… :-) Ive got two sisters who, just like me, met their partners on line: one is marrying a British guy on Sept 8th, the other is going steady with an American guy. Ive got another friend who married another British guy she also met on line, and still another one who’s going steady with a guy from India. All of them are over 45, and had a previous marriage to a Brazilian man before.

Happy São Joao!!

Dear Dr. G,

I just stumbled on your column for the first time and found it utterly delightful! Your clarity and conciseness around the history of matchmaking and male superficiality is outstanding! I’m going to write about your column in my blog and reference it and the column about the MD
Persecuted Yank
Delivery Woes
Looking for Love
Homestay
Lonely Heart
Jealousy
Stalked
Squashed
Humour
Marriage
No Falo Portuguese
Paulista Princess
Amazon Woman
Pining in Pinheiros

Please note, the views expressed in this column are not necessarily those shared by www.gringoes.com. We do not accept any liability for advice or recommendations offered through this column.

By Kyle Hedlund
It took me precisely eight and a half months to discover my local padaria (Orquidea Pumila on Rua Socrates in Jardim Marajoara), but it is quickly becoming a weekend staple. For those not in the know (like myself mere weeks ago), a padaria is usually a mix of bakery, grocery store, and greasy spoon” truckstop diner.

The bakery section, which gives the padaria its name, surely lures many to the premises. The bread is better, fresher, and available in more varieties than at the bigger supermarkets. The cakes and pastries make for some difficult, yet delicious, decision-making. Groceries here are more limited in quantity, but impressive in scope. It’s like the owners have tried to predict what people will run out of rather than what they will want to stock up on. The aisles aren’t even wide enough for carts, so for serious shopping you are better off up the street at Pão de Aucar.

The lunch counter is my chief padaria attraction. Let me walk you through it. Have a seat in front of the coxinhas, bolinhos, risoles, salsichas, croquetes, esfihas, and empadas that fill the windowed display case on the counter. To me these are all “fillers” designed for those occasions when a stomach needs a quick fix of something heavy. They all taste good, in a cheap, predictable, comfortable way, but I don’t imagine I’ll ever wake up from my afternoon nap craving them. The one exception to this discriminatory rule is my strange affection for the chicken-filled coxinhas. They always remind me of Weebles (the toys that “wobble but they don’t fall down”). Sitting by these snack foods, you may get lucky and have a Brazilian teach you a padaria proverb, like the one that says “love without kisses is like an empada without the olive.” Brazilians are serious about their salgados.

The faded menu on the wall gives prices for all the different sandwiches (lanches) we can order. My usual is the churrasco with cheese. On my last visit I spotted a neighbour augmenting his churrasco sandwich with vinagrete, so I’m going to throw Mrcio a curve-ball with that addition next weekend. Mrcio is my padaria professor; the man who takes my order and enlightens me. According to him, Misto Quentes (hot ham and cheese) and Baurus (the same with tomato added) are the two most popular lanches.

More common at the padaria than the sandwiches and salgados is the coffee. Order “pingado” and you’ll get a “ping” of milk added. Order “media,” as most do, and you’ll get more than a ping. Be careful if you go to Santos, though, as a media on the coast means bread and butter, not coffee. Orange juice is another big seller at the padaria, but I’m more of a “vitamina” fan. They claim that it is mixed fruit, but to me it tastes just like a banana milkshake.

When we have finished eating, Mrcio will crack a joke and present the bill. As you get up and leave your stool some of the standing-room-only crowd will move in to take your place, and Mrcio will give the counter a quick wipe and ask a customer to pass him your out-of-reach plate. Padarias are not places to wear a tuxedo. Some of them cater more to the afternoon beer and pinga crowd, but more often they are family affairs, reflecting the personality and flair of the local neighbourhood. Once you’re done with your lunch and your shopping (buy your bread last, as there is a high turnover and you can get a fresh batch), present your tickets/bills at the exit and pay. Same time next weekend…

To read previous articles written by Kyle Hedlund, click below:

Leaning Towers of Santos
Brazil Destination: Caminhos do Mar
Festa Junina
Brazil: Embu Das Artes
Brazilian Beer Taste Test
Who Is Santos Dumont?
Brazilian Music
Brazil: Mixing the Perfect Caipirinha

The Opus 2004 Jazz Club will open its doors to the public on June 30th. The new club will have live jazz from Monday to Saturday, a hot and cold buffet, and a whiskey club. Patrons will get an opportunity to hear the music of:
-TITO MARTINO JAZZ BAND
-ANDR BUSIC and his HOT LINE JAZZ CORPORATION
-THE JAZZ SOCIETY de ARI GIORGI
and several other performers playing both original compositions and improvisational pieces.

Starting this August, Opus 2004 Jazz Club will have a happy hour (from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM), to the tune of piano jazz playing the music of unforgettable American jazz greats, such as Nat King Cole and Teddy Wilson.

Opus 2004 Jazz Club
Address: Rua Treze de Maio, 48 (intersection with Rua Sto. Antonio) – Bela Vista
Telephone: (11) 3151-3974 / 3231-5330 (Call from June 30 on)
June 30, 2005
Website: www.opus2004.com.br (Still in construction)”